Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fantastic Birthday Loot

I know you were all waiting at the edge of your seat to hear of the wonderful goodies I was blessed with. Here's a rundown of some of the sahweet treasure I scored (in no particular order):
  1. Shootsac with 2 fun covers!
  2. Texas Tech fancy polo
  3. a red purse (that Mari has claimed as her own, ha ha!)
  4. Wicked tickets
  5. The Book of Eli movie
  6. Jack Johnson To the Sea CD
  7. Sarah McLachlan Laws of Illusion CD
  8. Borders Gift Card
  9. Gift Certificate for a pedicure
  10. Flowers & Cookies, num, num, num
  11. Aflac talking duck
  12. Designer and chic summer top
  13. Luna Azul bottle of tequila
  14. Indian Spices & mix
  15. Vapur water bottle
  16. Nifty pearl ring
  17. Alice in Wonderland movie
  18. Rachel Zoe's: Style A to Zoe
  19. Incredibly touching cards filled with warm words and love (and some money too)
  20. Tiny happies that continue to warm my heart
  21. Starbucks gift card
  22. First class upgrade on our trip to Mexico
  23. Cake, cake, cake, and more cake
SUPER DUPER thanks to everyone and wow, seriously, wow! I felt the love. 

    Cozumel

    The weekend before the wedding, Don and I threw on our photography hats and caught a plane to Cozumel to photograph our first ever international wedding. Lucky for us, we were flying Sun Country airlines, which only flies to Mexico very specific days of the week. We flew them when we took our honeymoon 5 years ago, so it was like visiting with an old friend. I'd already started saving funds for another fun gadget, but instead, I opted to use that money to upgrade us to first class. At just over $100 a person for each way, it was worth it to us. We had enough space to stretch out without kicking the person in front of us, free cocktails, and a warm meal. Talk about feeling like we were living large. We wouldn't be able to afford to do this on say, American Airlines, since we aren't business travelers, nor do we have that much disposable income. Needless to say, it felt really nice and was a great addition to our working vacation.
    Unfortunately, while we were there, we only had one day of solid sunshine. The rest of the days were rainy, monsoon, tropical storm filled days. Not fun and not conducive to amazing, out of this world photographs. We still managed to get some fantastic shots, but then again, we had very beautiful and willing subjects. Also, we were able to dig our toes into the sand and snorkel a couple of days. One was that gorgeous sun filled day and the other was a rainy day. I'd never snorkeled in the rain. I'd also never fed a fish. I literally had them eating out of my hands. I had no idea they were such big fans of hot dogs! Oh, and the small beach we were on was situated near the cruise ships, hence the large ship in the background. We didn't venture away from the resort except for one time to go purchase a noodle for me to use to float in the ocean and some dresses for Mari.
    It was nice to get away and relax for a little bit. I not-so-secretly wished we would have stayed the full time the wedding party was there. Knowing what I know now, I definitely would have stayed! Oh well, it was still a great mini-vacation! Congratulations Joey & Stephanie!

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Matron of Honor: Dress, Hairstyle & Shoes

    Some of you know that I will be in my BFFs wedding next week. The wedding will be here in Dallas, outdoors, and by White Rock lake. I have no doubt that it will be elegant and gorgeous. I also have absolutely no doubt that it will be hot and humid as well. I'm hoping that we'll have a light breeze while we're standing there. After all, the ceremony will only be about 20 minutes and we'll probably spend another 20 minutes shooting photos outdoors. An hour outside in the 100+ degree heat in chiffon will be tough, but totally worth it on her big day. I just need to remember to bring my handkerchief to dab away the sweat without messing up my make-up.Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of the details from the day, mainly the dresses, hairstyle, and shoes.

    First up, the dress! No, not her dress, although you can remember seeing a teaser of that dress here. Sidenote: I finally finished editing the bridals, so if you would like to see them, shoot me an email and I will gladly share a link (unless it's you Nick, but I doubt you are stalking to that degree), but just promise not to share with the groom-to-be. Anyway, the bridesmaid dresses are Bill Levkoff number 521 in cranberry. At first, I was hesitant about the color cranberry, but I still went along with it. Let me tell you, the color is GORGEOUS! It is a very pretty deep red, but not dark red, just lush with pigment! Also, the fit is extremely flattering. I started doing push-ups to firm up my shoulders for the day. Unfortunately, I should've stuck with doing them when I started back in April, but 'eh, it's ok. All eyes will be on the bride. We ordered them from Pearl's Place over the phone without any issue. They told us they would be delivered in 9 weeks and sure enough, 9 weeks exactly and I had them in my arms. I've seen it go for upwards of $209 (plus shipping and/or tax) and I'll say that we spent about $75 less than that price, which included shipping! This is a very flattering dress for ALL body types. The semi-sweetheart neckline accentuates what you have (or may not have or have too much of). The empire waist not only enhances tiny waistlines, but also gives shape to those of us who don't have much of one (yeah, I'm square in that area). Plus, you can't tell from the picture, but at the waist is a satin sash and it is gathered in tiny pleats, with the ties of the sash being very wide. Initially, none of us liked the sash, but after trying it on once we got them in, we decided they were nice. Also, the bottom half of the gown is long and flowy. It actually gives the illusion that you are much taller, plus, when we walk, we look we look like we're gliding or even floating!


    This is Mari's dress. She will be the flowergirl along with Adaora & Nick's niece G. G is 9 years old and we were afraid that we weren't going to be able to find shoes and a dress in both of their sizes, but we were wrong! Here's the dress they will be wearing. Instead of a colored sash, they have an ivory sash. It is Jordan style L503 in light ivory. This dress is retailed at $243 and we paid less than half of that price. Again, ordered through Pearl's Place. Back in March, I measured Mari and she fit their size 2T. I ordered a 3T thinking she would grow. The dress fits perfectly. Part of me wishes I would have ordered the 4T to be on the safe side, so here's to hoping she doesn't grow too much over the next couple of weeks. It is a light and flowy dress, very elegant, and she doesn't mind wearing it. It is a very well made gown.

    Ada allowed us to pick our own hairstyle for the wedding. I was so very happy for this! No requirements that we all match with similar updo's, half up/down, all down, or beehives. Again, July in Texas inspired me to want to wear mine up. I've been growing my hair out for this occasion and it is in DESPERATE need of a trim, but my hair always styles better when it is on that brink, so I'm making do. Anyway, during one of the final episodes of Ugly Betty, I was blown away by America Ferrera's hairstyle as Betty in her sister's wedding. It was pulled back, with some curls, a slight part, and slightly to the side. I scoured the internets and found some stills from the episode and immediately made a montage of the different angles. Sorry for the poor quality. While I was talking with the other gals, I was really surprised by how similar of a hairstyle we'd all picked. All of us wanted a pulled back look with romantic curls. We're all gonna look so nice!
    As far as Mari's hair goes, I'm going to do four small twists at the crown and secure them with a clear hair tie. Instead of flowers in the hair like below, I will use some crystal twists. Hopefully, she'll wear her pearl necklace too.



    Finally, the shoes! Again, we had total freedom to pick out our own shoes, they just had to be black shoes. Not even sandals. When her sister told me that she'd picked up a pair of black satin sandals, I knew I needed some black satin type shoes as well. Off I went in search of a pair. Lucky for me, DSW had EXACTLY what I was looking for and in my price range! (less than $40!!) Let me tell you, I'm in love with these babies. They are big, platform and EXTREMELY comfortable! I was skipping down the aisle, jumping, and walking in them. I liked them so much that I refused to take off the left shoe while I was browsing the clearance section. Sidenote: Mari is in love with shoes. I let her down while I was in the clearance section and immediately, she was pulling shoes out, trying them on, putting them back, and getting another pair. The little lady loves her some high heels, that's for sure! And bright purses too! She insisted we let her walk around with a yellow leather satchel. We didn't leave the store with it, but I could see the sadness in her eyes when she had to say goodbye to her new friend. ha ha! These are Katie & Kelly Take a Bow



    For both Mari and G, we found these shoes at Payless. You can't go wrong with Payless when kids outgrow shoes so fast, right? Some of the other shoes they make, I'm not a fan of, but their smartfit shoes really do fit well and Mari can easily put them on and off. They were having a BOGO sale with the 2nd being half off. Of course, when we bought these, we walked out of there with a pair of black patent tap shoes for her. No, she's not enrolled in dance class, but man, she loves to wear those shoes tap-tap-tapping away.

    So that's it. Whew! It's been a whirlwind for the past few months, planning a shower, bachelorette party, and helping out with invites, flowers, and other vendors. However, it's all been totally worth it and the group of us bridesmaids get along really well and we all work well together too! It's been fun and I'm reminded why I opted to scale back the number of weddings I coordinate. (None for the past couple of years, and helping out by offering suggestions for three this year.) It's tough to do while trying to juggle everything else. :)

    Anyway, I'm excited and if I can find my point and shoot, I will take some photos of the day to share!

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Weekend Wrap-up

    HAPPY BELATED FATHER'S DAY!

    I just wanted to do a quick weekend wrap-up to share all of the awesome indulgences (and gluttony) from the past few days. I'll make it a bulleted list to keep it short-ish.
    1. Kohl's was having another one of their epic sales, so we headed out in search of a pair of shorts and new panties for Mari. We left with a Father's Day present and a few new items for all of us. Yeah, that place is totally dangerous. I've already made a take-this-back-ASAP bag for things that weren't on major sale. (major sale=75% off or more)
    2. We headed out to Urban Crust for a birthday party. The pizza was good (not Il Cane Rosso good, but still good.) and the company was even better. The rooftop lounge could've used a fan to help with all of the smoking. We had to leave early because of it. My eyes were burning, my lungs aching, and I quickly realized, I just can't hang in all of that like I did before.
    3. We headed to chill at our place where Mari was having her first slumber party, sorta. My BFFs son H was hanging out with her since it was his father's birthday party we were attending. She enjoyed having him there. His mom came to pick him up a little after midnight and so the next morning when Mari woke up, she was positively disappointed when he wasn't there with her. It was cute. I'm so glad they get along so well!
    4. While we were at the house, we were up late playing Trivial Pursuit, Bet You Know It. Those of you not in the board gaming know, this game isn't even out yet! I was lucky enough to be selected to participate in a House Party, so we got an early preview of it. So far it's been a hit and a highlight for us ALL to play, not like the old Trivial Pursuit where I felt like a total moron. ha ha! Highly recommend you go out and get it. And if you need a $5 off coupon, I have an extra.
    5. As a result of playing the game, I didn't go to bed until 2:30AM.
    6. Saturday morning, I was dragging, but I did manage to muster up some get-up-and-go for a baby shower/going away party.
    7. We indulged on red velvet cupcakes from Sprinkles, yummy lemonade, finger sandwiches, and mimosas. Mari was in heaven playing with a pair of cute yellow high heels that perfectly matched her dress. I was grateful to the owner of the shoes for graciously allowing her to play in them. 
    8. Mani/pedi session led to hourslong at the spa, which TOTALLY relaxed me. I actually fell asleep during my wax treatment. Crazy!
    9. A short power nap later, and we were off to Queen of Sheba to indulge in some uber-yummy Ethiopian food. Eating with your hands rocks! At dinner, I was gifted with some AMAZING Indian food spices and already put together Indian food sauces. One of those will be used this next week, just not sure which.
    10. For dessert, we headed on over to Henry's for a bit of sugary goodness. I released my inner kid and had strawberry with marshmallows. Don' hate!
    11. I passed out shortly after we got home. I did not want to think of all of the calories I had consumed during the day, but I did. Ugh.
    12. I had planned to let Don sleep in for Father's Day. Instead, he was up at 7AM to let Guapo out, then came back to pass out. I don't know how Mari did it, but she wound up in bed with us a bit after 8. She and I did the morning routine and snuck out to let Don sleep.
    13. He was up within the hour clearing out more of our garage. (sold our old fridge that had been gathering dust for a few years on Craigslist. FTW!) That's what I love about him, he has a free pass to be completely and totally lazy and not only did he make a visible dent in our garage, but he cleaned the kitchen, and did some laundry. I felt like a total slacker.
    14. At church, I was gifted with this book from a very stylish friend and fellow mommy. I adored the packaging, which was a regular brown grocery back repurposed into a very stylish and personalized gift bag! 
    15. We went to see Toy Story 3. Mari wasn't ask taken with it as I thought she would have been. She was very insistent on going potty a couple of times. Both of which were false alarms. She looked so big sitting in the booster seat alone in her own chair, munching on her snack pack of popcorn. Oh, and we loved it. Review to come.
    16. While killing time before standing in line for the movie, we went to Best Buy. I scored a swanky case for the iTouch, Alice in Wonderland, and another memory card for the camera(s). I also held the 5D Mark II. It made me want it even more.
    17. We watched Alice and Mari loved that movie, again. It made me that much happier with our selection for her birthday party theme.
    18. Hit the hay early (for me!), but was up at a ridiculous hour because I was entirely too hot in a rather cool house. I have NO IDEA why my body feels the need to heat up to 100+ degrees when I'm dead asleep. It will always invariably lead to waking me up and making me cranky for the day. Boo! Unfortunately, Mari is the same way, but she's still able to sleep through it.
    19. Since I'm a glutton for punishment, I weighed myself while I couldn't sleep. I'd gained nearly 10lbs in the past two weeks!! I'm tossing out the last bit of cake left in the house. Someone is gonna be logging some serious miles on the beach! 
    20. Oh, did you not know? That's right, I get a working vacation at the end of the week. We're headed to Cozumel to shoot a wedding and enjoy some down time digging our toes in the sand. Thanks to our MIL for watching Mari for us.
    21. I still haven't tidied up my bathroom counter. Eeek! I don't get to enjoy the Twilight marathon (don't judge me...most of you like it too, you just don't admit it!) unless it is clean.
    22. On a happy note, I have canceled our subscribe and save training pant order from Amazon. Mari had many successful potty trips and has been very vocal in telling us she has to go. She wore panties most of the day on Saturday and Sunday without having any accidents in them. She had a couple of accidents in her training diaper, one of which caused a disastrous emotional breakdown in a restaurant because we didn't make it to the potty on time. I spent a bit comforting her and assuring her it was ok. I guess it is a good sign that she's taken to the potty training when we have those types of breakdowns, though, right? ---And is she really growing up this fast! Tears to my eyes!

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    250: Mari Visual Snacks

    Our child is every bit of Don and I, with a personality completely her own. After being away from her for a couple of days (I saw her, but she was sleeping), we played and had all sorts of fun when I got home from work. She even claimed she was finished with her meal early, only to crawl up on the bench next to me and bogart my plate of cabbage and sausage. Our little carnivore actually ate a couple of pieces of cabbage and insisted I keep refilling the plate with mustard. Silly bean. Also, here's a bit of randomness for you. Don't you love the hot pink goggles while strumming on the acoustic? My Guitar. My Guitar!
    Or how about the time I was nibbling the last bits of cake I had saved from my birthday from Jenna, when she walked up to me asking for a bite, then grabbed the whole bowl? Mmmm...num, num, my cake! MY CAKE!!

    Or how about this past weekend when I had my stuff out to get dressed for the 70s party bus and someone insisted on wearing my Go-Go boots? My boots. BIIIIG boots.
    She's a riot, that one. Always has me laughing, even when I'm a bit flustered or when she's fighting us.

    Anyway, two things: 1. Texas Tech is doing some awesome things (I think they are generally awesome) with regards to the BP oil spill. Here's a nifty link to learn more: Texas Tech Fibertect Field Test a Success WTG Seshadri Ramkumar, you rock. Oh, and the building picture on that link is one I passed every single day on my way to my English classes. The old English building is no more, since it had been condemned when I was going there. We were the last graduating class to have classes in the old space. Random aside.

    2. Here's a teaser photo of my session with my BFF in Austin. Since she is my BFF, this gets to get posted here because it is personal. Fun facts about this photo: I chose this as a teaser because you really can't tell what her dress looks like, or the style of the veil for that matter, so it is ok if the groom-to-be happens to stumble on it. Also, this is taken at a unique spot in the Zilker Botanical Gardens that overlooks downtown Austin. You wouldn't know it by the looks of this picture, but all of that white space above the greenery is actually the downtown Austin skyline! It was a total fluke that I blew out the light in the picture so much that it concealed the skyline. I would like to pretend I was that slick of a photographer and did it on purpose, but no. Finally, this picture is almost 100% straight out of the camera. All I did was apply the Great White Lightroom Preset from Totally Rad Actions. All of her shots were RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME, but I can't post them because after all, they are bridal portraits and she doesn't want to ruin the surprise for her fiance of what her dress looks like. But really, this is sooo tough, because they are fabulous!
    Enjoy your Friday!

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Happy 33rd Birthday

    wow, no really, wow! Talk about a sh-bang of a day. The day started at midnight while I toasted a Luna Azul shot with my BFF and her husband. His birthday is the day before mine and we have this tradition of hanging out the night of his actual day long enough to greet my day. It's awesome. When we got home, I noticed that I had two dozen gerbera daisies waiting for me on the table. *swoon* Then, I immediately passed out because I had to be up and at 'em in 6 hours.

    I woke up to two texts from my sister and father wishing me awesome birthday wishes. Daddy's cracked me up because it said, "Happy Birthday! Today takes me back to the day I met you..." Ahh...so very true. I seriously thought someone was going to call me at 6:18AM, but nope, not this year. That's ok, though because I was getting ready for work. On my commute in to the office, my sister and I chatted and she lamented that she was unable to bring me birthday cake during lunch. For the past several years, it's been a tradition of her to bring me cake. I had actually forgotten about it until she mentioned it, but then it was there and all of a sudden I was having a tiny pity party. You see, Don scheduled a day full of doctor appointments (it's summer after all, and that's when teachers catch up on those things), so he wouldn't be able to make a surprise visit with the Sugarbean. That spiraled out of control, which reminded me that on my birthday, I wasn't going to get to see my little one awake and animated because I'd left before she got up and I wouldn't be home until long after she'd gone to sleep. Anyway, I got in to the office and Jenna had surprised me with chocolate cake and my very own Vapur water bottle!!! Wheee!!! I gobbled up the cake for breakfast and didn't feel a bit of guilt for it either.

    Then, I got a call from Primo inviting me to Truluck's for lunch. This was the special for the day: filet mignon topped with lump crab, two shrimp with a jalapeno bearnaise sauce. Crab mac and cheese was the side. I should've stuck with the mashed potatoes, instead of subbing the mac and cheese, but it was still incredibly yummy and the meat melted in my mouth! So tender...
    Here I am with eStacy as Primo took our photo. What is that? Bianca actually has her hair mostly down? Incredible!
    Later, the server brought out this bit of deliciousness: Truluck's carrot cake and chocolate cake. a-w-e-s-o-m-e! I finally made a birthday wish!
    When I came back from lunch, I received these baked cookies with ice cream and chocolate milk. Folks, they were still warm...FRESH BAKED!!! Insanity. Seriously, this was such a fun surprise and I'd never had fresh baked cookies delivered to my office before. That afternoon, I was treated to an iced grande caramel macchiato, non-fat by my super awesome boss. Some of the other guys went down for a walk with us as well and gave me well birthday wishes. It was really neat.
    After work, I met up for happy hour with my sister and one of my BFFs. We mostly talked about her wedding, while noshing on pizza, hummus, and fondue and sipping on our candied apple martinis. Then, it was time for my sis and I to head out to Fair Park to watch Wicked. Two things to note: 1. We scored free parking because they only charge for valet. 2. We had tickets in the FRONT ROW!!!!!! Nice. Here we are getting ready to defy gravity.
    During intermission, we nibbled on this sweetness and sipped some bubbly.
    When I got home, I had to snap a photo of the flowers Don had waiting for me. That's the playbill from the show and a streamer from the show that I pulled off from the orchestra. I wanted to keep it because the green was fitting for the theme of the show.
    At the end of the night, right before I tucked myself into bed, I opened gifts that I had been hoarding for my actual day. I received a fancy schmancy top with one of the funniest cards I've ever read in my life! (Thanks Erika) I also read the birthday journal that Lindsey and I share with one another on our birthdays. Finally, I read the card that Don had made me. I wanted to sleep with it tucked under my pillow, but then I feared that it'd fall off, or I'd want to eat it in my sleep mistaking it for a vegetable (seriously, didn't you just read about all of the sugar I inhaled during the day? I NEEDED a vegetable!). Instead, I tucked it under my phone, said a quick prayer of thanks and gratitude as tears of joy flooded my eyes.

    I totally felt the love in the world out there. It was an amazing day!

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Birthday Weekend Wrap up

    In typical fashion, we headed South for my birthday celebration, this time mixing things up a bit. I've learned a couple of lessons, but more on that later. First off, we headed down Thursday night to spend the night with Brother and his best girl, Melissa in their new-ish place. It was awesome! I love how all of the things they have accumulated along the way seem to go together and perfectly fit in their place! Oh, and I'm so jealous of their closet. It takes me back to my first apartment. ahhh....I digress. That night, the task at hand was to prep the jello shots for the party barge and get ready for Friday during the day since I'd be wearing my photographer hat.

    Here are all of the jello shots we made. It was over 300, I would guess. Not sure. We went through 2 large bottles of Parrot Bay, which totaled 16 cups of coconut rum. Plus, we made a tiny batch of non-alcoholic jello shots, those are the orange ones down in the crisper.
    Friday, I ran around Austin with one of my BFFs and my MIL doing her bridal portraits. I wanted to do them at Mt. Bonnell, but when I asked Brother for directions, I asked for Zilker Park. Um...not the same thing as I discovered when I drove up to the park thinking, hmm...this isn't what I thought I wanted. However, as fate would have it, Zilker Park has an amazing botanical gardens and during the week it is FREE!!! Let me tell you, I already think Ada is gorgeous, but these photos...whoa...STUNNING!!! I think she's gonna love 'em. We had super sexy light, but it was seriously humid like the inside of a sauna. But we all pushed on. Through the gardens, up to the Capitol, and on to the Drag for some fun shots with the graffiti backdrop.

    We were spent! Whew...back to Brother's to change, shower, and load up to check in to the hotel. We still had 45 minutes before check-in, so we headed out to Hut's Hamburgers for lunch. It was delicious! I ordered the All-American Buddy Holly Burger, longhorn patty, hold the onions. It was a very, very good burger. Mari tore up her mini corn dogs, nearly eating every single one of them! Oooh...and I got to experience my first electronic meter parking. I was able to pay with a credit card and it spit out this cool sticker to place on my window. Faaaaancy!

    Then, we headed out to check-in to our hotel. I booked this hotel several months back on Hotwire, not knowing what to expect. I had called in ahead to reserve adjoining rooms since our other friends promptly booked their room as well, but through Priceline. We each scored an $80/night plus taxes deal. Not too shabby. Anyway, I called requesting a higher floor, adjoining rooms, and preferably a corner room. I explained that I had a toddler with me and I was well aware that we'd be near the hustle and bustle of 6th street, but still, to see what they could do. Honestly, I wasn't expecting anything. But when we got there, we discovered they were having ROT Rally. Oooh doggies it was gonna be noisy! I was very, very scared we were gonna get a really shabby room that was smoke infested, next to the loudest and rowdiest group. They handed over the keys and we went to our rooms. We had been inadvertently upgraded with no extra expense!!!! Our room suite was outfitted with a sleep number king sized bed, a table, with a fridge, and rollaway bed. Next door was a two queen bed room, but the best thing was that we had an INCREDIBLE view of Town Lake!!! Seriously, Mari spent hours gazing out of the picture window admiring the boats and people. We didn't hardly notice the thousands upon thousands of bikers either. It was very quiet and everyone there at the hotel was extremely courteous! I would definitely like to go back there. Quite a change from last year. Something that really tickled me was that an entire floor in the parking garage was nothing but bikes. Hundreds of bikes lined up, each one gleaming and smiling. I wish I would've gotten a photo!

    Anyway, we all settled in and began to clean up a bit for the night's festivities. We were gonna take a ride on Rosie! For a bit over 3 hours, we drove around Austin, singing karaoke to music from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. We did a mini Trudy's marathon actually. It was a lot of fun, despite some initial tardiness that was not so much fun. But hey, that has to do with the lesson, which I'll wrap up at the end. Here are Brother and I on the bus. I have no idea why I'm throwing up a peace sign instead of my guns up. Oh well. I wore my white vinyl go-go boots that very nearly broke Danika's foot, but luckily it was a broken blood vessel. For you fashionistas out there, skirt from Target: $6.98, white tank from Old Navy: $5, vinyl boots from Electric Boutique years ago (pimp & ho party): $35, earrings borrowed. We were able to stock the bar with all of our own alcohol and I think everyone had a great time. The bus cost us $20 p/p (I think we had 21), which included the tip to the bus driver. It wasn't so bad considering I was able to get 2 hours using the groupon special that I had scored!

    While we got in at a decent hour, I wasn't really in any shape to enjoy the next day. LOL! Mama partied a bit too hard and doesn't recover as well as she did 10 years ago. I was sufficiently dehydrated, but thanks to my MIL for having Advil and thanks to Margie for the 6 pack of Gatorade, which I inhaled and didn't share. Ooops, my bad. After that, I was good to go, well mostly. Here's a view of the party barge while we're loading up. It's two level, with a slide and a captain. They also have a grill on board, a bathroom, tables, and speakers for your music. The guy walking is our captain, Alan.

    party barge
    The lake is right in the heart of hill country, so to get to the lake, you have to park on top of the hill or drive down. Aquaholics is located at the top of a hill. They have trailers that you can load up with your gear and they will drive it down for you. As you can see, we had quite a bit of gear. They will also shuttle the people if you don't want to walk down. This was helpful for my mom who was using her walker, although, she trekked up that hill at the end, which made me very impressed.
    the trailer
    Here's a view of the slide. You could only go down it when the barge was anchored or parked. I was brave enough to only go down once. I'm totally regretting not jumping off the top of the barge. We were lucky enough to park in a deep enough section on the lake where we were allowed to do that. Don did it a few times and a couple of the guys even flipped off! Brother bombed a couple of times and they were so impressive, people on a nearby barge and in the boats were clapping for him.
    the slide
    This is the whole group! I think we had 32 total, including the two kiddos. For those of you interested, cost was $30 a person (adults only), which included the rental of the barge, the tip for the captain, all of the food, beer, cake(s) and jello shots. I totally spaced and forgot to buy the sodas and another flat of water. Luckily, many people brought their own drinks and they saved their plates because, again, I wasn't anticipating that many folks to show up, so I hadn't brought enough. I was truly, truly blessed by the turnout! We dined on turkey legs, brats, hot dogs, Luby's mac n' cheese, sweet tea, fritos, cheetos, doritos, tostitos, pork rinds, veggies, chocolate cake, strawberry cheesecake, vanilla & chocolate cupcakes!
    group shot
    The good Lord blessed us with a GORGEOUS day. It was perfect weather for being on the lake. Over cast skies, just the right amount of heat, a tiny sprinkling of rain is all, while loading up, and lots of wind & breeze!
    view from the top
    Mari and Hayden had such a great time together. They really enjoyed being up top to stare at the water, the bubbles, swimming in the lake, and the jello!
    the toddlers
    Here's Mari snapping a photo with Nani's camera. She's pretty good, huh?
    future photographer
    Of course, it's the Vibram foot shot. See how it makes a star? Neat, huh? You need to see my awesome tan line!
    vibram star
    Here's the pinata. It's a birthday cake and I thought it was a pull string pinata. Unfortunately, it wasn't. And the entire bottom section was empty. All of the candy was in the top layer. This is me frustrated that it wasn't a pull string, so I just punched it.
    pinata
    Finally, here's some chill time in the lake, relaxing with the noodles. I got a teeny tiny bit closer to evening out my tan for Ada's wedding in a few weeks.
    lovin' life
    After the party barge, we headed back and I caught a powernap in the back while Mari munched away on Cheetos. We washed up and took another bite sized disco nap before heading out to the Cathedral in downtown Austin for Saturday afternoon mass. (Danika, did you collect the coins?!?) It was really nice inside! The stained glass was stunning, the singer was fabulous, and I fell in love with the perfect blue ceiling with gold stars above the alter.

    Afterwards, we went back to the room, changed up to go out on the town, but first up, dinner at Thai Passion. Just like last year, it did not disappoint! Service was great, food was good, and overall a great time. Another gal was there celebrating her birthday and was quite surprised when our table of 14 started serenading her as well. Why oh why did I order mango lassi knowing it was a Thai place? LOL I did, however, get some fabulous mango sticky rice.

    We walked back to our room and the bikers were thundering along the way. I chugged some water and went to take a nap for 15 minutes after Will graciously aligned my back. That 15 minutes turned into 45. I guess they forgot to wake me up. It's ok, though. I needed it! We set out to Lanai rooftop lounge, where we scored a nice, comfy lounge area! It had a great view, the breezes were very welcome, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the house music wasn't too over powering where you couldn't have a conversation. I opted to settle in there for an hour and when we all broke apart, the rest of the group went to tear it up on 6th street while Don and I headed back to the hotel, in search of tacos! We found the perfect trailer that whipped up tacos and po'boys, all farm raised, organic products too! My buddy Boo had given Don some cash to buy me a shot, but instead we used it to buy me tacos instead. I preferred the tacos to the shot, believe me! All I'd had that day was two jello shots and the rest was water or Gatorade. Cruda much?

    Unfortunately, I did roll my ankle while we walked back. The clumsy was bound to come out, huh? Oh well. It only swelled a bit, but I do have some bruising and I had to limp back to the hotel, which wasn't very far. The next day, I had to skip on breakfast. Don and Mari desperately needed more sleep and I probably did too, but I spent part of the morning texting everyone.

    We made it home safe and sound! It was an incredible time and definitely in my top 10 birthdays, ever!

    Things I learned about this trip:
    1. If you know for sure that people are coming or intend to come, book the rooms together at the same location for a decent price. This would've been helpful for us to have spent more time together. There was a mix-up on some of the meet-up times and had all of the out-of-towners been closer, that would not have been an issue...as much. The 20-minute and 30-minute tardiness put a damper on my mood because it was a pretty good chunk of time spent waiting.
    2. Have an itinerary printed out for everyone and send out mass texts for the day's activities. I usually put together a packet, but this time I didn't.
    3. Make sure to have plenty of water!
    4. Make only half the amount of jello shots, or even less than that. We had over 60 leftover, which didn't include the non-alcoholic ones.
    5. Only have one outrageous activity. Either party bus or party barge, but not both and definitely not back-to-back!
    6. Don't spend an entire day in the sun shooting portraits without properly hydrating and expect that you'll have enough energy to last you the weekend.
    7. Decide food places to eat early and stick to 'em. I really wished I would've eaten better breakfasts because it is my favorite meal, after all, and I was either rushing to get everything together or poorly attempting to recover.
    8. Spend quality time with people and don't obsess about the details that no one is going to notice, except for you. 
    THANK YOU GUYS for being there. I am remarkably blessed and fortunate to have so very many wonderful people to come from all over (California, Arizona, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Lubbock, Austin) to celebrate with me. I appreciate all of your sacrifices (of time and treasure) to be there with me. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU MIL GRACIAS!

    *special thanks to Margie and Melissa for taking the photos above. Hard to believe I didn't take my camera with me on any of the outings.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Cheers to the Next Chapter

    Friday night, we set out to celebrate the final days of one of my best friends singlehood. A bit of background information, though. Thursday night, I was a guinea pig for the police academy. They needed to practice recognizing drivers while intoxicated and under the influence. While there, we made friends with a set of gals who had brought their very own sauce to eat with the pizza that they provided. We were feeling adventurous, so we willingly sampled it. It was amazing habanero goodness!! But an hour after we were home that night, those tiny habaneros were inflicting their revenge on Don. (I must say that the girls said they'd never seen a white boy have that much sauce. Eeek!! That should've been warning enough!) The next morning, I awoke and it was hitting me. The first half of the day I was bent over in pain. My abs were getting quite the workout. I honestly don't know why I willingly try new foods during the week. Fortunately, I was able to log in from home and get some work done in between trips to the 'loo. Gross, I know, but still. I was praying that I wouldn't be too dehydrated for the evening and to also be able to go out with the girls. Horrible.

    Lucky for me, by 4 it seemed that my body had rid itself of the remaining bits of the sauce. I proceeded to get ready for the night. When I opened my closet door, I realized that in the past 3 years my wardrobe has morphed into nothing but corporate wear and weekend wear. I had NO going out clothes. And there wasn't ANY time (or money) to go out and buy anything new to wear. So I picked out the least corporate looking top I owned and decided that was gonna work the heck out of my hairstyle and makeup. oh yeah!  Here you go:

    This is TJ. She's modeling the tiny feather fascinators I made for all attendees of the party. They were really easy to make and I could do a tutorial if anyone is interested. I based mine on this video clip I found on youtube. I think they came out pretty fun. Also, Teej is part of the wedding party as well.
    Tiffany, another bridesmaid is modeling hers as well. She's wearing the white longer parts downward and they totally framed her beautiful face.
    I got her this koozie. When I saw it, it cracked me up! Ada's sister, and fellow maid bought that scepter. It lit up too!
    We dined in the wine room at Steel before heading out to S4's Rose Room for the drag show, then finally dancing in the main room. I had a whole lot of fun enjoying the night and dancing away. This drink was shared between just us and later we all toasted a shot together. The rest of the night, I inhaled copious amounts of water, still leery of an upset stomach. Certainly, my abs and quads were sore the following day, but I had such a great time dancing. Every now and again, going out with my girls is needed indeed. The thing I like best about going to S4 is that I'm not surrounded by all sorts of pretentious indignation. It's a beautiful rainbow and plethora of loving and accepting souls from all walks of life. Jim, the 70+ year old new friend, was rocking a bright yellow soccer jersey that just glowed under the bright flashing lights. We swayed our bodies to the rhythm of the beat while he shouted out his theory on life and health to me. COMPLETELY random and exactly the sort of the thing that is very familiar, like dusting off an old friend: which is exactly what we'd done for that night. I pulled out the ol' bachelorette party box that contained all sorts of antics and games from both mine and my other BFFs bachelorette party. I'd been saving it for Ada's, and well, here we finally were.

    Happy Bachelorette, my love! Cheers to the next chapter!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    June 1, 2010

    It is the start of the birthday month and I have very lofty goals. Instead of being a full-on typical glutton/consumer, I'm going to do my very best to limit my spending. Instead, I want to see what types of fruits I can spread by either selling items or giving them away.

    For instance, instead of going on a shopping spree for new clothes, instead, I'm going to try to find new ways to re-purpose what I already have and donate some items in my closet. I know this is possible because just this past weekend I re-purposed one of my old long-sleeved tunics into a girls mid-sleeve dress. (No, I didn't get a before or after, maybe an after later on if she wears it again.)

    My friend Jacki participates in a Stash Game where she spends an entire month sewing through her fabric stash. You aren't allowed to buy any new fabric, just sew what you have. I may not ever go through an entire fabric stash game, but I would like to make two new items to wear from my existing stash. One of them, I hope to be a tunic! Also, I have a very important gift that I've been working on for a while that I haven't gotten around to finishing. Hopefully I will be able to accomplish that very, very soon!

    Also, I want to clean off my bathroom counter top. How else can I achieve a DIY makeover if I can't even see my countertop. No, I'm not going to take a photo and post it here. Talk about embarrassing!! Although, the threat of it may whip me into shape to clean it up before my husband can sneak a photo. But hey, I have an excuse. I suffered a horrendously embarrassing experience with a DIY home waxing, while not painful, ended up amazingly messy with my epic klutz-skills. Yeah, don't hate! Not everyone can gracefully spill wax on the carpet, countertop, and bits on the mirror and ceiling without breaking an arm! Oh yeah, I'm that good.  (Anyone out there know how to get wax out of carpet?)

    That's that. I've finally completed a bridal portrait session and tomorrow I hope up to wrap up the senior portrait session we did last week.

    Thank you friends for treating me to some awesome Indo-Pak food tonight. Definitely an amazing birthday surprise and treat!! Yaaaay!! Happy day 1 of the birthday month.

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