T-minus 11.

Another productive weekend. I am very thankful that my next weekend is a three-day weekend. This Saturday, we packed up Nate's room and Katy and her husband and Nate's roommate, Joey, helped us move it into the house. The second bedroom is completely packed. We'll have to do some rearranging to get the wedding stuff out (see tidy first picture in previous post). Poor Nate is back at his apartment with not much more than a toothbrush and an air mattress. He'll stay with a friend a few days before the wedding.

Sunday I did a trial run with my hair stylist, and Nate and I met up with Ray and Jani for our last pre-marital counseling session. We are 11 days out and I am starting to feel the stress a little. Jani said it's so easy to not enjoy your wedding at all so I am going to try hard to love it! I passed off a craft project to one of my wonderful coworkers and am trying to find places where others can help take some of the load off.

Nate is officially a Tennessee resident. He got his driver's license and license plate. We added his car to my auto policy, and it is actually cheaper to add Nate's car than to not cover it. I think we are saving about $300 a year, thanks to a multi-car discount and marriage discount (they said we were close enough).

The UPS man has been a regular at our house, delivering wedding gifts, and last night we used some of the boxes we have been accumulating to build a little house for Miles. So far he wants nothing to do with it ... we even forced him in it and he panicked and tried to squeeze out the little side window, but his head got stuck.

Our neighbor Kevin has invited us over for the Fourth of July. Everyone on the street gets together and they set off bricks of firecrackers. Huge ones. Last year they did three, but Kevin said this year they're doing five. We invited him and his family to the wedding. He knows someone who sells fireworks and he is going to get 150 long sparklers for us for when we leave the reception.

Nate has had four days in a row off so he has gotten a lot done for wedding, but he works the next seven days. I'm working late for an offsite writers conference this week. The nice thing is I get to sleep in a little. I will be working hard to make the most of the upcoming three-day weekend before family starts to arrive. I'm getting married!




We are two weeks away from the big day and we are (mostly) ready. Nate has both Saturday and Sunday off, so we will be able to get a lot done this weekend. A week ago, the second bedroom was a wreck. I got it organized and suddenly felt a lot less stressed out. Tomorrow we are moving Nate's stuff in ... not sure where we will put it! He has a lot of books.

Favors. We bought 138 bottles of Jones soda. We're only expecting about 120 at the wedding, but hopefully some people will take more than one. These will also serve as part of the table decorations. I'm not a big drinker of non-diet sodas, and Jones is pure cane sugar. Imagine drinking cotton candy. It's kind of like that.

I'm not going to lie. I was practicing writing "Alyssa Jones" probably a month after we started dating. :) We still have a lot of small things to do, but I think if we spend our time wisely, the week before the wedding will not be a giant panic attack. With the Fourth of July holiday, I'll have Monday off, work Tuesday, and then take the rest of the week off.

I am working on thank-you tags to hang on each bottle of Jones soda. They are made out of the leftover paper from our invitations. They will also include our address. All I have left to do is glue on the address pieces. I like working on the small details. I think they make an occasion extra special.

This morning Nate surprised me at work by bringing me a diet cherry Dr. Pepper from Sonic. I took a break and he showed me the slideshow he has been working on for the reception. It was so great! I'm excited for everyone to see it. Nate is working tonight so I'm trying to motivate myself to do dishes and pick up the house before getting some more work done on wedding details. I'm so excited!

The future Mrs. Jones,


mucho progress.

Wedding planning wears my boys out. :)
Yeah! What a weekend. Nate worked Friday night and Saturday morning so as soon as I got home from work on Friday, I got back to work! I tackled trimming the bushes (my forearms are always so sore after holding up the electric trimmer), cleaned the entire house (really cleaned … even the inside of the refrigerator!), organized all of the wedding supplies into boxes, put up a mirror in the hallway, bought a rug for the side door, and started making tags for the 138 Jones soda bottles.

We were trying hard to think of a way to decorate a sort of backdrop, and all we could think of was to use tulle (which is not that cheap) but after some Googling, I came across gossamer, which is supposedly easier to work with than tulle and cheaper. Plus it comes in different colors. I never buy anything online without looking for a coupon code, and with a few clicks I knocked down the $10.93 shipping cost to $0.00. Yeah!

Yesterday we went to Walgreens and scanned some of Nate's baby photos. Then we hit up Walmart for a few things like 3M hooks and wrapping paper … and our best find of the day was at Dollar Tree. We came across some battery-powered LED white paper lanterns for $1 each. Lanterns online are selling for like $7! We just bought one so we could see if it worked. When we got home, it worked great and looked good so I went back and bought 19 more, all they had on the shelf. I also picked up another vase for my bouquet. We bought one on our first trip to Dollar Tree, but when we were getting out of the car at home, Nate was carrying all the bags and let's just say the bag with the vase had a spontaneous and fatal rendezvous with the driveway.

We are 19 days out and I am not stressing at all! I think we are doing great and we are still under budget. I'm going to have to do a post sometime with tips for saving. We saved a lot of money by reusing decorations from Nate's sister's wedding, I made all the jewelry for me and my bridesmaids, and we have just been able to find great deals on most of the things we needed. Plus we are keeping it simple and not worrying too much about impressing everyone. (We are also saving money by using Rapid Rewards points for free flights and since we are staying five nights, we got our B&B to give us the fifth free.)

I'm sure we are going to be making progress on small details every night. Small details are kind of my favorite part. I think they make things really special. We still need to get our marriage certificate but we got our pastor to sign a paper saying we did premarital counseling (because we did) so we are saving $60! (OK, I'm getting a little crazy with saving but I don't think that's a bad thing.) It will be great to see all of our family and friends. I'm so excited! It's going to be fun!!!

(Nate thinks I use exclamation points too much! :) I disagree.)


T-minus 22.

On Monday my team hosted a wedding shower at work for Nate and me. It was so great. It was Betty Crocker themed, and we even got our own aprons! Everyone who came brought their favorite recipe to share with us.

We are getting married in three weeks! The goal is to have everything ready (minus food) by Sunday (Yes, this Sunday) so that our final weeks will be organizing and tying up loose ends. Big things that are left: marriage certificate, payments to vendors, programs, rehearsal dinner details big and small, choosing a song for the wedding march, decorating …

We have been so bad at delegating so we have mostly been doing everything ourselves. Yesterday when we sat down and realized how close we were getting I dramatically threw my head back and wailed, "Noooo! Heeeelp Usssss!" Nate probably thinks I'm crazy sometimes when we are planning. I apologized to him for thinking all of his ideas are lame :) He says he just can't explain them well enough for me to understand their awesomeness.

So if you have shown even a hint of interest in helping in any way, get ready because we will contact you soon and put you to work. We are also accepting new volunteers. And I am not even joking.



Tonight was my first experience at Ryman Auditorium. It was awesome. Nate and I saw Mat Kearney (he comes into Nate's Starbucks all the time) and Owl City. Our media passes came with a photo pass, so I sent Nate down to the front of the stage to get some photos. He did great. We left a little early because Nate opens tomorrow (at 4:30 a.m.). We have tickets to see Bon Iver at the Ryman in July. What a great venue.

Mat Kearney 

Adam Young: Owl City

These things make me love Nashville. This is Music City.


music in the vines.

It's not surprising that good tunes are not hard to come by here in Music City. Last night Nate and I went with our friends Charlie and Tonya to an event called "Music in the Vines." It happens every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night throughout the summer at Arrington Vineyards. The vineyards are located south of Franklin and the view is incredible. We packed picnic dinners. Lots of people were there, having their picnics and enjoying some live music outdoors. They even had golf carts picking people up at their cars and driving them up to the top of the hill. It was great!

Arrington Vineyards was founded by Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn. And it is free! Visiting the vineyards is free. Music in the Vines is free. So if you're ever in the area on a weekend and are looking for a beautiful, relaxing place to escape for a picnic while the sun sets, this is your place.

We made a little progress on wedding planning this weekend. Yesterday morning Nate's car broke down on the way to my house. We got it towed to a nearby mechanic and they are replacing his timing belt and water pump. After church this morning, I felt really sick and dropped Nate off at work. I made it about 10 blocks before turning into a gas station just as I started puking. I've been sick more often this year than ever. Weird. I'm feeling quite a bit better though.

I recently signed up for a free quart of Glidden paint and received it in the mail. I chose "Misty Aqua" and got a start painting the bathroom. Goodbye to the tan color and hello to aqua. It matches the pattern on the shower curtain. Nate isn't in love with any color that "looks like toothpaste," so I picked the smallest room in the house. He'll warm up to it. :)

Tomorrow my department is having a wedding shower for me and Nate. I also got two media passes to cover the Owl City & Mat Kearney concert tomorrow night at Ryman Auditorium. It will be my first show at the Ryman, and I'm really excited.



UPS delivered an early wedding gift yesterday, and tonight Nate assembled it and started it up.

He grilled mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash, and bratwursts.

It was in the 90s again today.  Felt like summer.


one month.

I found it a little strange yesterday when I started receiving multiple e-mails from our dessert caterer asking for payment information. We hadn't talked about needing an immediate payment. Nate and I were watching some of my family's old home videos when an e-mail popped up with the subject line: Tomorrow's Sweets. It said, "We cannot deliver tomorrow unless we have a payment."

Hold up. She means tomorrow, with tomorrow being today … June 9! I'm glad I hadn't already given her a payment, or she might have arrived at Immanuel with trays of pastries to find the place locked up. I checked and found I had confirmed at least twice that the date was July 9 before I e-mailed her back and said, Sorry, we aren't getting married until next month! Hopefully the baker didn't spend all day baking for us. Glad we got that sorted out.

Nate's parents are bringing us more decorations from his sister's wedding last month so we are going to have to get super organized so that when family arrives starting on Wednesday that week, we can give them specific things to do. Organized … why am I taking so long at this? I am like the poster child of organization. I took Nate's work tips to the bank yesterday (160 one-dollar bills) and the teller was impressed that Mr. Washington was already facing forward and right side up on every one of them. Anyway, our marriage and family therapist said that when perfectionists feel overwhelmed, they tend to shut down. So I at least I am aware and can try to avoid that in the next month.

This weekend I was sick, so I didn't do much cooking (which I hate because I always feel really bad when I don't have dinner ready even though Nate is always more than happy to pick up a pizza). But I am feeling better! (Though poor Nate is sick too and dragging himself through work this week.) So I made one of my favorite things to make now, slow cooker barbecue beef. So easy and thanks to the manager's special at Kroger, so cheap.

If I can help it, I only buy meat on manager's special because even though the sell by date is approaching, I can usually use it right away or freeze it. I got our beef roast of barbecue beef for half price and I've picked up steaks for fajitas. Also this week on manager's special I got two packages of fresh mushrooms for $1.50 each, and a giant bag of baby carrots for just over a dollar.

(Side note: We love cherries. Do not buy them at Kroger! Kroger's were 3.99/lb and packaged in 3 lb. bags. Aldi has them in 1 lb. bags for 2.99, and they are delicious.) The manager's special will also come in handy when we start grilling. We got a grill yesterday. I mean, UPS brought us a grill. Technically it's a wedding gift that came early and wasn't wrapped. UPS is becoming our best friend because they keep leaving us fun things.

On Monday, we had a drain issue. The shower stopped draining. Completely. I took a shower and no water was going down the pipe. I started wondering if maybe the drain cleaner I used the day before and forgot to flush out had hardened and had already heard from a plumber that it would be $70 just to come look at it. Nate had Monday off so he was awesome and started working on it with a plunger. We worked for a long time. We got some nasty hair and stuff coming up but nothing going down, so we used a shop vac and buckets to get the water out of the tub (and yes, I tossed it out the bathroom window) and finally we found a strategy online to put a wet rag over the overflow hole to increase plunger power and after a lot more work by Nate (who was acquiring blisters by this time) and after praying, whatever was in there cleared and we got a little underwater tornado as the water flowed into the pipes. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.

At work yesterday I moved offices! Jeff did some negotiating when the Spanish curriculum team moved to another floor and an office opened up across the hall from him and Cheryl. So I am now settled in on a hallway full of content editors. And I have learned that no matter where your office is, there is always someone nearby who makes unwelcomed noise. What's so hard about using inside voices and listening to your music through headphones? The world will never know.

But that's about everything that is happening. It's hot here in Nashville. We've been in the 90s (and usually upper 90s) for like two or three weeks straight. Also this weekend is CMA Festival and Bonaroo so our population just increased by 10 percent. I might not be blogging a whole lot in the next month as we're trying to get things going for the wedding. Next Monday my department is throwing a wedding shower for me and Nate. It's Betty Crocker themed and everyone is bringing us their favorite recipes, so I think it will be a lot of fun.


baby tapes.

We think we might have time to put together some type of slideshow for the wedding reception, so my dad mailed us a 1TB hard drive of photos and videos dating back to 1987 sonograms. Tonight I uploaded a couple clips. Enjoy!

Clip 1: The Triplets and the Terrible Sheep
Erica, Alyssa, and Geoff go to the zoo. Age 2. A stop at the petting zoo turns traumatic.

Clip 2: Triplets' Third Birthday
February 12, 1991. Erica, Alyssa, and Geoff turned 3. They enjoyed ice cream. Most of all, Geoff enjoyed singing.




I've blogged before about how Nate and I met, but it all happened one year ago today: 06/06/10. Here's our story:

In June 2010, Nate and Alyssa both traveled to Kansas City for a wedding. Because they have so many mutual friends, they knew of each other but had never really talked. Nate noticed Alyssa at the wedding but didn't approach her.

The next day, Alyssa went to the airport to fly back to Nashville. She boarded her plane and the flight was completely full—not an empty seat! Just as the plane was ready to push back from the gate, a flight attendant came over the intercom explaining that a woman with two small children really needed a seat, and would anyone be willing to give up a seat for a later flight and a generous compensation? Alyssa isn't one to pass up a great deal and save some money, so she quickly volunteered to give up her seat. She got off the plane and sat back down in the terminal to wait for her flight four hours later.

Nate was flying back to Louisville that evening, but hadn't checked exactly what time his flight was leaving. He arrived at the airport with bags in hand three hours early. Just as he turned the corner past security, he saw Alyssa.

Alyssa was sitting there finishing up her Caesar salad (courtesy of Southwest) when she heard, "Alyssa!" She looked up and was glad to see a familiar face when she had such a long wait. Nate sat down and the two of them talked until Nate boarded his plane for Louisville.

Nate wished he was still talking to Alyssa, and after Alyssa got back to Nashville, she couldn't stop thinking about Nate. Three weeks later, Nate visited Nashville for their first date. In September, Nate put seminary on hold to move to Nashville and pursue Alyssa. Nate had only been living in Nashville for a week when he asked Alyssa to pray about marriage. (Nate really knows how to get after it!) He proposed on January 1, 2011 and Alyssa said yes. They are getting married on July 9, 2011 in Nashville.
Seriously? I feel like we deserve a feature article in the Southwest Airlines' Spirit Magazine, but I don't think they accept submissions or pitches, which is too bad. Maybe a commercial? We are already getting free round trips for the honeymoon with our Rapid Rewards points. 

33 days until the wedding!


holiday weekend.

This past Memorial Day weekend, Nate and I drove to Kansas for his sister Caitlin's wedding. We had planned to drive Friday, but for some reason on Thursday night it sounded like a good idea to drive through the night. We left Nashville at 8 p.m. By the time we hit Paducah (2 hours out) I was ready to stop and get a hotel room. But Nate was feeling alert so we continued and I slept. I woke up and drove from 3-4 a.m. across southern Missouri before I got sleepy again and Nate took over. We hit Wichita around 7:30 a.m. and grabbed a couple hours of sleep at a friend's house.

Friday we surprised Nate's family around lunchtime. Nate departed for a bachelor party/camping trip with the guys and I spent the day with the girls running errands. In the evening, I went with the bridesmaids and Caitlin to dinner at Hana's Cafe. I wasn't brave enough to try sushi, so I had chicken yakisoba.
Me and the bridal party
After dinner we drove to Hesston, KS, where there was an arboretum with mason jars full of candles lighting the entire path. We walked around the lake. It was nice.

Nate, me, Caitlin, and Andy
Saturday, I met the rest of Nate's extended family and we hung out in downtown Wichita. We had lunch at Old Chicago with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was unusually cold and cloudy so the rehearsal was moved indoors at a hotel, and then we went to a great rehearsal dinner.

Sunday we got up and went with Ryan and Ashley to Olivet Baptist Church and then had lunch with Ashley's parents. Then we headed over to Eberly Farm, where Caitlin and Andy were getting married. They couldn't get in until two hours prior to the wedding so we helped with some speed decorating. The wedding was wonderful and there was dinner and dancing afterward.

Before we left, we packed my car with as many wedding decorations as we could fit. We will reuse them for our wedding in July! Reusing decorations saves us a ton of money. I have a long to-do list but I'm not stressing out yet about wedding. Not yet.

Sonic ... or used to be.
We stopped in Burlington to see my parents and buy some Luther's beef jerky (the best jerky in the world) before we headed back via KC and St. Louis. We looked for a Sonic in Missouri to get drinks during Happy Hour, and this is where my Garmin took us. My Garmin maps are from 2008 ... but it costs about as much for map updates as it does to buy a new GPS. Someday.

Super Nate

Wonder Alyssa

We filled up the car with gas in Metropolis, IL. Apparently this is where Superman is from, so we couldn't resist a couple of pictures at the gas station.

Extremely packed weekend. We were in Kansas for 3 days but with everything we did, it felt like a week. It was a great weekend.
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