Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our Wedding Day

Nicholas and I were married on April 14, 2012 in Cabo San Lucas. It was perfect in every way imaginable! 25 of our closest friends and our parents joined us for the better part of a week of fun, sun, and lots of laughter. We had such a great time that I never really got the chance to get stressed out or nervous in the days leading up to the ceremony. I had worked out the majority of the details with the on-site wedding coordinator via email before we arrived, so Nick and I only had to meet with her once to confirm a few last minute things.

We had decided to go the traditional route and not see each other before the ceremony. Nick packed up after dinner and I had a girl's night with my best friends. I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday and ready to get married! After a morning by the pool (and getting really excited when I saw the delivery of my flowers!) I had an appointment to get my hair done at the resort salon. I brought pictures of the 'do I wanted, but was very careful to explain that I wanted it soft and down and not at all a stiff up-do. After a few misfires, I knew that we were not on the same page but, luckily for me, my wonderful cousin saved the day and redid my hair once we got back to the hotel room. (Thank you, Lauren!) Believe it or not, this little snafu was the only thing the entire week that did not go exactly according to plan!
I was so excited getting ready!!
Finally it was time, and down to the beach we went. My sweet friend Morgan was able to capture this moment of Nicholas waiting for the ceremony to start. It might be my most favorite picture ever taken of Nick.
 Here are some of my favorite pictures from the wedding.

Everything was perfect! We are so thankful that so many of our friends were able to come down and celebrate with us!
The entire group
The Johnston and McMacken families unite!
Our wedding party. These are the best friends that you could ask for!
We had an amazing time and would not have changed anything. I think that is the true test of a great wedding... We had a reception back in Grapevine so that we could celebrate with our family and friends that were unable to join us in Mexico, but that is a story for another day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where Did January Go?!?!

I tend to lose track of time. Not in a "wow, it is already 5:00" kind of way, but more like a "holy crap! It is already February!" kind of way. We have had such a busy fall and winter that the past few months have absolutely flown by. So much has happened that I felt a mini-rundown was in order.

I spent my 29th birthday participating in my first mud-run. I had a blast running with some awesome friends, and was extremely appreciative of the beer you got upon completion! I did manage to lock my cousin and myself out of my car (I switched the last two numbers on the lock keypad and then once I had the wrong code in my head, nothing else mattered) but thanks to roadside assistance we survived and made it to Flip's patio for birthday beers in all of our muddy glory.

In October, our amazing friends Lacie and Matt Bullard hosted an engagement party in our honor. We had such a fun time with all of our friends! The party had a stock-the-bar theme and we received more liquor then we will ever consume. It was incredible! Not only is our liquor cabinet full, the entire top shelf of our pantry is also stocked. The entire night reminded Nick and I how lucky we are to have such great friends. The Bullards threw a fabulous party, and we are so thankful for everyone who was able to attend.

We also had our engagement pictures taken by the amazingly talented Sarah Rizy from Lightly Photography. We met Sarah on a rather chilly morning in Grapevine and took pictures up and down Main Street, in front of Willhoite's (where we met), and at the old train depot. Nick was a little hesitant about getting his picture taken for two hours (he is a little camera shy) but we ended up having so much fun that the morning flew by. Here are just a few of my favorite, but you can also check out their blog here: Lightly Photography

You might have heard a little about all of the earthquakes that we got here in Oklahoma... The little town of Prague (just a few miles east of Oklahoma City) was the epicenter of tons of earthquakes this fall. Most of them were small enough that only the people surrounding the epicenter could feel it, but there were a few that we could definitely feel. One in particular was especially scary. It was the Saturday night of LSU v Alabama (round one) and we had just gotten home from dinner when we felt our first major earthquake. We could hear it first; it sounded like a train was headed right towards our bedroom. All of the sudden the room started to shake and everything not attached was swaying back and forth. We were a little panicked, if only because we had no idea how to react. Everything swayed for a good minute before it was over. It was a little surreal, and Nick and I just looked at each other, like "did this really just happen?" I checked Facebook later that night and found that this earthquake was felt all over the place, down into Texas and up in Kansas and Nebraska. We expected tornadoes and crazy winters when we moved to Oklahoma, but earthquakes were not part of the deal!

With November came the always crazy holiday season. This year was especially hairy as we coordinated travel from Oklahoma and made sure to get our quality time in with everyone. Nick and I also worked with his brothers to fly their mom in from Kentucky for her birthday. It was so great to see her and to spend a long weekend together. The weekend culminated with a party at Boomer Jack's so that all of her friends could come together. We had a blast, and were so sorry to see her go.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love the smells, the lights, the decorations, everything! I love buying Christmas presents, and I love gathering together with my family. We always spend Christmas Eve with my dad. Christmas Eve will always be a little bittersweet to me, as this was the night that I would spend with my parents. My mom would make an extravagant dinner, we lay around watching Christmas movies in front of the fire, and always try and convince my dad to let us open our presents early. Even after I grew up and lived on my own, I always spent the night at my parent's house. These past six years without my mom have been hard. We still spend Christmas Eve together, but naturally it wasn't the same. This year, however, was a little different. Nick and I were staying with my dad for the long weekend, and once the house started to fill up with my brother, sister, and their spouses, it really felt more like Christmas. We were also joined by a very special guest, my dad's girlfriend. Things got loud, people were laughing and teasing, my dad tried his had (unsuccessfully) at bartending; it was everything that I loved about Christmas. As I grow older, I find that I will spend time reminiscing about how things used to be. I was talking about this with my dad, and he very wisely said that you could always hold on to those memories but also start to make your own. As we start our own family, Nick and I will start our own traditions. We will make Christmas whatever we want, and then work with our families to strike that perfect balance. It is nice to have such a reasonable and wise father... :-)

After Christmas, Nick and I flew up to Michigan to join his family. Nick's cousin got married on December 30th outside of Detroit. It was so nice to see his grandpa and all of his aunts and uncles and cousins! I told Nick that we needed to start flying up there more often, especially after we all start having kids. I love how close Nick and his brothers are with their cousins, even though they have lived in separate parts of the country their entire lives. We had a blast the entire time, and the wedding was absolutely gorgeous. Have you ever seen My Fair Wedding with David Tutera? This wedding put his to shame. The bride's family owns a bridal shop, so they clearly knew what they were doing. Every single detail was carefully thought out and executed to perfection. It was so beautiful, and we were so grateful to be a part of such an amazing day.

Which brings us to today. Nick and I are busy working, and planning all of the last minute details for our own wedding. We leave for Mexico in about two months. Holy cow! Where did all of the time go? I am so happy that we decided on a destination wedding, because I do not think that I could handle the stress of planning a big Texas shindig from Oklahoma. Everything is starting to fall into place, and now we can look forward to all of the fun stuff! Showers! Bachelorette Party! Cupcake Tasting!! I have a feeling that the next two months are going to fly by, but I think that I am just going to go with the flow.

As I look at what I want to accomplish in 2012, it comes down to the simple things. I want to be happy. I want to be a good wife (that's exciting to say!), a good friend, a good sister, and a good daughter. I want to work hard, to play hard, and to enjoy whatever life throws our way. I am not going to be perfect, but I can certainly try my hardest to be the best that I can be. It isn't really a resolution, but rather something to strive for.

I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a great year!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!!

September is going to be one of the busiest and most stressful months for Nick and I. We are both crazy busy with work, so much so that he is having to work overtime all this month and cannot come home until Friday night each week. He is usually home Thursday night, so this means one more night a week that I am by myself. Not fun, but at least the month is flying by.

We decided last weekend that we needed to take full advantage of each day that we have together right now so we took a trip down to the G.W. Exotic Animal Farm in Wynnewood, OK. This huge facility is about 50 miles south of Norman so it was perfect for a short day trip. We opted for the guided tour, which promised up close and personal time with a variety of wild animals. They weren't kidding! We saw lots of lions and tigers, and even saw a few ligers, which are massive!

In addition to the large number of big cats, the facility had also rescued lots of other exotic animals. They had everything from bears, to alligators (which came from Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch), with wolves and mini horses in between! It was so fun to walk around and here stories about the animals, although many stories were sadly about how they were rescued from inhumane conditions.

After the tour, we gathered in an enclosed area while the guides brought in several animals for us to pet. We played with two twelve week old tigers, two wolf cubs (one of which was named Scout!), a baby lemur, and a giant yellow snake. I was a little scared of the snake but I did manage to touch it once before recoiling in fear.

A Much Needed Escape

Nicholas and I are both blessed with having some of the best friends in the world. We realize this and are forever grateful for this, especially when our best friends have a cabin tucked away in Colorado and invite us to spend a week with them fly fishing, reading, drinking, and relaxing. We spent the first week in August (one of the hottest weeks of the year in both Texas and Oklahoma) enjoying beautiful weather and awesome company with Lacie and Matt at their cabin outside of Creede, CO. Lacie's dad and grandfather built this cabin years and years ago alongside the headwaters of the Rio Grande River.

This was honestly one of the most fun weeks I have ever had. We woke up to beer biscuits (a Matt Bullard specialty) and coffee with baileys every morning and then settled into our plan for the day. Most days were spent reading on the porch, drinking a bloody mary of course, with Lacie while the boys fished in the Rio Grande. Nicholas had never been fly fishing before, but managed to catch a pretty good sized fish his first day.

One day we traveled to Lake City, on the other side of the continental divide, to rent a jeep and drive up extremely scary mountain passes. The scenery was absolutely beautiful! We took way too many pictures to post, but trust me when I say that neither Texas nor Oklahoma have anything on these mountains! There was, however, one particular part of the trip that was truly death defying. We were near the top of a pass, on a road designed to fit one car, when another jeep came around the bend headed straight toward us. There was absolutely no where to go to let them pass so Matt inched his way up the side of the mountain. We were honestly at a 45 degree angle on top of a mountain. I sat behind Matt on the drivers side and was looking straight down as these jeeps attempted to pass us with no room to spare. Had their wheels been inches further, they would have tumbled down the mountain - no lie! I definitely needed a beer after that! Thanks to Matt's superb driving skills, we all made it down the mountain alive.

My absolute favorite memory from this trip was sitting on the porch late one night after dinner, curled up with a blanket and a cocktail, and playing the question game under the stars for hours. We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends! We all had a great time, and cannot wait to go back for years to come.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Full Steam Ahead!

After almost six months of nothing, we have made huge strides in our wedding planning in the past month and a half! Nick and I had gone back and forth throughout our years together on whether we wanted the big traditional wedding or a smaller destination wedding. We could see the pros and cons of both but kept flip flopping over which option was best for us. After we got engaged, however, it was like someone flipped on the light and we both knew that we wanted to get married on the beach. To be honest, the move to Oklahoma probably factored highly into that decision since we would not ever get married here and driving back to Dallas every weekend for a year to plan a wedding did sound appealing at all, but we just decided one night that we wanted a destination wedding. The move and my last semester in grad school kept us from making any other decisions beyond that until this summer.

After graduation, I began to scout out locations and stumbled upon a gorgeous resort in Cabo San Lucas. After browsing through the pictures and wedding packages, we knew that this was the place. I was terrified of becoming one of those horror stories of a bad vacation so I did my due diligence and read up on Trip Advisor and spoke with lots of people who had been to Cabo and even some that had stayed at this resort chain in other parts of Mexico. Dad's credit card in hand, the place was booked and we were confirmed to wed April 14th at 6:00 pm. The nice part of destination weddings is that they have an on-site coordinator to help you with everything. We just have to tell her our colors and she helps us put together the bouquets and decorations and decorate the cake. The resort is all inclusive so we don't have to plan much for the reception beyond choosing which restaurant to dine in after the ceremony. We will finalize most of the details when we go down several days before the ceremony (legal requirements for Mexico) but so far, everyone that I have spoken with has been extremely helpful. So far, so good!

Once we had the place booked, the most important thing left on the to-do list (in my opinion anyways) was to find the perfect wedding dress. I rounded up my best girls and tried on a number of beautiful gowns. We were able to narrow it down to two, but I needed a few weeks to make my final decision. Nick had two requests: that I wear my hair down and skip the veil, so these certainly played a part in choosing the dress. Final decision was made and I could not be happier. I cannot wait for it to come in... I might be one of those girls that try their dress on a few too many times before the wedding. The day I ordered my dress, I brought along two of my bridesmaids and picked out their beautiful dresses. Not only do I have the best friends that a girl could ask for, but I also have the hottest friends ever! All four of my girls are simply stunning, so it was very easy to turn the choice over to them because I knew they would look amazing in anything. Another plus of having hot bridesmaids is that extra motivation to ramp up my own workouts!

It honestly feels like everything is falling into place. After picking out the bridesmaid dresses, I carried around a swatch to help me find the perfect tie for Nick and his groomsmen. Men's Wearhouse has a great selection of ties with their tuxedo rentals and we found one that looked great with the bridesmaid dresses, but since we are getting married in Mexico a formal tuxedo is not exactly appropriate and you cannot buy ties separately from the tuxedo. Nick has decided on a khaki colored suit and so I wanted a bright tie to coordinate with the brightly colored dresses and flowers of our tropical theme. I found the perfect tie at Express (they have awesome men's clothes, by the way!) and we were able to check one more thing off our to-do list.

I was a little nervous about entered the planning stage of the wedding. I always imagined that this would be something that my mom and I did together and that my wedding would be princess like. My mom never did anything halfway, and as I write that I wonder if subconsciously her not being here is why I was leaning towards the destination wedding. It just didn't seem right to plan a big wedding without her and maybe this is my way of moving forward. I know that there is always going to be a huge hole in my heart without my mom here, and I have to experience that ache every time I hit another milestone. This reminds me of the tiny slip of paper that my dad found in their bathroom after the accident. For some reason, my mom clipped out this quote from a magazine. I read this quote at the funeral and have kept it in my wallet ever since.

"The agony is great and yet I will stand it. Had I not loved so much I would not hurt so much at her passing. But goodness knows, I would not want to diminish that precious love by one fraction. I will hurt and I will be grateful for it. For it bears witness to the depths of our love. And for that I will be eternally grateful."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Graduation Weekend

This was one of the best weekends that I have had in a long time! We had so much going on that we didn't stop moving from Wednesday night through late last night when we passed out at 10:00. I guess that we should start at the beginning...

I went home this weekend for my graduation from the University of North Texas. After four long years, I finally finished my Master's program and was ready to celebrate! Much to my surprise, Dr. Phil was our commencement speaker at the ceremony. He earned his MA and PhD at UNT and received an award on Friday that I swear the university president made up an hour before. I figured that the ceremony would only last about an hour and a half since it was only for advanced degrees, but I was sadly mistaken! I began receiving texts from Nick about two hours in to sneak out, and finally caved after two and a half hours when I realized that they were only half way done with the doctoral students! I was one of the first to walk across the stage, so I had no problem sneaking back out the middle aisle to find my happy family. I felt so lucky that Nicholas, my dad, and all three of my grandparents were in attendance to watch me receive my (temporary) diploma!

After the ceremony, we were off to Chimy's in Fort Worth to celebrate with my wonderful friends. I am not sure how I got so lucky, but I can honestly say that I have the best friends in the world! Traffic was terrible on Friday, but so many came out and helped me drink a few too many beer-rita's. We had an absolute blast and only got mildly out of control!

The fun continued on Saturday when Nicholas and I took our favorite two year old to Lone Star Park to see the horses. Jackson is such a sweet and funny boy that Nick and I were cracking up the whole day. As soon as he realized that we were going to see horses, he dragged Nick to his room to get his boots because what cowboy doesn't wear boots? The weather was perfect and Jackson was in a great mood. The track was not crowded at all, so he got to run around, push his own stroller, and stare in amazement at every horse that passed. He is talking so much now, and while we couldn't understand everything he said, he was great at repeating and would clap every time the horses ran by.

Speaking of beautiful Smart kids, I also got to finally meet Miss Braylee, Jackson's new sister. I cannot get over how pretty she is! She has dark hair and olive skin, which makes me wonder who her parents are considering Brooke and DeWayne are the blondest fairest people you will ever meet! In all sincerity, I am so blessed to call this great family our friends.

Nick's birthday was on Tuesday, but we were finally able to celebrate Saturday night with a delicious dinner at Carrabba's. This is one of our top three all time places to eat, and we are very sad that there are none in the OKC area. After dinner, we were off to Billy Bob's to see Pat Green with a large part of my dad's family. There had to be at least twenty of us there, so it was great to see everyone while we were in town. I was a little disappointed in Pat Green... He is so different from how he was while we were in college, and it almost seems like he thinks that he is way cooler than he really is. What Texas Country band has a costume change during a concert?!? Really, Pat Green? Do you think that you are Britney Spears? I do believe that my friend Matt's term of Nash-Vegas is applicable here. :-)

Sunday was more of the same: visiting friends, seeing my cousin's new house, but topped off with a McMacken Family celebration dinner. We had dinner with Nick's family and Lisa even made me my favorite cake in UNT colors! It was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.

I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family. This past weekend was a great way to finish a chapter in my life, and I am really looking forward to all of the free time that I will have now that I am not reading and writing papers each week. I wonder how I will keep myself busy? Oh yeah... now I can actually plan that wedding that we have been talking about for almost 6 months!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!!

Happy Birthday! There are no words to describe what you mean to me. You stood by my side in the hardest time of my life. Without you, I would be a mess. You encouraged me to go back to school. You supported me when I suggested uprooting our lives with this new job and the move to Oklahoma. You asked me to share the right of my life with you. You are the person that I am meant to be with. You make me a better person. We may have a crazy and nontraditional life, but it is our life and we are facing it together. I love you!