Wednesday, December 3, 2014

After the Wedding: How TTC, Pregnancy, and Parenthood Have Affected the Bicycles’ Relationship

How has trying (or not) to conceive, having kids, or not having kids affected our relationship?  That is an excellent question.

It is no surprise to anyone who knows me or anyone who reads my blog that I never wanted children.  I cannot pinpoint when that feeling started because I am sure at some point in my life I thought about a family and being pregnant and all that goes with it.  At some point, though, I became very dedicated to my career and building a family (in whatever form) was on the back burner.  That's why marrying a man with two children surprised not only myself but also everyone around me.

One of the first big questions I asked Mr. B when we started dating was whether or not he wanted more kids.  He definitely did not and I was relieved to tell him I was on the same page.  Although there are families that make it work, he did not want to add a baby into a divorced-and-remarried parental situation.  When we started getting serious A and M were 8 and 11 (they are 11 and 14 now) and adding another child into the mix did not make sense to any of us.

Being a Parent
Being a stepmother has been - by far - the most rewarding and most difficult thing I have experienced.  Having the kids half of the time has its benefits and its challenges.  Mr. B's job has been very difficult and time consuming and I have stepped into the role of primary parent when the kids are with us.  I cook most of the meals, I take the kids to school, etc.  It is not a position I ever thought I would find myself in but I actually kind of like it.  I like it half of the time.

One day Mr. B asked me if I would have gotten serious with him if he had the kids full time.  You know what?  I would not have.  I know that may come off as harsh but the truth is I never wanted to be a parent.  It wouldn't be fair to anyone involved for me to "make it work" just because I loved Mr. B.  I now love A and M as if they were my own and obviously if something happened and they were always with us from this point, we would be great.  We have even talked about setting some legal procedures in motion so that if something were to happen to Mr. B, I would still have rights to the children. 

A and M have made me a better person than I ever knew I could be.  Having them come to me with a problem they think I can solve (honors algebra or 5th grade girls, not sure which is trickier), seeing the smile on A's face when she learns something new, helping M try a new hairstyle...  These are the things that make me grin from ear to ear.  We spent the summer together at lacrosse tournaments and taking trips to Toronto and Niagara falls...

We even convinced the kids to run their first 10K, the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta on the 4th of July!

Mr. B and I ran the race by ourselves the year before and doing it with the kids was so much more memorable.  I know I lucked out in the stepchild department and I am just keeping my fingers crossed this wonderful relationship continues through high school! 

Not Being a Parent
I am at an age where it seems as though all my friends are having children.  It is just the natural progression of life.  A few years ago my fridge was covered in wedding invitations.  Now it is covered in birth announcements and family Christmas cards.  It is difficult for me to explain how this makes me feel and I really hope I do not offend any of my friends who may be reading, but here it goes....

I have been asked if I feel like I am missing out by not having children of my own.  By not being pregnant, having a baby, having a biological child.  The truth is I do feel like I am missing something in my life right now, but it isn't what you would think.  I miss my friends.  I miss our old relationships.  I miss happy hours and Sunday afternoon movies and weekend trips.  Heck, I miss shopping trips.  I do have some close friends who aren't yet at that point, but in general on a rare free night when Mr. B asks if we should see if anyone wants to do something, I frequently find myself telling him there is no sense in asking anyone because everyone has a baby at home.   We do rarely make time for lunches and brunches but when we do, 9 times out of 10, it is a family affair.  I don't blame them, I almost blame myself for not being able to move on past that life.  Past that time when we could go to dinner and get drinks and no one was worried about breastfeeding or relieving a sitter. 

I haven't figured out yet how to balance it.  I am the only one of my friends who has children half the time.  When I have a free Saturday night, very few others do.  I know I am not the only one in this position.  I just need to figure out how to deal with everyone wanting to ask me if I have an emptiness inside and not being able to truly explain the emptiness I have. 

Our Relationship
I can say with confidence that Mr. B is surprised by how much I have stepped up to the role of stepmother.  I almost think it makes us closer because he sees how I think of the kids as my own.  He doesn't really understand how I am feeling right now and I can't truly explain it to him.  He doesn't get why I am okay not having kids of my own, although I know for a fact he wouldn't be with me if I wanted children.

I am considering having a procedure that would alleviate the intense physical pain I have once a month.  It would prevent me from ever having children.  My doctor was a bit skeptical of how okay I was with that fact and how I didn't seem to give it a second thought.  I assured him it is something I have thought about for years and I have never - not once - had a hint of changing my mind.  Mr. B is worried that something will happen to him and I will remarry and decide I really do want children of my own.  I don't know how to fully convey that I will never have that desire without making myself seem like someone who hates children.

The one part of having children that I feel I am missing is the bond between a pregnant woman and her partner.  It just seems so intimate to me.  So special.  Mr. B's ex wife did not enjoy being pregnant and did not have pleasant pregnancies, so this concept is lost on him.  Am I crazy for thinking it?

Overall, having A and M in my life has made me a better person and a better partner to Mr. B.  I am grateful for them in my life every day and I hope everyone gets to experience that kind of love, whether it be through a child or some other way. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Built for Two: All Good Things

The cake was cut, the drinks were flowing, and the dancing was in full swing.  In the blink of an eye it was time to play one last song and end the reception I spent so long planning.  Our DJ suggested a few songs but somehow we decided to play our first dance song again, "White Dress" by Ben Rector.

Photo by Ashley Daniell Photography
Photo by Ashley Daniell Photography
I couldn't believe it was over.  I found my way to my favorite place in the world - the nook between Mr. B's chin and shoulder.

Photo by Ashley Daniell Photography
Luckily our friends know how to have a good time and an after party was planned for a bar down the street.  One thing that didn't occur to us before stepping out into the real world was this was Halloween weekend in an eccentric city.  The costumes were in full swing and we didn't look out of place at all in the city streets.  I realized one last perk of being the bride is the ability to skip a line out the door to get to a table reserved by my friends. 

Luckily there aren't a lot of pictures from the after party so I will just have to leave you with this gem:

Photo by Best Man Rep
It was around this time that Mr. B's friends decided to pull me aside and thank me for making him so happy.  Toward the end of his previous marriage, things weren't great and it showed.  They credited me for bringing back "the old Mr. B" and told me what a wonderful influence and presence in his life I had been.  I had managed to make it the entire day without crying but this heartfelt conversation at the end of a very long day was the straw that broke the camel's back and the tears started flowing.  Mr. B and I make each other better people, which is how I know we are meant to be.

We eventually said goodbye to our friends and walked back to our hotel as husband and wife.  The end of a nearly perfect day.

You aren't quite done with me yet!  Stay tuned for details and vendor reviews.

Miss a recap? Get caught up here!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Built For Two: Cut the Cake and Cut a Rug

With toasts over it was time for one of the most important parts of the wedding - the cake (from Baker's Pride)!  You may remember our amazing cake tasting, which was basically us sitting in Forsyth Park eating cupcakes and drinking champagne.  We decided on a three-tier round cake with a hummingbird top and bottom layer, vanilla center layer, and white buttercream frosting.  You may also recall the gold fleur de lis cake topper I planned on using.  Well, we got onto the dance floor for our first dance and I got my first glimpse of the cake.

Unless noted, all photos by Ashley Daniell Photography

 Yum, the cake looks delicious!  But wait - something is missing.  Where is the cake topper?!

The first half of our first dance was spent with me trying to figure out what happened to the topper.  Eventually Mr. B asked who I gave it to.  Uh...  I think I gave it to no one.  I think it is sitting in a box in our hotel room.  I lasted about 30 minutes of the reception before I asked our DOC to go back and get it, a 2 block walk from the reception.

There we go!  Much better.  We chose Blake Shelton's "God Gave Me You" to play for the cake cutting.

God Gave Me You by Blake Shelton on Grooveshark

 Cake cutting is serious business!

We had a deal that there would be no cake smashing or other antics and things went very smoothly once we got past the logistics of actually cutting the cake.

It was delicious! 

While we are on the subject of things not going exactly according to plan, I will mention our guest book.  I ordered a wine box for people to sign (the top) and put gifts/cards in (the box).  I ordered it from Ebay with not a whole lot of time to spare.  It was supposed to arrive on the Wednesday before we left for Savannah but when it hadn't yet arrived by the time we hit the road on Thursday, I asked our neighbors to grab it from the porch and bring it with them when they came up the next day.  Spoiler alert - it never arrived.

Meghan, the super sweet coordinator at Garibaldi, heard that we weren't going to have a guest book and took it upon herself to come up with a backup plan.  She had everyone sign a Savannah calendar and Stepdaughter A took great pride in walking from table to table, gathering notes and well wishes.

With the formalities out of the way it was time for the dance party!

Throughout our entire engagement we kept a shared note of songs to be played at the reception.  We ended up with a completely random assortment of music that our DJ made work.  Songs included "You're my best friend" by Queen, "Tearin' up my heart" by *NSYNC, "Summertime" by Kenny Chesney, "Lucky one" by Vertical Horizon, and  "Love you like a love song" by Selena Gomez.  Completely random.  Completely amazing. 

We all had so. much. fun.  It was everything I hoped our reception would be and then some.  Shoes came off, drinks flowed, and everyone seemed to be having a blast.  But, as much as I would have loved this night to go on forever, it eventually had to come to a close...

Miss a recap? Get caught up here!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Built for Two: Call Me Maybe

All photos by Ashley Daniell Photography

What has to happen during a wedding to get a reaction like this?

Well, one way to get your audience in stitches during your Maid of Honor toast is to play a video of the bride and groom dancing to "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.  Something along these lines:

Let me back up for a minute.  About a year before our wedding Mr. B and I visited my sister in New York City.  She was going through a phase (is it over yet?) of making videos set to popular songs.  She sat us down on her couch and had us play along to "Call Me Maybe," a favorite song of mine.  Stepdaughter A was also a fan of the song so we had some moves that we would all do when it would come on.  Well, fast forward to her toast.  And the projector and screen came out.  And I panicked.  I knew she was going to play it and Mr. B and I thought about trying to stop it but Bridesmaid Doc told me about how things went down that day.

During our first look my bridesmaids were killing time in the hotel suite and my sister showed everyone the video, thinking they would all find it cute (and very much us).  They became instantly obsessed and someone suggested playing it at the reception.  Bridesmaid NOLA, fresh off a work trip, happened to have a projector with her.  Garibaldi's was able to secure a screen.  The rest is history.

My sister said some nice things about us and then introduced the video.  I cannot remember a time I was more nervous but it turns out it was probably the most memorable part of the reception - in a good way.  I have never seen an entire room erupt in laughter for three minutes straight.

It was cheek-hurting laughter.

I don't know how or why, but immediately after the video we spontaneously reenacted it on the dance floor.  The DJ must have put it on and we did the only thing we could - dance!

I cannot think of a better way for my sister to have toasted us.

Miss a recap? Get caught up here!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Built for Two: Let's Eat!

I almost hate to say it but I am going to anyway - coming up with our seating arrangement was very easy for us!  We started with some bare bones (which parents should be where, etc.) and then filled in the gaps based on who we thought would enjoy each other.  You may recall that we decided to use the squares of Savannah as table names, which were designed by our day of coordinator, Adrianne.  Adrianne also made the seating arrangement poster - a bigger version of the map we were using on the tables.

All photos by Ashley Daniell Photography

Sorry this doesn't really do it justice - trying to protect my guests' identities!

Each card had a map of downtown Savannah with a mark on that table's square and a description/history of the square on the back.  They were held up by wine corks I put together along with ribbon and a navy fleur de lis wax seal.  Gold candles were scattered throughout the tables as well.

A friend of Mr. B's said a blessing and then it was time to eat.

Mr. B with the grandfather of Stepkids A and M

The food and drink at our wedding were very important.  We worked with Garibaldi's to craft a menu that tasted delicious and satisfied our broad range of wedding guests.  Adrianne made our menus and they were at each place setting as guests sat down.

Front and Back
First Course - Garden Salad or Garibaldi Salad
Second Course - Chicken Milanese (what I had!  YUM!), Shrimp Scampi, or New York Strip
Third Course - Vanilla or Hummingbird Wedding Cake

Mr. B and I alternated between eating and making the rounds.  We didn't have a plan - we just walked around and talked to anyone we could.  I am happy to report that I ate most of my salad and entree!

Mr. B with his Stepfather

At some point we were approached by a rather random man.  Apparently he knew our best man and had met the groomsmen during the bachelor party.  He happened to be having dinner downstairs and wanted to pop up and say hi.  So we had a wedding crasher?

During dinner, Stepdaughter A walked our stand-in guest book around for people to sign.  I say "stand-in" because our actual guest book (a wine box for people to sign) never showed up and our coordinator at Garibaldi's stepped in with a Savannah calendar for people to sign.  It was really sweet! 

Midway through dinner, Best Man Rep took the mic to give his toast.

"On behalf of Mrs. Bicycle and Mr. Bicycle, I'd like to thank everyone for attending this beautiful wedding today.  My name is Best Man Rep and I am the Best Man.  I'm proud to call Mr. B my friend and I'm thrilled to be a part of such a joyous occasion, the start of a new chapter in his life with Mrs. Bicycle.

Mrs. Bicycle, you've captured the heart of our friend Mr. B and the backdrop of these events are storybook.  Mrs. Bicycle, from the theme, city, the venues and time of year (I'm sure you noticed, no Florida Gator football game this weekend), in all, you've truly outdone yourself.

May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet; enough trials to keep you strong; enough sorrow to keep you human; enough hope to keep you happy; enough failure to keep you humble; enough success to keep you eager; enough friends to give you comfort; enough faith and courage in yourself, your business, and your country to banish depression; enough wealth to meet your needs; enough determination to make each day better than yesterday.

May all your hopes and dreams come true, and may the memory of this day become dearer with each passing year.

Ladies and gentlemen, to Mr. & Mrs. Bicycle."

His toast was so sweet and we truly appreciate everything he did as Best Man. 

Up next - my sister gives one of the most epic toasts in history.

Miss a recap? Get caught up here!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Built for Two: Introductions and First Dance

We had the second floor of Garibaldi reserved for our reception and guests entered by the staircase that was right next to the main restaurant entrance.  When it was our turn to enter the reception, we waited at the bottom of the stairs for our cue.

Unless noted, all photos by Ashley Daniell Photography

Everyone crowded around the top of the stairs, waiting for us to join them.  Flower Girl Pad was particularly excited.

Photo by MOH NYC
Mr. B did not have a strong opinion for our entrance song and I had something brewing in the back of my mind for a while that ended up being perfect.  Mr. B is a huge Tampa Bay Rays baseball fan and one of his favorite players is Evan Longoria.  We both always remarked how cool his "walk up music" was and eventually we figured out it is "Down and Out" by Tantric.  It has this cool violin section to begin, which is what Evan uses to go to bat, before getting into more of an intense song.  The violin part is both memorable and really cool, so I had the DJ play just that part as we walked into the reception - a total surprise to Mr. B.

"Down and Out" by Tantric

I doubt many people understood the song but we did and that's all that matters.

Photo by Best Man Rep

We then hit the dance floor and launched right into our first dance, "White Dress" by Ben Rector.

"White Dress" by Ben Rector

"I never knew that I could love someone like you..."  Nothing could have been more perfect.

We didn't want people to awkwardly watch us dance for three minutes so we had the DJ call everyone to the dance floor to join us after the first chorus.


This next one is Mr. B and me with one of my best friends, Bridesmaid Doc.

Her husband came to join us and apparently this wasn't okay with me?

Haha, I really have no idea what is happening there.

Up next - the blessing and dinner.

Anyone else work a baseball walk-up song into their reception?  I highly recommend it for baseball fans!  In a perfect world I would have chosen Mariano Rivera's song ("Enter Sandman" by Metallica) but I wanted this to be a nice surprise for Mr. B.

Miss a recap? Get caught up here!