I got married

I got married

Let me see, I could only describe my wedding day as the happiest day of my life. Now, I know it sounds corny or like that’s what I’m “supposed” to call it, but it’s true. It honestly was the happiest day of my life.

The good times started with all the friends and family visiting and staying at my house for a week. We all took a trip to Cedar Point, which was a total blast, and then the rehearsal and dinner. It was just a fantastic week of fun and excitement.

[7/25/2007 Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH]

The rehearsal dinner was wonderful. It was put on by my dad and Angie at my Aunt Nancy’s awesomely-huge house. I had gotten my groomsmen gifts from Things Remembered. (Thanks Amber). I picked out something that each person would like and had it engraved with something hilarious or witty, or just plain amazing. Like my brother, Dan, for instance, I had our “Dymond logo” put on a pocket watch. If you don’t know what that symbol looks like, it’s tattooed on our backs, (Dan and me).

The big day arrived and it was filled with minor disasters. First of all the biggest problem was when we found out that John, our wedding planner Kelly’s husband, had been in a  car accident and that she wouldn’t be able to continue planning or even attend the wedding. Right there I wasn’t sure how in the world we were going to pull it off.

The next problem was when the people were setting up the chairs for the outdoor ceremony, they seemed to have stopped quite short of what we needed. I asked them if they were going back for more, to which they replied “Nope this is it. You needed 85 right? That’s what we were told. “ Wow, 85 chairs for a 130-person wedding. That got me pretty annoyed, and with Kelly out of the picture I called my dad to try to get the chairs from the rehearsal dinner. Those ones had already been taken back. So we ended up having people sitting on the grass, which ended up being pretty cool because there were kids sitting here and there and families in the shade and everyone seemed to think it wasn’t a problem.

Another minor incident came when I was trying to button my jacket and the button went flying off the balcony into the main lobby. We had 15 people searching every inch of floor and no one could find the stupid thing. I’m not sure who, but I think it may have been Katie or my mom, but my jacket was taken from me and my button was moved from the bottom to the top and before I knew it, I could button it again.

Once things got settled down and photos of the guys were taken, and time started moving faster and faster, I found myself standing in front of everyone I ever knew. I couldn’t believe that it was time to get this thing started.

[Ryan did an awesome job of keeping me from getting nervous]

It’s silly to think that 2 years went into planning a party surrounding an event that only lasted 20 minutes.

The music started and down came the moms and the girls and the couples and then I saw my dad’s black car slowly roll up behind everyone. I knew that this meant that Trista was about to emerge.

…Before I continue I must say that I didn’t understand that whole “don’t see the bride before the ceremony thing” but boy, I tell you what, it sure added a TON of suspense for when she finally did arrive, thus making the payoff totally worth it. I recommend that anyone getting married, stick to that tradition. It will really freak you out.

So here she came, walking down the aisle with her dad to some really great song she had picked out from the “Amile” soundtrack.

[me = freaking out right about now]

I couldn’t help it, I didn’t think it would happen, but I was overcome with a rush of emotion that I could barely control. She looked more beautiful and happy than I had ever seen her. I couldn’t stop staring at her and I didn’t expect to have to deal with this strong of a feeling so soon, if at all. I mean, I had been so nervous about everything going right and worried about everything that it sort of became more about the even than the ACTUAL event itself, not to mention how fast the whole thing came. But once I saw her, I was whisked away into this world where I was getting married and everything about the day was falling into perfect harmony.

Everything about the ceremony was absolutely amazing. Having Mark and Ben J. perform the marriage was incredible. I really loved having this done by our friends and not some minister or stranger. It just seemed like a bunch of friends getting together to do something really important, each of them filling a necessary role in the event.

[Ben and Mark. Their ties matched the wedding party, how sweet is that?]

When Jen started reading the poem that T had picked out, I couldn’t believe how moving it was, and again, I started to well up. I mean COME ON! (For the record, I strongly dislike poetry,) this reading really got to me because I was looking to T’s eyes and actually listening to what was being said and it was like the most perfect thing to say.

Here are the poems she read.

Instead of having a unity candle, we combined sand. My mother brought sand from the sandbox at the elementary school in Birch Run, where I grew up, and Trista’s mom brought sand from a local beach near her home town in New York. (One really cool thing about doing it this way was that we got to keep the “sand art” as a keepsake.)

During this pouring of the sand Leigh Ann sang “The Nearness of You” by Norah Jones as Ryan played piano. This sounded so incredible. Since pouring a small glass of sand into a larger glass doesn’t take nearly as long as singing a song like this, T and I were left standing up there staring at each other while everyone in our entire lives stared at us staring at each other.  It was interesting. During this time, we were able to speak to one another for the first time, and then we started laughing and then T noted that we were being the rude people, talking and laughing at our OWN WEDDING.

I will always remember what Ben J. said right before he had us exchange rings, he said that Trista and I have a special and unique way of loving each other that no one else needs to understand, and never let anyone tell us that we are doing it wrong. “Nick, only you know how to love Trista the way you do, never forget that, and never be discouraged or mislead into thinking that your way isn’t the right way.”

We couldn’t have asked for better weather either. The temperature was perfect, with a slight breeze to keep things pleasant. This only added to the perfectness of the day. (Perfect = overall theme).

…time out…

I realize that I am running out of words to describe, I’ve used “perfect,” “awesome”, “amazing”, “incredible”, “unbelievable”, “cool”, and “wonderful”. Being that I am not a writer, I will now start to reuse some of these words because I can’t think of any new ones that wouldn’t make it completely obvious I was looking them up in a thesaurus.

…time in…

The ceremony itself was amazing. From the song choices to the poem reading to the actual words that Mark and Ben said to us, to the singing that Leigh Ann did, we couldn’t have asked for a better combination of ingredients. (It was like the perfect storm but in a good way, no one died.)

On to the party:

This was the most fun I have ever had at a wedding reception. Food = awesome, DJ = awesome, Room = awesome. If you were there, then you know, I don’t need to go into great detail about the venue, the word “awesome” sums it up perfectly.

I would like to point out how strange it is having your entire family, your new wife’s entire family, and nearly every single friend you have ever had from any stage of life, all in one room, staring at you wherever you walk and watching whatever it is you do.

On the day of my wedding, I witnessed 3 of the greatest wedding toasts I have ever seen. Katie started them off with a very heartfelt and prepared speech. She had wise words and a clever joke that no one saw coming. (Good one Kate, that’s probably the first time you’ve ever made me laugh.) It really meant a lot to us.

Next came Dan, who probably had more planned to say, but was shooting from the hip and seemed to just say what was in his heart. His words will stick with me forever. He said “Nick recently beat it into my head that I will always be his “little brother” but what I found after thinking about it, is that he will always be my “big brother” and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.” I started to get all emotional again, big time. In fact, I’m tearing up as I type this…

Continuing, Ryan was the hit of the evening. He had little note cards with bullet points and cues. In short, he was FREAKING HILARIOUS. Some of his bits included: “The 3 F’s” Trista and I are Fun, Frugal, and… well, I’m sure you can think of your own “F”. Classic. A poop joke was made. A turned over semi-truck reference was made. And he dissected one of my favorite Crash Test Dummies songs and applied it to our lives. This was one of the most incredible speeches I have ever heard, from anyone about anything. I’m not kidding. I really wish someone had recorded it.

After dinner came the dances. Our song we danced to was called “I have space” by Mates of State. We started to dance and, well look who came back, it’s Crybaby-Nick. I don’t know what it was, again, but I was an emotional wreck. I looked over and saw Katie and Ryan and they had tears in their eyes, and wow, I about lost it. I think after the initial emotion of the moment kicked it off, we fell into a crying paradox because they were crying at us and we were crying at them, and it didn’t stop until the song ended. I can’t listen to this song without getting choked up. Seriously, I had to keep skipping it while I was testing the mp3 player for this site. Again, I’m getting messed up just thinking about it. (Maybe you people don’t realize that I am going through an emotional rollercoaster as I am typing this and I totally didn’t expect to. Look who’s a girl.)

How about this, I’ll just give a summation and end this tear-fest.  There are so many details that I left out, if I had included every single thing that happened or that someone said or who did what or how things looked or how everything worked out this way or that, I would be typing an entire novel.

One sentence version of missed details and stories:

– T’s family drawings reunited.

– Wedding party gifts were a huge hit (from us to them).

– World’s smallest and stupidest wedding cake. (I didn’t get any good cake either).

– Dan and Dave = hilarious tag team of drunken foolishness.

– Trista and I singing “Good Thing”.

– Amy singing “In my daughter’s eyes”.

– Erin ruining my “movie ending”.

– Katie being attacked by bees during the ceremony.

– Trista refusing to lead the dancing train into the other wedding party.

– George having a total blast and then, for some reason pouting.

– Erin being the cutest little dancer we ever did see.

– Ben J. asking for the wrong ring.

– Ben J. exclaiming “here it comes folks” before pronouncing us.

– Trista looking for her tissue during the ceremony and finding that it had fallen into her bra.

– We created our own flower bouquets and boutonnieres.

– The wait staff took and dished out food for us. (sounds lame but was cool).

– Me dancing with my mom to a song called “Good Riddance”.

– Trista’s Father-Daughter dance.

– Grandpa Duane saying the prayer.

– Our campaign flutes each had engraved on them, our individual names and date as well as saying “I’m with stupid”.

– The front of Katie’s dress kept opening up.

This day was the perfect way to start off my new life with the love of my life and, thank you to everyone that had any part, however small, in creating what I will always know to be the happiest day of my life.

Truck Rollover = No Good

Truck Rollover = No Good

As you may or may not know I had an accident. A semi truck accident. On Friday July 20th at 4:15pm. My bachelor party was going to be that very next evening. I had just picked up my last load before 2 weeks of vacation. It was an entire truckload of poster-sized glossy paper.

This is not something you see everyday

I was making a left turn from one backwoods country road onto another backwoods country road when out of the corner of my eye I saw in my mirror my trailer tire leave the ground. I didn’t think this was possible since I wasn’t speeding or doing anything crazy. The next thing I thought was that possibly JUST the trailer could flip on its side leaving the truck upright, but that thought quickly left my head when I was whipped with such speed and force onto my side. I was left dangling in my seat still strapped in by my seat belt not knowing what the heck to think or do.

This photo is not a top-down shot

I sat there, (well actually hung there) for a few seconds wondering how in the world I was going to get out. My truck was on it’s right side and there was no way out. I couldn’t open the driver’s side door because it was too heavy. It was as if I was inside a submarine. Everything I owned was now thrown violently to the right side of the truck, which was now the floor. I quickly unbuckled my seat belt, not thinking of exactly what might happen, and WHOOPS, there I went, falling to the floor. See, a semi truck is like 8 feet wide or so and that means that I had to be hanging at least 7 feet in the air.

I managed to climb out through the sun roof, whose windows had so thoughtfully popped out allowing me to escape.

After removing myself from the truck, I went to call my company, but I realized that my phone and headset were still back where I had left them, on the dash. So I climbed back into the wreck and retrieved them and turned off the engine as well. I was so shaken up I don’t really know who I talked to or what was said, I do know that everyone at my company was overly calm and helpful. I think they’re taught to be like that during times like this.

In no time it seemed that there were police, trucks, wreckers and every other type of emergency vehicle. Well I guess not, because there wasn’t an ambulance. No one was hurt. No one needed medical attention (I did hurt my foot while falling when I was released from my seat belt, but I didn’t mention it).

What a spectacle

There were about 4 tow trucks that came out and one of them was the biggest one I have ever seen. It had a HUMONGOUS boom crane on it. It was needed to lift the trailer up since it was So full of paper. My load was about as heavy as you could legally carry. 43,000 lbs.

The firefighters were mostly concerned with what chemicals might be pouring into the ground. My company had to send out an independent environmental clean up crew to make sure that the EPA wasn’t called in making this an even bigger deal. The only thing that came out was a little engine fluids such as engine coolant and a little bit of oil. There was a small amount of diesel fuel that had leaked out of the tank when it had turned over, but the tank itself wasn’t damaged.

Now this whole time I was worried about whether I would be able to keep my job. I talked to the police officer and he said that it was mandatory that he give me a ticked. He wrote me up for what was called “Violation of Basic Speed Law”, which is the same thing they give to people who lose control on the ice or snow. It doesn’t mean I was speeding, but only that I was going too fast for conditions.

After he gave me this ticket, he then went on about how he didn’t actually think it was my fault at all. He pointed out that my skid marks left by the truck turning over were way too short, indicating that I wasn’t, in fact, going too fast at all.

The officer next reminded me that my trailer had on it what are called “super singles”. These are fat wide tired that take the place of dual side-by-side tires found on most trailers. While these type of tires to increase fuel economy, they are narrower than a pair of regular ones, and they are also inset from the side of the trailer making it just that much more unstable.

One more thing that the officer told me he believed lead to this accident was the shape of the road itself. The roads out in the country are crowned or dome-shaped to keep off the water and ice. When turning from one dome-shaped road onto another dome-shaped road, there will be a small valley created which will make something like a semi truck trailer dip and become unbalanced. That mixed with the load, which was loaded down the center of the truck and not the sides, shifting to that outside of the trailer would cause the truck to flip over. This was all out of the mouth of the officer. He said he was a member of the State of Michigan advanced accident detective something or other and it was his expert opinion based on these things I have mentioned, that it wasn’t my fault, and that if it hadn’t happened at this corner, it very well could have happened at the next turn I made down the road.

My phone steadily losing battery life during all of this and I lost the ability to take photos during the time when it would have been the most interesting, the actual re-flipping of the truck into it’s upright and correct position. I did manage to charge my phone on my laptop sitting in the corn field while this part took place. The real fear during all of this was wondering if they could actually be able to bring the truck upright without having to unload all the product that was on the trailer. If that had been the case, it probably would have taken hours and hours and hours before all of that paper was removed.

The trailer is back upright, but NOT looking good

The trailer was completely fine until they had to start lifting it to flip it back upright. This caused it to tear like a pop can and ended up completely totaling it. As for the truck itself, I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think there was too much damage beyond the hood and mirrors. It looks way worse than it actually was. I’m not sure how much of the product inside the trailer was salvaged or usable but it looked pretty bad.

After it was back on it’s wheels, they started to tow it back into town. This effort was very delicate because the actual frame of the trailer had been broken by the attempt to bring it back over. This meant the the “landing gear” (legs of the trailer used when the trailer is parked) was only inches from the ground and any more bending of the frame would mean that we couldn’t move it anymore. They had to use a super heavy-duty chain to keep it off the ground as it was.

My God, what a mess

After going for about a mile (at 10 MPH) they stopped and we turned back to see what had happened. (I was riding in another tow truck). It had happened, the frame had bent just enough where the landing gear was pressing against the ground stopping the truck and trailer from continuing down the road.

We then had to climb into the trailer in the middle of the road and spend 20 minutes moving very heavy stacks of paper from one side of the trailer to the other and to the rear to relocate some of the weight and hopefully it would allow the truck to start rolling again.

I wasn’t able to go home even after all of this. I then had to meet a woman that worked for the DOT and take a drug and alcohol test in the back office of some little pub in the town near where we were. Of course I passed, but it was all very annoying trying to track her down and find out where we could meet.

Ha! Paper coming through the side of the trailer

I finally got that done and taken care of at about 9:30pm and this whole time I had Andy, his bro Steve and my bro Ben on a wild goose-chase to come and get me (also important to note that they were on their way to see the new Harry Potter movie and Ben was NOT happy that he had to miss it).

I was first told that I could get a ride from the towing company up to Grand Rapids where I could retrieve my belongings from the wreck and be picked up there. But once they got the truck hooked up and ready to go, they told me that there weren’t going up to GR but to Kalamazoo instead, but by this time Andy and gang were already in GR waiting for me. I called them (with what little phone battery I had left) and managed to steer them towards the place in Kzoo where I was to be brought.

Since the truck was in danger of breaking more, the tow-truck pulling my truck had to continue at 10 MPH the entire way which took them about an hour and 1/2 to get there. Then, once there, the impound yard gave me a hard time, telling me I couldn’t get any of my stuff out of the truck without written permission from the owner of the truck. It was a total nightmare. By the time I got that all sorted out and, with help from the guys, collected what stuff I could fit in Andy’s full car, we managed to leave out of there at almost midnight.

After this great day, I was on vacation for 2 whole weeks. I had many people coming from out-of-town for the wedding and different people coming and going and staying and this and that. It was nonstop that whole next week. We went on a family/friends trip to Cedar Point where I discovered my new favorite roller coaster, The Maverick.

Then the wedding and everything that goes along with that came and went.

Then came a week of helping run the SPCYA (Simpson Park Camp Young Adults) program at camp. This took as much planning as did the wedding.

Monday came and I found out that due to this accident and what they’re calling my “previous safety record” that I no longer have a job. I find this slightly unfair and annoying and stupid all at the same time as I find it relieving and exciting. For years now I have been slowly hating that job more and more and I have always thought that my intelligence and talents were being wasted on driving a truck. While it does take a certain amount of skill, I personally believe that most anyone could do it with the right training. I am going to put a huge effort into building up my web and graphic design portfolio and try to pursue a career in that field. I have quite a few leads for freelance work but my ultimate goal at this juncture is to land a job that can get us benefits. If this plan doesn’t seem to work out then I’m quite positive that I will have no trouble returning to truck driving. As a last resort I will even consider going back “over the road” (long haul) if it is necessary to make ends meet.

I thank you all for your support and help through this new/exciting/scary time for us and just know that we are keeping a super-positive outlook on it and aren’t letting it get us down. This may be just what I needed in my life to steer it where I needed to go (pun intended).

Winter is AWESOME

Winter is AWESOME

As you should know by now, I drive a semi-truck to New York every week. I really don’t love this but I don’t hate it either. I just mostly hope for a uneventful trip. Get there, get an easy load out and get home with little hassle or effort. Well last week was NOT one of those weeks. There was a major storm that stretched from Michigan all the way to the ocean and I got stuck in it.

It was bad enough getting there with the blizzard conditions that made it hard to see further than 10 feet in front of my truck let alone the wind pushing my trailer like a sail all over the road. The storm started, for me, in mid-Ohio and didn’t end until I parked the stupid truck in New York. It was a miracle that I didn’t decide to just pull over and give up for the night, but I am a trooper and pushed it all the way. The journey only took me 14 hours to complete. That didn’t include the wasted time I spent at 2 different truck stops dealing with my company on the phone because they messed up my fuel card.

The next day I didn’t have a load back because all of the normal warehouses I pick up from were canceling due to the bad weather. So I sat there waiting for a load until 1:00 pm when I finally decided to drive to a truck stop near by and wait there. During this time it had been constantly snowing and sleeting and icing and whatever all over. There had been a 6″ accumulation and a 1″ thick layer of ice on top of that. As you can imagine, my truck didn’t move through this very well.

I had to call a heavy-duty tow truck to come and pull me out. This cost my company $400.

After getting out of that mess I proceeded to the expressway which is 5 miles up this horribly hilly road where I had to run 3 red stop lights to keep my momentum going so I wouldn’t get stuck again. I though that once I got to the expressway everything would be fine, because that’s usually the first thing that gets plowed and I can handle a little snow on the road. By this time my boss just told me to head home because there were no loads in the area for me to pick up. This news made me happy because I thought I could make it home bye a decent hour and put that terrible trip behind me.

Finally on I-87 and it’s moving at a clean 10 MPH. Yay. This pace went up and down for about a hour where I came to a stop. A dead stop. A pull-the-breaks-eat-some-food-watch-a-movie dead stop. For 6 hours.

I sat in the same spot from 4:00 pm until 10:00 pm. I passed the time by watching Gone in 60 Seconds and eating cereal and playing video games on the laptop.

I started to feel bad for the cars in front of me because I was all warm up in my truck with toys and food and because of my CB radio, I knew it would be a long time until we stared moving again. I took a bag of unopened pretzels (honey wheat braids, insanely good) and divided it up into 2 bags and gave it to the cars in front of me. I kept thinking how terrible it would be to just be on your way home from work and get stuck on the road with no end in sight. Apparently we sat there waiting for 5 accidents to be cleaned up ahead of us.

Finally when we started rolling, we got back up to our full speed of 20 MPH. Did this for about 30 minutes where we came to another stop. FOR ANOTHER 6 HOURS.

We (I keep saying ‘we’ because I felt like I went through this with a bunch of people since I was on the CB talking to them a lot of the time) ended up having to sleep right there on the express way parked bumper to bumper.

I was awakened by a cop banging on my cab telling me to get rolling. This was 4:30 am. I was able to drive for another 90 minutes (about 20 miles) when we came to, you know it, another dead stop. FOR ANOTHER 3 1/2 HOURS. So, I went back to sleep.

Again I was awoken by someone banging on my cab to let meh know that sleepy-time was over. We then got to drive for another 1/2 hour where we came to ANOTHER STOP. But this time it only lasted for 45 minutes and then I was off and rolling on my way home. After about 1 hour of driving 30 MPH, the road dried up and I was up to full speed and as the miles passed I began to forget what I had just gone thorough. I made it home at about 7:00 pm and got the next 2 days off.

So, now you know that your job doesn’t suck as bad as mine does. Does it.



For about a year now I have been playing what we have started to call “Nerd Games”. The group of people has pretty much consisted regularly of myself, Ryan, Katie, George and sometimes Trista. Recently Andy has joined in since he moved here. Munchkin is the game that started it all. Basically Munchkin is a card game in which the object is to kill monsters and “level up” to level 10. Sound nerdy? Well… it is. What we love about it is that the game is designed in a way that forces you to sabotage and backstab your opponents as well as making alliances with them. It’s pretty despicable. And wonderful.

We still play Munchkin to this day but have mixed in a few other Nerd Games as well. Risk 2210A.D. for one. It’s just like the old fashioned Risk but set in the future and there are cards that you can play to enhance your armies.

A couple of other Nerd Games we play are Ninja Burger & Zombies!!!

But the nerdiest game of them all has got to be the newest one to enter the scene.

Heroscape is my latest obsession. If you have ever played the old Playstation game Final Fantasy Tactics then you’ll know how this game is played. Each player starts off with armies that consist of little action figures played on a 3D board that you build sort of like Legos.

Yeah, so we play with little figurines.

Each character has his own statistics that tell you how many spaces he can move or attack. Battles are decided by rolling dice in a “Risk-esque” manner. They also have tons of expansion sets available so you can add more terrain and figures. I have lots now. Put simply, I LOVE this game.

This game is more than merely a game, it’s more like a hobby in itself. There are whole communities built around the game. Nerdfests, conventions and gatherings all center around this silly Nerd Game. – Official web site – This is an online magazine delivered quarterly in PDF format. – An ultra detailed Heroscape community with news articles and extensive forums.

I’ll stop there, the list goes on and on. There’s even a huge article on Wikipedia. Read everything you absolutely don’t want to know about this silly game.

I really love this game, I know I already said it but it’s true. My only problem is that it takes a while to set up and choose your armies and such before you can actually start playing. We have added rules and crap to speed things up but when I really think about it, this is one of those “unproductive hobbies” that I preach against so often.

Oh well.

Finally, here is a collection of myself and various different nerd-friends playing different games of Heroscape.

2006 SPCYA Retreat

2006 SPCYA Retreat

Well another successful retreat occurred last weekend and everyone had a blast. I love these times at camp to hang out and just do nothing important.

There was an official Ladder-Golf tournament that my team won (well, we won the final game for the championship but Andy and Ryan will say that we have to play one more game but I don’t).

We had an awesome band thrown together and it was a million times better than anything we’ve ever done for any retreat ever. Thanks so much to Billy and Phil for helping out we’re all glad you guys could made it.

Ben J. isn’t funny. (I felt this was the best place to let it be known) I know that Leigh Ann likes him but no one else does.

We learned a new game called Psychology and it was fun. It’s not MAFIA, but it was a good time. Speaking of MAFIA… we should sit and talk about it for hours.

Sorry Matt, that we didn’t get to play capture-the-flag. Most of us wanted to but leave it up to some STUPID girls to mess it up for the rest of us.

There are a crap-load of pics to check out. There is a caption commentary for these pictures provided by Andy Pavlik and Trista. Trista argues that hers are much funnier than Andy’s. So you be the judge.

[Trista is missing from this photo because she was in her bed feeling sick]
[Also, Liz had to go home early so she wasn’t in it either]
[John and Steph showed up later that day]

Check out the 2006 slidshow here.

And while you’re at it check out last year’s pics with commentary by myself and Trista. I started doing them and she came along and kicked me out of my seat and proceeded to upstage my comedy. So I admit, she’s much better at these than I am.

Check out the 2005 slideshow here.

Canterbury Castle

Canterbury Castle

We’ve decided on a place to host our wedding reception. It’s called the Canterbury Castle located in Lake Orion, MI. This place is a castle. Yeah, just like the name says. We love everything about it. (I personally have always loved things from the “knights and armor” days. I have been collecting this sort of de core for a number of years and have decorated my bedroom in that fashion.) (23)

Isn’t this place beautiful?

There are also another added benefit to having the wedding here, it’s less than 2 miles away from Ryan and Katie. This will be, as you can imagine, quite helpful when it comes to travel arrangements and logistics of the actual day.

We are also looking into possibly having the actual ceremony on the grounds as well. There is a gazebo out in back where this can take place. We’re still looking into that though.

I have put all of the pictures that we took during our li’l tour of the place in the Photo Gallery and have added comments to each of the picture to give you a tour as well.

Clean Cut

Clean Cut

I haven’t shaved my face completely clean in over over 7 years. (actually I can’t even remember when it was) but I did just that last week.

I had an interview with Flagstar Bank and I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do. I think I look like a total weirdo.

As far as the interview went, Ryan told me about a system analyst position that opened up in his department and I thought “What the heck.” and applied. I am not quite qualified (understatement) but I really think I can do the job. But it doesn’t matter if I can do the job or not because they never called me back. I was told that day (Friday) that I would hear from them early next week (that was last monday) so I guess that’s a big no since it’s been a whole week after I was supposed to hear the good word.

But back to me looking like a freak…

Here I am looking very pretty for my big photo shoot for Christmas. This is what I am “supposed” to look like (according to me) (18)

Here is what I looked like when I got back from New York the night before my interview.

This is after I shaved using clippers.

This is my stupid fat fact clean shaven and dumb looking.

And here I am mere moments before heading out to the ol’ interview.

And here are some stupid pictures of my stupid face making stupid faces.

New Year’s 2006

New Year’s 2006

Ryan and Katie’s annual New Year’s party was a grand time. Mafia was the breakout hit as it was in July. We tried to play Munchkin but there were too many people and it ended up running into the Midnight countdown then then we never went back to it. Andy Pavlik was in town from New York just for the party and Hashi made a special appearance to everyone’s delight. But mostly Mafia happened. Yeah, then we talked about it. Lots.

Trista’s Ring

Trista’s Ring

Now it’s official, Trista has a real engagement ring. We had gone shopping to just a few jewelry stores in the Flint area and hadn’t gotten a chance to really dive into true ring hunting before Trista started school and work and a new nonstop on-the-go lifestyle. About a week or so after Trista started working at the jewelry store, a new ring arrived there and Trista loved it. She called me up and made me drive over there to come and see it.

[Obviously pictures of the ring after the diamonds were removed]
[but you still get the idea]

Apparently the ring itself is an antique from the 1940’s which made Trista fall in love with it even more (She loves old stuff that has a history. I guess those things have a name… which is… antique) Trista tried it on her finger and it fit sort of screwy because the edge of the ring had a pointy ridge that pushed into her knuckle.

We really liked the original for the most part, but there were a few things that we wished could be changed. So we decided to have our friend (and Trista’s boss) Wendy hand-make us a new ring with the same look but with an updated style using those antique diamonds. The first thing we opted to change was the ugly yellow gold (I hate yellow gold. *yuck* sorry for those of you who have it,, um… on you… it looks nice) to 18k white gold. We could have gone with the platinum but were advised that it tends to cloud up and scratch easier than gold reducing the shine. And platinum just isn’t as awesome as people think it is (that’s what I say anyway). In addition to changing the color we had to reduce the pointy sides so the ring would fit on her finger. As it was, the ring itself was simply too wide for Trista’s bony fingers, but on top of that, you add the pointy sharp ridges and it was simply obnoxious. And finally, we added 4 more diamonds to the top of the “basket” that the main diamond sits in.

[Isn’t it awesome]

What’s really cool about this ring is that the smaller diamonds are “floating” instead of being held up by a shelf. Take a look, you can see how the diamonds are held up by little prongs bur aren’t supported by anything else below. I am told that the reason that she went with this design is that the quality of diamonds was high enough that it would look right. Whereas a lower clarity level wouldn’t have been right for that style of mounting.

Now you can see that this ring fits much better. It was brought down a whole size, the “table” was reduced to the width of Trista’s finger and the edge that was formerly a pointed edge is just a huge wide band that looks super sweet.

[Trista’s fingers are red because she just came in out of the cold]
[And she is a freak]

The ring came in this super stylish bamboo box.

[Wendy is especially proud of the box]

But wait, there’s more. This is just the engagement ring, there’s another ring, the wedding band, that goes along with it. (I guess you could figure that out but some people choose to only have one ring. i.e. Katie French.) I have pictures of it in it’s current unfinished state and will now proceed with showing them to you. Yay.

I’ll try to explain to you how the ring was made. I am doing this from memory and I really don’t know what the heck I’m talking about so keep that in mind.

– The ring is hand carved using some sort of Dremel tool grinding thingie that I like to imagine looks like a dentist’s drill. It is carved out of some sort of wax that is somewhat hard but quite fragile. The ring would look something like this. (I WOULD have a REAL picture of the REAL ring in wax but SOMEONE (Wendy) didn’t take a picture of it before the next step.) It’s ok, I forgive her. So I found a picture of what the wax looks like but ours was red.

– After getting the wax set. It is then placed into some sort of thingie where some sort of cement (I wish I knew what I was saying) is poured around it and left to harden.

– Next there is some sort of process where the wax melts out the bottom leaving a cement mold to be filled with gold.

– After the gold cools, the cement is broken to retrieve the ring so it becomes truly a one-of-a-kind.

– When the gold comes out, it looks all crude and nasty.

– You can see that the holes and grooves are still filled with the cement.

– You can also see where the gold had to be broken off from the “tree” like if you remember Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, the weapons would come on a plastic tree (I’m informed that any Barbie playset does as well) that you had to break them off leaving a stupid plastic burr to be pointy and annoying. It’s like that only metal.

– Next step is to “tumble” it in what I like to think of as a rock tumbler for jewelry. Wendy says that I’m about right with that description. The point of this is to clean it up and remove the remaining cement and to smooth it out a bit.


– After that, it gets polished up and sent off to have the diamonds set and *boom* you have yourself a hand made ring.

I’m sure that if I missed a step or have something completely wrong, Wendy will tell me and I’ll change it. But that’s what I know about the ring making process.

I’d now like to point out something that Trista and I thought was an extra special touch that Wendy added. If you’ll notice that on the wedding band there are little diamond shapes just like the one on my tatoo.

[We REALLY thought that was cool]

Now there’s a story about how I gave this second ring to her. Wendy had been working on this ring for almost 2 months and we were in no real hurry to get it. We then made plans to have Trista dropped off to visit her family before Thanksgiving on my way to New York. I thought that it would be nice if she could have her ring to take with her and show her family. I talked to Wendy and she told me that it would be a nightmare but it could possibly be done but we wanted to keep it a secret from Trista. Actually, I think that Wendy was more excited about the idea of surprising her than I was. So I had Trista ask Wendy (not knowing that I had already made arrangements) about weather or not she could get her ring in time. Of course, Wendy said there would be NO WAY it could be done. So according to Trista, that was that and she didn’t think about it again after that.

Earlier in the evening of the day we left for New York, Trista had to drive up to Fenton to give Marlena and Travis their painting that she did for them, so I went and secretly picked up the ring and made it back home acting as if I had never left the house. Now from this point on I had the ring in my pocket and I wanted to have a silly second little engagement story since the first one was… well… read and you’ll see. (Here’s the original engagement story)

We ate dinner like nothing was going on and during, I kept bringing up little things about weddings and proposal stories (like our friends Amy and Taylor) and stuff like that to get her to start talking about it. While she was packing for the trip, I came in the bedroom and said, “Man, you know what would have been awesome? If I had secretly picked up the ring for you to have before we went away.”
“Yeah.” She said, continuing to pack and not really giving it a second thought. And I continued to go about my business of packing and getting ready. Then I came back in the room and said, “Yeah, you know how you think of doing something after the fact wishing that you had done it. Like when you get in a fight and think to yourself that you should have said this or that.” And she sort of looked at me like I was retarded and continued on. I then came back into the room a final time and said, “Yeah, wouldn’t it have been awesome if Wendy had worked like crazy to get the ring done by today and I had gone to meet her today while you went to Marlena’s. And wouldn’t it have been awesome if during dinner I would have brought up awkward conversations about weddings and proposals. And wouldn’t it have been awesome if I had secretly had your ring in my pocket all night and then during the time when you were packing, I came in and started making no sense about ‘I should have done this or that’. And wouldn’t have been awesome if I had come into the room and knelt down (as I’m saying this I’m kneeling down) and opened up this box (as I pulled out and opened up the ring box) and said “Will you marry me?”

Now I thought this was very clever and afterward so did Trista, but at the time she was sooOOOooo excited to see I had gotten the ring that she snatched it out of the box and ran it over to the lamp to get a good look at it. Leaving me in the middle of the room still on my knee with an empty ring box. I said “HEY! It’s not about the ring, it’s about the fact that I gave it to you.” She laughed and came back to me and gave me a hug (while I like to imagine still looking at the ring on her finger over my shoulder). It was a nice moment and I told her how Wendy worked on it with little to no sleep for 2 straight days just so Trista could take it to New York with her.

So now I have 2 engagement stories (sort of) and the second was better than the first but both are just like us, we like to ruin tender moments with awkwardness because neither of us really know how to act in serious situations. So that’s what WE do

Painting and Moving

Painting and Moving

As you know, we moved into a new apartment, or “Town House” since I want it to sound better than it actually is. I was on vacation all last week and spent most of that time organizing and unpacking. As far as the move itself, it completely sucked. I would like to thank everyone that helped us out though. Ryan (hernia and all) & Katie, (thanks to Katie especially who helped out with the move as well as the two days prior painting) Tim A. & Megan, (who barely know us and helped out till the bitter end) Marlena & John (who helped us the 1st half of the day, which is the worst part), My mom and Bob (we couldn’t have done it without you guys, Mom, was packing inside and coming up with lots of little helpful ideas while Bob was in charge of packing the trucks), Ben (who put in 2 days of hard labor, since we had to go back the next day and fill up the Suburban and trailer for the second time, but the only help we had that day was Ben and we worked for over 12 hours, then he had to go to school the next morning for his first day of high school).

At first I thought that we would certainly have enough room in the truck since I got the 17′ one that the U-HAUL web site recommended for someone with 2 bedrooms. What I didn’t know is that they couldn’t have been more wrong. Turns out, that even with the moving van, and my parents’ Suburban pulling a trailer, we still had to go back for another load. I should have paid the $10 more and gotten the 24′ truck. Next time I’ll know, right? NOPE! Next time I will be hiring a local moving company doing it and neither myself nor anyone I know will have to move anything I own again. I hated every second of it and I’m pretty certain that so did everyone that helped out.

I don’t want to forget to thank Steve and Darren for their help with painting. We spent 2 days painting the living room, bedroom, kitchen, office and bathroom. That part went well until it was time to pull off the masking tape. Apparently you’re supposed to pull it off as the paint is still wet but we couldn’t because we needed to do several coats of each color. So, when pulling the tape off, it took the paint with it. It looked like we didn’t even use tape at all. Actually, it looked worse because it pulled the paint off like you’d pull a latex glove off after giving a body cavity inspection. Stretching and pulling and, oh my, it was awful.Other than that it was great.

Ryan just found out 2 days before moving day that he has a hernia and that he couldn’t help lift anything. But he still helped by moving little stuff and bigger items that he didn’t have to strain himself carrying. In addition to these tasks, I assigned him the official photographer of the event. I think he took some pretty good shots.