Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weddings: Where’s the Fun?

Over from Stepper Was Here for a quick guest post, the illustrious Stepper is gracing us with her presence today. Definitely click on over to her blog and enjoy, enjoy!

I was out to lunch with my Mom and sisters when over our strawberry and almond salads, my older sister asked, “So, Mom, how did you and dad pay for our weddings? Savings accounts? Credit cards?”

I sat up straight. Mine are parents of four girls. Weddings are spendy for the parents of the bride. What about four brides? Who all went to college?

Bill and I have talked about how we’re going to handle college for our children. We expect our kids to work for it – as my parents did. They will try for scholarships and hold part-time jobs through school. Ideally, Bill and I will have saved the full amount for each of their college funds – the “McCrery Scholarship,” every cent of which will be earned.

But a wedding? That we haven’t worked out a brilliant funding plan for.

We have talked about it. Presumably, our kids will get married. Some day. Later in life. In their thirties, maybe. Provided we like the person they want to marry, of course.

My feeling is that the World of the Wedding has grown a bit out of hand. Even if you’re not parting with ten grand or more for a gown that is meant to be worn only once and hundreds on a cake that is meant to be destroyed. Even if you are working within a budget and your reception is in your own back yard – there has been a mighty step away from the entire point.

I’m not talking about the point of Marriage (though, arguably, there has been a mighty step away from the heart and soul of this wonderful institution as well). I’m talking simply about the point of weddings.

The point, I submit, is simply: fun. The whole thing was invented as a way for the newly married couple and all their loved ones to celebrate in a real way the spectacularly awesome fact that they found each other, decided to love each other, and committed to that love for – well – ever.

So why aren’t weddings fun, anymore?

Think about it – when was the last time you attended a wedding (that wasn’t your sister or your best friend) and genuinely enjoyed yourself? Unless you parked by the table with the éclairs, my guess is that the last wedding you attended (that wasn’t immediate family or your best friend) was out of a feeling of obligation or mild interest. And the bride and groom were trapped in a reception line, missing their own party. And the majority of family and friends working behind the scenes to pull this party off are stressed. And the majority of the guests are a bit bored, or are awkwardly chatting with other guests, waiting for the next thing: the tossing of the bouquet, the cutting of the cake, or just a turn through the refreshment line before they dump their gift on the labeled table and head to their car and their real life.

This is a crying shame. Shouldn’t a wedding be THE biggest party in town?

Did you know that in some cultures, a wedding celebration lasts days? A week, even? And everyone is actually having fun?

Especially the bride and groom!

Reception lines? Decidedly NOT FUN.

This is what I want for my children. I want a party. One focused less on color palates, catering menus and the perfect dress and more on the personality of the newlyweds and beauty of new love. A fist-pump to the sky for a willing commitment to it. A deep-boned laugh for the glory of the beginning of what they’ve just stepped into. I want the focus to remain in focus. And I want everyone – guest and groom alike – to have a genuinely great time (And I’d like for all involved to willingly embrace the fact that it doesn’t have to be flawless to be great. Stress was not on the guest list).

Yes, I may have to fork over the dough for the majority of my daughter’s wedding; but I don’t have to fork over my sanity. Yes, I may have to start saving, now – but that’s not what’s going to save the wedding.

And I want to be able to take my shoes off.

Stepper and son, Wyatt, at a family wedding.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ever After.

In honor of The Royal Wedding in the UK this week, we are getting all starry-eyed and dreamy here at MHHT as we talk about weddings. We have a lovely guest blogger (of mystery!) on Wednesday, followed by Maddy (our girl on the ground in England) who will be posting this weekend, after Kate and Prince William (over there in the photo) have tied the knot so she can give us an update on how the festivities went down. But first, it's my turn to ramble on a bit about weddings.

On July 29, 1981, Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer. This was also the day I decided to take my first steps. As the story goes, my family was all in the kitchen, getting some snacks ready to hunker down in front of the television for the royal wedding, when they suddenly heard that is was starting. Everyone rushed in to the living room, and in their excitement, left 12 month old me sitting on the floor in the kitchen. No one was there to witness the grand event, but this is when I decided to haul my little self up off the floor and toddle in after them to see what was going on.

Almost 30 years later, Charles and Diana's son William is getting married. And I find that I can't help but wonder if this Friday will be the day that my own son decides to take his very first steps as I rush for the television in a strange case of history repeating itself.

As a society, we tend to look at things backwards when it comes to weddings. We think of them as happy endings, sort of a grand finale to a courtship. Fairytales and movies always end with a wedding, rather than begin with one, and so we tend to see weddings as a culminating event. We get so caught up in the dress and the flowers and the ring, that we forget one vital little detail:

"Happily ever after" is just the beginning.

Nick and I taking our first steps together. It's a long way down!

Should he decide to walk this coming Friday, William and Kate will have more in common with my little boy than just a weird date coincidence. As Espen takes his first shaky steps towards walking, they will taking their first steps together as husband and wife. It will be fun, exciting and exhilarating, and they won't have any idea what they're doing. For Espen, there will be falls, bumps and bruises until he gets things figured out. The beginning of a marriage is much the same as you learn to adjust to living your life together. There will be bruised egos, a few shattered ideals and some little stumbles along the way. There will be moments when all you want to do is sit down and cry like a baby because this whole walking/marriage thing is harder than it looks, and you want so much to get it right. And there will be many, many moments of pure, exultant joy where you just want to shout out to the world how happy you are.

And before I close, a quick peek at another royal wedding: Princess Victoria of Sweden and her Daniel. Oh, how I wish the entire planet could experience the kind of joy and love that you can see in her face. Gets me every time.

Image borrowed here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

As promised, here is my book review vlog. As soon as we got the suggestion to do a vlog, I could tell by just how much I didn't want to do it that this was something we really should try. Like a lot of people, I'm really not too happy in front of the camera, but for you, my loves, I will do it! (Maddy, this is what my skin looks like. Not much make up today, but at least I dried my hair!)

Here is the book cover for you, seeing as I couldn't show it to you in the video. And really, you should read it!

And now I want your book recommendations! Anyone?

Vlog week- a book review.

So, this week on MHHT Tamsin and I are doing sort-of-vlogs book reviews.
Basically, the lovely Tana emailed and suggested we do a vlog one week, which we both thought was a good idea- but it also made us feel like you do the day before an exam.
So, finally, we're doing a sort-of-vlog book review, here's mine, and, for your viewing pleasure, I'm having a chat with my camera about Phillippa Gregory's books The red and The white Queen.
The rules were- keep it from 3-5 minutes, but I'm a chatter, so I used nearly all my time.
Well, I bit the bullet, I went first, here it is.

{I think it's better if you click this link and watch it on youtube- it's bigger}

If I can talk to my camera- you can tell me your favourite books- and, sometime...soon! Tamsin will be vlogging a book review too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

15 Facts for Week 15

Goodness, however have you slept knowing that I was working on a post about 15* random facts about me? Oh, the suspense!

In no particular order:
  1. I really like this picture. Thank you, MacBook.
  2. I really, really love small Western American towns. The smaller, the better!
  3. Most of the baby names I like start with the letter E (no, this is not an announcement).
  4. While I love interior design, I cannot bring myself to bring anything into our home that is purely decorative. It has to have a function! I'm not sure why my brain won't allow pretty objects, but there you have it.
  5. When I was five years old, I suspected that my kindergarten teacher was in fact a Russian spy.
  6. One of the hardest, and most surprising things, for me about being a mother is allowing messiness. I always thought I would be pretty chill and laid back parent, but it is hard for me to let Espen rub peanut butter in his hair.
  7. If I'm eating something small, like peanuts or m&m's, I always have to eat two at a time (of the same color, if applicable) so I can have one on each side of my mouth. Or I'll eat one at a time and split it in half in my mouth.
  8. I was an early and voracious reader, and had read the entire junior library at my school by the time I was in the second grade. This granted me the special privilege of checking out the senior library books with red stickers on the spine. I thought I was pretty cool!
  9. I last did one of these two years ago, on my old blog, and feel like I can't reuse any random facts from that post..
  10. I'm left-handed, but will switch to my right hand to put on eye makeup on my right eye. This is the only thing I will use my rand hand over my left for.
  11. Me, my mother and my grandmother have all married men from different countries.
  12. I prefer sleeping right on the edge of the bed, curled up in a ball.
  13. Few things make me angrier than people who judge others, but choose to remain willfully ignorant of their circumstances. You've gotta educate yourself a little bit before you start mouthing off!
  14. Because my origins are a bit complicated, I've been giving people the same prepared speech about where I come from for years. They generally ask the same questions, and so I always give the same answer. Even so it is still oversimplified and partially inaccurate.
  15. My irrational fears include clowns and mascots (y'know, the kind with people inside). Especially mascots. The scariest part about mascots is that they can apparently smell fear, and therefor always come to find me. I have been chased through grocery stores by Tom (of Tom and Jerry) and Barney the Purple Dinosaur, respectively. True story. How will I ever survive Disneyland?
  16. One of my favorite things to do is hop in the car and drive somewhere we haven't been before. I like a good exploration. :)
  17. When I was two years old, my parents took me to the Viking ship museum in Oslo. While looking at one of the ships, I quipped: "look out, they vike!"
  18. Because I spent the first 19 years of my life in Europe, some pretty mundane aspects of life in the US are still novel and exotic to me, like I'm living in a movie. Like Jiffy Pop popcorn or Chinese take-out boxes.
  19. My grandmother has written a book, been in movies and a couple of game shows and worked as a stand-up comedian - all while she was in her 80s.
  20. I had green flowers in my bouquet when we got married.
  21. Although I'm Norwegian and live in the US state that claims to have the "greatest snow on earth", I haven't been skiing since 1999.
  22. I think I enjoy building Lego with Espen as much as he does. However, my little heart always sinks a bit when he happily destroys my latest creation.
  23. I'm completely awful at it, but I love gardening.
  24. Along those lines, I sort of like how it looks when I have dirt under my fingernails.
  25. In spite of some pretty tough competition from Espen, my favorite part of the day is still when Nick comes home from work.

* Hahahahahaha! Oh my goodness, I just realized I did 25 facts for some incredibly bizarre reason! :) I guess that just goes to show that people with Liberal Arts degrees aren't very good with numbers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fifteen things.

So, this week on MHHT, we decided to do something simple.
Fifteen, random, perhaps somewhat interesting things about ourselves, for your reading pleasure.
I'm not sure what I can tell you that you don't already know,
but here's hoping!

1. I'm Vegetarian, have been for over ten years now (I was a very strong willed child) and have been giving a lot of thought to going vegan for a little while, maybe next year, maybe the year after, when I've got the knowledge and planning {Any blog reads to recommend?} to do so.

I'm already stuck! this is hard- I'm not even sure there are fifteen things I know about me!

2. My little poodle, Panda- or Pandora if we're getting technical- is older than me, bought whilst my Mutti was expecting me- and I just turned seventeen a couple weeks back, we can't walk her more than a few times a week, for no more than half an hour, she spends most of her day wandering the house, or sleeping in front of the fire (which my Mutti keeps on year round)- she's mostly blind and deaf, but deemed completely healthy- and the funniest poodle I ever knew.

3. I went on my first (and only) trip abroad almost two years ago now, for three days in Paris, which is just as beautiful as everyone says- had myself a little panic attack whilst heading back down the Eiffel tower, an experience I will not repeat in a hurry.

4. I like to think I'm the biggest Harry Potter fan in the world- I listen to the audiotapes on rotation each month- right now (as in whilst I write this) I'm listening to the order of the Phoenix. I have practically memorised the books (I was one of those people queuing up at my local WHsmiths at midnight with my Dad each time a new one came out) and let's face it, nothing cheers me up when I'm blue like watching one of the films- I thought it would be really cool to get a (teeny tiny) tattoo of the scar, but I think it would only make sense on my head, and I won't be doing that any time soon!

5. I officially started dieting in December- where I lost the bulk of the weight I've lost so far, I stopped dieting through the month of March, and it officially began again this morning.
You know how I get through it? By reading every. single. recipe. on The Pioneer Woman Cooks, and every single Jamie Oliver, and Gordon Ramsay cookery program I could get my hands on.
Mutti thinks it weird, I think it's almost as good as eating!

6. My bedroom can either be really really messy, or really really really tidy, but my three drawers in my dressing table- my wardrobe, shoe space and drawers and shelves, are always freakishly organised.
Just are.

7. I wear daisy by Marc Jacobs.

8. Of my two sisters and I, I have the thinnest hair, Eve's is darkest, her colouring like my Irish Grandmother, thick and wavy- probably the shortest of us all, though well down her back, but probably the nicest. Oli's is very long- an inch or two longer than my own, and the same sort of colour, mine is to the small of my back, the thinnest, and straightest, How is it that even though I'm the only one who Love's doing hair and wearing it down, It's the worst?

9.  My Dad was born in Bournemouth, and we would go down for two weeks EVERY summer, on the beach all day every day. I loved it there.

10. I have been wearing my pyjamas for two days straight.

11. We all (try) to boogie board in Bournemouth, there are four or so in My Grandparents garage for when we go down, but Oli is the only one who actually can.

12. Wow- I wish I was in our old flat in Bournemouth right now. I love it there, I wonder if, when I'm older, I'd ever be able to buy it back? probably not.

13. We always went to church every. single. Sunday. no matter what, nowadays,  I don't really, nothing has changed for me, I'm just lazy. I guess we're all sinners' right?!

14. I own the term procrastination. yes indeedie.

15. I still love flower fairies, they are real.

It's hard to think of fifteen things!
There you have it though- if you made it the whole way through, congratulations!
Stay tuned, Tamsin will add her penny piece, later in the week.
I can't wait either!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brown paper packages

My parcel from Maddy arrived on Friday, and it was just like getting an envelope full of sunshine. Oh, how I love me a good package! Especially such a sweet and thoughtful package from such a sweet and thoughtful person.

Contemplating the treasures within.

I got my package about two weeks after Maddy got hers, which really built the anticipation. I love looking forward to things, don't you? When it did arrive, I couldn't wait to tear into it, and this is what Maddy sent me:

The spoils.

Two pairs of mittens for Espen, a postcard of lovely Ruislip, a notebook (we're both notebook-kind-of-girls), Guatemalan worry dolls (my family was going through a little bit of a rough spot at the time), and a set of Maddy's favorite paints and paint brushes. I felt like my birthday had come early!

Nothing like a fresh, new paintbox and clean white brushes.

My very favorite thing was the set of water color paints and the paint brushes. Not just because they're brand new and pretty, but because Maddy meant them as a little vote of confidence and encouragement for me to get back into painting. That was very touching to me, and a wonderful reminder of the friendship we've developed, in spite of our differences and y'know, the fact that we've never actually met.

Little labels.
My other favorite thing was that every item had a little explanatory note attached to it. I loved reading each of them and seeing what Maddy had in mind for each item. It was a bit like having her here in person, handing me each gift and telling her why she had bought it. I'm tucking my favorite away in my little box of special things.

I honestly can't decide if I enjoyed putting together Maddy's parcel or receiving mine the most. But I do know that I consider myself very fortunate to have found such a sweet friend.

A parcel from Utah

A month ago now, whilst emailing back and forth from Utah to London with idea's for MHHT, Tamsin suggested we send each other a parcel- genius.
Whilst the parcel I received arrived promptly within a week of its sending, mine was a little slower arriving to Tamsin- a week or two on.
Now, everyone loves getting a parcel- a letter, it's just fun right?
I loved all the stamps from the different post offices- isn't it crazy to think the parcel Tamsin sent me has gone further than I ever have? London to Paris and back again, that's it.
I'd like us to pretend that the chocolate bar in this picture is not empty with the packet shaped back to it's original rectangle, because, of all the lovely thing's Tamsin sent me, It would be awful if this was the first thing I saw- and then ate.
I'm a sucker for stuff.

A close up of my favourite material item, the earrings- This just proves Tamsin's excellent taste, how cute are they?- the biggn's I have already worn to death, and mapped out a lot of potential outfits, they're pretty cute with ma hair in a ballerina bun, and then...just every other day really- and I was recently thinking to myself that I needed a pair of hoops- I've never had any, which just seems crazy, they're so comfy.
And Tamsin knew I was a gold girl- it was meant to be.

For Tamsin- an action shot, they even match my eyes- and my glasses.
So, if you can't tell, as a resident magpie, I'm pretty taken with the earrings.
{Y'know, in pictures, my hair always looks like I'm growing out a slightly reddish hair dye, such is not the case, for as my Mutti says, it's her hair, 'till I'm eighteen}

Also included in the package I received, other than the chocolate and earrings, was A little Utah card, which I hear that Espen chose for me, I loved it, because, well, I really want to visit.
Now, I like a thoughtful gift, so maybe my favourite/its a tie, would be the little recipe Tamsin wrote out for me- vegetarian like me.
It was vegetables over couscous- something which I buy ready made all the time- For dinner this evening in fact- so I can't wait to make it- how thoughtful is that?
The little pack of notebooks- not only were they pretty, but I'm a notebook kinda gal, always got one in my bag, I like to write lists and doodle- not necessarily in that order.
And my very favourite?- it has to be the little Polaroid style picture of Tamsin and Espen, not only is it a beautiful picture, and I love Polaroids-but It's on my windowsill next to one of me and Eve looking like little whale babies, I showed my Mutti and she said- and I quote "oh, isn't she pretty? who's the angel baby?" I'm pretty sure she was referring to Espen- Sorry for your blushes Tamsin!

The things we'll do for the blog {Insert annoying smiley face here}
The moral of this story is; Tamsin is an excellent person to have within your parcel sending circle- and I like everything.
That's the truth.
Stay tuned, and Tamsin will be telling you what I sent her, just as quick as you can say Quidditch, probably.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Looking out my window.

This post almost didn't get out, even now, it was the last thing I thought about, the day just ran away from me.
I live in a road off the centre of my town- It is quite quiet, just behind a park, the only congestion I hear is kids playing behind our house, and sometimes, in the dead of night (I am a night owl) I hear a train in the distance, which keeps me occupied.
Just last week this tree was covered in white blossom, but now the petals are covering the ground and the leaves are just sprouting- they will be huge and maroon in colour in the next week or so, The fashionable shade it will remain all season- That tree- and I've no idea what it's called, for me, marks all the seasons changing.
I really love looking out and seeing thing's come into bloom this time of year.
How about you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The View From My Bedroom Window

Our apologies for posting so late this week. We did have a little something else up our sleeves for this week, but it didn't quite pan out in time. Hopefully we can show you what we've been up to next week! Until then, please enjoy, compare and contrast the views from our bedroom windows:


We just moved some furniture away from from our bedroom window, and as a result, Espen has discovered our view. Which in turn has led me to rediscover it. Sure, we have front-row seats to all the delights of the neighborhood parking facilities, but have you looked beyond that? I love that view of my mountains, and that we have a equally stunning set seen from the back bedrooms. I love my little neighborhood too, and knowing that so many of these little houses contain people that I know and care about. And in just a few weeks, that poor little brown tree will be covered in fresh green leaves. I love my view.

As for Espen, he is delighted with his newfound look-out spot. He was right beside me as I took this photo, and saw a woman walking by with her dog. This was commented on with a hearty "Woof! Woof! Dog!" and some frantic waving. It's amazing to me how much that little boy is able to open my eyes to the world around me.

What can you see from your bedroom window?
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