Now where were we? – Paris Life – Season 4?

[Insert another Blog start opening blurb]

Introducing my newly branded (rough-draft) and moved expat blog (albeit in potentially perpetual beta mode). Really only the logo design is done. ;p

oooo look at that logo
Translation: American Flowers in Paris

First you must know that the Learning Machine, still exists but will be solely be professional or nontravel/expat ramblings. While this new little niche shall be my hide out for all the things I find fit to share in my growth as an American abroad in Paris.

While I have not been writing here for months now… I have been digesting and figuring out life in Paris.  It has been a labor of love which I am becoming ready to share.  So we will see how these little writings will make their debut to the world and how often.  But we might as well get started.

Carpé journée.

Life Update

Now where were we? Season 3, looking back at the archive.  I have now been amid what I would consider Season 4 for quite a while.

Austin is in a new job.  We have moved at least two times since last time I wrote, now living in upper 11th of Paris or lower Belleville neighborhood.  We were able to take our first real vacations in years, traveling to the Mediterranean and Sweden.

Stockholm was pretty - August 2013
Stockholm was pretty – August 2013

I took a professional pause to work on my French and some personal projects (including a non-profit dance exchange in Paris which welcomed over 200 dancers from around the world). And now I am back on the “find a job I can be passionate about (preferably in French)” train. Going well despite I decided to board this train in the summer time a.k.a. unemployed deadman’s land.

Still I am optimistic and have been talking with a couple exciting companies that hopefully I will get to announce in the coming months once the living return to Paris.

Overall life as an expat (especially in the last month) has semi-smoothed out, especially due to my gained proficiency in French, seeking stability and simplifying my commitments.

And of course we love Paris more than ever.

Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)
Napoleon graffiti agrees (spotted in Paris)

Though we have not had electricity for the past week and a half… but that is a post for another time.

After School Special

What have I learned so far this Season? Let’s make this semi-educational.

EXPAT LIFE LESSON #121: Hey man, you are already an expat… do not take on the rest of the world as well.

Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.
Not a fancy picture but a genuine one. Taken when we decided one night to take a break, picnic on the Seine overlooking the Eiffel Tower, and take a moment to appreciate what we have and why we work so hard to keep it.

Simplify, delve into your new life and concentrate on some (read: not all) positive and productive activities!

Because this is not your past life, you have a new obligatory hobby: Figuring out a new culture, language and way of life.

Until the next post – S

 

 

Ode to My Husband – Love Nest Abroad and Some Fish

Love Expats Style

Some might say that moving aboard can be the worse thing you can do for your relationship.  Or really any major move or life change is tough in a four-legged race… let’s be fair.

For me it has been the best thing I could have done.  As I now appreciate my husband more than I could ever express in a silly little blog rambling.  I am learning to trust in him, see him for the man he is and not take him for granted, not even for one second.

I am so ever grateful that I made this move with Austin.  He is my constant (Lost style ;p).  Life abroad is not all travel, cheese and ease.  I have my down moments of self doubt where I cannot tell the paperwork from the oak trees.  But he always seems to find me no matter how low I get.

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Harry and Sally Meets Good Wine

We had worked together before but moving to a 27 square meter apartment, working at the same long hour jobs (two now), teaching dance together (in french) and relearning to how to live (french style) definitely has been a challenge.

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Our first real apartment in Paris.

I have now reached the point where I see my fellow expats leave, those that came around the time we came (my “expat class” as I call it).  It is sad though we all have our reasons.  Some came planning only to stay a couple months.  Some have found better opportunities. Some just do not like it. And Paris is definitely not a city to stick with if it is not the right fit.  I am not too sure I would still be here if I did not have Austin. (And a few dozen friendly french strangers and friends a like).

Had to keep your head low in our little studio.
Had to keep your head low in our little studio.

We definitely have progressed greatly since our arrival in Paris, in our temporary 17 square meter apartment or when the machine ate my credit card on the first day.  We have progressed enough so that I can fondly look back at some of our earlier now-funny struggles.  I will not say we have stability now but we are gaining comfortability… and we have come a long way.

And I am glad this has been a partner marathon.

Thanks

Austin and I moved to France 6 months into our marriage and 5.5 years into our relationship.  For those who know our wedding date (the binary for 42), you know we love Douglas Adams and our wedding abounded in references to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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Shot near Notre Dame from our honeymoon visit to Paris. Where we continued to fall in love with each other and this city.

Today I stumbled upon a reading that I had to share and my relation to it.  It is a mix between how I felt: the first time we kissed, at our wedding and during our first year in Paris (in the apartment where you could barely swing a cat).

Enjoy and Thanks Austin.

From Douglas Adams’ “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish”

There was a sort of gallery structure in the roof space which held a bed and also a bathroom which, Fenchurch explained, you could actually swing a cat in, “But,” she added, “only if it was a reasonably patient cat and didn’t mind a few nasty cracks about the head. So. Here you are.”

“Yes.”

They looked at each other for a moment.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone long enough with a Swiss cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who wakes one morning to find the door of his cage hanging quietly open and the savanna stretching gray and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones until it now said something it had never said to him before, which was,

“yes.”

– S

February Goals

So I failed a lot in January….

I will not dwell on that and instead I will set  this months goals:

  • Don’t eat after 9. Eat reasonable.
  • Dance once a week.
  • Every day I am able, do yoga.
  • Finish portfolio this month.
  • Clean out my garage.
  • Eat through my pantry so by the end of the month I have to go to the store to eat.  Eat more from meal to meal rather than overbuying.
  • Continue trying to sell my car.

I think this is managable… but then again I thought last month was.  Really my only success was we kept the office and my room clean.  I did TRY to change my name (chickened out) and I TRIED to fix up my car but the part is too expensive so I’m just selling it for less now.

Wasn’t a horrible month just could have done better food wise.  So this month I’m going to try to temper it with some exercise, focus more on that.

Well here we go! – Sheila

New Year New Post – Goals… for at least January

SOOOOO lots has happened and I have not been the best about documenting it.

But rather than making excuses lets jump right into it.

2010

  • We took our moms on a cruise and got to visit Mexico in the process!
  • Learned ukulele and continue striving towards getting beyond just karaoke with it.  It has been a GREAT activity to do with my dad.
  • Got married and the wedding was a grand success! We are soooo lucky.  See wedding.austinandsheila.com for photos, press coverage (WUH?), full ceremony and other fun-ness.
  • Traveled to Europe for our Honeymoon.  France, Spain & Italy!  It was an amazing 16 days where we covered 10 cities! Check it out on Flickr.
  • I’ve started taking photography more serious in general!  It’s been a great creative outlet now that the wedding festivities have died down.  Plus its great to document our first and coming years of marriage.  I purchased my SLR (a canon Rebel) and I’m slowly learning how to use it.
  • Continue forth at work.  It was my first full calendar year as a team lead of the Techrangers at Center for Distributed Learning at University of Central Florida.  A full year of working hands on with my team (11 strong), developing Dredbeard and Zapt and working at improved course development procedures.  I attended my first professional conference, BBWorld 2010 and presented my first poster session.  Very fulfilling!
  • I feel we probably could have done more with SHOUT! Swing but reality is we didn’t have much time!  And really we did what we could with what energy we had. I am still proud that we held a workshop, threw a free dance, taught at least once a month and performed at Celebration.  Overall we continue to grow and learn as teachers.
  • Ooo ran a 5k with only one walking bought!

My biggest personal accomplishments were to get better at setting to-dos and taking care of my personal assets (posting/editing pictures) before  the momentum dies.  Also, being able to be relax and enjoy our wedding weekend was a feat only doable due to good planning and learning to BREATH. I am proud that I was overall unstressed and level headed.

2011

So I don’t do well with goals… or I do but I don’t.  As in I’m a driven person but often I plan TOO much and then feel like a failure even though I got a lot accomplished.  And then use that as an excuse to not move forward…

Here’s my plan.  I’m going to set a yearly manageable goals BUT also hold myself to smaller goals each month that will help me achieve the big goal.  But small…. and not beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.  JUST MOVE FORWARD.

  • BIG RESOLUTION: Do not let stress over rule my life. I honestly believe if I accomplish that it will help with a lot of my issues which includes: using stress as excuse to eat badly or not be active, not enjoying the moment and not feeling fulfilled or obsessing over the little things.
  • HEALTH: I don’t even want to lose weight anymore… which is around 150lbs (10 lbs gained since our October wedding).  I just want to eat reasonable so I have energy and health that I need to do what I need to do.  If weight loss comes with that, even better.  NO MORE EXCUSES.  And no more enslavement to the scale. I plan to not step foot on it except at the doctor’s.
  • RECREATION: Get back to my passions.  Whatever they be I need to take time for myself a little each day.  I need to get back to my creativity!  I need to get back to myself!  And who I am without Austin when need be. As well, I need to as well dance at least once a week, even if its just with Austin in our house.
  • RELATIONSHIPS: Continue to work on appreciating my family and my husband.  I as well want to make more of an effort to keep in touch with long distance friends, even if its just a quick hi on Facebook.
  • PROFESSION: Start learning again!  Take time for professional development  at work and in my free time.  My portfolio also needs a fresh start so I can use it to showcase my MANY passions.  I as well want more of an internet presence (blogging etc) this really is more of a bonus goal… if I get the rest done first.
  • PROJECT: Other than refreshing my portfolio I will get all my dad’s websites redesigned and humming.  So that he may sell his music online.
  • FOR FUN: SEE Orlando.  WHEN we have free time go do some typical “Orlando” things that we haven’t done…..
  • LIFE: GET RID OF CLUTTER. Simplify my life and learn to digitize/organize my stuff and let go of material possessions.  Still have a box in the garage from Boston….  This means as well keeping my backlogged digital assets organized and well backed up…. I want to feel comfortable about my possessions and in control by the end of 2011.

In general I want to get my life in control!  Get it organized and manageable and then build from there!  Not feel so overwhelmed.

January Goals

You’ll see I plan on focusing what bothers me the most… my health.  Here are my steps towards working on the food issue first.

  • Don’t eat after 9pm when I’m going to bed early.
  • Eat normal sized portions and learn when I’m no longer hungry.
  • Only drink more than one alcoholic drink a night once per week.  Because when I drink… I want more food… its a cruel cycle.
  • Dance at least once per week.
  • Get my new portfolio design marked up in HTML 5.
  • Get my car fixed up so I can sell it hopefully in February.
  • Submit my paperwork to change my last name.
  • Keep my office and room clean.  So far they are clean… now just have to maintain.

My Luck

I have an immense amount of it… let’s hope I keep systematically working on myself while also learning to relax.  2011 is going to be an AMAZING year.  I already learned to drive stick and cleaned up the office!

Introducing a new fun side project.

Time Cards Continue – Sheila

Juneish-July: What Sheila’s Been Rolling Round In

So a run down of what I’ve been doing:

  • Turned 24! I feel old.  I know I’m not old.  But I feel it.  Definitely reconciled that I’m a 100% responsible for my own actions.  Filled my taxes this year.  Have an IRA. Am responsible for food getting into my mouth.  Been feeling old for a while though, what with working through school (which getting a job right after college validated this).  Just not as footloose and fancy free since my stint at Boston University or as we called it “Camp BU”.  Not because it was easy… but there was a lot of running around drunk, giggling, sometimes outdoors.  Any who, don’t take me as complaining though I relate to this..  Just this year it finally finally sunk in.  It’s like the question “When you look in the mirror how old do you look?”  Well I finally see an adult.  But that’s okay being an adult has a lot of freedom.  Though we have societal trappings seeming to cage us in, in the end we are free adults with the ability to eat badly, quit our jobs, run away, suffer the consequences, possibly die on the street, but really in the end our choice.  I’D LIKE TO HEAR YOU SAY THAT 6 YEAR OLD CHILD!
  • We did a 4th of July show at Celebration Town Center!  Pictures/video EVENTUALLY to come… not great at posting media assets.  It was 50s themed, and hot and 3.5 hours of constant dancing.  No really… Too hot.
  • One of my bridesmaids was in town from Spain, Aline. We went to Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  Still not a Disney fan though Animal Kingdom is the best.  Really don’t take advantage of the parks here.  I haven’t been back to Islands of Adventure since I moved here 4ish years ago, and I like that park.
  • Austin turned 27!
  • Annual Birthday camping trip at Blue Springs.  Staff was nicer at Wekiva but the Springs were much nicer for swimming at Blue.  Overall enjoyable though it WAS SO HOT and within an hour of getting there I became a broken woman.  Strained my arms and jumped on a rock (an injury that kept me from dancing for 2 weeks).
  • Sent out my wedding invites! We just solidified/wrote our wedding ceremony.  Now on to fittings, tastings and designing our programs…  Almost complete with all our honeymoon reservations.
  • At work:
    • Helped organizing the parlors for Educauses’s AASCU.
    • Attended BBWorld2010 and presented this poster. Won a droid phone, so now I’m back to smart phones.  I should be happy.  But it complicates things and my fingers tap the wrong keys. Into the the future I hurtle!
    • Attended Front-End Design Conference – This may sound ignorant but I expected it to be less Graphic/UI design and more front-end development.  Either way still enjoyed it and the talks were good refreshers.  Gained most by the talk on iPhone dev/design, good food for thought.  Though I’m not sure when I’ll get to dally in that. People were very nice. Very nice and positive.  Wish that wasn’t so unusual to me.
  • Five Years with Austin as of 7/29. Wow.  Glad we are still lucky and in love. 🙂 Went to St. Augustine to celebrate (our route).  I’ve been meaning to go there for a while but this was our first trip together.  Very nice but very touristy.  ELITIST ALERT! I guess, I’m just spoiled from experiencing the oldness of Europe, in cities that don’t rely seemingly only on tourism.  Hey!  Got to drink good imported beer at the Rendezvous.  Walked around holding hands. Bought tasty soap. Got free drinks due to poor service. Saw an old fort. Worth at least one visit.
  • Been swimming.
  • Been playing ukulele… haven’t posted about this but its awesome.
  • Been reading. Shades of Grey is amazing.
  • Hiring at work.
  • Been busy.

So many more adventures to come as we are 2 months away from the wedding.  Just trying to lose weight, learn ukulele and keep my sanity.  August means heat, fall semester startup at UCF (busiest time of the year at work) and Southern Belle Swing Bash!

Just hoping to keep unstressed and appreciate what I have.

True – S

One Ring to Rule Them All

As I mentioned in my post about our wedding, Austin and I a few months ago debarked upon the path of creating customized bands.  My engagement ring (pictured below) is an unusual shape so we needed to create an interlocking band.  As for Austin’s… well he deserved some bling!  Here are some thoughts and results…

The Planning

So this is my engagement ring… sorry for the quality.  Shinies are hard to photograph with a cell phone camera.

Enagement Ring

Austin bought it at Diamond Exchange.  He wanted to get a tension setting… but those are SUPER expensive so he found this unique setting which mimics the look.  The experience was positive so we went back to the store for our bands.

I had read in some wedding book of a Victorian tradition where you spell out words with gemstones.  Me not being a big diamond fan and the fact that using gems are a money saver we decided to run with it.  While those crazy Victorians spelled out words like “L-O-V-E” and “H-O-P-E”, Austin and I decided upon initials.  Austin would have two sapphires for Sheila Suarez.  Where I would have A-D-F for Austin David Flores (as you will see later this was harder then I hoped).

The Jeweler is a fantastic designer so with my input he came up with this for my band:

Sketch of my band.

Austin meanwhile picked out a white gold/”frosted” band.  He then designed his own gem setting, very reminiscent of this TrueBlood ring:

Only instead of two bands… its one… and Sapphires that make the infinity symbol… much like the tear drop stones on mine.  So really not like the above at all.

Results!

So creating customized interlocking rings is not for the weary…  It took a lot of visits to the store to ensure the bands fit the original engagement ring perfectly.  And even then its not perfect as to be expected from a man made metallic object.  But it looks darn good!  Austin’s was of course much easier.  Behold my precious…

The Set

Infinity is Sexy

2 peices

My band separated.  We have dubbed it Bling-A-Tron.

LOCK!

The bottom of it

One Ring to Rule Them All

So the final stones actually don’t spell out A-D-F but S-D-F for Suarez De Flores (my future last name).  I really wanted to match Austin’s name but after an extensive search the only F stone was the Mexican Fire Opal (left stone).  And orange does not match any A stone…  So for Suarez we used Spacerite Garnet (right stone) which is a light orange.  Luckily Diamond Exchange did their research and was able to figure this out for me!

Final Thoughts

Creating customized bands are expensive but I would do it again in a heart beat!  This is creating a legacy for your family and a hand me down.

If I had to do it again though I might have done a little bit more checking around as far as jewelers.  Though I will say Diamond Exchange really pulled through.  I heard though that putting in an alchemy request on Etsy.com can be great and more affordable.

Also using gem stones while cheaper can be tricky as they are not even close to as hard as Diamonds so may break easily.  My fire opal broke during construction and they had to replace it.  Luckily my jeweler constructed it so that when put together the Diamond sticks out slightly and protects the site stones, but still it is a risk that I will have to maintain.  Here is a scale to give you an idea!  The problem is this scale is not a set ratio so the difference between level 9 and 10 is .. well .. ten fold.

In the end, you will probably end up sautering together your ring.  While nice to be like a puzzle, after the wedding day you will most likely never wear them separated (mostly because wearing the band alone could risk breakage as its created to be together).  And if sautered together the ring is more protected from warping and breakage. Kinda shame… probably will do it myself… :/  And of course this costs more money.

So have fun and don’t pull out your hair!

Shinies – S

May Status Update – Haven't Seen Any Flowers

But life is good!

So lots going on in the life of Sheila Suarez. Nothing note worthy educational enough to “blog” about that isn’t just personal funness/work. But I felt bad about not posting and rather then resisting here we go… a status update.

Listy List of Stuffs

  • Launched a departmental application on 4/30 so that’s been consuming my life.  LEARNED a lot about how to successfully launch an application, especially when its in house.  Lots of consultation and baby kissing.  In the end, things are sorting themselves out and despite the little resources we had, it was successful.  Thank god for my development team…  I know eventually I’ll relate what I learned… when the wounds aren’t so fresh.  Still a long way to go with this puppy.

    Dredbeard Poster I made
    Made this.

  • Start of the semester at work as well… busy busy busy times.
  • Got a stomach flu from drinking a free sprite margarita while in Mexico… Yea, probably shouldn’t have done that. It was not fun and hit me 5 days after the cruise.  Austin’s mom got it too and was diagnosed so by her doctor.  Which is good to know because I was highly suspicious of all food until then as I had no clue what got me sick.  But it helped me lose the 4 lbs I put on during the cruise!
  • Went to Charleston Lindy Exchange in Charleston (CHEX 4).  Really loved the city though we only really got to peruse it for two hours or so.  Maybe loved it because I was able to locate awesome beer within 20 minutes.  Reminded me of a southern Boston.  Love beer?  Go here if you visit Charleston.
    • Won first place in a solo Charleston Contest at CHEX!  Super awesome fun and feeling pretty good despite needing to get back in shape.  Last round was battle style which was interesting.  Austin got to the finals in the Jack N Jill.
    • Orlando brought like 30 million people to the exchange. Bonded more with my fellow Floridians then Charleston peeps! It was a surprisingly fun/relaxing event despite lack of sleep & having to go straight from and to work. Best part was the beach… because lord knows I don’t take the time to do that while in FL.
  • Djaustin debuted tonight at UCF. So proud… 🙂  Though he did play a 300 bpm song during the finals of a Jack N’ Jill I was in…  Got 2nd!
  • Wedding planning is slow but steady… been helping out my Maid of Honor a lot since she just got engaged.  Made her a site.  Starting/planned out my invitations, bought boutonniere, veil & center piece supplies & finalized our rings.  I’m gonna hate myself for doing so many DYI projects.  But it saves money and I like being creative!  This weekend I get to see one of my brides maids and make centerpieces with her!  Next weekend while in St. Pete for Swing Dance USA we’ll be doing location visiting.  So that shall be nice.
  • Dieting is a uphill battle.  Must. Concentrate.

So that’s basically it.  The summer proves to get even crazier…

Flllooowerrrsss – S

Scrabbling For the Cure

So I’ve been a bit “involved” lately in the community & work related functions and completed my first Relay for Life this past Friday which benefits the American Cancer Society.  I wasn’t too involved until the end but it was a new experience, great charity & I hope to make it a tradition.  Here are some of my reflections from the event.

My History With Cancer

I do not have cancer but in the recent years have had several close people around me affected by it.  And to be honest it scares the crap out of me.  My grandfather at 92 had a VERY brief battle with it/decline and died in 2008.  As the doctor said, really in the end with prolonged lives due to medicine, cancer is what usually gets us.  The older the cells the greater the chance for mutation and mishaps.  Taboo or not I will say cancer can be natural.  Perhaps with overpopulation (creating pollution) and longer life spans, its just bound to happen, a natural leveler.   That does not mean though that we shouldn’t look for ways to prevent it and sustain the population we have through the same brilliance that brought us the medicine that lowered the mortality rate in the first place.

In 2008 (year of the cancer), my cousin Kaitlyn was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.  She had one relapse but is now cancer free!  I’ve had several interesting conversations with her during her battle and the experience has matured her greatly.  It pains me she had to experience it at such a young age (15) but it has shaped her for better or worse.  And honestly knowing her it will be for the better as she hopes to go into medical school due to her experiences.  I can not imagine what she went through and I know that it is something that she will carry with her the rest of her life.  As will I.

So here we have two cases, one possibly inevitable and one so shockingly close to home to someone so healthy and vibrant.  And I think that’s what scares me so much about cancer, it is a disease from within, a lurking lump, pain or otherwise, a weakening, with what we know almost random discretion in its victims.  What we know so far.  Perhaps that’s what makes it so much scarier than heart disease or even something contagious that can be prevented by just eating well or not touching your eye, that it is so mysterious.  Though of course there are obvious causes like nuclear waste…  And while we know how to detect it early and try to prevent it, we need to learn more.

The Relay is Not a Race

So that’s the first thing I learned.  It really is just a community event where groups can hold fundraising tents and as participants take turns lapping the track they can purchase wares, dunk people, throw darts, donate, bond and otherwise. Where I work (CDL/Online@UCF) put together a group (thank you Amy!) and our theme was Scrabble or “Scrabbling for a Cure”.
Austin & I at Relay for Life

I spent most of my time hocking our wares (man I’m good at selling when I believe in the product/its for charity) of scrabble treats. People love themselves a rice crispy treat with a letter on it.  But ask yourself, When was the last time you had a Rice Krispy treat? It was another good company event and in the end an excoworker bought the goodies we had left (though we sold a lot!) and we walked around giving them away for free.  Which by the way, its actually easier to sell baked goods than give them away.  People are suspicious.

 Corey, Kitzzy, Eileen, me, Sue and Amy

Corey, Kitzzy, Eileen, me, Sue & Amy

Charity for the Sake of…

A few reflections occurred to me about, What is the point of charity? I’m not questioning its validity but really its main target.  And perhaps it is moot to try to hone it down to such a black and white question.  Someone at the event expressed that some of the organizers were disappointed that as they got more students involved less money was made.  Basically the event was really not very profitable due to professionals being scared off and students being less well off. BUT there is still the thought, is it better to get young people involved in charity and learning about prevention or make more money towards research?

Because, who are we kidding, 50 cent brownie with a “T” on top is but a “drop in the bucket” BUT perhaps more of its worth is its symbolism.  That’s some deep brownie.

It seems that a great deal of the actual “gallon in the bucket” contributions comes from private benefactors actually effected by the cause.  So is it a trickle up effect?  Fraternity member holds a “Root Beer Pong for the Cure” station, forgets about it, has a sister die of cancer & donates 5 million?  Or Fraternity member talks to his dad, who talks to this person, who donates?  Or fraternity member learns about early screening and saves his life?  Or all three?

Either/all ways American Cancer Society is a great foundation so check it out.  And perhaps the point is charity sometimes is worth it just for sake of getting people active in the community and to learn about the cause.  All though in the end… money may be what makes the cure go round.

$$$ – S

EDIT: Check out: Betsy’s UCF Relay for Life Album

Our Wedding Part I

So the masses want to know how far I’ve gotten in my wedding planning. So let me introduce our special day… so far. I’m doing this in a brief list summary of our steps in chronological order with some insight inserted.

So Austin asked me to marry him on July 2nd, 2009 (you can read about it here) and we set about wedding planning…

  1. We let everyone know!  And picked our wedding party.
  2. The date: 10.10.10. Why?
  3. Location: This was our primary concern since this is a popular date, and securing a location would secure the date. I’ll be honest we kinda went into it blind and probably could have saved money if we a) did it in our family’s hometown (Port St. Lucie) or b) done some research. We ended up just driving over to St. Petersburg two hours away, a location we have sentimental attachment to, going to a few places my mom found and choosing! We couldn’t make a decision between our two favorites so we chose both! Still they are affordable and fun, so no regrets here. Really Austin and I aren’t super outdoorsy but we wanted to design a wedding that would be very “Florida” since many of our guests will be out of towners taking their vacation. Austin and I would elope in a second our real goal is to have an intimate, fun and awesome excuse for everyone to get together and party.
    • Rehearsal dinner at Ceviche – The small restaurant chain which is our absolute favorite and where we celebrated our engagement.  This will be photo themed and we already are picking out some oldies but goodies from our albums.  As per tradition we are keeping this to family and bridal party.
    • Ceremony at Sunken Gardens -A hidden gem in St. Petersburg we will be exchanging vows under a 200 year old oak canopy.  Below is my mama & Austin in the pavilion.Sunken Gardens
    • Bus them all over to Honey Moon Island – The beach is ours after sunset as we party in an open air pavilion!  Pavilion at Honey Moon Island

      We are keeping decorations to a minimum, because why do we need it when we have the beach/jungle as our decoration? Also less stress and stuff to throw away afterwards… Luckily the reception location has a set tasty caterer which includes everything.. makes it simple.  Also, shortly after our location trip we secured a block of rooms at a nearby hotel, VERY important for a destination wedding.

  4. Budget: We kind of started this before location shopping (and really should have finalized it before) but we definitely finalized it before signing the contracts! Just wanted to insert this to show how important it is although it may be awkward to sit down with your family discuss it.  See what they can contribute and ensure no matter what you can cover it!
  5. Guest List: This was very very hard, in fact the hardest part for me so far in the process. I know a lot of people and want them there, but with us trying not blow our whole nest egg we decided to limit the event to close family and bridal party. Besides it will be more intimate and HOPEFULLY I can spend time with each guest. A few others slipped in, but I had to be as assertive as possible with ourselves and our family. LUCKILY Sunken Gardens’ Oak Pavilion can only accommodate 75, so that helps keep us on track.  Before the wedding we are hoping to have a sendoff dance/party with the rest of our buds.
  6. Color Scheme: I first started with a pink and brown scheme but then switched over to a tropical peacock theme shortly after selecting our location.  Brown in a jungle would be bad… I used Kuler by Adobe to create the color palette.  I am a BIG proponent of getting this decided a.s.a.p. and just sticking with it (not that I’m great about staying on theme…), so that you can move forward with designing your wedding.  Kuler makes it easy and it’s free!
    Bridal Pallette

    Austin and I are peacock colors. Although I’ve never met a peacock I liked… but it’s pretty and tropical! Tee hee!

    Brides' Maids Dresses

    Bridal Party Color Scheme: Each of the ladies will be a different Florida Flower!

  7. Now we had a theme I designed us a logo. Branding is important to me… its the one piece of glue keeping this A.D.H.D. wedding together!
  8. Austin and Sheila's Logo

  9. Website – http://wedding.austinandsheila.com created!  Very important for getting the information out quickly to all those needing to know information, especially if they are traveling far.  We asked people to early r.s.v.p. and that’s been SEMI successful… not really. Hopefully they’ll be better when they get the invitation.
  10. Brides Maid’s Dresses – Coordinating via email we picked these out and ordered them.  I’ll leave them as a surprise.  I’m glad we did it so quickly because if you are going with traditional bridesmaids dresses IT TAKES SOOOO LONG for them to come in.  We ordered them in January and they won’t be in until May… All my bridesmaids are out of state, in fact two are over seas!  Thank god for gmail/googledocs and the internet.
  11. Save-the-Dates – We had soooo many different ideas on how to announce our date.  We ended up throwing in another facet to our tropical wedding, a tourist/destination feel.  So I came up with these magnets (ordered from vistaprint.com) that we attached postcard backs to:

    save the date

    I sent this to my maid of honor with no envelope to test if sending a big magnet in the mail as a postcard would work (sorry hard drives it came into contact with).  But it showed up a little torn.  So we ended up keeping the postcard back but mailing it in an envelope.  Bummer but let me sleep at night.

  12. Engagement Photos – An engagement photo shoot is super fun and if your photographer offers it, go for it!  Awesome to document this wonderful time of your life, as well as, great content to use in your invitations or website if you design them. Austin luckily is a big ham so we had a lot of fun, despite the cold, as our good friend and photographer Hilary Mercer took us on an all day shoot.  Check out the results. Austin and I really only planned the first location (Lake Claire) and the two sets of outfits.  From there we just roamed the city!
  13. Bride’s Attire: I did not want to spend a lot on a dress that I would never wear again and knowing my eccentric tastes neither would any daughter, that I may spawn, want to wear it either.  I anticipate a “trash the dress” shoot… I found my best option was prom dresses!  MANY of the dresses could be ordered in white, still very princessy, LIGHT & cheaper. When I tried on traditional gowns I felt heavy and hot. Plus, what else is a wedding but your dream prom that you spend a lot of money on? One where you most certainly are prom queen and king?  I’m going to keep my dress a secret but it is most awesome.  I saw it online, hunted it down, tried it on & fell in love.  As for the veil that is being pieced together because I’m crafty, with the help of some accents I bought from etsy.com.
  14. Honey Moon/Registry:  With little else to turn my attention to as most is planned or must wait until closer to the date, I started attacking our honey moon.  Austin and I have it mostly set and at least purchased our initial tickets to Madrid.  We have decided instead of asking for traditional home goods, we would like our guests to purchase us portions of our rockin’ honeymoon.  We have been living together for four years so home goods… we got.  But a rockin’ honeymoon?  That’s new.  Here’s a sneak peak at our registry set up through honeyfund.com. Our itinerary is  ALMOST set, we might simplify it, but otherwise we are super excited.    I’m sure I will in the future post a long diatribe about the dos and don’ts of planning this kind of trip.
  15. Cake Topper: Put down our deposit on one by Sophia’s Workshop on Etsy.com. She did one for a friend of mine and I can’t WAIT to start the design process.  Check her out but keep in mind she has a waiting list.
  16. Rings: This we just finished yesterday!  Austin bought me a very unique engagement ring that requires a customized interlocking band to not look all goofy.  Horrible resolution picture of initial ring:Enagement Ring

    Sketch of new ring! Notice how they wrap together? That’s the original diamond in the center.
    Sketch of my band.

    We decided to follow a Victorian tradition I read about in some book (really authoritative huh?) of using the stones to spell out a message/word.   Mine will have either aquamarine tear drop stones standing for Austin, or if I can figure out a good blue “F” stone, an aquamarine, the diamond from my engagement ring and then the “F” stone making Austin David Flores.  Suggestions?  Austin’s ring will have two sapphires laid out mimicking my ring, standing for Sheila Suarez.  I don’t have a picture of his ring (oops) but its a thinner lighter (good for dancing) matte white gold band with polished cut edge.

So… that’s basically it!  Many are surprised at either the geekiness/nonswing orientatedness of our wedding (including myself on the latter) but it’s all about family and joy and I like it damn it.  Plus very few of our guests swing dance. :/ Though they will in fact cut a rug. Any way we shall not be pigeonholed, we are a many faceted duo!

We are in the process now of finalizing Austin and his groom’s outfits, creating the overall structure of our ceremony which will be administered by my maid of honor, then on to program designing, invitation designing, losing weight, flowers, center pieces, dj set list (we are just running a MP3 player), favors & finally some tastings!  Maybe I do have quite a bit to do in the next 6 months…

Now you know. – S

Corporate 5k Pic Recap: Lots of Thumbs

Just a few choice photos. More here.

Online@UCF Team
Most of our Team! Kitzzy our lovely organizer of course on the phone.

5k Virgins
5k Virgins… Austin did not want to take this picture.

You can do it!
AFFIRMATION SHIRT! YEA!

Jason with Helmet Cam
Voyeur… Jason Cam He still finished in like 24 minutes with that camera on his head…

Thumbs up!
Thumbs!! Please note that they have invented a contraption to replace pins to hold your number. What will they think of next?

Walking to the start
12k people…

Chuck, Sheila, and Sherry at start
Chuck, Sherry and I at the start!

Sheila and Sherry ready to go!
All Thumbs!

nothing but thumbs – S