Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas is Coming!

After Thanksgiving and the infamous "Black Friday with the Family" experience this past weekend, the holidays are officially in full swing. We went down to Chattanooga this year to my Aunt Tina's house for Thanksgiving with the whole family. It was the first time Erin, my brother's girlfriend, had been to a big family holiday gathering at one of our houses. I hope she doesn't think we're too crazy after this weekend, although I will say we were rather tame in comparison to most years :) We had family photos made, courtesy of Image Photogrpahy by Matt Wolcott, for the first time in WAY too many years, at Chester Frost Park. The scenery there was great, despite the fact that I sat in some kind of animal excrement... But anyway, it was great to have the whole family together to document how much we've grown since the last real picture, and I can't wait to see how the photos turn out!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving meal, with everyone crowding in the kitchen to help. Even Justin and my cousin Matt pulled their weight, whipping up some very tasty mashed potatoes. There's a story behind the potatoes... a few years ago, Justin and Matt saw my grandmother using a mixer to mix the potatoes to the perfect "mashed" consistency. The boys were insistant that these were not mashed potatoes, but "whipped" potatoes, and vowed that they would take care of the potatoes the next year. However, they didn't take the job too seriously, and every year since, they have been hijacking the potatoes and coming up with some weird concoction of ingredients that normally don't belong in potatoes and serving them to us with evil grins. It's gotten to the point where we are afraid to eat them, which is positively a downright shame, since who doesn't love mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? This year though, they finally got their act together and made some really great mashed potatoes, which is one of the things we were all extremely thankful for!

The next day all the girls in the family went Black Friday shopping. In previous years, we did the whole getting up at 3am thing to hit all the stores with the doorbuster deals and we went through all the ads the day before and made lists of everything we needed to get. But lately it's just too much hassle, and there are always those crazy people camping out at midnight that get all the good stuff before you anyway, so we've been taking it easy recently. We left the house at about 8am and spent the morning at the big stores like Target and Academy Sports, then took a break for lunch at Fuji Steakhouse (best fried rice I've ever had, by the way), and then finished the day with an afternoon at Hamilton Place mall. It was a pretty good day, and I don't think we scared Erin too much :) Below is a picture of me and my cousins and Erin showing our holiday spirit in Target.

Snowflake, reindeer, snowflake, reindeer

Saturday, as any avid Vols fan would know, was the last regular season football game of the year. Tyson's family came into town and his brothers stayed with us Friday night so we could get up early and tailgate. We got to UTFCU on the strip at about 7am (in the 25˚ weather, no less...) and proceeded to build a fort out of our Tennessee tent and sleeping bags and blankets. Then we cranked up the generator and plugged in the kerosene heater and one electric heater and huddled together for a few hours until it was warm enough to venture outside. It was pretty hilarious, and I'm sure we looked ridiculous out there, but we had a blast at our last football game for nine months. Here are a few pictures of our makeshift fort:


The fake fire is a nice touch, don't you think?

The kerosene heater was a God send, although it kind of
looks like it's catching someone's leg on fire right now...

Erin and I got these awesome shirts in Chattanooga on Black Friday!

So now our fun weekend is over and it's back to work and the real world. We used Sunday to pack some more boxes and then we went to Home Depot and ordered the refrigerator for the new house. Thanks to our many family and friends who gave us Home Depot gift cards for our wedding, and the great sale they were having on major appliances, we got a fantastic deal on a big side by side fridge!

The house is coming along great too. Our closing date will be sometime between the 15th and 23rd of December, so we are officially moving in about three weeks. So crazy to think about! I turned in our 30-day written notice of our last day to our apartment complex yesterday, along with our last rent check EVER, and it was a very liberating feeling!

Here is the most current picture of the outside of the house:

This week is another full week, with a little Christmas shopping last night, dinner with my good friend Abbey tonight, our first knoxAchieves mentor meeting tomorrow night, a meeting with the DJ from our wedding on Thursday to do our post-interview, and MORE Christmas shopping this weekend. It's only going to get busier from here on out too, with a trip up to Ohio to visit my dad's side of the family next weekend, and hopefully moving in to the new house the weekend after that, and then Christmas, New Years, and our ski trip to Massanutten! I love the holidays, but man do they tire me out!

Thanks for sticking around to read this (if you made it this far), and I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season with your family too!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mi Casa es....well, Mi Casa

I kid, I kid. Once we get moved in to this thing we can't wait to have everyone over to see the new place!

Anyway, things are coming along VERY quickly... In fact, it's looking as if we'll be in by the end of the year after all. We've already started packing up the apartment since we won't have all of our time to devote to it during the holidays. Neither one of us is all that thrilled about having to go through the moving process again, but once it's done I know we'll be so glad to be able to be sure that we're going to stay in one place for awhile!

Here are some of the latest pictures of what's done so far, although a lot has been accomplished since even these were taken!

Half way done with the siding, and stonework complete
(although you can't really tell in this picture).

Accented ceiling in the living room.

Doesn't look like it yet, but this is the kitchen.

The entryway, looking at it from the living room. Dining room is to the
right, office is to the left.


Most recent updates on the house are as follows: Siding and exterior are done, minus the shutters, real front door, and garage door (temporary doors installed for now). Drywall is completely done, and the painting is almost finished. The trim package was supposed to have been delivered on Monday, but I haven't been over there since Saturday to check. The interior will really start moving along now that everything on the outside is pretty much done.

I am already mentally moving in in my mind. Where to put the couch and tv, how to arrange our bedroom furniture, how to set up the kitchen, ideas for all the extra space we have now... My mind is going non-stop with the possibilities! (Of course, I stop short when I realize a lot of my ideas require having a certain disposable amount of money, so...well, maybe next year.)

So like I said in the last post, exciting things are happening for the Patricks! Keep checking back for even more pictures as the house nears completion, and definitely stay tuned for a house warming party date!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When Did We Become Grownups?

So... we bought a house! Or, we're under contract on a partial construction rather, and I guess we technically don't BUY it until we close. But either way, we are SUPER excited to be starting this next new chapter in our lives!

The house is in the Hardin Valley area off of Pellissippi, and zoned for the coveted Hardin Valley Academy school district. It's a two-story, three bedroom plus bonus, two and a half bath starter home in a medium-sized subdivision with a community pool...perfect for those little Patricks that'll be running around in the next few years or so! Here's a sketch of the front elevation of the house:

We just ordered a custom garage door and opener for the house today, and we have a meeting with the designer on Tuesday to start picking out our interiors, like paint colors, lighting fixtures, etc. Our contract date for finishing up construction is January 14th, but the builder wants the house completed by December 15th so he can have it on his books for 2010, so it's possible we may get to move in by the end of the year!

In addition to our house excitement, we are also going to Memphis this weekend to go out on Beale Street, and most importantly, watch the Vols finally win a game. The only time I've ever been to Memphis before was on a connecting flight and I never even made it outside the airport, so I'm really excited about this trip. We have a Friday night dinner at Rendezvous lined up, and our hotel is one block from BB King's and the rest of the Beale Street hype. We have a few friends making the trip over there with us too, so it should be a really good time!

Exciting things are happening for the Patricks. It's been a whirlwind of stress and surprises in the past few weeks, but I would trade it for anything. I can't wait to see what's around the corner next! Bring it on!

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Great To Be A Tennessee VOL!!

So it’s finally that time of year again… Knoxville comes alive, the color orange floods the streets, and right before the leaves begin to fall, the Vols take the field at Neyland Stadium for the first home game of the season. It’s football time again on ole Rocky Top, and the excitement has taken over EVERYONE, especially Tyson.

Tyson loves UT football more than anything in the world, and that probably includes me. From the time he was a baby, he has bled orange, despite growing up in the middle of Dawg country. It’s no secret he came to college in Knoxville specifically for the free student tickets to the games. Last year, upon finding our seats in our normal spot, Tyson got really quite and started acting strange. I looked over at him, and there were tears in his eyes. He was literally crying. He said, “It’s just a beautiful sight.” Tyson didn’t even cry on our wedding day.

So needless to say, my husband is just a little anxious for kickoff on Saturday night. He has been adding to his “tailgate necessities” list since Monday, and every time I catch sight of it, it’s grown by 5-10 items. I’m trying to figure out where he thinks we’re going to put all this stuff, but at this point I’ve decided it’s best to adopt a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

We decided on a tailgating spot in the back parking lot of Regions on Cumberland Avenue. This year, they have partnered with the Knoxville branch of the Alzheimer’s Association and all the parking proceeds will go to this charity. I think we made a great decision, because the location is great, we pay for the whole season upfront, and we can come and go as we please all while helping out a great cause, as opposed to putting twenty bucks a game in the pocket of some random landlord (who’s already raking it in from their overpriced, under-managed apartments) for a blocked-in space in a gravel lot.

I have been informed by the powers that be (i.e, Tyson, my brother Justin, and our friend Josh) that tailgating will begin promptly at 8am. Kickoff is at 6pm. You do the math – yes, that’s right, there are TEN HOURS of tailgating planned on Saturday. What will you do for all that time, you say? Well, I am glad you asked, because we have PLENTY in store for all of our lucky tailgating guests.

8:00 am – ARRIVAL AND SET UP. We’ll get to Regions, set up our tents, our two tables (one for beer pong, of course), both cornhole sets, and fire up the grill. And by grill, I believe I meant, the god of all things tailgating. My brother bought us (read: Tyson) the Margaritaville tailgating grill that hooks into our hitch and swings out for your easy grilling convenience for our wedding present, and let me just say, it was created quite the hype in our little tailgating circle. I’m hard-pressed to decide if the boys are more excited about the actual game or the grill. It’s a close call.

8:30 am – BREAKFAST. Tyson doesn’t just tailgate with the intention of finding a parking spot and sitting and drinking all day. He does it big. We will have a full-fledged breakfast (courtesy of aforementioned grill) of bacon, sausage, bagels, etc. He has even informed me we will be making mimosas and poinsettias from the leftover champagne from the wedding festivities, just to start the mood off right.



12:00 pm – NORMAL PEOPLE WILL BEGIN SHOWING UP. Of course, my family will have a 4 hour head start on those poor, unsuspecting fans, but this is the actual expected time for the crowd to really start coming in.

12:30 pm – THE REAL SHENANIGANS WILL BEGIN. Take this for what it’s worth. Alcohol + football + large crowd always = party, which may or may not get out of hand. Our one saving grace this year is that we are actually right on the Strip, under the watchful eye of several cops who may or may not care what the hell we are doing.

1:00 pm – LUNCHTIME. Remember how I said Tyson likes to go all out? Hot dogs and hamburgers are apparently not good enough for the UT-Martin game; we will be grilling steaks. Steaks that I put in marinade this morning before I left for work, because he insisted they be saturated for the just the perfect two-day time period before we eat them.

2:00 pm – HEAVY DRINKING WILL COMMENCE. With only 4 hours til kickoff, this is when the guys, namely my husband and brother, will decide they have not partied nearly enough for the game. This will, of course, be an incorrect assumption, since if we all remember correctly, they have been drinking for 6 hours already. But this won’t matter to them, they will insist on a Power Hour(s) forthwith.

3:00 pm – FIGHT NIGHT. Inevitably when you mix alcohol, sports, and die-hard fans, a fight will break out at some point. We can all thank God this is not a rivalry game, which means whenever a fight does occur on Saturday, it will most likely be the result of someone “borrowing” another tailgater’s hotdog buns (last year’s tailgaters, you know what I’m talking about…). At any rate, this is a disagreement that can easily be overcome with a couple bucks and/or beers.

5:00 pm – HEAD TO THE STADIUM. Tyson will insist we need to get to the stadium AT LEAST a half hour before kickoff so he can analyze the pre-game warm-ups taking place on the field. I imagine my husband to be convinced that he is on the coaching payroll for the Vols, as his criticisms and instructions that are yelled at the top of his lungs from the upper level bleachers are voiced with such fervor that General Neyland himself would take pause to listen up. Past years of experience have proven, without a doubt, that he will successfully endeavor to embarrass the hell out of me before the game even starts.

6:00 pm – GAME TIME. The players have run through the T, the coin has been tossed, and we’re lining up for kickoff. All is right in the world. Tyson is probably crying again. The next 3-4 hours will be a haphazard mash up of cheers, the wave, yelling at the ref, and lots and lots of Rocky Top. And this cycle will repeat itself 6 more times before the season is over. Yay me.

All sarcasm aside, I make fun of Tyson and Justin, but the truth is, I love it too. Maybe not to the fanatic extent that they do, but it really is one of my favorite times of year. How do you beat 100,000 orange-clad fans who are all equally passionate about the same thing you are and will do anything to let you know it? You don’t have to be a Tennessee student or alum to get caught up in the atmosphere. It is truly like nothing else in the world.

So I will suffer through the next four weekends (and three more later on) of no sleep and bad hangovers, and probably some disappointing losses. Because in Knoxville, while wins and losses may be important, it’s more about the fandom and the spirit of excitement that 11 players stepping onto a football field brings to an entire city and its surrounding counties. In the words of Charlie Daniels, “Down here football’s not just a game, it’s a way of life.”


Friday, August 20, 2010

Our Wedding Video!

Here is a short video our awesome photographer, Pat Murphy-Racey of PMR Photo, put together for us combining some still shots and video. It is awesome! We absolutely love it!

More pictures and video coming soon!

Stephanie Kramer and Tyson Patrick Wedding from patrick murphy-racey on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Well, I guess the honeymoon's over...

Literally, I mean. Not figuratively.

Tyson and I spent a wonderful week in beautiful St. Lucia at Sandals Regency La Toc Resort & Spa for our honeymoon. The island is truly one of the prettiest places I've ever been.

We took a very long five hour flight from Atlanta to the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, St. Lucia. From there, it was about an hour's bus ride north to the city of Castries where our resort was. As beautiful as the vegetation of the island is, I have to say, the bus ride to the hotel was humbling. Right in the middle of paradise was poverty at some of its worst. It was shocking to me to see the condition that some of the citizens there lived in. Flimsy aluminum panel and tarped-up shacks that were about the same size as my walk-in closet in my apartment (that I am constantly complaining is too small) were all that some people had to call home. The thin, ill-postured bodies of people who did not eat regularly like they should. People who walked up steep, mountainous roads in blazing heat and humidity to get to wherever they were going because they didn't have cars to take them there. All of it was so hard to watch from the comfort of my air-conditioned seat in the clean 15-passenger van that was taking us to such a luxurious resort. It's no wonder the world has such a negative view of Americans. Even the people we consider the poorest in our nation have infinitely more (in both possessions and opportunities) than some St. Lucians do. Before we had left to go to St. Lucia, I was selfishly wondering when our wedding pictures might be posted, since our photographer was leaving for a mission trip in Haiti the same week we would be on our honeymoon. I knew that trip would probably set the expected time back a little, and me and my spoiled American attitude were disappointed that the wait might be longer. But after seeing the conditions of that island, I had to chastise myself pretty severely. While I was enjoying myself on vacation, our photographer was building homes and helping people in a country just as impoverished as this one. He was helping people and making a difference, rather than just witnessing them as I was that day. I felt ashamed.

Sorry to go off on that tangent, but the impact that revelation had on me was pretty great. I have so much respect for people like Pat, our photographer, that take time out of their own lives to care about other people...complete strangers in most cases. Tyson and I would really like to get involved in some charity work after having that experience.

Once we arrived at the resort and got all checked in and saw all that there was to do, we immediately.....took a nap. We were exhausted. The past few weeks of our life have been so hectic that we were worn out. We did finally pull ourselves up to have dinner and do some site-seeing around the resort before calling it a night though.

The view from our room

We had a great week there. We swam in the pools, laid out in the sun, took an aqua bike out onto the ocean, played golf, got a couple's massage, shopped downtown in the local market, and ate and ate and ate...and drank and drank and drank. And we slept A LOT. There really is no excuse for us to be tired for like, the next month.

We got back Sunday night (much later than expected because the Atlanta airport is and always will be the most incompetent airport in the world, in my book anyway) and spent Monday putting our life back in order. Kind of. We did laundry, put luggage away, went grocery shopping, and started on our massive pile of thank you notes. (Sidenote, if you are expecting a thank you note from us, bear with us - Tyson is a slow writer and I stress over exactly the right thing to say, and that doesn't make for a very quick process.... I promise you'll get them in the next month...or two... just kidding. I think.)

So now things are finally starting to quiet down and we can get back to things like, I don't know, normality. We are talking about going on dates again (haven't been able to nail out a time/day just yet, but I feel confident we can come to an agreement in this lifetime), and starting to look for a house (grown-up stuff!!). The honeymoon is, most definitely, over, but our life together has finally just begun! :)

Wedding Re-Cap

Wow, so much has happened since my last entry. Bachelor and bachelorette parties, wedding week in all its glory, rehearsal dinner, the ceremony itself, the FABULOUS reception, "wind-down" week (not really), and of course, our honeymoon. I have to say, after spending a week away from it all on a beautiful island, being back in the real world kinda sucks. But all in all, I think we're both glad to be back, armed with the knowledge that the majority of the chaos is behind us and we can begin to resume our lives as they were, pre-wedding.

I'm just going to be blunt, and not at all modest: our wedding was glorious. If you missed it, you missed out. Big time. I mean, I realize I'm biased and all, but it was hands down the best wedding I've ever been to. And I don't know if people are just buttering me up and telling me what I want to hear because I was the bride, but based on what I've heard since, I think there are a lot of people out there who agree with me. I think what made our wedding so great was that it really had the best of both of the moods that Tyson and I really wanted to convey: it was a good combination between elegant and fun.

Everyone told me to be prepared for the day to fly by, with me not remembering a single detail and not processing anything until much later, after all the festivities were over, and while I have to agree that the day was chaotic and busy, I think I can honestly say that I remember everything about that day, or at least everything that matters to me, and I will for a long time. Maybe it's because I was so geared up to be a stressed out nervous wreck that I was on my game more than usual, but I don't think any of it was a blur for me. I didn't want to miss a single thing, and I made damn sure I didn't.

The morning started out bright and early with all the bridesmaids and co. meeting at the Tennessee School of Beauty for hair and makeup applications. I had the most AMAZING and talented hairstylist, Christina, who managed to take my normally unruly hair and turn it into what I can only call a work of art. Seriously, there was nothing I did not love about this hairstyle. I wish I had a picture that would do it justice, but for now this will have to suffice:

My makeup was done by Alicia, who also did a fantastic job and who earns props for introducing me to fake eyelashes that made my eyes pop all night. Slap on the wrist for me though, who spent too much time trying to glue them back on in the bathroom when all the tears I'd cried that day (happy tears) finally dissolved the glue and they started coming off.

I think after we left there and got to the church and I saw the bouquets for the first time, that's when it really hit me. The flowers were so beautiful. Walta Patt at Powell Florist did a wonderful job. Everything was so beautiful and unique and seeing it all come together in those bouquets really made that day a reality for me. Below is one of the bridesmaids bouquets.

Ahh, even now I can't get over how pretty they are! Anyway, once we all had a little something to eat, courtesy of McAlister's, (Who by the way, does an awesome party tray in either sandwich or wrap style and will deliver, along with gallons of sweet tea, for a very reasonable price. Kudos to Mom for that good idea!) we all got dressed and played the waiting game for what seemed like an eternity to me. My photographer, Pat Murphy-Racey, who I've known since I was 11 years old and who has been a close friend of the family and my youth group leader, and now a deacon in my church, shot some "getting ready" pictures and then took me into the church for some pre-ceremony shots of just me in my dress. Being in the church, so close to where Tyson was, but not able to see him, was so exasperating! I just wanted to get married already!

As I walked out of the church and back to the rectory where we all got ready to wait for the ceremony to start, I saw my late grandfather's wife coming in to the church. I immediately became emotional. My grandfather, who is actually my dad's uncle, but who raised him from the time he was two years old, just passed away in April, the day before my birthday. I believe grandparents should die of old age, peacefully and in their sleep, after a long, happy life. My grandfather was sadly deprived of that. Grandpa Clete was in great shape and good health for a man his age, and spent his life working that farm and his land. But on this day he decided to burn a brush pile out in a corn field. Somehow the fire got out of control, and he got caught up in it. By the time the fire trucks and paramedics got to the scene, it was too late. The news was devastating to my entire family, and so unexpected. Of course, my grandfather's wife, Delores, was heartbroken. This was the second husband she had to bury. When I saw her walking up to the church that day, I thought my heart would literally burst. Her presence there meant so much to me, and her being there was inspirational, encouraging, and almost as good as my grandpa himself being there. And though I know he couldn't be there in person, I know he was there with all of us in spirit on that day.

Finally, finally, it was time for the ceremony to begin. It took place at my church, St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Powell. I was so hyped up I couldn't stand still. The bridesmaids weren't walking fast enough! My flower girl and ring bearers couldn't have gone slower if they had crawled backwards down the aisle! When would it be my turn? My dad tried to keep me occupied with jokes about skipping out on everyone and making a fast getaway, but nothing could have kept me from Tyson at that moment. When we walked through the doors, I didn't even see anyone else. I didn't look to either side the whole way down, or if I did, none of it registered. I had eyes only for him, and the big smile he wore that I was sure matched mine. I had always thought I would cry coming down that aisle, but all I could do was smile. We got to the end and my dad put my hand in Tyson's, and it was like finally everything was normal again. I wasn't antsy anymore, I wasn't impatient. I was just standing there with him, and I could have stood there all day. We had a full Mass that lasted about an hour.

Afterwords, we took a trolley to our reception site, The Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm. The trolley was so much fun! The entire bridal party and their dates, and all of our parents were on board. The ride lasted about 45 minutes, and in just that short amount of time, we polished off an entire case of champagne! It was hilarious.

Some of us in front of the trolley, post-champagne...
The "damage."

The reception was epic. No, really. Our parents, the entire bridal party, and Tyson and I made our grand entrance "arena-style" complete with amusing tidbits about each person as they came in and finishing off the whole charade with Rocky Top. We had secured about 200 shakers from my old boss at the UT Athletics Marketing Department (thanks, Jimmy!), and as Tyson and I walked in, all of our guests were waving orange and white shakers and going crazy. So fun! We went right into our first dance from there, and then my dad surprised me with his song selection for the father/daughter dance, which he had kept a secret from me. It was Heartland's "I Loved Her First" which brought me to tears (one of the many guilty culprits in the fake eyelash fiasco). Then Tyson and his mom dance to "The Perfect Fan" by the Backstreet Boys.

Dinner, although late (another story in and of itself) was amazing, and the festivities of the night were just so much fun. We played the Shoelywed Game, which if you have not ever seen done, you are missing out. It is hilarious! The bride and groom sit back to back and each have a shoe of their own and a one of the other person's shoes. They are then asked questions about the marriage (i.e., who will manage the money, who is the better driver, who wears the pants in the relationship) and each one has to raise the shoe of the person they think best fits each question. Hands down the funniest part of that game for us was when our DJ asked us who had the craziest family, and without hesitation, both of us threw my shoes up into the air! The bridal party also played a rather dangerous hybrid game of musical chairs and a scavenger hunt. They had to find items from the audience and race back to their chairs before everyone else. A few bruises were had because of this game, but it was definitely worth the laughs. Of course, there was much dancing and fun to follow too!

Tyson and I accredit the success of that night primarily to our AMAZING DJs, Corey and Tara of Music in Motion. They really knew how to get the party started and kept people out on the dance floor all night. When Tyson and I left that night, I don't think either one of us could have been happier. The day was completely perfect for both of us and we were thrilled.

We really want to thank everyone who came to the wedding. We know it was a long trip for some, and we know the cost and time and sacrifice it took to be there. Everyone's presence there was what really made it such an incredible and memorable event for us. We are so happy to have gotten to share the best day of our lives with so many of our family and friends!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Anderson County Elections on August 5th: Race for the office of trustee

Let me start off this post by saying that I'm 95% certain that I will never again use this blog as a political platform, so readers, all 2 of you, please bear with me through this one rant and I promise to stop beating this particular dead horse.

I don't know much about politics, especially small town politics, and if I'm being completely honest, I've really never cared. I don't research the issues like I should before voting, and I have left a few ballot boxes blank when I don't know anything about any of the candidates running for a particular position. Granted, this is probably just as bad as blindly choosing one, but at least then I can continue to do my civic duty and complain when the city/county starts going to crap and say that it wasn't me who elected that particular idiot to office.

I am probably not setting myself up to be a very credible person to take on this topic, but I really don't see how that makes me any different from most of the ignorant people who get on a soap box when election time comes around, so in that case I plan on plunging full throttle ahead.

I've known Rodney Archer, I mean really known him, for approximately a year, maybe a little more. Not long at all. But in the time I've gotten to know him, I can speak to the fact that his character and personality are more than substantial to hold a public office. In fact, growing up in Clinton, it seems to me that most of the small town leaders in our county possess a lot less true character than even my little pinky. Some of the leaders in Anderson County (and please note, I'm not saying all, I'm saying some, and I'm most certainly not naming any names) are career politicians who have found a comfortable seat where they can sit back and do the bare minimum, if not be flat out lazy and still earn an income well above the median in our county, and far, far above the poverty line. Rodney is not one of those people. Rodney works for his salary, and he puts tax payer dollars to good use. Rodney is solely responsible for taking the way our property taxes are available to us into the 21st century by making them available online 24/7. He's been known to hand-deliver and pick up bills and payments to citizens who can't make it out of their homes or don't have access to the Internet.

His opponent, Jeneva Moseley, might be the most unqualified political candidate to ever run for an elected office. Wait, let me take that back. It seems that many campaigns are built around mudslinging and making false accusations, so qualified I guess she most certainly is. But deserving and competent she is definitely not.

Ok, ok, let's just call a spade a spade here and get this out of the way right off the bat: Tyson and I are friends with Rodney. My whole family is. So admittedly, I might be a little biased. But here's the deal. Whether I knew Rodney personally or not, in this particular election, you couldn't pay me to vote against him.

Moseley's entire campaign has been juvenile from Day One. She has accused Rodney and his staffers of stalking her, she herself has been accused (allegedly) of destroying Rodney's campaign signs, and she has made it common practice to twist words and scenarios in order to publicize completely fabricated rumors. Exhibit 1-A: Moseley released a statement to the press that Rodney used his position of power in the community to strong-arm a local bank into approving him for a mortgage of 128% of the value of his home, emphasizing that in today's economy, many county residents are hard-pressed to get approved for 80%. In reality, when talking about Rodney's home's value, Moseley was actually referring to it's purchase price ($265k), which WAS low because he bought it out of foreclosure. The truth of the matter is that mortgages are given based on a home's APPRAISED value, not its purchase price. Rodney's mortgage was obtained at $339,997. The home's appraised value is $400,000. Do the math, and you find that the home was, in fact, financed at 85%.

You know what the really sad thing is in this particular example? Jeneva Moseley is a former college-level math instructor AND real estate agent. So the real question here is this: is she seriously that ignorant, or did she knowingly manipulate the situation to make Rodney look crooked in the hopes that most voters wouldn't know the real rules of home lending, or even care enough to find out the facts? And if she WASN'T playing dirty, would you really want someone who is that misinformed in charge of county assets and collecting YOUR property taxes?

This is just the most recent of many examples of her childish guerrilla campaigning tactics. Whether you know Jeneva or Rodney personally, I think this speaks volumes about Jeneva's moral character (or lack thereof).

Early voting is going on now through July 31st, and Election Day is August 5th. I'm not here to tell anyone who to vote for, but I do feel it's important to get the word out when you find a candidate worthy of support. If you want to make sure Anderson County's Trustee's Office stays in capable hands, do us all a favor and re-elect Rodney Archer on August 5th.

For more information on Rodney's campaign, visit the Archer for Trustee website or become a fan of his Facebook page at facebook.com/archerfortrustee.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Rodney's re-election campaign. Neither Rodney nor his campaign staff endorse this post in any way, shape, or form. Any and all comments related to this post should be directed to me and not Rodney or his campaign staff. If I have offended anyone......too bad.

The Week Before Wedding Week

We're officially in pre-Wedding Week. The next two weeks will be eventful, to say the least. I gotta be upfront, this blog is as much for me as any of you, because somehow I gotta keep all this crap I have to do straight!

This weekend we spent most of our time working on mom and dad's house, continuing the neverending tasks of home improvements to my parents' house that my mom insists needs to be done before the wedding. I love my parents' house. I think it's beautiful the way it is, but my mom's perfectionist nature (and many hard man hours of labor) have really made all the difference in the world. Saturday morning, Mom and I went to Erin's Meadow Herb Farm to pick up some new stuff for the flowerbeds and planters. If you've never been there, you should really check it out. They have an awesome variety of very well cared-for plants and they are SUPER cheap! I can't wait to have a house so we can add some unique stuff from their nursery to our own yard, and maybe even start a garden! (Ambitious for me, I know...)

As of the 13th of this month, my parents have been married 25 years. Yesterday they renewed their vows at church with my whole family there (much to my mom's surprise!). I have to hand it to my dad. He's a very busy man, and definitely not the most sentimental or smoothest guy in history, but he really pulled this together at the last minute in the midst of all the wedding chaos, and my mom was genuinely touched. As I said, my whole family came to the service and then we went out and celebrated afterwards. Of course, in my Italian Catholic family, celebrated means we went out to eat a huge meal. Then my mom and Erin and I went shopping with my aunts at the mall. I'm not sure we had enough time to justify taking the time to do this, but I got my dress for the bachelorette party, so I was satisfied!

Later on, I finally got some time to finish a pretty cool project I had taken on that was initially meant for tailgating season, but in light of the fact that we're having a huge party at my house for my out of town family the day after the wedding, I was really hoping to get them done in time for that. Last year, my dad and I built some regulation cornhole boards and I painted them, using my Vol spirit as inspiration. Well, they were a huge hit at all of our tailgates, and were used so often that they required sanding and repainting before the new season starts. And then I got to thinking, wouldn't it be fun to have two sets and be able to have side-by-side competitions going on? Tyson didn't want two sets with the same design, so I got the idea to paint the new set as Tennessee state flags. I'm pretty crafty, or at least I like to think I am, but somebody please slap me if I ever get the bright idea to do such a difficult design again! Do you know how hard it is to cut painter's tape into perfect circles and proportional stars? Needless to say, this project took FOREVER, but I'm glad to say the boards turned out great! Here's a not-so-great pic because I took it with my not-so-great phone:

Tonight, Tyson and I have ballroom dance lessons to help prepare us for our first dance! I'm really excited about this. I have absolutely no rhythm whatsoever and I need all the instruction I can get. Also I have no balance, so attempting this in 3-inch heels and a heavy dress should be rather entertaining for my guests.
Tomorrow, Tyson is moving out of his apartment and officially moving into mine. This shouldn't take too long, considering I've taken inventory of his stuff and come to the conclusion that we can live without the majority of it.
Wednesday I have NOTHING wedding related to do (praise God), and I have an easy work day. My whole office is going to this "Get Motivated" seminar in downtown Knoxville that lasts the whole day. Speakers include Rudy Giuliani, Zig Ziglar, Colin Powell, Lou Holtz, and local favorites Bruce Pearl and Pat Summitt. Honestly, I'm pretty excited. A day out of the office, and lunch at Calhoun's on the River, compliments of my awesome boss? Yes, please!
Nothing scheduled for Thursday yet, keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way!
Friday is Wing Night at Sequoyah, and the unofficial start of the bachelor/bachelorette parties. Saturday is when it really begins, starting with my Bridesmaid's Luncheon, which is really not a luncheon, at Bath Junkie in Turkey Creek. This is another place you've GOT to go to if you've never been. You can create your own scents for tons of bath products, like sugar scrubs, lotions, bath salts, and so much more. It's one of the coolest places I've ever been to!
After our mini-party, it's off to Bonefish for a fancy dinner with the girls, and then into the city for a night on the down and a naughty last-night-as-a-single-girl checklist that can't have a single item unchecked! Ok, it's not that naughty, but for conservative me, it pushes my boundaries just enough! I'm so excited for a last hoorah with my girls before the big day!
Well that finishes off this busy week, then it's on to the next: Wedding Week, in all it's glory. Chances of me having time for another post before then? Worse than the chances of me NOT falling during tonight's dance practice.

Friday, July 16, 2010

15 Days to Go!

Today is Friday, July 16th, 2010. The end of an exhausting week, my mom’s 45th birthday, and above all, 15 days until our wedding. I am FREAKING OUT.

It’s been a week of wedding what-have-you’s as usual. I don’t even know if I remember a time in my life where I went one day without talking about that subject.

This past Monday, I scheduled the hair and makeup appointments for me and all of my bridesmaids for the day of the wedding at the Tennessee School of Beauty. As I wrapped up that phone call, I thought, wow, the preparations are pretty much done now. That’s the last call I have to make to a vendor to schedule an appointment or service.

On Tuesday, I went to Men’s Wearhouse and did the final check of Tyson and the groomsmens’ tuxes and shirts/ties to make sure the color matched the exact shade of my dress. Walking out the door, I found myself wondering how Tyson will look in the tux, and then thinking that in barely a few weeks, it would be the last time I would ever have to wonder that.

On Wednesday, we met with the caterers, Robyn and Mike Wilson of Cox Catering, and our florist, Walta Patt of Powell Florist, and Nancy Furmaniak, the owner/event planner for our reception site, The Pavilion at Hunter Valley Farm. We went over last minute details like final head count, table set up and linens, buffet location, flower arrangements, and so many other things I’m too overwhelmed to remember. I realized as we were leaving that it was the last time I would be at Hunter Valley until I came for the wedding reception.

On Thursday, we met with my priest, Father Chris, who will be marrying us at our church in Powell, St. Albert the Great. We discussed our readings, participants in the ceremony, how we would enter, where we would stand, and the specifics of the marriage license. As we left there, it hit me again, this is the last time we will meet personally with Father Chris until we are rehearsing for the wedding in two weeks.

After that meeting, I headed to my parents’ house to meet with my good friend and seamstress, Fran Dalton. She finished up the rest of the hand-sewing, put the last touches on my dress, and pressed it. As I stood looking in the mirror at me in my dress for my last fitting, I thought to myself, I will not be putting this dress on again until the day I will marry Tyson.

And that’s when it really hit me. Two weeks. TWO WEEKS! Tyson and I are getting married in two weeks! I can’t wait! This past year has flown by. It has been exciting, stressful, full of happiness and anxiety, and now the time is finally here. It’s so hard to believe I will finally have the Last Name Patrick in such a short time.

And during this time of very emotional and chaotic epiphany, the best thing I have come to realize is that experiencing all these lasts means opening myself to a whole lifetime of brand new firsts! Like the first time Tyson sees me in my dress, all made up with perfect hair, and I see him in his tux, handsome as ever, as I know he’ll be. Or the first time Father Chris announces us as husband and wife. Or the first time we walk into that reception hall a married couple. I won’t be thinking about all those linens and table placements and the hours of thought and indecision that preceded them. I’ll be thinking about my new life. My life of firsts.

15 days is such a short period of time, but to me, right now, it seems like 15 years. I just want it to get here. I can’t wait for the excitement and hustle and bustle of that day. I can’t wait to see my family and friends. And most of all, I can’t wait to marry my soulmate and best friend.


23: The New 40

When did I get so OLD?

I may be the youngest of just about all of my friends, but it seems to me that 23 is pretty much the oldest age you could possibly be. Or at least, the oldest age you'd ever actually want to be.

Last weekend I tried to organize a small get together at my place with some of our friends. I had had a rough week, and just wanted to enjoy some good company and a few drinks down by our apartment complex's pool (aka, the Salty Mushroom, for those of you in the loop).

I should have known when my brother showed up that my plans would be foiled.

For those of you who don't know my brother, Justin is the biggest, most successful peer pressurer in the history of the world. Hyperbole, you say? No, that is no exaggeration. He once talked my un-daring, less-than-intermediate-skill-leveled ass into trying to conquer Diamond Jim at our family's ski resort time share in Massanutten, Virginia. I got off the ski lift at the top of the mountain, blacked out for a minute, and then promptly took off my skis and made him walk with me down the other side of the slope in our ski boots. It took an hour and 45 minutes to reach the bottom.

It's not like he has magical talents or anything. No silver tongue or unusual powers of persuasion. He's just relentless. He badgers and annoys you to a humiliating degree until you finally give in because you just don't want to hear it anymore. I know his methods. When I'm not under his influence I'm perfectly capable of understanding how he works and thinking to myself, "You know, self, next time you should just say no. It'll be easy. No, Justin, I don't want to jump off a 20-foot-high boulder into the lake where I don't know its depth. Easy." You would think I would know better by now.

Anyway, so Justin shows up, with his two roommates/stooges in tow. They've just made a stop by the liquor store. The two roommates have a bottle of champagne each, and Justin has Southern Comfort (you know, I have to hand it to the kid, he does his research and he knows my weak spots). I stay strong for awhile and stick to my cultured glass of wine. But soon after their arrival, the boys start in on Tyson and I about this party they're going to later and how we should come along. It'll be fun, they say. But, remembering my resolve to have a quiet, relaxing gathering at the pool, I repeat over and over that I'm just waiting on my friend Emily to get off work and then we are going to head down to the clubhouse and chill with some friends and do nothing.

"Boring," Justin tells me. "You're so dang old and boring. Why don't you ever DO anything anymore?"

Whatever, I think to myself. Wine by the pool is fun too.

A glass and a half of wine later, Justin finally wears me down with his repeated attempts to convince me that I really do want a shot of SoCo. "It's the Kramer Family drink. You know you love it. It's just one shot. What harm will it do? Are you really going to disgrace the family name by rejecting the one thing we all agree on? It's fitting that your last name is changing in a few weeks; you don't deserve to be a Kramer!"

Damn him, even typing this now I feel stupid for falling for his ruse again.

I don't know at what point I agreed to go to this party, but once I secured Emily's company I at least felt a little better about it. I was even kind of excited. Why not go live it up for awhile? I have years and years ahead of me to be a "boring adult," as Justin calls it.

I found out just before leaving that this so-called party was actually a 21st birthday party for a guy who I'm pretty sure was in middle school when I graduated high school, and whose friends had decided to throw him a black light rave. Note, I found this out BEFORE leaving....and I still went.

I'm not a big drinker. My 1.5 glasses of wine and single SoCo shot were more than enough for me. Still, I was not oblivious enough to not be horrified upon walking in to this apartment. When I say it was a black light rave, what I really mean is that it looked like I what I remember the local skating rink back in Mooresville, NC looking like when you walked in on a "slow skate" for couples. I thought that skating rink was awesome....in seventh grade.

Every light in this apartment was turned out. Black lights were everywhere. There were glowing signs written in highlighter all over the walls. "$1 for jello shots til 1AM!!" "Ben's 21st Birthday To-Do List: #1...Get Wasted!" "Beer Pong Sign-Ups HERE!!" White shirts and glow sticks galore. Glow-in-the-dark adhesive stars (the kind you put on your ceiling when you're 5) and a mysterious back room cordoned off by a black curtain.

I played flip cup for the first time in probably five or six years. I got yelled at when I couldn't chug the beer fast enough. I saw the freakin' BOUNCER, who was supposed to be sober and collecting money, puke outside the bathroom (couldn't quite make it to the toilet), jump up, and return to the party like nothing had happened. I saw two teenaged girls making out. One of them had a tongue ring. We left at 11:45.

I was mortified. Justin is right, I am old. Emily and Tyson and I had to be the oldest people there by at least the two years that separated us from the birthday boy, but my guess is the majority of the party was even younger than that. Who knew that the barrier between 21 and 23 was not just 2 years, but actually stretched a span of more like 2 decades?

I’m not sure how I feel about this growing up business. There’s really no denying I’m an old soul at heart. Even my freshman year of college wasn’t enough to make me wild and crazy for the expected first semester of rebellion. I’ve never been a big drinker or partier, and I’m kind of a homebody. So maybe it’s fitting that I’m reaching an age where it’s justifiable for me to spend my Friday nights watching DVDs with my soon-to-be hubby or going to herb gardens on Saturday mornings with my mom. But on the other hand, maybe I’m starting to realize how quickly youth really passes before the “real world” really takes over…

One thing is for sure, if staying young means I spend my time at parties with guys walking around in the dark in cut off t-shirts and “I ♥ BJ’s” written on their biceps, then I’m ok with being over-the-hill.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dum, Dum, Da-Dum...

Oh look, lucky you. Two posts in one day even after I told you there was no telling when the next one would be. Call me ambitious. Not really, I just figured while blogging and I were still in our honeymoon phase, I'd go ahead tell you some more about our life.

Speaking of  honeymoons, Tyson and I are a mere 33 days from embarking on ours. That's right, we have a countdown to the honeymoon, not the wedding. We're excited to get married and all, but this wedding planning stuff is for the birds. Flower arrangements and song selections and shoes and jewelry and menu choices.... it's way too much to think about. I see now why wedding planners charge such an ungodly fee for their services.

Anyhow, the BIG DAY is only 25 days away, and needless to say, it's freak out time for me (and my poor mom). It's not even that we have a whole lot left to do, it's the finalization of things, like the playlist for the DJ, the table set up at the reception hall, the final count for the caterer...things like that need to be perfected to make sure the day goes off without a hitch. (Sidenote, speaking of getting a final count for the caterer, why don't people RSVP anymore? It's not difficult, there is a pre-addressed stamped envelope included in your invitation. What do people have against checking a box and dropping an envelope in the mail?)

But all stressing and complaining aside, things really are coming along rather smoothly. Tyson and I were lucky enough to attend my cousin's wedding in Chicago over the 4th of July holiday weekend, and we (read: I) used their wedding to guage our progress and how much we have left to do. Thankfully, it seems like we have all of our bases covered, and even more importantly, their beautiful ceremony made me even more excited to exchange my own vows with my hubby to be in just a few short weeks!


Ok, it seems like everyone is doing it, so we're finally jumping on the blogging bandwagon. There's no telling if this is actually going to last, so if you're still reading this welcome post in September or even in 2015, don't say we didn't warn you.

There are a few disclaimers that need to be made at this time:

First and foremost, we have no idea what we're doing. Short of being able to type a literate sentence, we have no knowledge of the blogging world, be it the lingo, the formatting/design, HTML codes, or even the first inkling of acceptable topics to blog about.

Second, those of you who know me should already be aware, and those of you who are not so familiar with me yet will come to learn, I have a tendency toward sarcasm and a dry sense of humor. Since I will be the one writing the majority of these entries (in fact, if I had to wager a guess, I'd probably be willing to stake my last dollar on the bet that Tyson will never even so much as log in to this blog), please allow me to take this opportunity to say that nothing I will write in these posts will be intended to hurt or offend anyone, so if I do so inadvertently, I apologize in advance.

And finally, our lives are not interesting. Not in the least. Don't get me wrong, we both love our lives. But neither of us are astronauts, or movie stars, or world travelers, or even someone who knows someone who is one of those things. This blog will be for the sole purpose of relaying the events of our not-so-action-packed lives to our family and friends in an attempt to stay connected and as a way of documenting mine and Tyson's memories and experiences for our own future reference.

A little background. The name of the blog, Last Name Patrick, may seem a strange choice to some, but you would probably be surprised how many people are confused by the idea that 'Patrick' can actually be a last name. Tyson has spent his whole life correcting teachers and the like that his name is, in fact, Tyson Patrick, and not Patrick Tyson. Even I, though still four weeks shy of sharing the name, have already had to gently correct some people who refer to my fiance as Patrick, or ask me if I will enjoy my new last name of Tyson. I don't understand why this is such a hard concept for people. We accept crazy first names like Apple (inanimate object) and Pilot Inspektor (seriously, Jason Lee?), but we can't grasp a normal name like Patrick as a surname. Honestly people, there are stranger things in life, weird celebrity baby names notwithstanding.

Enough of my rambling, you've had your welcome post. No telling when the next entry will be, but stay tuned for my account of some totally awesome and utterly inspiring eventlessness! Ciao.