Monday, July 31, 2006

More from Chickasaw

Okay, all the pics you saw on our wedding site are now captioned and shown larger on the Val & Jeff site of my own personal page. Like last week's pictures, many of the captions are for the benefit of family and friends who want to know who's who in Valerie's family.

Did I give an update about what all we did at Chickasaw? I don't have time to go into details since I need to get to sleep, work and drive to Jackson tomorrow afternoon, but from the pics you should get a decent idea of what the week was like.

I arrived Wednesday night to join the festivities and left early Sunday morning (5:30a) in time for work. In between, we played a lot of poker, Scrabble and cribbage, watched movies, went down to the lake for swimming and paddleboats, to the bridge at night for quiet time and enjoyed some very comfortable naps in the middle of the day, just because we could.

Saturday night one of Val's uncles even pulled out some old home videos that few had seen from twenty years ago, so it was fun to watch my fiancee as a peppy ten-year-old dancing and singing with her cousins. I'm more ready to marry her than ever before! Maybe she'll even hop on the table and sing Madonna's "Angel" for me if I ask nice enough.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Meet The Family

The Val and Jeff Summer of Love Tour continues .... Pictures are up from my weekend with the Howell family at Chickasaw State Park! Check out HowellandRushingWedding.com and head to the photo album!

Stay tuned for details ... Also, I'll post the same pics plus a few more at the other Val & Jeff page so that I can add more captions to point out to my family who everyone is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A life worth living

I’m sure this won’t surprise anyone, but everything I see on TV, in the movies, or read runs through the prism of my mind with the thought of being engaged and soon getting married to my darling Valerie.

Some times, though, it’s not always the most positive of thinking. I suppose many of you heard about the woman who died in Boston two weeks ago when a piece of a tunnel from the Big Dig fell on the car she and her husband were in. What really hit me hard on this story was that they were newlyweds.

Every time the story would come on, newsreaders would note this fact, if only because it makes the story more dramatic. It scared the daylights out of me. I could only think, God forbid if something happened to Val, the good Lord had better take me with her, because life isn’t going to be worth having without her growing old with me, being the mother to my children and being there at the beginning and end of every day.

Therefore, I’ve decided that we’re going to both pass from this earth at the same time when we’re 120 years old. In a bungee jumping accident. In New Zealand.

More info

For my family who might like names with faces, I added a bunch of the pics from this weekend that I linked to below on the Val & Jeff Geocities site, with captions to assist.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

In a wedding mood

New pictures are on our wedding site from this past weekend's activities in Memphis, first flower shopping, then Val's sister Cheryl's birthday dinner, and from the reception of Saturday's wedding between Val's cousin Josh and his new bride, Cathy.

The last one is most important because it was the first time I got to meet the Burk side of Valerie's family, a large, diverse and very welcoming group of folks. I felt right at home in no time, just as I know Val will when she meets the rest of the sizable Harville clan side of my family.

What the wedding really did was get me and Valerie even more excited about our own ceremony in 96 days. Every little moment, taking vows, exchanging rings, not fainting on stage (a biggie), we couldn't help but picture ourselves on that stage. And resist the urge to just ask the preacher to officiate another wedding on the spot!

This week the fun continues, as I'll be driving up to meet the Howell side of Val's family at Chickasaw State Park where they spend a week every summer. Val and I already put in for our own cabin the next two summers, and I already put in for the week off next year at work, this is how much I'm looking forward to my time there!

When you're wondering what I'm doing when I'm not blogging later this week (what's new lately, right?), I'll be going up after work late Wednesday night, and heading back to Atlanta early, early Saturday morning. Not as early as I had to leave this morning (5 a.m.), but early nonetheless.

I've already been duly warned that as I'm staying in the "boys" cabin with Val's nephew Cody and his two buds, I'm under close watch for an "initiation." No worries. I'm a big boy, I can handle myself. (Not that I won't be considering stashing my clothes in Val's room and locking my door at night, but maybe I can just buy them off with some golf!)

Lastly, here's a picture not on the wedding site, but worth sharing nonetheless, Val and I with her friend Melanie at the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx game Thursday night. It was only about 184 degrees, not including the heat index.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Our Wedding Site

*drum roll* .... With 99 days and counting, it's time to annouce the official site of Our Wedding, HowellandRushingWedding.com, your one-stop resource for all things Val and Jeff until the magic day, October 28, arrives.

And then we'll use it to post wedding pictures once we get back from the honeymoon. It will be better than Cats. You'll want to see us again and again.

The site will be updated and tweaked for the next three months, so keep visiting and stay tuned for great things ahead! (I mean, like me marrying the lovely Valerie, not like there's some grand prize for going to the site. Or there might be, you never know ...)

UPDATE 11:59 p.m. Saturday - Thanks to those who have the signed the guestbook already, and I encourage everyone else to do the same! Make me and Val feel even more special and fuel our passion! Love us! Participate!

Update

Note to self: Empty out the cooler once in a while when traveling all the time. The ugly details:

My cooler hadn't been emptied out in a while, since I don't always use it when driving back and forth to see my darling Valerie. (Guess where I am right now? If you didn't say Tennessee, welcome to my blog, first time visitor!)

Wednesday night, after another fantastic evening with my fiancee, sometime or another the cooler tumped over in the back of my Aztek. This morning when I got in to drive back to Jackson, the smell was overwhelming in the power of the musty, moldy, smell. When the cooler tipped over, the water covered everything in the back and spilled down under the backseat and my front seat. The fact that it was approximately 140 degrees today (with a heat index of "The Devil Asked For Air Conditioning") made it that much worse, as the awful smell was baked into the carpet.

After trying to air it out and clean up, it didn't work. After taking Val to lunch and nearly killing her with the odor, I drove over to the dumpster and tossed EVERYTHING. This is substantial. We're talking about a blanket, a pillow in a pillowcase, two throw pillows that I used to use with my bad back, the cooler, a foldy chair and its cover, a matching foldy table and its cover, two boxes, a towel, two rags, the cover to my map, a notebook, and most importantly and sadly, the Eeyore in the picture on the top right of this page. There may have also been two miniature wet yaks, but they were hiding under the seat.

That Eeyore may pass, but tonight I was at Steve's, and what do you know, he had an Eeyore just like it, plus two more he'd collected for me. Two smiling ones, I should add, to fit my giddy mood at how great life is going lately, which should match the Tigger Val bought for me to represent my bouncy, happy-go-lucky side that has come out a million times over since we sparked February 28.

Today we went to After Hours Formalwear and picked out my tux and the rest of my party. I'll be wearing silver to stand out and more closely match my bride, while the groomsmen will wear indigo vests and ties to match the bridesmaids. As ringbearer, Gabriel gets the same colors as me as a little groom to match our flower girl, Emma (daughter of Val's cousin, Jan). The ushers and our fathers get all black ensembles for a classic look. Seriously, our pictures are going to look awesome.

What's in store the rest of the weekend? Tomorrow we're going to pick out our cake (the main one; my cake should have the Red Sox logo, of course) and have dinner with her family to celebrate sister Cheryl's birthday, the Saturday we're meeting with the preacher for the first time and attending a wedding of her cousin, Josh, that evening. We're looking quite forward to that, since no doubt the entire time Val and I will be wispering to one another, comparing what we've got planned and what they're doing, and no doubt the entire we'll be picturing ourselves on stage saying our "I dos."

Monday, July 17, 2006

No time to panic

Nope, I'm not going to freak out that the Red Sox are losing to Kansas City with their lead in the AL East down to half a game over the dang Yanks. Nope, no problem. Not to worry. It will be find in the end. Besides, I'm a little distracted lately, anyway. Not noticing losing three of four to Oakland at home last week. Not a bit. *whistling*

UPDATE - Comeback! Red Sox tied 4-4 in the seventh. See, no reason to worry.

UPDATE - Sox win! Still a half-game up on the dang Yanks. Good times. Until tomorrow's stress test.

One month down, one-thousand-billion to go

I'm not sure if it feels like just yesterday, or months, but exactly one month ago today I got engaged to my darling Valerie.

Of course, since y'all have done nothing but read about our engagement and Oct. 28 wedding since, I'm sure it feels like y'all have seen this forever.

For me, it's the most exciting period of my life, by FAR. (Hence the all caps.) Planning for the wedding is unbelievable, and walking around showing off my wonderful fiancee and getting to tell people all the time about us is as much fun as a guy could possible have. Until we're married, of course.

By the way, for those counting, it's 104 days until the wedding. Or 3 months and 11 days, since that seems shorter, and I'm wanting this time to go quickly!

UPDATE - I found the text message that I sent Dad at 7:46 p.m. eastern time that fateful day: "Could you call someone to email and say as of 7:30, Jeff and Valerie are engaged."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Not wedding related

The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- Is it morally wrong for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers?
- When you use Cialis, you have 36 hours to find your matching outdoor bathtubs.
- I used to drive an Eclipse. It was a nice car, but I couldn’t look directly at it.
- I used to drive a Mirage, but then I realized it wasn’t really there.
- During the hurricane simulation, 5,000 New Orleans residents demanded that the federal government relocate them to hotel rooms and pay their rent for two years.
- I’m not overweight, but my vanity license plate, “FATSO,” keeps my wife from driving my sports car.
- Isn’t it odd that drug stores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get medicine while healthy people can buy their cigarettes and candy at the front?
- Why do I always have a taste for Chick-fil-A on Sunday?
- Circumcision is a tough operation. I had it when I was young and I couldn’t walk for a least a year.
- The Chinese restaurant was so bad there was a get-well card in my fortune cookie.
- I saw on the news that Georgia Tech has an Institute of Paper Science and Technology. Is it located near the Rock and Scissors Building?
- I saw on the news that Georgia Tech has an Institute of Paper Science and Technology. Is it located near the Rock and Scissors Building?
- Einstein is known to have had more than 12 lovers. That’s enough to make your hair stand on end.
- It’s a scientific fact that if you slowly unwrap a piece of peppermint candy in church it makes the same amount of noise as when you unwrap it quickly.
- After throwing out heaven knows how many batteries over the last few weeks, I just realized I have a bad battery in my battery tester.
- My wife and I had words the other day, but I didn’t get a chance to use mine.
- I wish I had a kryptonite cross, because then I could keep both Dracula and Superman away.
- Hey NASA, don’t you know you can fix this foam problem with duct tape?
- I think there is a secret society of married people that make up “dating rules” to punish single people. (Jeff note: Hooray! Do I get my membership card into this society right after the wedding Oct. 28? Oh, wait, the title of this post said it wasn't going to talk about my union with Valerie. I lied!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

OUR new place

Valerie and I have an apartment for our first year together here in Atlanta. Actually, I'm moving into it September 14 since my current lease ends September 22.

The Village at Lake Park is huge, with like 3,000 residents. It has 24-hour security, seven pools, eleven tennis courts, two activity centers, a 2.5 mile trail along a creek, business center, on-site ATM, a wi-fi cafe and they just started their own Weight Watchers meetings on Thursdays so I won't have to drive 20 minutes away and make easy excuses not to go!

If you follow the link, our place is the Sturman plan, a two-bed, two-bath apartment that has plenty of space and a ginormous walk-in closet for my fiancee. The photo has a porch and fireplace, but I went instead with the sunroom (although it would be nice to have a fireplace, for sure). The sunroom makes the living room twice as big, but it's also separate with plenty of windows and tile floors instead of carpet.

I also made sure to get us a first-floor apartment to make moving easier, and frankly I'm that lazy that I'd rather walk into my first floor apartment every day than up and down stairs.

I'll be moving in on my own at first, with a very bare apartment awaiting Val's things and our new gifts and we'll be getting almost entirely new furniture so we have all of our own untainted and new things. It won't feel like home until she's there with me, and this ex-bachelor finally has a woman's touch on decorating.

This has been such an amazing experience the last five months with the love of my life, and every day there are ten more things to look forward to. Imagine next year when we're looking for OUR own home!


UPDATE 8:24 - By the way, I am working on our wedding website, too. Val and I are deciding what to add and what to write, and hopefully we'll have it up soon!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Yep, more pictures!

Four pages worth, to be exact. First, the engagement pictures that you've seen here, but then plenty of photos from my trip with Valerie last week. Enjoy!

But wait, that's not all! If you sign up now, you also get a few extras over on the Friends page from our lunch with Steve, Patrick and his family!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Back in Atlanta (for now)

Unfortunately, my extended week of travel is over and I'm back at work. My lovely fiancée had a much better day, as Valerie had her appointment at David's Bridal this morning and with I think about eight of her friends and family oohing and aahing, selected her dress for our wedding. Alas, I will have to look forward to seeing it October 28, which seems a lot longer now than it did yesterday!

Wow. That just has to sink in some more. She selected her dress to marry ME. I've been spinning that in my noggin' all day long. I am a lucky, happy man.

If you're looking for me, pretty much my schedule from now through October 28 will be working Saturday through Wednesday and driving to Tennessee every Thursday and Friday, with a few exceptions for longer weekends.

Okay, so what's been happening the last week or so?

Last Thursday we went to Memphis to eat dinner with her family and I met her brother, sister and nephew. Friday I picked up Val about noon and we drove to Louisville so she could finally meet my sisters, and Mom was also driving up for the Fourth weekend, so that was a bonus.

Valerie was awesome Saturday afternoon when we got to Stacy’s, since Gabriel saw a stranger and sprinted to the back bedroom where he hid under his Star Wars blanket up to his eyeballs. She sat at the end of the bed and got him to talk, coaxing him out by getting him to show off his GameCube.

Sunday we moseyed over to Stacy's, where everyone was checking out the moonbounce they had rented for the day before their fireworks party at night. Val and I, however, went ahead and left at noon to get to Atlanta.

We had a good time in Atlanta, though I didn't have time to show her the city in the few days we had. We also went to Turner Field to see the Cards-Braves series (in case you're wondering, I was rooting for St. Louis, because it's a heck of a lot more fun to see my darling Valerie happy. She shares in that, I do believe, since the next day she wore - in public - a Red Sox shirt I bought for her in Boston. Now you see why I have to marry her.).

It was really hot, but we didn't ask for what we got to cool things off. By the fifth inning it started raining. When umpires called for a rain delay Val and I decided to head back home instead of waiting.

That was both a good and a bad idea. A good idea since we ended up watching at my place as the game didn’t resume until near midnight. A bad idea in that the rain picked up fast, and was a drenching gullywasher. We ran to the car and got absolutely soaked, more than if we'd waded through the ocean on the way to the car. I felt sorry for the people we passed near Centennial Olympic park, since the storm started about 8:45 and they were all packed to see the fireworks.

It turned out for the best. We got back to my place, turned on the computer and started our registries at Macy's, Bed Bath & Beyond and Target (all of these are works in progress), then spent a lot of time on iTunes listening to options for our wedding music and songs. Even though we couldn’t find the ‘right’ song(s), it was a nice moment.

Wednesday I went into work real early, but since I was training I didn't have to stay the entire day and was back home by noon so that we could drive back to Jackson. We would have made great time, what with gaining that extra hour from eastern to central time, if not for the traffic jam at exit 143 on I-40. I'm not talking about a crawl, I'm talking a full-fledged stoppage on the road for well over an hour. Let's just say that nobody will likely ever say, "Boy, that Val and Jeff couple is gorgeous and perfect and all (that's the part people will say), but they are too patient, aren't they?" But we managed in our own way.

Val had to work Thursday, so I drove up afterwards and we spent all afternoon at Bed Bath & Beyond with the scanner. Actually, I met her for lunch first, then I took her car to get an oil change and fill it up with gas, happily thinking of how I figure on doing this for decades to come. At least until we start using trash as gas like Back to the Future. Even then, I'll be the one dumping it into her car.

Anyway, registering takes much longer than we imagined initially. After nearly two hours hadn't even made the first turn and we quit for dinner. We thought we'd just point the scanner and merrily run through the store aiming at anything and everything. What we forgot, though, is that we're starting our new home together from scratch, so we had to settle on colors, styles, decide what is affordable and what to splurge on (or get someone else to splurge on, I mean), and if we actually need apple corers or my favorite: citrus reamers. Good name for a band: The Citrus Reamers, with special guests, The Melon Ballers.

Friday she took some of her many sick hours to come to Memphis before noon, and we met up with Steve, Patrick and Julie and their brood, Caroline and Eli, for lunch, Val's first meeting with the Rider clan.

Afterwards we went to the mall to run the scanner around Macy's some more then to Bed Bath & Beyond again just so we can at least say we know the color scheme of our bedroom and bathrooms. Like I said, this takes longer than we thought!

We took a break from that by seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 2, which was entertaining but not near as good as the first, but not disappointing like the second Matrix, which raised the level of Sequel Suckitude to unseen levels. Dead Man's Chest felt longer than necessary and the action was a little overblown, but Johnny Depp is as cool as ever and really, this is a summer blockbuster so kick back and relax with your chocolate-covered almonds. I'll have a Twizzlers, thankyouverymuch.

Friday night, Val and I had dinner with her cousin, Destiny, and her husband, Jeff. Good times all around, as Destiny finally got to size me up and I learned about the Howell clan from her and especially the primer on being an outsider from her Jeff. After dinner, to Val's parents' and online browsing at registries and playing with the dogs before I started wheezing and we both got tired and I had to sadly drive away, not to be reunited until next Thursday.

Leaving Val for five, six days gets more difficult every time. Really, I'm pathetic. Listening to the Red Sox game on XM this afternoon, my mind was in and out, and I swear I missed half the winning runs. But we won't have to worry about that by the end of October, will we?

Now, the other shots from our engagement collection taken earlier in the week. More pictures from the trip later!













Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The most beautiful couple in the world

Still in Atlanta with my fiancee, who is currently draped over my back as I type this, and making me the happiest man in the whole wide world. Here's a sample of the engagement pictures we took this afternoon. Frankly, we look awesome, but y'all knew that. More later.



UPDATE 9:45 a.m. - For reference and because it's fun to see, here we are at Union's graduation in May, '97, the only picture we have of the two of us together and not part of a group shot from that period: