Just Heather

I am 32 years old and have never been in a limo before. It always looks so glamorous, so on 40×40“>the list it went! When I found out the Elvis wedding package for our vow renewal included a limo ride from the hotel to the chapel, I was cautiously excited. I half expected it be some tacky, cheap “limousine” so I was pleasantly surprised when the white, stretch limo of my dreams arrived to transport us to our (2nd) wedding!

Riding in the limo

Inside the limo—the lights above us change colors!

A pic of our wedding shoes

A pic of our wedding shoes—note the colorful lights

How hot is that?!

How hot is that?!

My first limousine ride

My first limousine ride

2010-01-062Okay, so I guess that should say “our” wedding vows, but when I first put it on the list, we weren’t much of a “we” and still a long way from ready to recommit for life. It’s been a long, hard road but it’s finally paying off. Things are going well; we’re happier than we’ve been in…well, maybe ever.

With our trip to Vegas planned, we decided to combine my #35 with his #36. He wanted to get married by Elvis, and it sounded fun to me. The location and theme were kitschy, but the sentiment and vows were totally serious. I started to teared up during his, and the tears threatened all the way through my own.

Truly, the location and theme were completely made of awesome! We had an absolute blast with the whole thing. Elvis was a lot of fun, the green room featured a picture of Batman & Wonder Woman’s wedding and I got to wear a fancy dress with seriously kick ass shoes. We treated it like a real & actual wedding, which made for even more fun when the 2nd spouse jokes started.

The coolest part of the entire process? It was live broadcast for all the internets to see! For even more hilarity, our friend Brad recorded it and posted it to YouTube before we had even finished our dinner. The webcast was, expectantly, poor quality but the hubby has since uploaded our original copy:


He said:

At 5AM all those years ago, when I first asked you asked you to marry me, I couldn’t have imagined everything we’ve gone through. We’ve not always taken the easiest path and I often don’t know where we’re headed. But I know wherever we end up, I’ll be glad that I’m with you.

Thirteen years ago, I didn’t want to wait to spend the rest of my life with you. I’m proud of you, of us, and of everything we’ve done together.

I love you, and I still want to spend the rest of my life with you.

She said:

I love you—that much has never changed. As we planned this day, I thought it would be about starting over. We’ve struggled a lot over the years and I was sure a new beginning would help us reconnect. Now that we are reconnecting on our own, I don’t want a new beginning.

I want it all—the beginning, the middle and straight through forever. All of it is a part of who we are and the unit we’ve become. It isn’t the intertwined unit I always imagined but I like the path we’ve found a lot better. We walk side by side as two individuals, committed to actively loving the other.

Thank you for giving me the freedom to learn who I am and your unconditional love as you get to know me over and over again. Now, I recommit myself to knowing and loving you. In front of God, Elvis and the Internets, I promise to support your passions, encourage your dreams and walk beside you until the end of our days.

Then

Then

Now

Now

…I’ve spent the last 11 years as a stay-at-home mom, adding kidlets along the way. Going back to school was always on the radar (and, of course, made the 40×40“>official list) but I didn’t have a timeline and it wasn’t on my radar. Then, my business began to grow, and I frequently wished I knew more about managing it. An MBA was out of the question since I didn’t even have an undergraduate degree.

At one point, I looked into a business major but I would have been practically starting over after my previous 4 majors. I really didn’t have the motivation to start college as a freshman. It all seemed so pointless to me but I was determined to make it happen eventually, even if just to prove to my dad that I could. Then, a simple, passing conversation changed everything.

My parents were upset that my cousin didn’t invite people to her December ceremony. Dad commented that none of his kids had made it so this was a huge deal to him and they would absolutely have been there—even with Christmas days away. She turned to me in shock and said, “You never graduated? Didn’t you go to Ball State forever?” Let’s see…4 full years, as a matter of fact—including summers. They kind of don’t like to give you a degree, though, when you skip around and drop majors all the time.

That’s when she asked why I couldn’t just get a General Studies degree to be done with it. Huh…never occurred to me. It really got my wheels turning, and I contacted my former advisor at Ball State to see how that worked. She told me I was completely finished minus 1 core science course but I needed a few extra hours plus a BGS requires 2 minors. She turned my El Ed work into 1 minor, and gave me a list of all the minors offered completely online.

To make my decision even easier, she also highlighted 2 minors for which some of my other classes already qualified! I picked Psychology of Human Behavior—mostly because it required less classes but partly because understanding that can only be helpful to a parent. I would later find out that I took so many education classes I didn’t need the minor anyway. One “major emphasis” would count so I was able to stop with the horrid science classes to complete my last few hours of coursework with the business class I would actually use.

For two years, I have completed classes (mostly online), written papers, taken tests and had real &amp actual homework! It was a lot of work, and my family deserves all the credit! The school stuff was actually quite easy—it was just time-consuming enough to take me away from cooking, cleaning and managing things at home. (Not that I was ever good at those to begin with.) Spencer picked up a ton of slack, our marriage suffered (though this was certainly not our only issue) and the Mommy Guilt was frequently overwhelming.

Through the success of our alphabet dating project, the magic of a meteor shower and a lot of hard work, we are happier than ever. The Mommy Guilt, I’m sure, is here to stay. However, I am pleased to announce after 14 years, 10 moves, 8 towns, 5 majors and 3 kids, I am an official college graduate!

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A week of Snuggie kids, not getting dressed and letting my 4-year-old make her own breakfast? In my defense, I’m currently working a lot and still on west coast time.

Kim & HeatherLast week’s Vegas trip wasn’t all fun and games. I attended Affiliate Summit West for the first time to learn a little more about marketing at Inexpensively. As it turns out, I learned way too much for just one site! I have multiple projects underway right now, including one I purchased a domain name for several years ago. I like the direction Just Heather has taken since its relaunch last spring. This is where I will be sharing our marriage journey, crossing off my 40×40“>Someday lists and reporting progress on learning to be a grown-up.

Other parts of my life will be shared elsewhere through niche projects. The first of my new ventures launched last night—I am super excited to finally have an outlet for the sports fan in me. My commentary and Go Team! excitement never really fit on my other sites. Colts Stuff will give me a chance to not only earn a little extra money but finally have somewhere to share my love of the boys in blue. I learned a ton from Tricia’s case study in her session.

We have also been working hard to implement several new ideas at Inexpensively. Many of them have been in the works for quite some time, but I’m thankful to Jim Kukral for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to just do it, already! Probably, I’m going to need to order his upcoming book. Very smart guy, tons of fun and completely casual—Spencer and I bowled (for boobies) with him without having any idea who he was or that I would be attending his session.

I think the biggest thing I got out of Affiliate Summit was all the connections—new friends, great mentors and businesses I’ve already started partnering with. Plus, Peter Shankman liked my boobs! That was actually the very same session in which I met the affiliate manager for PokenZoo. Everyone was clamoring to Poken with Peter, and I was completely clueless! I have since learned it’s like a digital business card with 1-click uploading to your social networking sites—how cool is that?

pokenzoo-poken-ninjaPlus, they looked super fun. The hubby wants this Ninja, although I kind of expected him to eye the RockStar. Yesterday, I received a Poken Pulse from ConAgra in my free Blissdom pre-conference gift pack—I guess it’s supposed to be more “businesslike” or “grown-up” but that’s clearly overrated. Ninja Poken! Poken Alien! In pink! I could see these being a huge hit with our girls—if I were willing to let them swap information with people. I can’t wait to try it out at my next conference.

I just hope I finish processing everything I learned at Affiliate Summit before I cram my head full again. On the other hand, this is a different kind of conference. Sure, there’s learning to be had but it appears a bit more relaxed. I’m looking forward to some girl time and meeting several gals on Team Inexpensively in person. More than half the team will be there, and I can’t wait to get to know them better. We also get to meet Harry Connick Jr.!!! (Do you need a few more exclamation points?! Harry! Connick! Jr.!) Meeting a celebrity has been on my 40×40 list so I am beyond excited. Plus, it’s Harry Connick Jr.!

Do you think he’ll Poken with me?

heather-at-high-school-graduationAlmost 15 years ago, I graduated from high school. At the end of the summer, I packed up and moved to Muncie, Indiana for college. Because that’s what you do next. I was enrolled in the College of Architecture & Planning—after 4 years of architectural & drafting classes, I thought for sure I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Oh, to be young again and so sure of myself! Before the year was up, I had moved on to Landscape Architecture but that was only the first of many changes.

Just a few short months later, I met the man who would soon become the love of my life. Freshman life continued—I gained the requisite 15, drank a little, flirted with Spencer a lot and went to class when strictly required. Due to the intensity of my architecture program, classes continued through the summer. Most of my friends went home for a few months, but Spencer and I were left behind. The rest is history, and plays a big part in the twists of this story.

1997-010I had never really intended to get married and never saw myself having children. As a teen, I ignored all the people who told me everything would change when I found “the one” but I’m a believer now! Suddenly, my entire future changed. I had visions of Elyse Keaton, but it just didn’t feel right. My heart wasn’t in architecture anymore. Before school resumed in the fall, I changed my major to the only thing I could see working with our plans for a family—education.

My exact major was Early Education—I was going to teach preschool like my mom! She was always there for us before school, after school and in the evenings. It was what we wanted for our children. It only took a semester for me to widen my focus and change my major (yes, again) to Elementary Education with an Early Ed minor. I was actually enjoying my classes, and, once again, continued work through the summer to catch up on the time I lost with my first 2 majors. By then, I officially had a ring on my finger. I wanted to finish college as quickly as possible so we could move on to planning our wedding.

1998-025That’s when life threw us a big curveball—her name is Stacia, and she just turned 12. Because when I make plans, God laughs. Wedding plans shifted to immediately. We were married in August, I continued school and our daughter was born the following January. Just 6 days after she was born, I returned to classes (part-time) since my parents were convinced if I didn’t stay in school, I would never go back. As long as I continued college, they agreed to continue helping with my portion of the rent & groceries. As a broke newlywed with an infant, free money seemed like a good idea at the time.

I started full time again the following fall, and hated it! During the spring semester, I took a Foundations of Education class with a professor who changed my life. During a lesson on the purpose of education, he posed the question, “Why are you here?” My answer? Because my parents said I had to be. The discussion that followed was involved, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching.

I aced the class, with high praise on my final paper titled “Why I’m Dropping Out of School.”

I see I could have worked harder in all my classes, but I have also realized that it is not because I didn’t want to learn. My motivation lies at home with my family. I am much more concerned with my daughter and our relationship than I am with completing homework assignments. For this reason I have made the decision not to return to school next year. I am going to take a break until my family and I are more prepared. It is this class that made me realize I am in school for all the wrong reasons.

I should not force myself to take classes I do not care about just because it is important to my parents. School can wait until is a priority for me. When I return, it will be because I am ready to learn. The things I have learned over the last semester have empowered me to do what I feel is right for me and my family. Education is very important to me, and I do intend to return. This is just not the right time, and I now see that it is doing more harm than good for me to continue.

I wrote those words more than 10 years ago. I was practically still a child but clearly wise beyond my years! They still ring just as true to me today. I fully stand behind my decision to withdraw from Ball State. My parents, however, did not. I remember my dad telling me I’d never go back. I remember the look of disappointment on his face, and I became determined to replace it with pride. But only on my schedule. My time arrived 2 years ago, when I re-enrolled at Ball State University…

Downtown Indy LightsThe hubby and I really enjoyed exploring downtown Indianapolis for our D-date. We had such a great time and didn’t make it to everything we had wanted to include, even though we spent 8 hours downtown! It was decided, then and there, that I would be for Indianapolis. I was especially thrilled that I would fall in December because I wanted to take a horse-drawn carriage ride with jingle bells & hot cocoa.

Weber GrillWith Christmas on the horizon (not to mention a celebration the very next morning for which we had not finished shopping!), we decided to hit Circle Center Mall. I had been a few, quick times but never had the chance to explore. The hubby had never been to anything but a restroom. It was fun to wander around, shopping together. I don’t know why we don’t do that more often. (Oh, right. Three kids.) With Christmas shopping finished and packages stowed in the car, we moved onto dinner.

Mai-Tai & Twisty StrawThere are a large number of downtown restaurants we have always wanted to try “someday” so we definitely had options. Weber Grill was our final selection, and it was fab.u.lous. Their homemade barbecue sauce is incredibly tasty. I couldn’t decide between chicken & sausage so I ordered the combo. It came with a side of barbecue baked beans—so yummy! I also ordered a beautiful—and completely delicious—Mai-Tai. I think my favorite part of the entire meal may have been the uber-twisty straw that came with it!

ClydesdaleWe walked off dinner with a journey to the circle. I’ve seen all the holiday lights in passing over the years, but this was the first time we had taken the time to experience them up close and personal. The toy soldiers around the Soldiers & Sailors Monument? Yeah, they’re soldiers and sailors! As expected, the carriages were decked out in jingle bells & holly. We rode in a carriage pulled by a gorgeous Clydesdale named Levi. The lights of the city were beautiful as we snuggled together with our hot cocoa from South Bend Chocolate Cafe.

I is for IndianapolisWhen our ride ended, so did our fairy tale evening. Back to reality for these parents, but we (once again) didn’t get the chance to visit everything we wanted. We’ll be back for our M-date to visit museums and more downtown eats. The alphabet dating project is definitely a success already—I can’t wait to blog last week’s date, as we renewed our commitment to one another.

J is for Just Married!

The hubby and I had decided on Howl at the Moon for our next alphabet date experience. He loves music, I love cocktails—clearly we are a match made in heaven. Of course, in an effort to date inexpensively, I tracked down a coupon for the piano bar. Oh, how I love Facebook coupons! For dinner, we decided to stick with the H theme and hit Big Hoffa’s.

It’s a barbecue joint right here in Westfield. We had never been before, but it came highly recommended by a friend. With a name like Big Hoffa’s, I think we were both expecting a Texas theme. Instead, we walked into a pirate’s paradise! Apparently, barbecue has roots in the Caribbean. Who knew?! The hubby enjoyed their sweet tea, and I enjoyed the decor. I kind of have a thing for pirates. We moved on to Howl at the Moon in downtown Indy. There was a bit of a wait to get in, but it wasn’t cold and we didn’t mind chatting.

It turns out, that was the last chance we’d get for the evening. The piano bar was a lot of fun, but not really conducive to a dating experience. We couldn’t hear one another at all. Of course, that meant we had to get pretty close, and that’s never a bad thing. With the free admission and drink coupons I’d scored, we were set. We (and by we, I mean I) enjoyed a couple free rum runners while we listened to the music. There was way more than just a couple pianos—we ended up being front & center for a violin solo. Very cool!


We both enjoyed the experience itself, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a date night. It didn’t allow us the opportunity to interact much at all. For a birthday party, bachelorette party or something more group oriented? It would be a blast!