Just Heather


On the day of our vow renewal, I got a call from my cousin, asking if I had cold feet. I was happy to have someone playing along with our whole 2nd wedding thing and even more thrilled it happened to be her. We had forgotten to plan past the ceremony to our evening in Vegas, and Allison had recently lived there. I knew she’d have great suggestions for dinner, and she did not disappoint!

J is for Just Married (Again), and I fully intended to enjoy a night of having the hubby all dressed up. Our limo returned us to the hotel, where we dropped off our wedding DVD and the kitschy bride & groom champagne flutes I’d purchased. From there, we walked the Vegas strip in our fancy clothes, headed towards Smith & Wolensky’s for our dinner reservation, as recommended.

Along the way, we had a planned stop at the Bellagio. I could think of nothing more romantic than watching the fountains with my “new” hubby.


We got a lot of comments about our hats as we walked—I just knew they were made for Vegas! It was our first time on the strip, and I’m so glad we were dressed for the occasion. You really see a little of everything in Las Vegas, but I loved the feeling of being well dressed while we were out & about among the lights. We arrived at dinner a few minutes early, and took some time to wander into a sports shop. They had collector’s items, photos and autographed merchandise. My favorite part? Seeing Colts stuff at 4 times the price we’d pay here in Indy.

Dinner was Fab.U.Lous. For real. I had, as per usual, steak & baked potato. The hubby had some sort of disgusting seafood platter, but he seemed pleased. I also ordered a Cosmo—it might be my favorite cocktail EVER. I’ve discovered Absolut vodka is not gluten free, though, so I have to be careful when ordering them out. Our server assured us they had a few potato vodkas to choose from and proceeded to bring me the greatest Cosmo I have ever tasted.

When he stopped by to see how I was enjoying it, I asked for the name of the Vodka. He couldn’t remember and offered to go check. I told him he could check on it while he fetched me another one—yum! The 2nd Cosmo was my last drink of the evening, but I will definitely be buying Glacier sometime soon. Um, not too soon, though. MFJ and I are currently in the middle of a drink-from-your-pantry challenge since we had gotten into the habit of buying whatever we wanted every girls’ night.

But this is a story about our wedding night. Er, most of it. It truly was a magical day, and I’m so glad we decided to renew our vows. It was important to celebrate the progress we’ve made and the steps we’re taking to be a stronger couple.

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

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!

2009-10-033Our weekend getaway date is brought to you by the letter G—good friends, Giordano’s and geeky guitarists! We were in Chicago for less than 24 hours, but it was an amazing weekend. I love road trips, honestly, for the uninterrupted conversations and connection. With a construction delay and marathon traffic, we had plenty of time for both. We arrived at our hotel (Intercontinental at a great deal via Hotwire.com) with barely enough time for a quick makeup touch-up before our planned dinner with an old friend.
2009-10-032
I love that my husband was willing to give part of our weekend away to finally meet a longtime internet friend in person. It was, of course, not like meeting someone new at all—Kathryn and I talked and enjoyed one another like old girlfriends. Because we are. The husbands indulged us and I am so glad our schedules worked so we could connect while she was in town for the marathon. We had dinner at Giordano’s (after a quick stop for my gluten meds) and it was delish, as always!

We took a cab straight to the concert. This is the part I was a little concerned about. I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing Jonathan Coulton, even though it was technically the reason for our trip. The hubby is the fan boy there, but I’m nothing if not supportive. We had also heard he would be performing a Flood show in tribute to They Might Be Giants who were performing across town. I love TMBG so I figured all was not lost. Besides, it was at a bar. I’m on a quest to sample signature martinis across the country. Park West didn’t have one, but my server came up with something fabulous! I had four a couple throughout the show.

2009-10-037The concert began with the opening band, naturally. Paul and Storm kicked off the evening with—what else—Opening Band. I had never heard them before but was instantly in love. They are smart, funny and Storm is sexy as hell. Um, I mean, they are both very talented. What can I say? I love a hot geek! The Flood Show with P&S and Jonathan Coulton came next and was amazing. It was fascinating to watch, especially knowing they had never performed that set before and had only practiced it for the week.

Jonathan Coulton was about what I expected. I loved watching the hubby enjoy himself. In fact, I spent much of his set people watching. The drunkety drunk girl in front of us provided much entertainment. (You gotta love an evening when you can enjoy four a few drinks and still not be the drunk girl.) Super fan girl with the dance moves in the front section was also highly amusing. However, the best part of our experience came after the concert. We hung around, anticipating a meet ‘n greet.

2009-10-036Security tried to shoo everyone away and insisted there wouldn’t be. This seemed off to me, from what I had read about the bands, so we hung around the merchandise table. I wanted to get the newly released Jonathan Coulton scratch ‘n sniff stickers for our little fan girl at home. Brenia is obsessed with Re: Your Brains, and has many of his other songs memorized (you know, the age appropriate ones). Our persistence paid off as all three talented men arrived to hang out with their fans for a bit. Of course, for this scene I was cast as the drunk girl.

2009-10-035The hubby got to shake fans with an idol, chat for a few minutes and collect a picture for our growing celebrity photo wall. I got to drool over Paul and Storm, and may have accidentally told Storm he was going on my celebrity list. How secure does a marriage have to be for your hubby to allow you to stalk hit on another guy while you are on a date? Of course, everyone knows a celebrity doesn’t count. Still, I’d say that’s a testament to how far we have come in the last few months. I’m willing to sit through a concert I have no interest in hearing and he’s willing to watch me drool over celebs.

That’s true love, yo.

When we embarked on our first alphabet journey, we selected the Melting Pot as F is for fondue. I chose it specifically because I had put a romantic dinner at the melting pot on my 40×40 list. However, by the time we got to F, romance was nonexistent. It was just not going to be what I wanted it to be, and I tried to convince him to go somewhere else. I believe I suggested Red Robin (F is for French Fries?), but we had a plan and—by, golly—we were sticking to it.

Whether it was self-fulfilling prophecy or I was just right all along will remain a mystery, but our $100 dinner at The Melting Pot was not what I had envisioned when I added it to my list. We were tense, quiet and I was irritated at spending so much money on just another dinner. The setting was nice—they had given us one of the private booths—and the food was good, but the experience only hammered home the fact that we were not a couple. It would be the last of our alphabet dates, and the beginning of the end.

When we started over (both literally and figuratively), the Melting Pot found itself once again listed at letter F. This time, I decided, we were going all out! I wore my little black dress. He wore his pinstripe suit and the fedora! He looked completely delicious and I couldn’t wait to have him to myself over a fondue pot of more delicious. MFJ graciously agreed to spend a quiet evening at home (ours, not hers) supervising a slumber party. The girls were excited, I was thrilled she could do my hair (and loan me the right earrings), then we were off to a late dinner at the Melting Pot.

This time, it was everything I had hoped it would be. The only drawback was we didn’t get a private booth, even though we had actually requested it this time. We were, instead, seated in Lovers’ Lane. It was set off a ways from the open seating area, with high back booths to provide a more secluded dining experience. Regardless, the food was fantastic (especially the Yin Yang Martini), he told me I was beautiful and, most importantly, the love songs in the background meant something.

spencer-and-heather-sokol

2009-09-190Babysitters are pretty hard to come by around these parts, but MFJ has volunteered to watch the girls now and then. When we decided we wanted to use E for exploring, her free Sunday afternoon sounded like the perfect opportunity.  Spencer had actually looked into geocaching a few years ago, but we didn’t own a GPS system at the time. Then, during last year’s fall camporee, I learned about letterboxing. We decided to explore the trailway in our hometown, which we’d somehow never done before, in search of hidden treasures.

2009-09-187We used his iPhone and the Geocaching application to start our exploration along the Monon Trail. Since this was our first attempt at treasure hunting, we decided to start simple. Or so we thought. We had a heck of a time finding our first cache, until we realized that we’d already found it and added it to our trash collection. We decided to combine our adventure with a small eco-effort and collect litter along the trail. The dog toy didn’t look at all out of place along a trail where residents frequently walk their dogs. It just looked like something accidentally left behind.

2009-09-188Once we figured it out, we added our name to the log and moved to our next target. This one we found a little more easily. It was a small treasure cache, but the contents were soggy. We left behind one of the treasures we had brought along for just this sort of thing, but didn’t find anything dry enough to take. The next time we head out, I’m adding baggies to our packing list so we can update any caches along the way. It was a fun experience, for sure, even though we have a lot of learning to do. This time around, we packed water, snacks, a few treasures for trading and a pen, thinking we were set.

2009-09-186_595It worked out pretty well for the few hours we were out and about, but next time I’m packing baggies, bandages and a bigger trash bag. All of that is beside the point, though, because we had a really great time together! I’m not usually an outdoor person, but I enjoyed walking hand in hand with my hubby in the fresh air. It was a great daytime date and one we’ll probably repeat. Next time I’d like to go with more puzzle-solving caches, for a fun twist. I think it would also be fun to hide a cache or two. I’ve always had a thing for pirates!

windmill-farm
So, there’s this guy. He sings stupid (some might say funny), geeky songs. And the hubby is kind of obsessed. Because he’s a geek. A few weeks ago, I decided to see if he was playing in our area around the holidays because I thought concert tickets would make a great Christmas gift. Yes, I know Christmas is still months away but it’s what I do. When I found out that he was playing (kinda sorta) near here in October and that tickets were only $20, I couldn’t really keep the information to myself.

chicagoI thought he might buy a ticket and take a quick road trip with a buddy. Except, apparently, none of his friends cared about the concert either. He was all set to buy a ticket and hit the show by himself (yeah, I married a dork), but I really hated the idea of him making a 3 or 4 hour (which usually ends up being 5 or 6 with traffic) drive on his own. So I made the ultimate sacrifice. I volunteered to go with him to the concert. You see, I’ve had the chance to see a favorite of mine in concert twice in the last year so it’s really only fair.

This is my geek.

This is my geek.

I suggested we spend the night and make a bit of a weekend out of it. The idea even occurred to find a way to turn it into an alphabet date, to take some of the sting out of the price tag (those are budgeted!). My only caveat was he would need to find the sitter. So, he immediately bought concert tickets and then promptly did not find a sitter. My sister finally volunteered to come spend the night with our girls and we were set! The only thing left to do was figure out how it fit into alphabetical order. C was already taken!

We had finally decided on an uber-dorky “G = geeky guitarist” when the trip got infinitely more interesting (for me, anyway). I discovered a very dear, longtime internet friend would be in town at the same time! Arrangements were made to meet Kathryn and her husband for dinner on Saturday before the concert. Meeting internet friends in real life? Yeah, G is for Geek. To top it off, our dinner would be at Giordano’s (a huge personal favorite, even if I do have to swallow a ton of pills just to eat it), rounding out the letter G theme quite nicely.

candy-shopWe were in Chicago less than 24 hours so it was quite a whirlwind. I love Chicago, and I was a bit disappointed not to have more time, but the destination wasn’t really the point of the trip. Alphabet Dating is a journey—it’s all about being in love. I fell in love with the windmill farm (all over again) on the way there, and my new favorite candy shop on the way back. And in between, I fell in love with my hubby a little more too. (Also? Just a tiny bit with Storm, but the hubby’s okay with that.)

Now that you know what all goes into planning an Alphabet Date, I’m sure you can’t wait to hear all about it. First, though, I have to unpack. Because it takes an awful lot of stuff to go away for just one night! (Even when you forget half of what you needed.) I really do want to tell you all about it (okay, not all)—especially the concert that I didn’t really want to go to because it was a-freaking-mazing! And, it’s okay that I preferred the opening act, right? (Don’t let me forget to tell you all about how I told one of the duo that he was going on my list.)