Friday, June 26, 2015

Alabama Sneak Peek!

The teaser video from our incredible videographer in Alabama is up! And it's beautiful. :)

Geneva + Brandon from Woodnote Media on Vimeo.

(Geneva + Brandon from Woodnote Media on Vimeo)

You can also view it here or here if it isn't working on the blog.

Exciting! More to come! I'm still waiting to give you some more details on the Alabama wedding as soon as pictures come in!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Huntsville: May 23rd

Saturday morning we got up early, had a quick breakfast, and then Brandon took me over to the nail salon where several of us (aunts, cousins, etc.) met up to get our nails done. I had my fingernails redone and while I was chatting with the nail technician, she mentioned that her son had just graduated from the same school as my sister - not only that but he was also in the top twenty and Morgan knew him!

Much deserved pampering!

Following nails we headed back to the house to keep working on a few more things and then headed to my Aunt Brenda's home for a bridal shower she threw. Shauna, Tanya, and Angie arrived just in time for us to start a wonderful lunch (crazy good salad), and then play one game and open gifts. It was simple and lovely. You always sort of wonder in mixed age company, where not everyone knows each other, how gift items like lingerie will be received. I'm happy to say that it was never awkward and in fact quite funny when some of the slightly more scandalous items were revealed, though everything was fairly tame. Lovely little party with lots of good company.

Delicious lunch!

In the meantime, Brandon, Kyle, Zach, Chad, and Tracy had gone out to play disc golf. I don't know exactly where they were, but from the sound of it, Brandon was especially glad to have Zach there as they played at a similar skill level. ;) But they had a good time and came back only slightly red.

We were altogether again around 4:30, at which point those of us involved in the ceremony went outside and did a mock practice of the ceremony so we'd be a little more prepared for the next day. And then party time again! Most of the company from the night before (and more), came again for more socializing and chatting. Grant and Lauren arrived, I got to see Zach and Emily some more, other good friends from Batesville. Just a lot of fun to catch up a little more.

Huntsville: May 22rd

One of my favorite things about our time in Huntsville is that we had so much time to spend with everyone. So much time to chat with everyone - family and friends.

Sign on our hotel room door - made my my
Friday morning Brandon and I took out time getting ready and then headed over to the house where we immediately got to work on several projects that still needed to be done. Tying names tags onto animals, making cones for flowers, cutting out all the programs, gluing together all the programs, getting food ready for one of the parties - you name it. We spent most of our downtime at home doing those things. Brandon was immediately swooped up by my dad and taken outside to powerwash the patio. We'd desperately been needing to do some laundry so my Dad had grabbed a shirt for Brandon to borrow so I could wash all of his shirts. After they been outside awhile, I realized he was in the sun without any sunblock on (after we'd worked so hard for a week in Cancun to avoid coming back as lobsters), so I sent my Dad back outside with a floppy hat for Brandon to wear. This led to some funny confusion as both my grandparents and brother Kyle mistook Brandon for my Dad. Between the hat, shirt, and similar heights, Brandon did indeed look like my Dad. Kyle worked outside beside/around him for quite awhile without realizing that it was Brandon.

We kept busy most of the afternoon and then headed home to quickly change (fresh clean clothes!), drop off a few things, and head downtown to the Von Braun Center for Morgan's graduation. There were several graduations prior to Morgan's and some happening concurrently, so it took us a bit to track down the right room. I couldn't be more proud of my little sister! Not only did she graduate in the top 20 (front row!), but she has a fantastic appointment to the Air Force Academy is which is all kinds of exciting. She and her best friend James (both on the cyber patriot team that just won at Nationals) both have appointments there, so I'm sure they're looking forward to it. Traffic was a little nasty, but everyone arrived in good order and the program was good. The various speeches were quick, Morgan walked very early on, and then we just waited through the rest of the program (class of about 450 I think).

Before the ceremony.

Walking up to accept her diploma (or at least the folder to
hold it).

Following the graduation ceremony we all reconvened at home and had Morgan's graduation party. I'd already gotten some time with my family as we'd all worked on projects earlier in the day, but at the party I got the chance to start catching up with more friends and extended family who had arrived that day in Huntsville. Lots of fun to catch up!

Tired (as ever), we headed back late in the evening to our hotel and were asleep in a flash. Brandon is more of a night owl than I am, but even for these weeks, he was as tired as I was.

Honeymoon: Live Aqua

We arrived at Live Aqua around 12:30, and just in time to go get lunch once we'd dropped off our luggage in our rooms. Live Aqua is a very nice resort (all the floors are scented with a  different aroma), but compared to our luxury treatment at FACB, it was a small step down. However, I'd say that the food at Live Aqua was probably the best we had - though we didn't get a chance to really sample all that they had.

We got sorted out after lunch (quick pool game first) and spent part of the afternoon just recuperating a little. Before too long though, we headed down to the beach and ocean again. We played in the waves for awhile and then retreated to the beach and decided to dig a hole/build a castle. Of the three resorts, Live Aqua was the only adults only resort, so it was slightly ironic that we chose that location to do this. But it was fun and we had a good time! And then I buried Brandon up to his neck and watched him escape. When we finished there we rinsed off and headed up to the pools and hot tub. We met a very nice couple from Cincinnati who were so excited for us and that we were on our honeymoon. We chatted with them for awhile before finally heading back in to have dinner. We'd done a fairly good job on our own of never getting too much food, but that night at dinner we didn't quite estimate the portions correctly. We definitely had more than we could eat, though it was all interesting and good.

Brandon documenting that we were both
there. :)

Finished product!

Pretty cool!

And - buried. 

Wednesday morning we again woke up bright and early and caught our bus to Excaret. It was actually a two piece ride, as we took the bus to another location and then redivided up into the buses going to our specific destinations. The bus to Excaret wasn't too bad - comfortable and not too long. When we arrived we went in and found our lockers and checked all of the stuff we wanted with us later in a bag to be picked up at the opposite end of the park. There are three underground rivers at the park that go from one end of the park to the other (about a twenty minute walk if you're not a speedy walker). At different points we took all three of these rivers. They gave us life vests and flippers and I don't think I'd realized until that day how much I enjoy using flippers. It is amazing how much they increase your speed. The rivers were fantastic. They took us through passageways and caves and by different animal enclosures, through theaters and mangrove orchards - awesome. At the end they would all rejoin and deposit us at a lifevest/flipper drop and bag pickup. Near the bag pick up was the Fish Therapy station. Fish Therapy involves putting your feet in a basin of water filled with tiny toothless fish that suck dead skin off your feet. It was SO ticklish. For the first five minutes or so we just couldn't stop squirming and giggling. It was ridiculous.

Horses! (The first of many animals!)

Relaxing in a hammock (the correct way - flat).

So much to do and see!


At the top of another pyramid.

Turtle shell!

Turtle shell!

Fish therapy!

Fish therapy!

So many butterflies!

Fun day!

The river going by was one of the three. Very fun. 

Other than the rivers and the fish therapy, we spent most of the day just wandering around seeing the animals. We saw dolphins, sharks, manatees, countless fish, stingrays, turtles, bats, cats, pumas, jaguars, a random raccoon like thing (not a raccoon), so many animals. Over lunch there were three stray cats that wandered around begging for food....we may or may not have fed them some tuna.

At the end of the evening we changed out of our bathing suits and headed to the main theater. The show was about two hours long, but it was fantastic. Excellent performance of the Mayan ball game and dances and music from all over Mexico. Folk dance always makes my heart swell a little bit. It's very special to me and I recognized so many of the styles that were performed. For them to additionally be performed by the culture that they come from - truly special.

Costumed figures leading into the show!

We moved back to our bus, headed home, and were quickly asleep. I've rarely been so consistently exhausted at the end of each day.

Thursday morning, we got up early and grabbed some breakfast, and then headed back up to our room to thoroughly pack everything to be airport ready. The bags were full. A little before noon Alberto, who had arrived at each of our transfers to make sure we got on our tours and everything fine, arrived once more to take us to the airport. IVI, the DMC we'd used for transfers the whole time was fantastic. We loved working with them.

Brandon and I bought some Kinder Bueno at the airport and waited for our flight to Charlotte. They actually changed the gate on us a little last minute and only because they were calling our names did we know to move gates. The flight to Charlotte was quick, and then before you know it we were on our way to Huntsville! We arrived in Huntsville around 11:15, picked up the bag, and hurried to the car rental place. We we got up to them they said we had two options - a Mazda Miata or some kind of Kia. Brandon didn't know what the Kia was, so he told the car rental employee we wanted the Miata. The guy looked back at us, asked us if we knew what it was, Brandon told him he knew that it was a sportscar, and the guy confirmed that it was very small.

And it was! Between us we had two backpacks and two pieces of luggage (a small one and a bigger one - both small enough to be carry ons). We were barely able to fit most of it into the tiny trunk. I had to keep the backpack up with me between my legs. But everything was in and we were able to quickly make it to our hotel, check in, and go to bed!

Honeymoon: Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach

We arrived at FACB around 12:30 and were led up to the Grand Club up on the 11th floor. They did a private check-in for us and then sent us off to our room. Now, we'd already known that the FACB was much nicer than FACC (they're both nice resorts), and that our rooms would be a step up, but in addition to that the hotel had upgraded us and given us one of the Master Suites. We had an enormous balcony, an incredible view, huge rooms, and a large Jacuzzi with a shower and steam room. We were thoroughly impressed.

Beautiful view from our balcony!


We settled in for a little bit and then had to rush off to our spa appointment. As I've already mentioned, this is supposedly the largest spa in Latin America. We arrived, split up, and they took us in for our hydrotherapy treatment. First they had me go into the steam room for ten minutes. This was then followed by a very cold and quick shower. Third, the sauna. Then the mud room where I was instructed to take a small tub of of mud mask and put it everywhere below the neck not covered by swimsuit. After a quick rinse later, I then went into an ice rub room where I was instructed to rub ice from a small bowl of ice onto my skin. Then a cool dunk, hot tub, cold dunk, and walking across rocks in a little maze at warm and then cool temperatures. All of that in some order like that. From there they took me out to the larger pool where they had different water pressure fountains. Brandon joined me there and we wandered around to the different fountains for awhile. At approximately two hours they finally took us down for a couples massage. I don't remember much of the massage, as at this point I was relaxed enough to haphazardly fall asleep. Nice! A quick shower later, a snack in the Grand Club, and we were headed down to the beach. The water at the FACB was a little different from the other places we'd been. Most of the ocean front included rough fun waves, but the section of the beach at FACB was somewhat sheltered, so the water was calm and we could swim out to a floating dock. This was nice, but we ultimately decided that we preferred the fun of the big waves. We swam in the pool once the beach was closed and then wandered over to the grocery store nearby to do a little shopping (biodegradable sunscreen/bug spray - cookies). We came back just in time to grab a quick dinner at one of the restaurants, sit in the steam room, and go to bed. The lap of luxury - it's exhausting.

Cool ceiling at part of the spa.
Sunset on the beach!

Time for a little shopping!

Monday morning we woke up bright and early and were picked up to go on a tour to Coba. We'd originally planned on going to Chichen Itza, but then Brandon wanted to go somewhere I'd never been before, so we picked Coba. Our driver picked us up and we headed out to Coba! Our first stop was a place where we got to do a little canoeing, ziplining, and another Mayan blessing, and then got to repel into another cenote, swim for a bit, and then climb back out (rope ladder - long hard climb!), It was quick, but fun. We hiked back to the main building, had lunch, and then headed to the Coba ruins. Our van air conditioning had been working fine, but on the way to the ruins decided it didn't want to work anymore. But it was only about a twenty minute drive so we didn't have far to go. At Coba our guide took us around for a bit and then we rented bikes and went to the main tower to climb it. The bikes ended up being one of my favorite parts of the day, as they were fun to ride, allowed us some autonomy, and enabled us to see so much more of the park than we otherwise would have been able to see.

We  just canoed over to this little hut so we
could hike on to do a few ziplines.


This stand is where we repelled 80 feet down into a cenote. A
bunch of men hang out to help elevate those people who
don't want to climb the ladder out.

And it was a long climb!

Coral snake! Red and yellow kill a fellow!
(we didn't get too close)

Sunblock forever! (We actually couldn't put sunblock or
bug spray on until after the cenote, as the local communities
still draw their water from the cenotes - so we want to keep
them clean!)

Bike rentals at Coba!

Bikes are fun!

In front of (blocking) the main pyramid at Coba.

Beautiful view from the top!

Brandon is there - right in the middle!

Beautiful view.

So much to see - so little time!

We saw as much as we could see in the time we had (there was more!) and then raced back to meet the van. We might as well have taken our time, as we had more time to kill waiting for a new van to arrive (with working AC). We didn't wait too long before the new van was there though. We got moved over and set off for the long drive back to Cancun. Back at the resort we swam for awhile, grabbed some bites to eat up at the Grand Club, and went to bed - exhausted.

Tuesday morning we sadly packed everything up and prepared to head to Live Aqua. At noon we met our transfer again and headed over.

Fresh honey!

Honeymoon: Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun

First of all, let me just say that spending the night in our own bed at home as a very very good idea, particularly as we spent the next week and a half sleeping in hotel rooms. Not that those rooms weren't fantastic - they were - but it was nice to have one last breath of home before we headed out.

Thursday (the 14th) morning we woke up early (not too early) and repacked our bags for the trip. We'd driven five minutes before I realized I'd forgotten my phone charger so we went back and grabbed it. We then headed to Orange Peel to grab some delicious shakes before we hit the bank for cash and then dropped my car off at Brandon's old house so his roommate Nate could take us to the airport.

On our way to the airport I got a text from my parents. They'd tried since early in the morning to catch a flight on Delta, but none of those had panned out and they ended up on the flight they'd paid for which was the same first leg as our first leg! So we got to sit and chat with them at our gate and then give final hugs in Phoenix before we went to catch our respective flights - them to Atlanta, us to Cancun.

A few more hours in their company!

Our flights were both good, though the flight to Cancun felt a little long. We arrived, went through customs and immigration, and headed out to find our transfer to the hotel. We spent a few minutes looking around before we realized that they weren't there. However, as we milled around a bit more, we realized that there was someone there from the transfer company we were with, they were just holding up a sign with someone else's name on it. So we went up to him and asked him about it and he called in and got us sorted out. We left no more than ten minute later to head to the hotel.

So, the reason we decided to go to Cancun was because there was a FAM taking place there with the Fiesta Americana properties. FAMs are familiarization events where travel agents go to locations and get a feel for different properties and what groups they might be able to bring to those properties. Essentially, they wine and dine you and try to show you how awesome everything at their resorts is. So, our first three nights we stayed at the Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancun (FACC) and did things on a schedule they'd prepared for us. The first night (Thursday night) we'd arrived right in the middle of their progressive dinner so we opted to just go back to the hotel, drop our bags off there, and find dinner there as well (it's an all inclusive!). We arrived, checked in, dropped our stuff off, and went down to their Asian fusion restaurant and had dinner.

Beautiful resort.

The FACC knew that we were on our honeymoon, so they did some fun things for us while we were there. When we arrived in the room there was a sculpture of two swans (bride and groom) made out of towels, with rose petals scattered everywhere. Then later, two swans again made out of colored rice. Even though I know that they do these kinds of things at these hotels, it was still very impressive!

Towel talent!

On Friday morning we went down to the lobby and belatedly met up with our group (they'd all met the night before). We hopped on our transfer and headed over to Live Aqua for breakfast. We took a tour of the property and then had a lovely breakfast in a restaurant overlooking the ocean to the East. Following breakfast we headed back to FACC and had a brief presentation from the transfer company and then were free for a few hours to do whatever we wanted (lunch and a massage!). Early evening we met back up and headed to Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach (FACB). We took a nice tour of the property and then started a progressive dinner around the property. We'd had a taste test of the chef during a presentation of the AV company onsite but the fun was just beginning. Our first course was a very informative tequila tasting where we learned all about where tequila comes from and how it is made. We also had a plate of very interesting fruits, few of which I can even remember the names of, and none of which I'd had before. Then we were on to an extremely nice restaurant where we had foie gras - chalking it up to lack of exposure to this dish and ignorance of the process of making it, I had it and it was quite delicious. I've now read a little more about it and I'm disturbed by the process.  But, admittedly, it was delicious. While we were there Brandon was playing with his ring (we bought a pair of matching rings from QALO to wear while we were in Mexico - best idea ever - all types of water, sand and sunscreen proof) and it suddenly popped out of his hands - a black ring onto a dark checkered floor. We started glancing around for it and one of the staff guiding us around the property immediately noticed and asked us what we were looking for. We explained and she said not to worry about it - they'd find it. We then left to head to the next destination - dinner on the beach - and when we'd arrived there, the staff at the restaurant had not only found the ring, but rushed and reached the next place ahead of us! Needless to say, we were impressed. :)

Dinner was on the beach facing East again (much like our dinner in Cabo almost a year ago). There was a Mayan blessing/ceremony and then they dug a chest out of the sand where they'd been keeping some of the meat we were going to eat for dinner. Kind of cool. The wind was pretty fierce, but it was a fun experience! Very cushy! We then retreated into the resort again and headed to the spa. The spa at FACB is unbelievable. According to the hotel, it's the largest spa in Latin American - and I believe them (more about that later). We took a tour of the spa and then ended in a part where they'd prepared dessert for everyone. As we were leaving they presented each of us with a complimentary spa treatment - which was great for us as we'd plans to stay there in just a few days! We made an appointment and it was set!

To round the night out, the transfer company (IVI) took downtown and we went to one of the local bars and listened to a live band for awhile. We may have danced a little (because that's what happens when the staff comes and pulls you out of your seat), but we mostly had fun watching all the dancers. We were exhausted, but it was fun.

Saturday morning we woke up early and met up with the group. Our transfer took us out to Selvatica. We ziplined for awhile (through the zipline course), and then drove to a cenote where we got to jump in and swim. They had some hand ziplines (no harness) that we could grab onto and leap off of, or we could just jump straight from the ledge. Brandon and I first did the zipline, then climbed around on the ropes above the water before heading back up to do the "Love Jump." Essentially, they said some Mayan and then some other random words waving leaves around us and having us repeat what they said, and then we kissed and jumped in together! After we'd jumped in that time I badly wanted to try to do something cool, but for all the gymnastics and dance classes I've had, I've never been comfortable doing flips. However, I sat up on the ledge and watched a bunch of the guys do some different leaps and flips off the zipline and finally worked up the courage to give it a go. I grabbed onto the zipline, let it take me down, hit the stop (a knot in the rope near the bottom), let my weight fling forward and up, curled into a tiny ball, and let go. They said it looked fantastic - except I never came out of the tight little ball, so I hit the water on my back - not the happiest moment. But it was awesome. And I would totally do it again. From the cenote we headed back to the main palapa and had lunch and then headed back to Cancun. We had another break in the day and then met up for a final dinner at an Argentine restaurant at FACC.

The next morning we finally went down to the beach and enjoyed the rough waves for a bit and then got cleaned up, had a snack, packed up, and met our transfer to the FACB.

As usual, there are many more pictures on facebook. But you get a nice little sample here!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Wedding Day: Logan

It's always a little tricky to give the details of such a big day when there are so many different perspectives and I can only offer one! But I'll share what I can. :) Warning: There are about to be a LOT of photos posted in this and the next several posts. I can't post them all (there are simply too many), so if there's something you want to see that you don't, comment and let me know! (Also, if you want access to the gallery, let me know and I'll send you the link to all the photos from Logan! It will only be up for a few months, so let me know sooner rather than later!)

I drove up with my parents (who had just arrived from Alabama) to Logan late on the night of May 12th (we stopped for a quick bite to eat at Kneaders and waited far too long in the drive through line - should have just gone in from the start but we weren't sure if their interior was open or not!). We stayed at a Best Western Plus insanely close to both the temple and Le Nonne (a five minute walk tops to either). We'd planned on my brother Kyle and his girlfriend Memorie staying with us, so our hotel room had two rooms and three beds, room for at least six. As it was just the three of us, my parents were in one room and I was in the other with two beds. Lots of space and privacy. I got everything organized for the next day and went to bed!

I'd set my alarm for some reasonable time of the morning to wake up, but of course my natural alarm went off around 6:00/6:30AM. I laid around for a bit and then decided to just get up and take a shower. One of the things that most frequently gets me out of bed is hunger - and this morning was no exception! Getting ready was a means to an end of going to get breakfast. I'd thought we'd just go and grab the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, but once my parents were up we decided to go to Herm's Inn instead - definitely more fun and interesting.

We got back just in time to wrap up a few last details (picking out a belt for the dress, ironing the veil, etc.) before our hair/makeup artist arrived. I can't say enough good things about Carrie! She was extremely good at her art and I loved what she did with my hair and makeup. She got started around 10:00 and finished around 12:30. And then we rushed about getting things packed back up, had a quick bite from Noodles and Company that my dad had picked up, and were out the door by 1:00 (our check out time) to head to the temple. I wore a blue dress to the temple that I'd just made over the weekend (bought the cloth on Thursday, made the dress on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). We arrived at the same moment as Brandon, Duane, and Dick and I'm pretty sure Brandon did a double take as I was slightly less recognizable with my hair done up as it was (and the makeup too). Quick hugs and a few pictures and we were in the door.

Hair and makeup by the talented Carrie Purser!

I love these two!
Our time in the temple was quick. My overall feeling for the day was of excitement, but also cool reserve - thus the whole day passed in something of an out of body experience. I was present for everything, but it was a little hard to believe that it was happening! All of the people helping us in the temple were incredible kind and got us everywhere we needed to be. The ceremony inside was very nice and it was wonderful to have so many of our friends and family there with us. But it was over quickly and we were back down in the beautiful changing room and Shauna was helping me to try and get all the little pieces together! I'd purchased a leotard as a lining for my top and at the last minute I decided it needed to be a little more trimmed, so I hiked up my skirt and Shauna cut it for me! Last minute changed indeed. :)

I'm a little sad that Brandon's "first look" wasn't able to be photographed, although honestly it would have been a pretty subtle moment. We met once we were both outfitted to the max in our wedding clothes and out the door we went to meet all of our family and friends!

The whole group!

Immediate family!

Full immediate family and families!

Our parents. :)

Duane and Shauna

Lisa, Rusty, Abigail, Logan, and Rachel

Lisa and Rusty

Jaime and Rob with Zachary, Scarlett, and Tyler

Jaime and Rob

Angie. :)

Dick and Theola!

With Kyle. :)

My parents!

Glen and Cindy



Pictures upon pictures upon pictures were taken! Two fun things happened while we were out there - first, a random duck was floating around in the fountain in front of the temple. It was a very odd sight. And second, we'd wondered what we were going to do about pictures that both my mom and brother Kyle needed to be in, and a photographer that was hanging out outside waiting for her bride and groom to come out jumped in and said she'd take some photos for us! And so she did and she was a fantastic help! I'll admit, the photos were not my favorite part of the day, but I know I'll be glad to have them.

After photos we grabbed our stuff and met up down at Le Nonne. We have so many people to thank for Le Nonne turning out the way it did. Stephanie and Pier to begin with, for letting us use Le Nonne and coming up with a delicious menu for us. Shauna and Duane for really tackling the details - both program and decorations. Jaime for coming up with a fun Wed-Lib idea for Logan. Lisa for really taking on the decorations and doing some wonderful things for us. Ashley for contributing last minute flowers! So many hands made it a wonderful dinner. Brandon and I alternated between eating, going around and talking with everyone, and listening to the various speeches in the program. My only regret is that the time was so full that we didn't really get enough time to talk with everyone! We made it around to most of the tables, but our time was scarce - for family and friends that had come so far to spend the day with us! But I suppose that's not so unusual a problem for wedding day folk.

Le Nonne!

Beautiful decor courtesy of Lisa and Shauna. Flowers by Ashley!

It was a cozy setting for the number of people we had.

But I think everyone had a good time. :) 
We chatted with people as they left, waited for some of the cleanup to be complete, and then headed back to the temple with my parents to take some more photos of us. Neither hair or makeup was as fresh, and we were both tired, but the pictures were still beautiful. Once we decided we'd gotten enough, we headed to Shauna and Duane's hotel room at the Marriott Springhill Suites and got changed out of our wedding clothes so we could send them with our parents. And then we did a round of final hugs and headed home to our place in Riverton.

We made one stop on the way home - as we were once again starving - and grabbed some food from In-N-Out which happens to be not too far from where we live.

It was a wonderful day - so beautiful. Everything was pretty much perfect, with my only wish being for more time to spend with all our loved ones there. More than anything, I felt filled with a calm excitement and anticipation on being married to Brandon, my best friend, and the man I look forward to continuing to have adventures with!