I just came back from my first fitting for my evening gown and send-off dress.  It was an exciting adventure all around and my mom and I had a good time.  When I first pick up the dresses a month ago, I noticed the evening gown was a little tight.  I was shocked considering I lost so much weight.  But luckily I did get it zipped up with the help from the ladies at the store.  The woman attending to me that day mentioned there was no way this size was for me.  Somehow they messed up when I got measured or the designer made a mistake.  I know for a fact I lost 3 inches in my waist alone, so there would be reason why I was not swimming in the dress.  Needless to say, I can't gain anymore weight, which I didn't plan on doing anyway. So today, the seamstress took off about 6 inches off the bottom of my evening dress.  Who is really 6 inches taller than me??  I am pretty tall myself!  Then I put on my send-off dress and as expected, I was swimming in this dress.  We had to take in about 3 inches around my waist, bust, and hips.  Everything is ready to be picked up on October 16th.  I am excited things are starting to get crossed off the list.  I am even more excited the day is approaching!

Kelley's Island | Bridal Shower | Chicago Shopping

Last Christmas, as their gift to the family, my Mom and Chuck purchased reservations at a resort on Kelley's Island in Lake Erie. Earlier this year, the family decided that we would schedule the vacation for the weekend of September 18th. Knowing that we were going to be in the area, my Mom and her friends also decided that that Sunday afternoon would be as good a time as any to throw a Bridal Shower for Eva. Finally, because we had some shopping to do in Chicago, and because the driving distance from Norwalk to Chicago and from Chicago to St. Louis is about the same as directly from Norwalk to St. Louis, we decided that Sunday evening we'd stay in Chicago and come back to St. Louis on Monday.

We were supposed to leave St. Louis that Thursday around noon, but evidently I didn’t stress that time to Eva well enough. She ran a bunch of errands and didn’t get back here until 2, and even then we still had two things she needed done before we could leave town, so we didn’t hit the road until 4. So, we stopped around Indianapolis and then continued on Friday morning. We got to Norwalk around noon and my Mom had already left for Marblehead so we continued up there and met them for lunch. She thought there was a 2 o’clock ferry so about 1:15 we headed over. We parked and got our things out of our car, while they drove their PT Cruiser on up to the ferry so they’d have it on the island. While we were buying our tickets, they went ahead and got on the *1:30* ferry and left! *sigh* My lovely mother called me from the back of the ferry and waved as they sailed away.

It all worked out though. We waited 30 minutes and took the next ferry. In the meantime, they drove to the resort, got checked in and unpacked, and came back for us. We stayed at a new place called Kelley’s Island Venture Resort, on the south west corner of the island. It was awesome! The building is an L shape with two levels. The rooms all have back doors that face the courtyard and south side of the island – north shore of Ohio – so you can see Cedar Point, etc. The courtyard has a nice lawn and landscaping, heated pool and hot tub. The rooms on the first floor are standard rooms with queen beds. Our rooms, on the second floor, all had a queen bed, bath, family room and kitchenette, plus a loft with two more queen beds. Mom and Chuck had reserved three rooms so there would be room for the four of us, plus my sister, her husband Jason and their daughter Bella, my step-brothers Norm, Adam and Tom, their wives Tracey, Shannon and Deb, and their kids Mitchell, Nancy, Bryan, Justin, Caleb and Dani. Norm and Adam arrived with their familes, plus Bella, Friday afternoon after school let out. Missy and Jason got there Saturday morning, But Tom's family wasn't able to come.

Mom and Chuck enjoying the resort.

We had a blast!! One of the first things Eva and I did was borrow Mom's convertable and drive around the island. Eva had never been there, of course, and I hadn't been there since I was kid, so a lot had changed. Kelley's isn't a particularly large island, but it's beautiful and there are certainly some interesting points. For instance, there are the 'glacial grooves' which are long beds of linestone that were carved out eons ago when mile-high glaciars came down from Canada.

Eva, the geologist

Unfortunately, it was quite a bit colder on the island than the weather we'd left back in St. Louis, so one of our first stops was to the general store for a sweatshirt and windbreaker to wear all weekend.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at Captain's Corner and hung out with the family. We watched a little bit of the Ohio State football game at one of the local pizza places, then went out to the state park and trails for a scavenger hunt. My team won! Tracey and Nancy and Bella and I found most of the items Mom put on our list. We also discovered a huge snake in the trail! It was hissing at us as we walked by and flattened it's head kinda like a cobra. Fortunately, I looked it up later and it was a harmless hognosed snake.

Eastern Hognosed Snake

Saturday night we all had dinner at a new place on the west side of the island that's huge, and kinda like a tiki bar. One of the things we quickly found about the island is that the only real food choices on the menus are Burgers, Fried Perch, Pizza and French Fries. Since Eva and I have been dieting and eating well, it was a bit of a shock to our systems. We had a wonderful time thought and really enjoyed seeing everyone.

Sunday morning we got up early and took the 9:30 ferry back to Marblehead. By 10 we were on the road and headed to Cleveland Airport to pick up Eva's Mom who was flying in for the Bridal Shower. We picked her up at 11:30 and headed back to Norwalk. Eva and our Mom's went over to Reta Stark's house at 1:30, and I went and hung out with my Dad for a couple of hours. They had a great time at the shower - from what I heard it was amazing - and by 4 we were back on the road, this time headed for Chicago.

I had made hotel reservations at Wingate by Wyndam over in Strausberg, but part of our motivation for going to Chicago was the chance to have some great food, so we first went to Chinatown and had dinner at Joy Yee Noodle. Eva and her Mom loved it, but for some reason each of the two times that I've gone there I've felt sick, so I wasn't really having a good time. We walked briefly through the shops, but since it was late on a Sunday night everything was closed and locked up. We got the hotel around 10 and the ladies pretty much passed out.

Monday morning was centered around IKEA. Unfortunately, IKEA doesn't open until 10, and Eva had scheduled a 3:30 appointment for herself back in St. Louis that she could not miss. We had breakfast at Matsuo Marketplace, then I dropped the ladies off at IKEA while I rearranged the car for the trip back. By 10:45, we were on the road, complete with IKEA frames and candles and other items.

The trip back to St. Louis was filled with construction and other annoyances, but was otherwise quick and uneventful. We got Eva and her Mom to their appointment by 3:45, and I was back home by 4:15. While driving back to my place and reflecting back on the 5-day vacation, I realized that I'd spent at least 5 hours driving on 4 out of the 5 days, so I think my next vacation ought to include a little less travelling and a little more downtime. But other than that, it was a great time!


I took a picture of my lovely fiance with the welcome bags over his head.  You see what I have to deal with?  I guess he thought it would be cute, so I took a picture to show all of you guys!  lol.....

all that jazz

Earlier this year when we visited The Sheldon for the first time, we walked through the Atrium and their Art Gallery, where they had a display of artwork inspired by St. Louis Blues and Jazz musicians. From the moment I saw that collection, I knew I wanted to have a jazz ensemble playing live during our cocktail hour.

Like so many other aspects of our wedding, I'd hoped to find a group willing to barter, particularly since live music during the cocktail hour certainly fell within the 'nice to have' category.

I advertised on Craigslist and listed musicians as one of the services we were looking for and would be willing to trade website design services for. One of the first responses I got was from a brass quintet. They desperately needed a new website and we exchanged some emails. Unfortunately, they either weren't serious about the gig or just weren't very organized. Despite the mutual interest, the project never got off the ground.

A few months went by and we got no further responses or interest, so we'd pretty given up on the idea and decided to settle for recorded music. Then, one afternoon mid-September, Doug Bert gave me call. He had an idea for a website and had seen my ad regarding bartering. He started by offering some odds and ends services that he might offer, and eventually mentioned that he was a musician. When he said that he was a jazz trombone player, I knew we had the potential for a promising arrangement.

As it turns out, Doug is an accomplished musician and plays regularly throughout the St. Louis area. He plays with a number of jazz ensembles and knows most of the jazz musicians that play around here. He offered to put together a 3 - 4 piece ensemble for our cocktail hour in exchange for a website. The website that we're building for Doug is called He's going to offer parents and students a great online source for lessons, service, and exchange of brass instruments.

So! We're thrilled to have Doug's help and to have him and his musicians be a part of our wedding celebration. Unfortunately, Eva and I won't hear a note since we'll be in the concert hall taking pictures throughout the cocktail hour, but we hope our guests enjoy themselves!

bought tickets to barcelona today

I bought our plane tickets to Barcelona this afternoon! We're really excited. We're going to be leaving Monday, Nov. 1st and get back the following Monday, so we'll be spending 6 nights in Spain.

Barcelona is an amazing city and we can't wait to explore. It's filled with art galleries, museums, restuarants, shopping and more.

We've known for some time that we wanted to honeymoon to Barcelona, but earlier this year we were still undecided. Eva knew that she wanted to go someplace outside the U.S., preferably Europe. Italy would certainly have been my first choice. So, since airfare was going to be the most expensive part of the trip, I started looking at prices. Most destinations were $1,200/person, but Barcelona happened to be one of the cheapest at just $775/person. Once we started reading about Barcelona and looking at pictures, we were sold.

I did, for a moment, entertain the idea of flying to Barcelona and then renting a car and driving across southern France into northern Italy. It would not have been a long drive and I'm sure the Mediterranean coast would have been gorgeous. But, I figured I probably wouldn't want to spend my honeymoon driving, and I definitely wouldn't want to deal with the potential issues surrounding renting a car, driving in Europe, dealing with directions and road hazards and other aspects of that kind of trip.

So, now that we have the tickets and a basic itinerary, I can get my passport updated. I kinda need it:

Michael's passport

This is my passport from 1986 when my family and I went to London, England.