Going to the Chapel…A Lot!

Summer is wedding season. And I love both summer and weddings, so naturally it is a fun time for me.

I love watching two people show their love and make that commitment of partnership.

I love seeing groups and communities rally behind them for support and encouragement. (It’s also fun seeing these groups intermingle.)

I love dancing, eating, and drinking-all of which are staples of most wedding celebrations.

I love seeing children dressed up in suits and flower girl dresses. I am already gearing George up to be the perfect ring bearer-any takers?

I love seeing the couple’s personality come through the little wedding details.

I love wedding cake.

I love singing/chanting the Clemson cadence count and Tiger Rag at weddings…oh wait that’s not a normal wedding activity? (Sorry Tom did not do very well catching the video of this little wedding wonderfulness that occurred at the last wedding we attended. Too good for video I guess.)

I love dressing up all classy-like just so I can cut a rug later.

2014-05-31 17.19.16 20140621_210011


Golly! Isn’t my husband just as handsome as can be?

 Weddings are just great.

We had our fair share of wedding invites this year. We made a majority of them, but unfortunately there were a couple we were not able to make due to conflicting schedules. It has also been interesting attending these with my temporary latch-on, George. It has made the dressing up part, dancing the night away part, and other wedding festivities different. Not bad, but different. Don’t worry, I still boogied and ate my heart out at buffets, I just had to take more breaks than usual. It did give me more opportunity to people watch, which is fantastic fun at a wedding. The things seen…

Each time I am at a wedding it reminds me of my own marriage and the blessings I have because of it. It’s rejuvenating to witness someone else’s love and think, “Yep I have that too, and it is pretty great.”

I have talked a lot about weddings and marriage on this blog, but it never gets old!

2014-05-31 22.22.20

Wedding One in Iowa


Wedding Two in Missouri

2014-06-28 22.59.42

Wedding Three in Oklahoma

We missed out on a wedding in Minnesota and South Carolina, but I am so excited for those couples and hope that they had the best day!

Our whirlwind travels to weddings is now done for the summer since this baby is due soon. After this weekend of being home for the 4th, we will be staying put probably until the holiday season. (We are welcoming visitors any time though!)

2014-06-28 22.59.50

I am a new mom, and she is a new wife! Yessss!

It was fantastic and amazing to be able to see old friends and celebrate a new beginning in their lives. I wish the best for each of the couples, and can’t wait to see how awesome their marriages are!

The Iowa Reunion Tour

Tom and I had a great time (expect all the driving) being in Iowa this past weekend.

It was kind of hit or miss last week whether Tom was going to be able to join me. Fortunately his pass was approved the day before we were scheduled to leave. Thank goodness because that 12 hour drive back would have been awful. Plus road trips are always better with him!

We had a wedding in northern Iowa for a former student of mine, but we decided to stop in Ames the day before to a) break up the trip and b) see our old home.

We lived in Iowa for 3 years. It was the start of our life as a married couple and became real adults. We made some great friends and had wonderful memories from our time there. Also, I believe Iowa is a hidden gem of the United States. I really loved it there.

It was hard to leave Iowa a year ago after Tom returned from deployment, but we knew that it had to end. It was great to be back in Ames and to see some lovely faces again.

We made the most of the afternoon we were in Ames by eating in some of our favorite restaurants.

2014-05-30 12.46.04

I definitely miss the college coffee houses and cafes.

We chatted with my old supervisors which was so great for me mentally. It reminded me of a time where I thrived professionally, and that someday I will have that again.

We were able to catch up with several of our old friends that night. It was awesome to be able to chat and pick up right where we left off. With Facebook, you can still follow along with people’s lives, but there is just something about being able to be face to face with people that does something for your soul. Lots of laughs were had!

We also went by our old digs. And I am not going to lie, I almost broke down in tears as we drove away from Friley I was so emotional, and I am not sure I can blame that on hormones.

2014-05-30 15.18.59

That building behind me was our home for 3 years. I love how big it is; you can’t get it all in one frame. Yes we lived in a giant residence hall. We were given a really nice apartment in there. Oh Friley.

I also was spoiled by my old neighbor/partner in crime who has been stocking my favorite ISU dining muffins. I swear these things have drugs in them, they are so addicting. (I am aware that they do not, and they are just really delicious.) We used to text each other when it was chocolate muffin day so we could fill up our to-go containers with just these goodies.

2014-05-31 15.52.55

Then we headed even further north for a wedding.

It was the first Catholic wedding I had ever been to, and Tom wasn’t too familiar either. We were fish out of water.

2014-05-31 17.19.16

When they had the congregation do the greetings where you apparently say “Peace Be With You” to each person you shake hands with, Tom instead introduced himself. The ladies in front of us were not impressed with, “Hi, I’m Tom.”

I also made a blunder when they recited the Lord’s prayer. FYI the Catholics do not say the whole thing! I did not know this. I just felt really proud of myself that I actually knew something they were doing, so I just went along merrily! Unfortunately, when the rest of the church stopped reciting, I kept going. Just me, practically sounding like I was screaming the end of the Lord’s prayer all by myself….Embarrassing.

There were quite a few of my former students at the wedding. It was so good to hear what is going on in their lives and where they have moved on to. Each of them had such a huge impact on my time there since we worked together practically every day and some of them for almost the entire time I was there. It was fun to see them all grown up!

2014-05-31 22.23.01

Sorry for the bad picture quality! They were all of my staff members at one point in Friley. And of course Tom was the odd resident of the building being neither staff or a student…

It was a fast trip since most of it consisted of us driving across the midwest. Let me tell you, road trips are not as fun when you are pregnant. At least the people on the other end made it all worth it!

Thank you to everyone we saw and made an awesome reunion for us!

Those of you who we didn’t see, I am just saying Tennessee is really pretty and we are happy to have visitors…

Whitener Wednesday-Our Wedding

We have made it to our wedding day of the Whitener love story. I won’t go into a lot of the planning portion. I am just glad that that part of our life is over and done with it. It all led up to one of the best days ever.

Get ready for the picture overload!

Wedding 1

My mom painted the tree, which was our guest book and has since become living room art work. We stayed pretty simple with the rest of the decorations. My sister-in-law helped with a lot of the planning, which was helpful since we lived in Iowa and the wedding was in Missouri. Tom and I made all the ribbon dancers that were used for our exit out of the church instead of bubbles. That broach was my grandma’s who was not able to make it to the wedding. I also carried hankies from my family and Tom’s family, which came in handy later on during the ceremony.

Wedding 2

My dad made my necklace and earrings. My grandpa helped officiate the wedding, which was really special for both of us. He made pretty much everyone weep with his warm words. And yes, we high-fived our “I do’s.”

Wedding 3

We were very intentional about making our wedding about our story and who we are as a couple. We planned every detail to make the wedding very specific to us. We didn’t have any traditional music and put in personal touches everywhere, hence the high-fives. We wanted to make sure our wedding was “us” and not cookie cutter. We had a lot of help from our family and friends for getting on board with this and adding little pieces throughout the day!



We drove off in an old school Aston Martin.


We had the best wedding party. My brother was my man of honor, and Tom’s sister was his best woman. Keeping it real doing our own thing.


This is one of my favorite shots of the day. It was just one of those moments that it was just Tom and I before we went into the winery for dinner. We didn’t see each other before the ceremony, so it was really the first time we were able to steal some moments together.

Wedding 4

One of my favorite touches was our candy buffet. This was our favor for everyone. We thought it was better for everyone to get exactly what they wanted. We made the jars ourselves with tags and ribbon. It was also really fun to search for yellow and blue candy! We felt like kids again.

Also, picking our wedding colors was really easy. Tom’s favorite color is blue, and mine is yellow. Boom color choices made. (It also turned out that we looked like even bigger Royals fans. We still to this day find ourselves in our wedding colors unintentionally…)


Our reception venue was absolutely gorgeous. We had it at a winery right outside of town that was on a hill overlooking the river and capital.

Wedding 5

I am not the biggest cake fan, so we opted for a smaller cake and several other desserts in addition. The one thing I would change about the day would be to actually get some of those desserts. The only piece we had was the small bite of cake we fed each other. Everything else got devoured, even the plate of samples we had set aside in the kitchen for ourselves. Yes, someone ate stole that! And yes it has been three years, and I am still not over it.  So we were not able to partake in the one year anniversary tradition of eating your cake, because every little piece of everything was eaten that night.

Wedding 6


I think the best part of our wedding was just to have all groups in our lives come together in one place. It was so fun to look back at pictures and see different people interacting and having a great time. We obviously had a blast.

One of most genius decisions I made was to have a party dress. I absolutely love my wedding dress. It was the first dress I tried on, and it was everything I ever dreamed for a dress for our day. However, that thing was a beast. It was very hot with all the layers, and felt like it weighed a ton after a few hours of wearing. I decided to get a cheap short dress that I could wear after all the ceremonious things occurred so I could move and groove more freely. I highly recommend it for any bride.


Yep this happened. I am sure you can guess what song was playing.

1671StephanieTom20110618 1444StephanieTom20110618

We had so much fun celebrating with those that we love. It was a wonderful day to start our marriage, and it was better than anything I had ever dreamed of as a little girl.

Thank you for reading our story up to now. Next week I will recap our first year of marriage.

Talks with Tom #13

This past weekend we traveled back to Missouri for a friend’s wedding. It was beautiful, and it was great to see some friends from Iowa. I have been really homesick for my Ames people, so it was fun to catch up with a few of them for a bit.

2013-11-16 14.31.03

I miss having friends in my office all the time!
(And Tom and I missed the purple memo, but it is ok. We matched in our mature primaries.)

It has gotten a little cooler here, which for me affects my “driving” clothes. Usually I will hop in a car in shorts or comfy running pants and a tshirt. With the temps dropping, my winter driving gear is usually jeans and a tshirt/hoodie.

Tom however is always in shorts.


Tom loves wearing shorts. He doesn’t really every wear long pants unless it is a special occasion or when he is being mandated. He believes that he should dress for the temperature inside since he wont be outside very long. So you will find my husband in shorts and flip flops all year round. He is all about the maximum amount of comfort.

We were in a mad hunt this weekend several times for his ranger panties. Oh you don’t know what those are? They are shorts that basically show off a man’s leg, and they have the inner liner (panty). They are also made of a silky thin material (panty). Think of 80s men’s basketball shorts or track shorts. Because they are so small, they get lost easily. We thought the dogs may have eaten them at one point this weekend. It was serious people.

Tom's legs

They do make their legs look super nice. And I gotta say, it is fun to watch these Army men push people’s clothing social normities. The things people have called Tom because of these shorts is both funny and awful.

Anyway, naturally I was complaining about it being too cold on the drive home.

Tom- “Yea, I had to bring the winter shorts.”

They are maybe a couple inches of fabric longer than the ranger panties. Shorts are meant for summer to me no matter the length, but even 6 years later I am still laughing at Tom’s perception and infatuation of shorts

He did wear pants for the special occasion this weekend.

2013-11-16 14.32.34

I like that the woman behind me is my color block opposite. Love the mature primaries (cardinal, navy, and gold)!

Happy Wedding to Chris and Krystal!


Fun fact, Tom and Chris were in Scouts together. Then I worked with him at Iowa State not knowing until his first day on the job that he knew my husband’s family. Small world!

American Wedding

Last week I was able to experience something that not many Americans in the modern day can say they have done.

I attended a real life BALL.

And by ball, I mean like fairytale ball. Like the one Cinderella went to and lost her slipper kind of ball. Well except this one the king and queen are not trying to marry off their son.

Was I really living out my Disney princess dream?

The best description I can give came after talking with my friend Kate about the experience. I give her credit for it; it is pretty much spot on.

“It was a like a wedding reception for America.”

And it so happened to fall on the Army’s birthday last Friday. Here’s to a great 238 years!

Tom just had surgery for an injury he sustained during his time away, so he wasn’t much for celebration that week. The things we do for love though. He was a trooper for me since I had never been to a military ball and endured the pain of dressing up in his formals. He just couldn’t stand up straight, move very fast, or laugh without holding his belly. I am a cruel wife, I know. Seriously though, it was our one guaranteed chance to go to a ball!

DSCF0819 DSCF0823

And he admitted the day after that he was glad that I made him go.

Living near Nashville has it’s perks. The 101st Airborne is able to have their balls at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville. Talk about once in a lifetime!


It was magical. I am not sure I was even able to soak it all in. There was just so much! It was so surreal and breathtaking.


This particular event was to celebrate the 3rd Brigade coming home from their most recent deployment. There were around 1,000 people at this event. It was to celebrate the success they had and to decompress from being at war.


Because of the timing though, it signified a little more for me.

It really was like a wedding reception. I have been living a pretty distant life away from the Army since Tom enlisted. I could separate myself when I wanted to and be something else besides a military spouse. But now that I have moved here, I have a VERY different relationship with the Army.

I feel it every day in a very different way, much like how it is for a relationship when you get married. It becomes a little more serious. The Army is much more present in my day to day. And not in a “in your face-I’m stalking you” kind of way, but in a “hey, you’re the cheese to my macaroni” kind of way. From seeing the camo everywhere in our home, driving on and off base, seeing “America” basically on every corner, to serving military students much more openly at work… And did you know that most stores give military discounts? Every business asks for our IDs so we can get discounts, and when I ask if that is an every store policy or just this area, most say that it is every store. Hidden secret! I am going to have to hop on that!

So this ball for me was a little celebration saying I am ready to commit to this thing and there is no going back! Let’s do this Army.

It was a very special night with lots of emotions. We heard very high ranking officers talk to the men about the journey the Rakkasans have taken, and that now they are part of that legacy. Hearing these officers speak of valor, courage, camaraderie, and the leadership was breathtaking. I was overwhelmed throughout the evening as they talked about the selflessness of our soldiers. And most of them will tell you that’s just their job and want nothing more as recognition. You saw all kinds of medals, ranks, and other decorations signifying pivotal moments in these soldiers lives. (It was like a game trying to point out different ribbons or awards that you could find on people.)

There were moments of silence for those who have fallen. It brings a tear to my eye thinking about the silence as we held up our glasses in honor of the set table for one on stage symbolizing those who did not return.

And there were toasts to celebrate the victories. A lot of hoots and hollars to see whose company could be the loudest.



If this type of event doesn’t make you feel patriotic, probably nothing will.

It gave me a sense of unity that I had not felt before. I was now fully connected.

Hats of to the Army. They know how to reel you in without you even noticing.

(And I didn’t even have to drink from the Grog to fill this giddy.)

It was a night filled with formal gowns and bow ties, nervousness, laughter, speeches, good food, expensive drinks, dancing, introductions, but most of all great pride.

Great pride for our nation, great pride for our freedoms, great pride for the 101st, and great pride for Tom. The service they provide to a nation of people they have never met and to individuals around them is something that cannot be described easily. Uplifting and encouraging for humanity. I felt a piece of it that night.


So here’s to our wedding America! I am glad Tom and I said yes.


My craft tonight actually was for a wedding. Sometimes I really surprise myself with how I match the craft to the entry.

I made this for two friends of mine who recently got married. Congrats to the Baumgardners!

I am not sure what this crochet stitch is, I started too long ago to remember the name. I am not sure I would do it again. It was really finicky, and I would get the needle stuck in the bubbles if I tried doing it without watching. And you had to count a lot. It was too much thinking. Crochet is a mindless thing for me. I don’t want to have to work at it.

It turned out nice though! I do like the textured stitches! I apparently forgot to get a close up of the stitch whoops.

I do love these colors.


Until next time…