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So, I think I’ve mentioned it before, but just in case – and for those of you who don’t know, when it came to Christmas presents, I told everyone that our wedding registry also doubled as my Christmas list.  Now, I italicized the “my” because I didn’t want Neil to get stuck with registry stuff…especially when he already has a million and one things on his list for the house!  Anyway, I really had no clue what I was going to get for Christmas – aside from the obvious sunglasses, but I was definitely hoping for some things.  Not big things, but just some things that would make our wedding that much better!

Let me explain…

Since the day we finished our registry at Bed, Bath & Beyond, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with what we’ve registered for.  I never knew BB&B had such cool stuff!  It’s amazing what you find when you have an unlimited time frame and can just click, click, click away!  Anyway, yes, I did get some stuff off our registry – which I highly recommend for all soon-to-be brides.  There an absolute must for a totally chic kitchen!!  Okay…so here’s my little plug for BB&B (and no, I won’t bore you with everything I got for Christmas, but just some highlights – mainly those who really belong here on the journal)…

First, my dear sister and Paul got me two things we registered for from BB&B.  The first was this:

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The Simply Strawberries 3-Piece Tool Set is, of course, from BB&B, and I’m pretty sure it’s been featured on this site before.  It’s such a handy little tool and I absolutely cannot wait to get home and try it out!

Then there was this:

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First of all, let me say that I didn’t know how massively huge these pasta bowls were.  It’s 4 bowls and 1 server.  They’re so fun and will definitely give dinner a little more flair than if I were to serve pasta in our normal dinnerware.  Definitely a must-have for the bride trying to impress.  I absolutely love them!!  I’m so happy Amy and Paul got them for us!!  Of course, getting them home…that could be a challenge!

So, there were two things from the registry, but there’s more.  After all, I named this post “A Very Wedding Christmas” for a reason.

I’ve been in need of sunglasses, as you already know, but now I have a cute new pair to tote around Scotland, London, and Paris.  And the best part – I have a case to keep them safe!!

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I absolutely love my Maui Jim’s!  If you talk to anyone who has ever owned a pair, they’ll tell you that once you have a pair, it’s impossible to go back to anything else.  Now, granted, Neil was pushing for the Ray Ban’s it didn’t matter because him and I both loved the Maui Jim’s the best.  They fit my face perfectly and they aren’t Dale Earnhardt-like.  Per-fect-o!

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So, I included the water bottle simply for size-comparison.  This precious little mini-laptop came from Santa.  Both sis and I got one and it couldn’t be more perfect!!  It’s the perfect travel size and it will be perfect for our jaunt to Europe.  Dad completely customized it for us so it has a webcam for easy video chats and all the programs I would need.  It also has an amazing 3-hour battery-life and weighs all of about 3 pounds.  I love it!!

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Check out these bad boys!!  Courtesy of Troy, I can now walk Europe in style!  When Neil and I went shopping on Sunday, I was begging him for these shoes!!  He wouldn’t budge.  I suppose it’s because he had something more in mind!  Next thing I know, I’m opening them Christmas morning!!  Thanks, Troy!  I can’t wait to use them for the honeymoon!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

So, I had an inkling that I would be getting these from Daddy, but I had no idea how gorgeous they would be!!  I almost cried when I opened the box!!  On the gift tag it read, “With these, your wedding will be pearl-fect!”  I have the greatest daddy!!

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Aren’t they to die for?  It’s exactly what I wanted!  Unfortunately for Jeff, it had to be custom-made, but fortunately for me, because of that – it’s pearl-fectly perfect!!  I cannot wait to walk down the aisle…to meet my groom…donning these beauties.  I love you, Daddy.  Thank you.

And because I couldn’t possibly forget some things Neil got for Christmas, let me present to you the Christmas Present of the Year…err, let’s make that CENTURY!!!

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Yes, we did register for this.  And yes, I love it, but again yes, this was part of Neil’s Christmas present from “Amy but mostly Paul”!!  But what makes this present even better is this…

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Yes.  A PLUNGER.  Although, probably better him than me!!  But yes – my dear groom opened a present last night that included a toilet bowl brush and plunger!  Oh, Paul.  You really are a unique individual!!!

Either way, it’s caused for some great laughs!!  I absolutely love it.

Merry Christmas!  There is no doubt this time of year is definitely the best.  Good friends.  Good family.  Good food.  Everything about this time of year just makes me smile.

And oh!  I didn’t mention the best part!  Two nights ago, my sister invited us to dinner with another couple they’re friends with.  The wife had just recently returned from Scotland and was gracious enough to cook us a traditional Scottish dinner.  We had haggis, turnips, mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and some kind of delicious dessert!!  First of all, I can’t believe I ate haggis…and liked it!!  Then, the turnips!!  In fact, they were quite tasty!!  They really just tasted like broccoli.  And no, I’m not a huge fan of mashed potatoes, but I ate a bit of it and then the mushy peas.  I love peas – so of course I love mushy peas.  Based on that, I think we’ll be okay in Scotland!!

Merry Christmas!  This is absolutely my favorite time of year.  There is so much excitement and families are always together.  I’m short on time now, but I’ll be back later with more!!

Have a very Merry Christmas…and remember the Reason for the Season!

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It’s been a couple days since our last conversation.  Truly, not much has happened.  It’s still so odd to think that this will be our last Christmas.  Even more strange is to think that in just 4 short days, Neil and I will have been engaged for a whole year!  Let’s take it one step further…Neil just brought up a good point last night – we got engaged when I was 21 years old, and now I’m almost 23.  It just sounds weird to me…I don’t know!

Yesterday, we took a trek out to Miromar Outlets to get some Christmas shopping done.  This was honestly the first Christmas that we were not finished with shopping prior to coming to Florida.  We were such slackers.  Although, it has been an odd year – Christmas seems to have just popped up on me!!  Personally, I’m blaming it on the fact that there are more exciting things to look forward to…namely, the wedding!!! 🙂

Anyway, while shopping we were able to finish up our Christmas to-buy-for list…including a certain someone ::me::!!! Mom, Dave, and Ellen were pretty easy – well, at least I thought so.  Okay, let’s just say that Mom was easy.  For some reason, Neil just has a problem shopping – he keeps second guessing himself and it ends up being a 4 hour affair to shop for two people!!  Geesh!!  But, before we could shop for anyone…we had to shop for someone in particular first.  Drum roll please…..NEIL.  He got two, count them t-w-o jackets yesterday!  The kid is ridiculous!

We also stopped into Sunglass Hut to get my Christmas present.  Neil has been referring to my sunglasses as Dale Earnhardt’s for the past bajillion years.  Okay, not that many years – but since I got them, which is now pushing 3 years.  So, instead of donning those bade boys, come Christmas Eve, I’ll have a brand spankin’ new pair of “guites”, as Dad would call it (that’s pronounced “gweets”).

So I sincerely apologize for an uneventful couple of days, but as I said before, it’s more for me than for you!! 🙂

I decided tonight that I wanted to chronicle the happenings of this Christmas…after all, it is our last Christmas as single individuals.  There will never be another Christmas like this.  From here on out, things will be drastically different.  It’s strange to think, but for seven years I have waited to marry my best friend – and now here we stand, waiting for this Christmas to pass so we can continue on with our engagement, knowing that when this time comes next year, we will forever be changed individuals.  No, not changed.  Maybe that’s not the right word because yes, I will still be Amanda and he will still be Neil, but we will be one.  Everything about ourselves will revolve around each other.  It sends chills down my back.

So here I lay in bed, at 11:30 on Saturday night.  I’m running on approximately four hours of sleep and I can’t quite figure out why I haven’t hit the sack.  Then it occurs to me…I have to write about this Christmas – and everything leading up to it.  Tonight is the perfect night to start.  I want to remember this – how I felt, what I did – so that next year, I can look back and see how much has changed…or not changed…

Today is the 19th.  Exactly one year ago today, my dearly beloved bought the gorgeous ring that has now found a home on  the third finger of my left hand.  According to him last night, he didn’t know until I left for Florida last year that he was going to propose on Christmas…way to think it out, Bud!! 🙂

We arrived in Florida today around 9:30am.  It was an exhausting morning, but an even more exhausting day!  Neil enjoyed a wonderful – but challenging – day of golf with his soon to be father-in-law (even though I don’t particularly love that phrase, but to keep from confusion, that’s how he’ll be referred to on here!), brother-in-law (again…), and Grant (Paul’s brother).  Grande Dame of Honour and I rented a flat-bed truck that was way too big for both of us!  It’s nice having my groom down in Florida with me.  In all of our (what seems like) hundreds of Christmases, we have never (yes, never) spent Christmas day together.  We started going to Florida for Christmas the year Neil and I met – and sure, he’s always come down the night of or the next day, but never have I woken up on Christmas morning and seen my Neil.  But odd how on our first day of our first vacation for 2009, I didn’t spend much time with him at all!!  Oh well, I cannot complain.  He’s giving up Christmas in Indiana to spend it with me in Florida – what more could I ask for?

After our lovely afternoon of zero naps, we headed off to the Florida Everblades hockey game.  If you know Neil, you know he’s a hockey nut.  I guess playing his entire life growing up is to blame…but it’s nice.  I knew nothing about hockey before Neil and I met – okay, I knew it was popular in Canada and that it was played on ice…but that’s about it.  Having Neil in our life has re-opened some wonderful memories for Dad.  He used to go to Chicago Blackhawks games with his dad…he loved those games.  We were fortunate to have Neil bring hockey into our lives.  And while Amy thinks they could do away with the two “thingy’s” and could probably be just fine with two periods instead of three, I think she still enjoys it.  If nothing else, there are a lot of interesting people to watch – and us Arnold girls…we love to people watch!  Surprisingly, we stayed for the entirety of the game.  That made Neil’s day – especially since it’s the only hockey he can count on each year!!

It’s so unbelievable to think but in just a few short days, we’ll be celebrating what will be known as our last Christmas as an unmarried couple.  Never again will we have a Christmas like this.  Sure, this may not be the most exciting of posts, but it’s really more for myself than anything else.  I feel so fortunate to be able to share this Christmas with both sides of our family.  It makes it so much easier that way.

I love you, Neil.  I’m so excited to see what this Christmas holds for us – and I cannot wait to celebrate every Christmas in the future as your wife.  You have no idea how lucky I truly am!

I’m writing to you this morning because something has just dawned on me.  I am boring!!  Geesh!!  Why didn’t you guys tell me?!

So where is all this coming from?  Let’s see…

Every once in a while, I’ll hop on WordPress and see who all is visiting my little journal.  occasionally, it will tell me specific posts that are more popular than others, and this morning was no different.  Yesterday, some people checked out the post Feeling Rushed.  I’ll be honest with you – I remembered the post title, but I didn’t remember anything about it!  So I took it upon myself to go back and re-read what was so interesting to two people out in cyber space.

I’ll be honest, I laughed!!  I was just so clever!! 😉  Okay, but seriously, what has happened to me?  Has our wedding become so boring that I just really cannot come up with anything to say about it – unless it’s a pre-written Tradition or Inspiration…which even with that I’m lacking!!  I started going back and the last time I really wrote anything meaningful was November 16th.  That was more than a month ago – and even then, that was just casually written.  It really didn’t pertain to our wedding!  It was just something I had to say.

Well, first of all, let me say how glad I am that I chose to take on these traditions and inspirations.  It’s sad to say but all my little followers would be so lost without those!  They would have nothing to read!  (My apologies!)  So yes, I am glad I decided to do those, but you people needed to have told me that I was starting to get boring!

With all that said, I do have to admit, there has been nothing.  Zip.  Nada.  going on with the wedding.  You know, with Christmas right around the corner (literally!!  EEK!) Mama just doesn’t have a whole lot of time.  But that doesn’t stop me from emailing her…even thought I know I won’t get a response!  She has promised me though that come January 1st, it’s on!!  The wedding that is!  She will fully dedicate herself to the success of this wedding, so hopefully then, she can go back into her archive of wedding emails to start to reply…finally! 🙂

Okay…I stand corrected, I just checked back and there are a few things that have happened that haven’t been discussed…  WHOOPSIE!!

Over Thanksgiving break, my groom, my grande dame of honour, and my beautiful future mother-in-law went on a hunt.  I dragged Amy with me simply because she hasn’t been able to be 100% part of the planning of the wedding…and she is the grande dame of honour, afterall!!  Anyway, we went looking for reception locations.  I know, I know – you all thought that was set in stone.  And sure, it was, for a very long time.  In fact, it was the one thing we knew we could 200% count on!!  Well, FMIL has decided that she wanted to foot the bill for an actual wedding reception location rather than just having it at home.  At first, I had mixed feelings – the ease of having it at home just seemed logical, but at the same time, it would be nice to have something a bit fancier.  So after a bit of thinking, I was all for it!!  It started with me emailing some places, namely Grafton Peek, the Mavris, and Plainfield Parks and Recreation.  The biggest problem that we found was that we already have a caterer, er, kind of!  So on Thanksgiving break, we all took a drive out to Plainfield to look at three places, Friendship Gardens, the Community Center, and the Performing Arts Center.  Of the three, by far, Friendship Gardens is the most beautiful, it’s just very limiting in space and parking.  Very limiting.  The Community Center had the most amenities, such as tables, chairs, a kitchen, and it was inside.  But Neil had been to a wedding there before – and while it was a long time ago and he doesn’t 100% remember it, he knew it wasn’t what we were looking for.  So, off to the Performing Arts Center it was.  This was a newer place and it really is just a covered concrete structure in the middle of a field.  But it had everything we needed.  There was a big garden of flowers right in front of it, bathrooms across the field, beautiful trees as a backdrop.  And while the concrete structure itself isn’t too glamorous, it will fit our needs perfectly.  It’s outdoors, but it’s covered.  It has plenty of parking.  It’s secluded.  With the right decorative details and touches, it will be perfect.

Another thing I’ve been fiddling with is hair and how I want it to be styled for the wedding.  I think I (for the most part) knew I wanted it up.  It’s truly timeless and beautiful.  Exactly how I wanted it up was still a mystery.

It all started with this – the way I had my hair for Emily’s wedding…

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I absolutely loved my hair for her wedding, but I just think it needs something else to truly be a bridal hairstyle.

Then, as I searched, I found these…

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I thought these styles were just gorgeous, but I don’t know if I 100% love the “danglies” hanging down in front.  So, I kept searching and found some people I actually know!!

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Kristin’s hair was absolutely beautiful in her wedding.  I loved all the curls and the simplicity of the style.

An acquaintance from High School, Adrian.

I really loved her hair, the bangs are a bit longer than Kristin’s, and it’s just all around beautiful!!

So, you see, I have a general idea of what I want for my hairstyle, but it’s still all a big mess!!  In all honesty, it may just be a mixture of all of the above!  Because certainly I couldn’t make it easy!!

Again, my sincerest apologies for being boring – but I can almost 100% guarantee that come January 1st, information will be coming at you fast and furious.  I can’t wait to finally start nailing down some specifics!!!