Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Several steps closer to escaping reno purgatory

We have new stairs!  Hahaha this should really be Chris' blog post since I wasn't even there but, well, he doesn't write ;-P   And since I was fairly fascinated by this whole thing, I'm stealing his pictures.  Given that I wasn't there, the story will be either super light or entirely fictional -- I haven't decided which yet ;)

Once upon a time there was a house.  It was an older house that had been, shall we say, modified.  A few times.  And in this house was a flight of stairs.  The stairs were narrow and steep.  They had a turn at the top, designed in such a way that if you happened to slip in that section would lead to a pretty substantial drop -- before you'd plummet the rest of the way down said steep stairs. 

In an entertaining example of structural design, these stairs blocked a window.  The window did, in fact, allow some light into the dark ally that was the staircase.  And, presumably, into the closet beneath.  But it was awkwardly positioned.

It was deemed that in the new amazing house-to-be, this staircase had no role.  And thus, it had to disappear.  Kinda wanted to watch that, but alas real life called and I was at work.  Fail.  But magic happened and volia! 
This tunnel used to be our staircase...
Okay so that's the largest ladder we own… hmmmm  Here's hoping new stairs make an appearance :)
So in what used to be the kitchen, construction commenced…  Sharks' teeth that would eventually transform into safe, normal sized, stairs.  Awesome.


While admittedly still a tunnel, at least now it's a comfort-lane-sized tunnel.  And the death drop at the top has been eliminated.  Sadly, so has Sasha and Tucker's sleeping space, but I feel like they've got more comfortable ones ;) 
On the old steps
So now it seems when I go home on the weekend there'll be all sorts of civilized stairs!   Apparently no electrical ;-P but that's a story for another post.  For now, we celebrate the stairs.  Woohoo!

Not only did we get new stairs, we also got new walls :)  Sweet!

Renovation purgatory

Another reno weekend.  Seriously wish I were still working at the farm -- maybe then I'd be fit enough for all this!  Sad how much weight I've gained and fitness I've lost in the short time since the wedding.  Hahaha was so good leading up to it, crashed pretty hard after.  Ah well - started back at the gym last week, so will get there.

It is cool to see changes at least.  Progress.  Here's hoping one day in the not to distant future I may actually be able to live with my husband ;)  What a concept eh?   So Saturday was incredibly productive.  Chris' friend Rebecca met us and between the three of us we got a ton done.  Took all the cabinets out of the kitchen and relocated them to Chris' grandfather's.  Then tore down a wall.  Also cleaned up all the flooring that we removed a month or so ago and left in the front lawn.  It was pretty thoroughly buried in snow, but at least wasn't stupidly cold out.  I, having no actual construction knowledge and little strength, am generally relegated to carrying stuff.  In this case, back and forth to the dumpster.  I know it needs to be done and it's one of the few ways I can actually help, but I seriously think my brain turned off at some point merely to stop it turning to mush.

On Sunday C's friend Ian was out, putting up walls to replace the ones we've been tearing down.  Classic eh?  While he was doing that, C was tearing down the ceiling in the kitchen while I, you guessed it, carried the remains to the dumpster *sigh*  Slightly more interesting chore in reorging the laundry room to make space for the little furniture left in the living room.  We also emptied the bedroom, since apparently those walls are next to be demolished…  Finished for the day mid afternoon so at least had a few hours together to just chill.  My brain started to turn back on then and I became human again.

I swear this is progress ;)
And while I'm in Oakville this week, the stairs should be taken out and new ones put back in.  Actually wish I could see some of that -- interested in the process.  But real life being what it is, that's the piece I'm *not* there for.  Classic eh?   Ah well -- should be very cool to see next weekend.

Sherlock crossed the Rainbow Bridge :(

His last night
In a ridiculously hard post to write, it is with sadness that I tell you the coolest cat of all time has crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  Sherlock, who would've been 15 in May, had to be put down last night.

Sherlock always "helped" me at the computer -- be it school or work
He's been losing weight slowly over the last year or so, but when I got home from Costa Rica there'd been a huge drop.  I'm not convinced he ate at all while we were away.  We gave him all his favourite foods and he'd pick at them but still only eating a fraction of what he used to.  I could feel his skeleton, and a rather large lump that definitely didn't belong.  On Wed night he wouldn't even lick chocolate ice cream :(   Despite not being permitted to have it, it's always been his favourite -- the one food I really couldn't trust him around.  Definitely not a good sign.  I got him an appointment for the next day.

He was a stunning cat
The next morning he was very wobbly.  He couldn't seem to get any traction; his paws would slide out from under him.  And when he did walk, he waivered as though drunk.  When I got him ready to go to the vet, it was the first time ever he didn't fight me about going into the cat carrier.  The vet told me he was in the late stages of kidney disease, had either a swollen spleen or an unidentified mass (I'm guessing that's the mystery lump I felt), and was severely dehydrated.  She also said there was a strong chance he had internal bleeding.  There were explanations for all her findings, but tbh at the moment they're all lost in the fog.  I recall her saying she said they could run tests to confirm, but she was very clear she wasn't recommending it.  She was trying to be diplomatic about saying he wouldn't live through them and at this point it didn't matter.  With steroids and IV she could buy him a day or two.  Make him slightly more comfortable.  But we both knew that day or two wouldn't be for him; it'd be for me.  And I really wasn't okay with the idea of him dying alone.

He loved looking out this window when we lived in Brampton
Instead, he went curled up in my lap, purring until the drugs knocked him out.  The vet was really good -- gave me what time I needed and explained the procedure clearly.  The drugs they gave him worked in seconds.  He went to sleep for the last time.  I'm crying even as I write this; I know it was the right thing to do and that it's a fact of life, but it doesn't make it any easier somehow…

There was no need for camouflage -- he knew the house was his
Sherlock came to live with me about a week after I got my first apartment.  He was five months old and I picked him up from the pound.  He still had a green spot on him from being neutered.  I had so much fun with him.  He learned to play fetch and kept me distracted when I should've been studying.  I quickly discovered I couldn't leave his food in ground-floor cupboards as he'd just open them and help himself.

After a rough night
Being with me for almost 15 years, we've been through a lot together.  He's known most of the people in my life.  He's been there, always ready to cuddle, when things were tough.  And more independent but always around when they were awesome.  We've had many a nap curled up together on the couch.  He's been on several airplanes, lived in two provinces, adopted another cat, some fish, and a rabbit.  He was an only cat for a long time, but when there were other critters, he quickly established himself as the boss. He didn't much care who entered his bubble as long as they left him alone.  The fish he used to watch, calculating, but he never actually harmed them.  Of course, he also occasionally would chase the laptop mouse around the screen too -- esp as a kitten! 
He was *not* okay with the addition of Sasha!
The only thing that got a reaction from him was Sasha -- she was clearly *not* allowed and Sherlock would often insert himself between me and her and offer her a good swack of his paw and a nasty hiss if she got too close.  Being rather amiable herself, Sasha usually just solved this problem by going around to the other side of wherever I was sitting *g*.


Whatever room I was in, he'd join me
He was a super-cool cat, and he will be missed.


What's in a name?

So the post-marriage question of the day:  will you be changing your name?

Let me preface this by saying I actually love my name, and was not in any hurry to give it up.  I love the uniqueness of it.  I love that it's short, and yet still most people can't pronounce it on the first try.  And, well, it's me.  It's been me for a very long time.  It flows when I have to sign it. 

But that being said, I pretty much always figured I'd take my husband's name when I married.  It was never really a question.  Until I fell in love with a Horsfall.  I mean really?  Of all the names, for a women who used to ride horses for a living *sigh*   But it is very important to Chris, and hardly fair for me to say I'd change my name but not to that one ;-P  So for everything except my writing, I'll be Lauren Horsfall from this point forward.  And should I ever switch writing genres, I have a handy pen name already set up ;)

Now the interesting part -- seeing people's reactions.  This actually surprised me a lot.  My family and friends, whatever they're internal reactions may be, have all portrayed a completely neutral response.  They're asking out of curiosity, but seemingly with no judgement.  This is what I expected.  What I didn't expect was the vehemence of some reactions.  On one side, there are those who seem to think if I *didn't* it was a huge insult to my husband and he must be less of a man somehow.  That this attitude still exists is fairly appalling to me.  And then there are those, particularly in the professional environment, who very much look down on me for taking his name.  To the point that it almost seems a potential career limiting move in some ways (caveat: my boss is awesome and it wouldn't be an issue in my job.  Although even he seemed surprised by the change.)  But I can tell you, I very quickly came to understand, faced with this, why so many women I know take their husband's name irl and keep their own at work.  Taking the name is seen as a quaint, old-fashioned, and certainly not a high-power career-woman thing to do.  So it's safest not to risk that at work.  Sad but true.  And if I'd been here for a long time already OR were planning to leave shortly, I might play that game.  Then when I moved I could start over with a new name and nobody'd know any different :)   BUT, I'm new here and I intend to stay so…  May as well take that hit while I'm still reasonably junior ;)   That's my theory anyways.

It was just one of those things that caught me totally by surprise.  I understand the "so what do you want us to call you now" question, but the rest was a bit of a shock.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it appears it'll be to get it changed once I have the marriage license from CR.  Of course now I've just jinxed myself and it will be a blog-worthy nightmare ;)  But Google combined with Ontario Govt website listed pretty clearly how it should work.  So stoked about that.  And if I do it within 90 days of the ceremony it's free ;)   That being said -- we're moving later this year, so I'll likely wait and do name and address change all at once.  A whole new person really ;)   Not the first time I've reinvented my life; just the first time with a new name *g*

A rather rude return to reality

So our flight got in almost on time -- a little after 2am.  And then we had a two hour wait for luggage!  Apparently the doors were frozen shut.  Ummmm Canada in the winter -- how is this a new problem?

Went back to Oakville and got about 4h sleep before heading to Paris.  There we found the duct work had, in fact, not been completed -- but had been started.  The end result of this being no ducts and therefore very little heat.  Did I mention the 70 degree (not even exaggerating) temperature drop between yesterday and today?  Right, we returned to record lows.  Frig.

So while I unpacked/repacked, Chris started making phone calls.  Turns out there were structural problems that needed to be fixed before the ducts could be *sigh*

Deciding this was entirely too much reality we went to visit Joe and Vicky -- our wedding photographers.  They warned us that not everything was ready.  Totally fair given that they've only been back a couple days themselves, but we *really* wanted to see anything we could!  And, well, we were pretty sure they had heat ;-P

When we got there, not only did they have the vast majority of them done already, but they presented us with an album with the top 20 pics printed.  What an awesome surprise!   And they were amazing!  I'm so happy :)

Chris and I stopped for a quick lunch and then went back home.  Ostensibly to pack -- current plan is for C to relocate to his parents and entirely gut the house, but at least in part so I could play with Sasha.  I missed her!

We arranged to have dinner with both our parents to share the album.  It was really nice and I think they were almost as excited about the pics as we were :)   Afterwards Mum and Dad took Sasha and some of my stuff home with them while Chris and I relocated to his parents' where, I admit, I crashed hard.

The next morning we met with Chris' guy about the house and put a plan in place.  Then it was off to Chris' grandfather's to share photos before continuing the packing.  We went and collected Tucker, who was soooo excited to see Chris *g*  Super cute.  And then it was time to go.

Yup that's right -- married and still living together only on weekends *sigh*  20 years from now, that might be okay ;-P  But right now it really sucks.  No fun at all.

People keep warning me that I'll crash hard after all the excitement of the last few weeks and that depression after getting married is normal.  But I'm wondering if I will given that I don't actually get to live with my husband...  It does have the slight plus of greatly extending the honeymoon period ;)   It will be months before we get to spend any "normal" -- ie come home from work, sit on the couch and vege, type time together.  Will the crash come?  I'm sure it will.  But my guess is it'll be a few weeks after we move into wherever the new house is.  And, well, future Laur can deal with that.  Current Laur is way too busy to come down yet *g*

Tomorrow it's back to work, teaching, AND my first archery lesson.   I'd really love time to go through Costa Rica photos, write my blog, and maybe sleep...  But I'm not sure exactly when that'll happen ;)   Off now!

Leaving paradise

Happy Valentines!

Sadly we started the day by packing up to leave paradise.  Boooo :(   We actually didn't have to leave till mid-afternoon though, so we checked out and headed to the pool.  There was a crazy bridezilla sitting next to us.  Her wedding had been a couple days ago and she was still going on.  Her groom was nowhere to be see ;-P

Had lunch and wandered the shops a little and then had time for one last dip in the pool before heading to the airport.  The drive was much better than the one in -- sat up front so could see and not feeling ill.  Also just might've been a smoother ride.  Distinctly possible that first bus was just brutal.

What an amazing week overall.  Still so very happy.  Maybe write more later, but rest now.  On the plane ready for takeoff.  -40, record low, expected at home tonight.  I am not okay with the 70 degree temperature change.

ALL the monkeys :)

All Friday the 13ths should be like this one.  Seriously.  Who do we have to talk to to make that happen?

Got up early this morn to go on a river tour.  The tour company itself was pretty sketch, but the actual boat ride was good.  They were excellent about finding and pointing out critters.  I was frustrated I couldn't turn off the autofocus on my camera -- and it rarely focused where I wanted it to.  Booo :(   Did get to see a ton of monkeys though!  Woohoo!  Hahaha I don't know why I'm so fascinated with them, but sobeit.  Also a reasonably impressive collection of birds of various colours and several crocodiles.  Maybe best to avoid swimming in this particular river ;)


On the return trip we went to Coco Beach.  Our bus-driver took us on a mini-detour to see the ex-pat suburbia. Oh the dreams...  Coco Beach turned out to be as kitschy a tourist town as you can get, but we went to the local grocery store to get Chris some coffee :)   There we ran into our riding guide from yesterday who was all kinds of excited to see us.  Told us he was there with 25 tourists; the accompanying eye roll made me smile -- apparently we don't count as tourists.  Yeah us!


We had ice cream and went for a stroll around the little town.  We were there for about an hour, and honestly - an hour was enough.  The beach was nice and had a gorgeous view, but the shops were all pretty much the same.  The one thing I wanted - a really horribly tacky picture frame (it's a thing) - I couldn't find.  Booo.  But lots of other junk I was just as happy to leave behind.  The staff in the shops were quite pushy, so it wasn't an experience I really enjoyed.  Not nearly as bad as in Jamaica, but in some ways worse as they'd pull you into the store and then follow you around - way inside my space bubble - pushing you to buy stuff.  Meh.

Our bus picked us up and it was back to the hotel with time still to spend at the pool.  Lovely.  The photographer in the pool did a photoshoot with us *g*  I was really happy Chris played along with that :)   We also met a really cool grandparently couple who told us about some of our travels.  They were celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary.  Amazing.

Dinner was at the steak house and was awesome.  First meal since we've moved that I really enjoyed.  Of course, the end result of that was I ate way too much ;-P   hahaha ah well. 

Another amazing evening beach walk led us to some people with a campfire going.  Had no idea that was a legal thing.  Just wish we'd known about it when the whole group was with us :)   I feel like they would've had a blast with that!

Another pretty incredible day in paradise.

A wild ride

Our first full day at our new location started with breakfast in bed.  How very civilized :)  It was Chris' first exposure to room service and his excitement was infectious.  After that, still being lazy, he had the idea to read through our guestbook from the wedding.  What a perfect start to the day.  Several of the pages brought tears to my eyes, while others made me laugh out loud.  Pretty well everybody filled out a page -- even Batman!  Although, I admit I don't recall seeing him there *g*   I know some of the day blurred in my memory a bit but I like to think I'd remember that.  The food from the reception also left us a page -- fortunately without samples ;-P   What really got to me though was the thought behind so many of the comments.  Some commented on memories I'd all but forgotten.  Others super-kind and heartfelt wishes.  And some referenced stories long before Chris and I met, which were fun to learn about :)

We took our time getting up and meandered our way down to the pool, where we spent the rest of the morning.  I finally got to read my kobo!  Hahaha woohoo!

After lunch we walked back to the old hotel to see if we could find Jen's cover up that she'd lost on the last day.  No such luck :(   Then a nice walk up the beach lead us back to the horses.  We had found a place just off the beach the other day, and promptly told all our friends about it so they could get some riding in before they left.  They went and had a blast, so we booked a 5:00 time, figuring it'd give us sunset.  Paula told me, "you want Toby.  He looks like nothing, will probably be asleep, and hates life.   But he loves to run."  hahaha perfect.  When we booked it, Chris told the guy that we're experienced, so he said he'd bring his fastest horses *g*
Steph C took this pic of Toby playing in the ocean
Back to the pool for the remainder of the aft.  When it came time to get dressed, putting on jeans was painful.  But we did it.

Got to the appointed place on the beach, and sure enough -- I got Toby :)  Sweet.  Didn’t even ask.  We started out on a trail through the woods looking at monkeys.


When we got to the road (just outside the Monkey's Bar) the guide asked us if we wanted to go faster.  Yes.  How much? He asked while demonstrating a slow trot.  Fast.   So he waved us ahead to let us set the pace and game on *g*

Toby and I were off with Chris right behind.  Called out for directions and from way back the guide shouted turns, and a warning to watch for cars!  Yeah, no worries.  Sheesh.  Hahaha I just hoped if we saw any Toby had a decent sense of self-preservation *g*   The guide was way behind as his little horse didn't have the speed ours did. 

I had no breaks -- my "bridle" was essentially a halter with a leadline attached to each side.  And my pony wanted to RUN!  But I did have awesome steering.  I was amazed at just how responsive to legs and weight little Toby was.  You don't expect that in a trail horse.  So much fun :)

Gallop was a blast and we pulled up abruptly before running into some terrified beginners.  Terrified and snarky beginners.  Ugh.  But we walked by them quietly and our guide seemed to find it amusing.  He took some pics of us at the murder tree (not sure what it's really called, but it suffocates another tree to live.  Is quite impressive looking while doing so though ;)   


Then we cut through the horse' paddock and more trees with monkeys, letting our critters catch their breaths.  Although have to admit, Toby was pretty fit.  Given that the guide said he doesn't get to do that very often, I would've expected him to need a longer recovery.  My guess is they're not trail horses all the time.   We came out from the paddock on the same road we'd started on.  Did we want to go again?  Ummm YES!  Of course :)


This time I held Toby back a bit, thinking Chris and I could ride together, but he passed me ;-P   I should've known.  Hahaha then stones were flying at me, so I had to back off.  Booo.  At least until we got back to the dirt road -- then it was game on :)  So. Much.  Fun!   Sadly we caught up with the angry beginners again, but they were posing for pics, so we were able to get ahead of them and went to play on the beach.


Racing down the beach was a riot!  I was moderately concerned about some of the innocent bystanders, but Toby seemed to know how to hold a line, so all was good.  Chris and I were goofing around trying to take pics of each other while racing flat out along the beach -- doesn't get much more entertaining than that :)  

Not having any fun at all ;)
Chris definitely had the better backdrop for his photo!
Ended up back where we started, but…  The guide said we could go again!  Woohoo!  So we walked back through the trees to the other end of the beach to let the ponies have a breather.  

More monkeys on the walk back :)
In doing so, we noticed the beginners crawling along -- the sea turtles were *much* faster!   We figured we should wait till they got off the beach, so goofed around taking pics in the water until the route was clear.

Toby was more into the racing than the posing for photos
Then it was time for one last run.  Omg so much fun!  Toby kicked it into gear!  And I was down closer to the water on the packed sand, so he had an easier route.   Chris' horse ran out of gas part way and the guide's horse just didn't have any speed to begin with, so Toby and I ended up *way* ahead.  Just an absolute blast!  

Kinda love this shot of mounted camera wars.  So much fun!
Was also the first time Chris and I have actually really ridden together.   Technically we were foxhunting the first time we met -- but I've no memory of him there other than as the random guy who kept falling off ;-P  And the short ride on the excursion doesn't count, mostly because he was too far ahead of me to count as riding together.  Hey - my story, my rules.  First real ride together and it was amazing.

After the ride, we went and got beers for the guide and his friend -- and promptly got a nasty note from the security guard for doing so.  Sheesh.  Given the amount of beer I haven't drank this week, I can't bring myself to feel even remotely guilty for giving a glass away.

For dinner, using the same system as last night, we got into another of the a la carte restaurants.  Awesome.  There was not much on the menu I had any interest in, so Chris ate both our courses *g*  But he enjoyed it and I enjoyed the company.  So all good. 

We wanted to go swimming again tonight but the water was dangerously rough :(  Booo.  I'm surprised how disappointed I was, but I'm not a strong enough swimmer to play games with the ocean.  Pretty much has to be perfectly calm for me to risk that game.  And that it definitely was not.

Still, finishing the day with a moonlit walk along the beach under the stars…?  Not half bad :)

Moving on up

Today everybody (well, all except Jordan and Steph) was leaving.  I was sadder than I expected to see them go.  

Spent the morning packing up our own stuff, and then headed to the beach.  Since we'd checked out, we stored our luggage but had our passports etc on us and didn't want to leave them alone.  Somewhat limiting.  Chris offered to stay with our stuff so I could go in the water with Em and chat for a bit.  Super nice.  I had brought my bouquet down and after we got out of the water I threw it to Emily ;)  She seemed pretty happy about that -- here's hoping! 

Our party had a bus to themselves, which was very cool.  Chris and I saw everybody off and then had lunch with Steph and Jordan before relocating to the Palace.  Yup, not even kidding, the name of the resort is the Riu Palace.  The resort there is very Chris.  Modern, very clean cold lines, etc.  But everything is also a step up.  The staff is sharper and speak better English.  The room we have -- which I feel Jen probably procured us an upgrade - is spectacular!  Absolutely amazing :)  We even have a Jacuzzi *g*   And while not nearly as nice a view, we can still see the ocean…



The pools I actually liked better at the other resort.  A more comfortable design, more privacy, and far better shade.  This resort will have shade in a few years, but the trees haven't grown yet.  The design though will still be very militaristic with all straight lines and stadium seating.  The seats themselves, however, are much nicer at the new resort :)



We spent the afternoon just relaxing by the pool and enjoying one another's company.  Had some good conversation and a great lazy afternoon.  Pretty sweet.  And of course, perfect weather.

This eve we managed to snag dinner at the Japanese a la carte restaurant.  They have two seatings: 6:15 and 8:15.  But if you show up at 6:30 or 8:30, you can snag any spots that haven't been taken.  Not a bad system :)   We didn't entirely get it at first, and were earlier than officially permitted, but there was another person there with a group who knew he had a cancellation so we got lucky and took their spot.  Yeah!  Not really my style of food, but C certainly seemed to enjoy it :)   And I was way too far into my happy bubble to care *g*

Lovely, relaxing day with my husband.  Yup - I have one of those now :)   Pretty sweet.

The fairy tale continues

I'm married!   Yup -- still doesn't seem real.  Had to write my name three times today and three times Chris had to poke me about the last name.  Oops.

Had a pretty relaxing day.  The room was decorated when we got back last night and included his & hers Riu shirts that said "Just Married" on them.  Chris wanted to wear them to breakfast, so we did.  While I'd rather fade into anonymity, I was actually fairly happy he wanted to wear them *g*  Some things are worth celebrating.


Forgot the Canadian detail in my description yesterday:  The weather.  It was stunningly gorgeous out.  But hot.  Sweat was dripping.  I was oblivious during the ceremony but remember during pics hoping it didn't show ;) Still though 30deg range and sunny.  Just the slightest of breezes.  Perfect.  Like the rest of the day :)

So today was pretty relaxed.  Spent the am chilling at the pool.  After a quick lunch, was off to the spa for our complementary massage.  I had the same girl for this as who did my mani/pedi, and it didn't hurt -- that's about all I can say for it.  Both masseuses were giggling throughout, which made me grit my teeth and obviously didn't help with the whole relaxation thing.  It was cold in the room and the oils weren't heated, so I was freezing.  And the massage wasn't particularly good.  So by the end I was oily and tense.  Lovely.  Suffice to say, I got what I paid for *sigh*

Went down to the beach and found a bunch of our group playing in the ocean, which was all kinds of fun.  Then it was time to go get dressed again.

Dressed?  Well you see, I kinda really wanted to play in the water with my wedding dress on -- but not on wedding day as I wanted to wear it to dinner.  Well that and we were all kinds of emotional and didn't have enough time.  Tricky.

So I got to wear my wedding dress twice -- with the same man.   Hahaha he had to help me into it this time.  Have to say, the reaction it got the first time was worth not letting him see it ahead of time :)  I even believe he honoured that request and resisted the urge to cheat *g*

Yes, so dressed up and headed to the beach.  For a while we couldn't find Joe and Vicky (who was looking slightly more human today) but eventually we all connected.  

We took some random fun shots while we were searching
Once we met up with Joe and Vicky, we started with a few posed shots.  

Chris and I,

Then us and the bridal party,

And even one with everyone who had come to play :)
When we were done the group shots, the wedding party left (Steph had a quick change and then was going riding :) while Chris and I went to play in the water.  Omg so much fun!  

First we did some walking along the ocean,

Others involved a tree -- that was fun!

The rocks by the ocean were gorgeous, but less fun.  They were sharp!
A lot of laughter and silliness, but Joe and Vicky were super professional and worked really well together. I had given my camera to Aileen, so got some shots in that too (oh yeah, it also floated around on wedding night, so I actually have some pics from that too!) 

In and out of the water becomes particularly challenging when you have a train on your dress.  Added all kinds of amusement to the day.  It kept wrapping around my legs and tripping me as it pulled backwards.  But fortunately I had someone to hold on to ;-P  

Playing in the water was so much fun!
We watched the ocean for a bit, hoping for a wave we could fall back into, but none deigned to join us.  The down side of picking a reasonably calm spot for photos.  

Instead, we lay on the beach and let the waves come to us :)  Amazing.
Even got a shot of the rings in the water

It was SO much fun!  And I think even our photographers enjoyed themselves :)
On the walk home we got some odd looks from people *g*   I was amazed at how many recognized us as having been the wedding couple from the day before; many asked why we were dressed up again.  I guess if I saw people dressed in wedding gear I'd've thought they were *getting* married, not they'd already done so.  But it seems people are somewhat fascinated by weddings and pay much closer attention than I do :)  
We stopped to play in the fountain on the way back -- just cause :)
When we got back to the room I climbed into the shower fully dressed and attempted to hose of the dress.  Actually got a TON of sand out, but the pleats still have a small beach collected.  Put the dress on the balcony to dry and headed out to dinner.   Just the two of us.

It was so lovely.  The food itself was a little fancy for my taste, but good.  The company though…  Amazing.  We were both still feeling pretty emotional and it was super nice to just have that time together.

Barb and Carl had invited the whole family up to their suite for an after-dinner drink.  They had an amazing room -- way beyond what the brochure had advertised.  Two jacuzzis --- one of which was on the second story of their balcony.  Yes, you read that right.  Complete with wrought iron staircase.  All kinds of impressive.  Sat and chatted for a while with everybody and listened to some stories.  Everybody seems super happy with the resort and the trip.

Eventually though the party broke up.  Chris and I went to find Adriana and head down to the beach.  Surprisingly, Geoff joined us.  I think I've spent more time with my brothers this last week than the last several years.  Really cool.  So we relocated to the beach, picking up people as we went, and ended up with about six of us on the beach.  Found some lawn chairs and were set.  I was very tired and freezing, but it was so nice I didn't want to leave.  Yup, had to be at least 25 degrees out and I was freezing   I clearly need to move to a warm climate.


Chris, Adriana and I went for a walk to see if we could find a sea turtle -- and we did, a HUGE one!   In fact, the only reason we noticed her at all is because she moved and it made a sound.  Otherwise we would've dismissed her as a large rock on the beach.  Was going away from the water, presumably to lay her eggs.  Awesome.

Walked back and hung out for a while before Chris and I decided to go swimming, which was amazing.  Not only because I love swimming at night, but when we moved, it was like a trail of water-fireflies followed you.  I'm not even exaggerating.  The water sparkled whenever you moved.  Friends of ours had discovered that the other night and googled it -- it's a thing.  Some sort of phosphorescence in the water.  I'll google later.  But for now, absolutely awesome.  Just magical.  I couldn't even imagine such a thing -- living in the fairy tale continues :)

Perfect

The Ceremony

Because I want a record of it, and we all know anything posted on the internet is forever.

------------------

Good afternoon and welcome.

We have gathered together to celebrate the marriage of Chris Horsfall and Lauren Cude. Marriage is a promise born of hope between two people who love each other, who trust that love, who honor one another as individuals, and who wish to share their future with each other.

It enables two separate individuals to share their desires, longings, dreams and memories, joy and laugher, to protect, comfort and to help each other through uncertainty. It provides the encouragement to risk more, and thus to gain more.

Chris and Lauren, today you commit yourselves to each other above your separate selves; to valuing your union above your own interests; in doing so you will achieve a sense of peace and love not attainable otherwise. With this joy comes a profound responsibility to each other.

As you enter into marriage, you give thanks for the past, which has brought you to this place and look forward with hope to what the future will bring. As you find union with each other, you proclaim that union today and pledge to preserve it against what storms might come. We, by our participation in this celebration, recognize and honor this commitment.

Today, you are not only committing to your vows and your love. You are committing yourselves to the love you’ll share tomorrow and all the days after.

Chris and Lauren, When there are difficult times, when you doubt the validity your love, bring yourself back to this moment: You have chosen to walk one path together, to bridge the differences between you with love. Remember to respect those differences; learn to understand them, for they are part of why you came to love each other in the first place.

Chris, do you stand before me freely and without reservation, intent on having this woman as your wife? (I do)

Lauren, do you stand before me freely and without reservation, intent on having this man as your husband? (I do)

Chris: I give you my ring, and with it I pledge to you all that I am, and all that I have, and all that may come to me.

Lauren: I give you my ring, and with it I pledge to you all that I am, and all that I have, and all that may come to me.


May you remain positive in times of adversity, and in these times grow together, knowing that your union is stronger than the trouble.

Know that your relationship is based on love and acceptance; use this as a model for your relationship both within and against the invading outside world.

At last, may you live your lives together and in the end say, “because you have loved me, you have given me faith in myself, and because I have seen the good in you, I have faith in humanity.”

Having formally affirmed your commitment to one another now, by the authority vested in me by the Republic of Costa Rica, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

You may kiss the bride.

Here comes the bride...

So to recap -- I'm getting married!   Yeah you got that memo eh?   Well the day of crazy emotional swings had finally led to the ceremony...   

Walking down the path I couldn't tell you if there were other people or not.  My focus was pretty reduced.  Mum and Georgina were walking way ahead.  Then myself and the girls.  Dad was slightly behind, and Rebecca behind him.  She had us stop once for a photo, but otherwise I've no idea how many she may have taken.  When she saw Joe, she made a comment about "there's the real photographer" and darted out to the front.  Presumably went and found a seat :)

Almost there :)
As we got close to the end of the walkway, Georgina had Ted escort Mum to her seat.  That meant a lot to me and I was really glad they did that.  I have no idea if the guys were escorting everybody?  I'd assumed not just given the beach environment.  There's a lot I didn't get to see -- I have absolutely no idea who was sitting where.  Was there a bride side and a groom side?  Again, if I had to guess, I'd've said no -- but I didn't actually see at all.

Mum and Ted
We waited at the end of the path, blocked by the trees.  There were two ways we could go through -- but one involved ducking under a palm frond.  I saw the possibilities of that going all kinds of wrong -- getting caught in my hair, pulling the veil, etc etc, so opted for the safer route *g*

Same song although not exactly the same version...

I vaguely heard the first few beats of the music start.  Canon D -- that song's definitely going to make me smile any time I ever hear it from now on.  And the rest is a blur with moments of the oddest things being completely clear and other things incomprehensibly blurred.   Georgina sent Steph and Ted on their way.

Steph and Ted started things off, bravely risking the frond ;)
And my nerves just shot off the charts.  I don't even know why -- I had no doubts about what I was doing, I was super excited, and yet I was almost hyperventilating.  Georgina kept asking if I was okay.  I made a conscious effort to slow my breathing, half-listening to Jen joke with Brett.  Then they were gone too. 

I suspect the best chick and best dude were having the most fun of any of us :)
Georgina got my dad and I all set up to go.  We couldn't see around the tree, so no idea even when it'd be our turn.  But then she waved us out.  We took the alternate route from the others.  I vaguely noted the table off to the side, some people watching from the beach, but all I wanted to see was Chris and I couldn't.  All our guests were standing taking pictures -- or so it seemed to me.  A wall of people and cameras.  Of course the rational side of me knows it's tradition for all to rise as the bride walks down the aisle -- but at the time?  Yeah, the rational side of me was nowhere to be found.  Aisles are traditionally straight too, nicely averting that issue.  But ours had a bend.  I wasn't seeing individuals at all -- just a blur of faces and cameras.  Although that in itself was nearly enough to make me sappy again -- a whole *crowd* of people came all the way to Costa Rica just to watch us get married.  And they were all smiling. That's pretty amazing.

Me and my dad
Dad was talking to me -- not sure whether to keep me calm, him calm, or both :)  But it really helped.  That would've been very hard to do with any form of decorum alone.  The conversation itself is not mine to share, but suffice to say the content didn't matter.  The company and focus did :)

I was rather oblivious to the extra spectators at the time,
but in retrospect, I appreciate how respectful they all were.
And then I saw Chris.  He had leaned out to see around the crowd -- and that little thing meant the world to me.  I later learned he'd been pacing the entire time, but at that moment I had no idea.  Marriage has always been important to me, but he'd been honest with me that it was never something he really cared about.  And some part of me was still concerned that he was only doing it because it was important to me; I guess I hadn't even acknowledged to myself that fear that it was still one-sided.  But from that moment, when he looked out around the crowd searching for me, I knew it meant at least as much to him as it did to me.  And I wanted to be up there with him.  I didn't hear the music I'd spent so long searching for, or see any individuals in the large group of people.  I don't even remember that part of the conversation with Dad.  The man I love was waiting for me to come marry him.  Nothing else existed.
 .
Looking for the bride
The crowd separated as we got there.  As I got closer, I could see Chris had tears in his eyes.  Dad said something to him that made me melt, but for the life of me I can't remember exactly what.  It was along the lines of "you're a very lucky man" but somehow phrased better.

The men in my life
I hugged Chris -- I know that's not how it's supposed to go, but that that moment, we were not part of a ceremony, or in front of everybody we know and care about, we were just us and he had tears in his eyes and I wanted to be with him.

It was so surreal.  It's weird the things you notice -- or at least I thought so.  I was completely oblivious to anything behind me, and not even the slightest bit inclined to turn and look -- even knowing it was all the people who matter most to me in the world standing there.  But I noticed a random stranger, walking on the beach, pause to take a photo from the distance.  How strange to know that the biggest moment of my life would be a footnote in a complete stranger's: "we saw this wedding on the beach…"

Some fairy tales come true
The angle we were standing on meant Chris had to squint into the sun.  Some part of me noted that and tried to figure out how to fix it -- it's not like they don't do sunset weddings almost every day.  All that needed to change was to move the back drapes slightly.  Ah well.  I noticed the couple people from our guests who had circled around to take pics and was happy they had. 

And then I wondered why I was noticing these things.  Trying to see everything.  To save every second.  It's taken me far longer to write this than the ceremony itself.  But I wanted to absorb everything. It was all just so perfect.  The wedding of my dreams to the man who means so much more to me than I'd ever dreamed.  And, in the most amazing twist of fate, seems to feel the same.  Pause, and replay.  It's still as incredible in my memory.

Jen came and took my flowers;
I'm glad she thought of that, cause I was definitely focused on the rings ;)
The ceremony itself was short but lovely.  Some of it brought tears to my eyes.  We were intending to include the traditional "in sickness and health" etc vows, but in a mis-communication we didn't have them memorized and the officiant didn't have them written down.  So we just skipped that section and went with what he had.  News to me, but certainly not something I was going to question at the time!   It is amazing to me that the man who married us -- who performed the ceremony that will forever improve my life -- I never spoke to and didn't even know his name.  I found it later on the marriage docs of course, but still….

Two little words.
When we said our "I do"s…  It's amazing how powerful that is.  Chris was super emotional, but when he spoke, his voice was calm and sure.  I was so overwhelmed, I just wanted to hug him tightly to me.  When it came my turn, I doubt my voice was much over a whisper.  All that I am, all that I have, and all that may come to me.  Frig, even writing it I'm tearing up.  Short, simple, perfect, and completely heartfelt.  There was only us.  No other people, or beach, or anything.  Just a girl and a boy promising to love each other forever and share a life together.  How did I get so lucky as to be that girl?

It's official!
The paperwork took only a few seconds.  Both our witnesses are left handed -- not sure what that means, but the symmetry made me smile.

You may now kiss the bride
When the ceremony was over, Chris kissed me as though he meant it *g*  Weddings have got to be the one place where PDAs are not only socially acceptable, they're actively encouraged.   We didn't really know what to do next, so we retraced the steps my dad had walked with me a lifetime ago.  Somebody handed me a glass of champagne and I had a quandary -- how to hold the flowers, Chris' hand, and the champagne all at once...  Needless to say, I wasn't holding the champagne very long ;-P

A toast to us :)
We somehow had a moment to ourselves, that ended far too quickly, before we rejoined the crowd to congratulations and were quickly shepherded over for photos.  Vicky, who still looked horribly pale, arranged and directed things while Joe shot the photos.  I was happy they didn't object to others taking pics as well.  Got a few shots in before we lost what Joe deemed was ideal light. 

Stealing a moment
We meandered over to the front of the gazebo and stood chatting w/ people for a bit.  Who?  About what?  I have no idea.  All I know is Chris never let go of my hand, and I wanted nothing more than to be as close to him as possible.  Some random dude was taking photos -- I would later learn he was another resort guest here from Texas.  Tim.  So completely random, but hey - if our wedding made him happy, awesome. And if we get extra photos…  Even better :)

When all was said and done...
We were starting to head toward dinner when…  Sea turtles!   Baby sea turtles had hatched and were digging their way out of the sand and making a break for the ocean.  They're usually supposed to hatch only at night -- the girls had been out late at night looking for them.  But they hatched at the conclusion to our wedding.  Yup, shown up by turtles *g*   Only I could have that happen.  But it was amazing  Super cute.  Seemed to be all flippers as they made their way to the ocean.  I was pleased the beach security guards protected them.  Unbelievable and awesome in the most literal sense of the world.  How perfect.  Especially as Chris had really wanted to include sea turtles on our invites and we couldn't figure out how to do so.  So the turtles hatching at the wedding was pretty perfect.

They were all flippers, moving so quickly.  Very cool to see.
Dinner was immediately after at the steak house.  We had to wait to be announced -- all kinds of official.  I think Chris was ready to help himself to the salads we were standing right by :)  Ted gave it a solid effort: "Mr Lauren and Chris Horsfall"  hahaha almost.

Waiting to be announced
There was a head table for the six of us and everybody else divided themselves among the three long tables.  Winston was at the center of the head table *g*  I later learned Chris C was responsible for that :)   Dinner was fine. I was a little disappointed in the service in that the head table was done desert before some of the others even had their main courses.  But nobody seemed to care.

Winston having a drink
Chris' dad made a short but super sweet speech.  Ted's was perhaps less poetic, but still heartfelt.  Brett finished off the speeches making a perma-claim to our couch ;)  I think he and Jen had as long a day as Chris and I did.   Later Jen made a super-sweet toast that made me smile.

I think Robin's speech meant the most to me
Then was just a matter of cutting the cake -- vanilla with strawberry filling.  Chris felt the need to squish some of it in my face.  Lovely ;-P  The cake topper was exactly the right size and way more interesting than any I've ever seen before :)  


Joanna lent me a napkin and after I cleaned up, I went to help hand out cake, but ended up standing and chatting with Mum instead.  Would've been hard to be productive wearing that dress anyways ;-P   One of the unexpected side-effects of the wedding was how close I felt to my family.  That was awesome.


Can only hope everybody realizes how much their presence meant to us
We'd had the tables set with pages that would make up our guestbook.  Included questions like "what advice would you give the bride and groom" and "how long have you known them?" -- I'm really looking forward to reading them!  Hoping everybody filled them out -- will be something to keep forever.

Winston played in the cake, and shortly thereafter Chris and I disappeared.  I heard after the party went on long into the night, but we were exhausted.


Such an incredible day.  Exhausting and amazing, nerve wracking and wonderful and overall perfect.  Line to remember: "may today be the day I love you the least."   So many other things I'm sure I've missed or forgotten.  I feel like a lifetime happened in that one day.  But how wonderful it was :)

Perfect.

I love you.  Forever.