Produce Pressure

An over-dramatic tale of a trip to the supermarket. 

I shut the car door and click lock on the center button.

“Beep,” the car shouts at me.

I can remember the days when a person had to physically put their key in the door to unlock it, now it’s buttons. I’ve heard of cars that allow you to open the trunk by swiping your foot below the bumper. Amazing how far the world has come. So many advances in so many areas of technology, but still I must drag myself to the super market. I’ve heard about the places that deliver your groceries, but I don’t have any kids and I don’t have some crippling handicap that prevents me from walking, so there’s no reason for it to be delivered other than the fact that I’m lazy. The world doesn’t need to know I’m lazy.

I walk through the parking lot, a massive block of solid black pavement that bubbles and stretches in the sun. My feet move swiftly below me, my grocery store walk.

My parking spot is over 500 feet away. I can never get any closer. It’s packed, always packed. I’ve gone on different days at different times, but there is never a lull in attendance. I go on Wednesdays because there are less elderly people on Wednesdays. I don’t have time to wait in line behind Mr. Crachety Cane man. No offense to the elderly, they’re adorable most of the time, but they have no place in the fast paced world of grocery shopping, especially in the express self-checkout line.

I look forward as the sun shines down on my face. My skin begins to burn. A slight line of light pink forms across my forehead above my sunglasses, and a rosy circle on each cheek, my market tan is reappearing. I hear the footsteps of others behind me. I see a line of carts in the cart stand to my left. I circle around the parking lot sometimes so I can park next to the cart stand. That’s prime supermarket real estate.

I’ve become adept at figuring out how many people are behind me just by the sound of footsteps. There are five, but there are only four carts in the stand. I narrow my eyes and focus on the prize.

I hear a pair of boots, they sound like Timberlands. I’d recognize the crunch those grooves make on pavement any day. My father swore on Timberlands. My left ear perks up, I hear a pair of orthopedic shoes with what sounds like a walker. Out of the corner of my eye I see the walker and the old woman attached to it. What’s she doing here on a Wednesday? She’s walking entirely too fast to need one of those. And why does she need a cart? How the hell is she going to push both the cart and the walker. She has a built in basket in her walker too. I do what I need to do and I make a sharp turn to cut in front of her. I don’t waste a second to look at her. If I look, my Catholic guilt will set in. I don’t have time for guilt.

My right ear rings with the sound of a stiletto. Who the hell wears stilettos to the super market? I’m wearing Uggs. They’re technically slippers. The backs are open so my bright orange monkey socks with the little balls on the heels are visible. They have hard bottoms so it’s obvious they were made for quick trips outside. I doubt anyone will be looking at my footwear. Not like I’m trying to meet the man of my dreams at the food store. I can’t let a man know I eat Spaghettios and pop tarts.

The carts sit like cattle waiting to be prodded. I arrive first at the corral. I reach out for the glimmering, green, germ-ridden handle. I smile. My smile melts into a grimace when I feel a sharp thud. I look to my left and the stiletto has grabbed me by the wrist.

“Excuse me,” I utter.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Is that your wrist? I was grabbing for the handle.”

She’s 5’10 with her stilettos, but I’m guessing 5’7 without them. Doesn’t matter, she’s still Goliath compared to my David. I see a burning fire in her eyes. I quickly tug my hand away. I shove the cart out of the corral to the right. She winces and wobbles on her stilettos.

Success.

She hollers after me. “RUDE.”

I continue on, proud of my small victory.

I push forward. My cart rumbles. I look down at my wheels, wobbly wheels. I tighten my grip on the handle and move on. I cannot let my wobbly wheels deter me from my mission.

I barrel towards the automatic door.

I make a sharp right turn to the produce section.

Ready. Go.

How to be human

A story of sorts, this is a reflection I wrote while sitting in a park in Chestnut Hill. My attempt to be “deep” in a sense.

 

As I sit here, beneath the green leaves of the forest, I wonder.

I wonder why it is that I am here.

Why, of all places, have I ended up here?

I am in complete solitude among the trees and the birds that inhabit them.

For a person who prefers company, why do I sneak away to be alone?

I could be hundreds of places, with hundreds of people.

But I have no desire to see others.

No desire to make connections.

I simply want to be alone.

Other people wouldn’t understand.

One can try and explain, explain this yearning for silence.

But it never comes off right.

It comes off sad and depressing.

Nobody wants to hear sad and depressing things.

They want to slap on a smile and force a fake happiness that they think they are supposed to be experiencing.

But in reality, they are sad too, they are unsure and afraid.

We all are. But it is taboo to feel that way. There are doctors and drugs to fix it and fill us with a fake happiness so we are just like everybody else.

What they can’t accept is, having the feeling of wanting to be alone can be beautiful.

To want to be alone with one’s thoughts.

To reset ourselves, and reevaluate what it means to be real.

To be brave enough to sit alone in a world that banishes solitude.

A world where people are constantly connected at every moment of every day.

Solitude and silence no longer exist.

To search for them is often a fruitless endeavor.

We forget what it is to think on our own, for we have so many devices to think for us.

A constant connection and blast of information blurs lines of what it really means to connect with each other.

Does anyone have a real connection anymore?

Does anyone care enough to put everything down and focus on one conversation? Does anyone spend the time to ask questions and actually care about the answers that are given?

No.

We have forgotten how to do all of this.

We have forgotten what matters.

With the progression of time, this disconnect will only increase, unless we re-teach ourselves how to be human.

An Ode To The Missing Piece

I know I put you and your friend in at the same time.

I know for certain there were no hiccups in the transfer.

I know this.

I would bet my life on this.

When the cycle ending signal shouts, I open the dryer and peer into the gaping hole.

I have such confidence in myself that everything I put in will be coming out.

I take a deep breath each time I reach in.

I pull out matching socks, pair by pair.

I begin to breathe a sigh of relief, but then I see you.

I see one lone strip of multi-colored fabric lingering in the corner.

My face fills with red, my hands shake.

Not again! I lament. No, not again!

Where has your mate gone? My question echoes into the bare dryer vortex.

I frantically search my laundry basket looking for the match.

I check the insides of pants, the sleeves of shirts. I turn everything inside out and upside down.

Nothing.

How could this be? I shout to my pile. Where are you hiding?

I took such care, such responsibility with this load of laundry, and yet, I have failed the sock community and myself once again.

Oh, you poor lost lonely sock, where have you gone? What alternate universe have you slipped away to?

Were you sucked into some black hole within the inner workings of the dryer? Have you been incinerated? Did you simply get up and slink away? Did you not enjoy your duty of keeping my right foot warm and cozy? Did you not feel at home in my top drawer?

I am sorry for my ignorance, for my lack of care. I am sorry for the times I walked outside without covering you with a shoe. I am sorry you had to share a drawer with my underwear.

You must know that you were one of my favorites. We had so many good times together. My toes yearn for your soft fibers. I cannot bring myself to wear your match without you.

He misses you so, your match. He speaks of you often and fondly. I attempt to calm him, but no comfort is as strong as yours. He lies in the corner of the top drawer with the other unmatched socks. They lie together and shiver. They refuse to be folded together. They only want their matches.

Here’s to you lost sock, and here’s to all the lost socks. We know not where you end up. But, please know, we think of you often. It frustrates our intelligence that we are unable to keep all of our socks together through such simple transactions. It is simply a human error that we cannot seem to figure out.

May you rest easy in your black hole of lost socks.

 

 

An Open Letter to Fantasy Baseball

Dear Fantasy Baseball,

I don’t like you. In fact, I don’t see a need for you to exist. I know I am being quite blunt right off the bat, but I’ve felt this way since we met and it’s only right that I speak my mind. I first came in contact with you a little over four years ago. It was a fateful day in March of 2012. My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, invited me over to his apartment.

“Hey, I am just hanging out reviewing some baseball stats, but come over.”

The sight I saw will never be erased from my memory. Pages and pages of players’ names and their stats laid out on his coffee table. He was studying for his fantasy baseball draft. While this was almost a strike one for him, I simply laughed to myself and thought, “okay, this is sort of insane, but if he’s into it, I’m cool with it.”

The insanity only grew and the conversations grew complex. I consider myself a chill girl, I don’t mind hanging out with a group of guys. I grew up with brothers, so I am used to the sports talk. But these phrases, I never heard these phrases. What’s your WHIP, they would say. How about your wOBP, xFIP, Ks? I grew to understand that if Zach’s WHIP wasn’t in good shape, Zach wouldn’t be happy.

I understand people have their interests, but Fantasy Baseball, you take up so much time. There are 162 regular season games. Baseball has the longest season of all the sports. You are played everyday. You are almost a part time job. Fantasy baseball, you are giving our men a false hope that they actually own a team. You are only making our men crazier than they really are. They talk about how much players cost and how much of their monopoly money they are willing to put out. What about their women? How much real money are they willing to put out for their women who are a reality? We are real. We are here. Mike Trout and Mookie Betts do not really belong to them. Clayton Kershaw has no idea who they are and Andrew McCutchen won’t listen to them if they tell him he’s benched.

I liked baseball. I liked it when I could simply watch it and enjoy it and have normal conversations about it, like oh that player is cute and has a good arm. Or that guy can really hit and his butt looks great in those pants.

No matter how much I dislike you, why do I still wake up sometimes and say to my husband, “Hey I thought of a great name for a Fantasy team.” People do crazy things for love. I have become more aware of the subconscious control you have over me and, though ashamed, I am strong enough to admit that it is occurring. While I am not happy about it, I submit to you in a small way.

I am now married. I not only married my husband, but I also married into a fantasy baseball team. Technically, in the fantasy world, I am a part owner of a baseball team…positive way of looking at it, right?

I suppose I can put our differences behind me, considering you make my husband so happy. It could be good to be familiar with the terminology so I can hold my own in front of other guys and be able to spout out fun facts like the seven ways to get on first base.

I want my husband to be happy and I know I can’t do that completely on my own. I know that means I need to get along with you. I am not fully consenting to you. I have sternly vowed to never join in your madness. I will always be a spectator and an earshot listener. I will never be a player.

In closing, I accept your role in my relationship with my husband. While I don’t always enjoy you, I will reluctantly fake smile when you are brought into the conversation.

Sincerely,

New fantasy baseball wife

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Cohabitating

I like to be different in things that I do. I don’t know that I am any different than the next person, but I do try in some respects to step away from the norm. For example, I recently cut my long hair really short, one because it’s easier and two because I like to be different.

I think Zach and I are a different kind of couple in today’s age. One difference I have noticed, that I find interesting, is we didn’t live together before we got married. Zach and I each have a good amount of married friends who lived together before they said “I do.”

We were out recently with a few of Zach’s coworkers and one guy said to me, “Hey how’s married life? Is it pretty much the same as before?” Just as I was about to explain how awesome married life is, the guy said, “OH WAIT! You guys didn’t live together before.” I laughed and responded yes. He said, “Woah, then it must be a huge change! How’s that working out for you?”

The question I ask as I reflect on this is, why didn’t we live together? Before we got married, we knew we loved each other, we knew we were committed to one another. So why not live together? Everyone else was doing it and it seemed to work for all of them.

For me, the decision was influenced by various factors. It was partly because of my desire to be different. I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. It was also due in part to what I was told growing up. I was told you live with someone after you get married. As Zach and I got more serious, maybe about a year before we got engaged, living together became a topic of conversation. I found myself in a quandary. My immediate thought was, yes, that would be awesome. But would it be awesome because I was ready? Or would it be awesome because it’d be fun to hang out all the time and it’d be easier not to have to tell my parents what time I got home at night.

I was old enough to make this decision on my own and so I gave it a lot of thought. It was one of the more adult moments in my life. Was it the right move for us? Were we ready to share everything together? At that point in time, I don’t think we were. I think we enjoyed having our own space and we weren’t ready to commit in that way just yet. Our relationship was still growing.

I can remember a few of my friends saying, “Why aren’t you guys living together? You know, if you get married and don’t live together before, you’re going to have a tough time getting used to some things. It’s good practice to make sure you really want to do this.” It didn’t seem to be a big deal to me that we decided to live in our own places. My friends’ comments worried me and made me feel self-conscious. Of course I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Zach. Looking back, I don’t think it would have been a bad thing for us to live together beforehand, but for us personally, I think the journey we took worked out. While not living together did get frustrating towards the end of our engagement, (I lived with my parents for the last few months before the wedding), we made due.

I’m not making an argument as to whether living together first is good or bad and I’m not saying what we did is what everyone should do. Each couple is unique in their own way and each takes a different journey and they do what works for them. I’m reflecting on Zach’s and my journey. What I do want to stress here is that it is important for people to stand their ground even when what they believe in and decide to do isn’t the current norm or the trend. You can’t force a situation in relationships. One must follow the path that the relationship is naturally taking.

Now that we do live together, I’ve learned my friends were right in saying I would discover things that I didn’t know before. While that sounds daunting, it has been fun. I like the idea that you can know someone for a while, but you continuously learn about different quirks that they have. We’ve been taking it all in stride too. We’ve laughed a lot with each other and at each other.

Examples: Zach never fully closes his dresser drawers and sometimes his clothes hang out. I don’t understand that. Just close the drawer all the way. When I fold socks, I roll them all they way up into each other. Zach doesn’t understand this. He leaves part of the sock hanging out. He says it makes it easier to undo the socks. I don’t get it. I now fold his socks the way he likes it and my socks the way I like it. Am I really writing a paragraph about folding socks? Speaking of socks, the dryer really does eat them.

When I lived with my parents and when I lived with my brothers, I didn’t cook, I would rarely ever clean and I never put my things away. Living with Zach inspires me to do all of these things. When I leave work, my mind starts racing with ideas of what I can make for dinner. I do the laundry and actually fold my clothes when I put them in my dresser. If I see dirty dishes in the sink, I don’t let them sit there, I clean them. I have a desire to clean and straighten up.I think it’s because for the first time the things in our apartment and the apartment is ours. We don’t have parents or roommates to clean up for us. Now I understand why when I was growing up, even if the house looked clean and tidy, my mom would say, “This place is a mess. We need to clean up.” There’s this idea we get in our heads that the house is never neat enough.

Since cohabitating, we haven’t had any huge arguments, only small tiffs. And yes, I’ll admit it, those tiffs are usually started by me. It’s funny to me how a lot of the time when women get mad at men, it’s due in part to something the man didn’t do. They didn’t take out the trash, they didn’t clean the dishes, they didn’t do the laundry, they didn’t listen. I’ve only been living with Zach for just over two months now and I have found myself getting upset over those exact things. While giving him the silent treatment one day he approached me and asked what he could do. Did he just ask what he could do?! It dawned on me that he wants to help.

I’ve learned a secret that I am going to share with you. You may already know this secret, but I’m going to assume this is ground breaking information for you. Men can’t read women’s minds! There, I said it. We expect them to automatically know what we want them to do. That’s impossible. I’m not putting down the male intelligence either. They are naturally not equipped with the mind reading ability. But, do not fear, most often, if you tell them to do something, a magical thing occurs…they do what they are told. If it’s something that matters to you, your man will do it. And vice versa, if it’s something that matters to him, the woman should do it.

That’s it for now. I gotta go start thinking about what to make for dinner.

Until next time……

The artist formerly known as Kate Sprandio

As you all must know by now, I got married. Not like I kept it a secret. I’m sure many of you are grateful the day finally came considering I did an absurd countdown starting at 100 days. And the last few blog posts ranted about different wedding related items. I guess you all know what you are getting into when you click my blog because it is a “Kate centric” blog.

On that note, the wedding was an absolute dream come true. It was by far the best and easiest day of my life. I had some worries leading up to it. Like I told you before, I have heard from some others that the most important thing is to remember what the day is about and to have fun. I tend to over-worry on occasion, so in the days prior, I began to worry that I was going to worry the whole wedding day. My thought process can be erratic. I didn’t want to be stressed at my own wedding, but I knew myself and I figured I would be.

I woke up around 7am the day of. I had a hair appointment at 9 and I had some bridesmaids arriving at 8. My parents came in to my room to wake me. This would be the last time my parents woke me up in my childhood home. They did that so many times before. So many times in my youth that it became insignificant, almost an annoyance the more they did it, until this last time. This last time was a treasure. I rolled over and opened my eyes just in time to see them enter together. The smiles on their faces mirrored each other. I thought their faces were going to crack.

“You’re getting married today!” they said partially in unison.

I responded with, “I know, but I have 10 more minutes until my alarm goes off.” Classic Kate, wanting ten more minutes of sleep even on the biggest day of her life.

They climbed in bed with me, my mom sat on my left, my dad on my right. They asked me how I felt and if I was ready. They talked about how happy and excited they were. We cracked our usual jokes and laughed together. Like me responding, “I guess I’m excited for this. I have to do it now. You paid for everything.”

It’s one moment in my life that I’ll never forget. It seems simple, a girl hanging out laughing with her parents. But I wasn’t the ordinary girl that I used to be. I finally felt grown up. I finally felt at ease with a decision. For someone who can be indecisive and worry about the future constantly, it was one of the rare times in my life I felt such a strong certainty.

It feels like I am downplaying it when I say it felt like the start of a normal day. Obviously, it wasn’t a normal day. I don’t get married every Friday. But the vibe of it was so comfortable, so right. Two of my best friends met at my house and we drove to the hair salon. We met one of my sisters-in-law there.

The woman doing my hair remarked, “You seem really calm considering you’re getting married today.”

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(This is how chill I was the day of. I ate a pickle and drank a soda before heading to the ceremony. Don’t worry, I brushed my teeth and gargled mouthwash after.)

I worried a little bit that perhaps it was strange that I wasn’t nervous. Then again, why should I be nervous? I was going to attend a party for Zach and me. I was stoked.

After we got our hair done, we arrived back at my parents’ house… an organized chaos of smiling faces and loud laughter… my favorite type of home. The house consisted of my parents, my brothers, my sisters-in-law, my nephews and nieces, and my friends. We ate food, we danced around, we got our makeup done, we got dressed. Everybody was in and out of every room. The kids ran around in their cute outfits ready for a day of fun. I love my parents’ house. It’s the warmest, most comforting place in the world. But I don’t think I’ve ever loved that house more than I did on that day.

The trolley pulled up around 2:15. In classic Sprandio style, we didn’t leave the house until after 2:30. The mass began at 3:30.

Traffic was steady. My friends and my mom told funny stories about me along the way and we sang and laughed together. We pulled up to the church just in time. Zach told me the priest was worried because we were a few minutes late. My bridesmaids piled out and it was just me and my dad left on the trolley.

“I’m getting married. Oh my god, I’m actually doing this. Can you believe this?” I heaved one breath after the other. The nervousness had arrived.

“It’s okay. This is a good thing,” my dad said as he squeezed my hand.

“I know, “ I said. “I just can’t believe it’s here. I’m getting married!”

We laughed together, as we often do, slight tears in both of our eyes. My dad calmed me down, which he never fails to do. I don’t think he realizes the calming affect he has on others. My breathing slowed. I told him to pull out his phone to take a selfie. I was ready to go.

We entered the church and the heaving breaths started again.

“Holy sh**,” I uttered to myself. Low enough so the priest and the kids couldn’t hear me.

My bridesmaids were all smiling at me, tears in their eyes as well. Half of them had already been through their own weddings. Hearing of their experiences gave me so much comfort and advice.

Soon, everyone had walked down the aisle. It was just my dad and me left.

He gave me a kiss and I hooked my arm in his. The doors opened and we commenced the father/daughter walk down the aisle.

Most of the time, when I walk into a crowded room of people that I know, I like to see who is looking at me. Call me narcissistic, but I do love attention on occasion. I call it “the only girl in the family syndrome.” When entering a room this way, I make faces at people and try to make people laugh. I had been in 8 weddings before this. In most of them, when I walked down an aisle I tried to do a certain strut, I tried to make a silly smile and nod to my family. This time was unlike any other.

I looked to my left, then to my right. I couldn’t see. All the faces were a blur.

I looked straight down the aisle and I saw him. His was the only face I saw, the only face I was looking for. I couldn’t hear any music. I loved the song I chose to walk down the aisle to. It was called, “Music for the Royal Fireworks.” Look it up. The title itself is epic. I didn’t hear one note. It was an out of body experience. I was outside of myself watching. And do you know what I saw? I saw a simple girl in a lace dress being escorted by her dad, her hero. She was no longer daddy’s little girl. She was a woman, ready to take on the role of a wife and ready to begin the journey of building her own family with the man she loves. Like always, her daddy was helping her along the path to her future.

When we arrived at the altar. My dad whispered, “I love you.” I returned the sentiment and we hugged.

I turned towards my groom. He wore a smile that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was similar to the smile he wore the day he proposed, a smile of complete certainty, a smile of euphoric happiness. I can’t quite put into words how it feels to have someone look at you that way. It’s simply unreal. It made me feel like I was the only person he could see.

When I stood next to Zach, my breathing slowed, my shoulders relaxed. I was where I was supposed to be.

The mass was beautiful. I only cried a little bit and slightly shouted my vows. It’s hard controlling the volume of your voice when you are exploding with emotion on the inside. After the ceremony, the rest of the day was a blur. It’s cliché, but it’s true what everyone says, the whole day goes incredibly fast. I could write forever about every detail of the reception and how much fun Zach and I had and how thankful I am for everyone in my life, but I’ll end it here and leave some space on the Internet for more interesting things.

It’s been an incredible year preparing for this and a whirlwind of a month being married. It’s been a month today…here I go again with counting the days. I swear I’ll stop.

Thanks for humoring me and reading about the major steps in life that I have been taking. I hope you readers can relate to my thoughts and feelings and enjoy following along.

So that’s it for now, signing off from my first blog post as a married woman, my first post as Kate Ells.

 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned,

The artist formerly known as Kate Sprandio

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Mr. & Mrs. Zachary Ells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilt-A-Whirl Brain

Tis’ the season to be thankful. Thanksgiving was last week. This Thanksgiving was different again for the Sprandio fam. It was significantly smaller. We downsized this year due to the impending nuptials occurring this Friday.

It was a nice quiet dinner with some of my immediate family. I often use the holiday season as a time to reflect, reflect on the many blessings and even on reflect on the not so good things. I’ve been thinking lately how it’s a shame that I only do this during this time of year. Not that I am ungrateful the rest of the year, but I feel as though people, including myself, use the holidays and the New Year as an excuse.

It’s often said the holiday season is a time to be together with family, treat each other nicer, give to others. So what about the rest of the year? People usually use New Years as a time to make up New Years resolutions.

We don’t have to do these things strictly around the holidays. I want to make a more conscience effort to reflect any time of year. I want to make a more conscience effort to realize I can change and make a “resolution” whether it’s January 1st or July 8th. My point is I guess that we can make a change or be more grateful at any point.

These efforts to be good and do good are particularly important now considering what’s going on in the world. The world has become a scary place. Maybe it always was, but I am only noticing more as I grow older and less naïve with each year of my life.

This year has been one of the best years of my life. I am forever grateful for my future husband, my family and friends, my new family that I am joining. All these new, exciting events have humbled me immensely. I know I claim to be a writer but I am quite speechless when it comes to how all of this is making me feel. I think that’s why I haven’t written in a while. I don’t know how to express the immense excitement/anxiety that has been brewing inside of me.

I don’t really know how to convey how it has humbled me. I am writing a blog post for MY website all about MY life. If anything, this whole rant is completely narcissistic. If you look at it that way, at least I know how to be honest with myself.

But I am humbled. And I have learned how I could step it up when it comes to being there for people. I can put more effort into celebrating others. I could put more effort into being thoughtful. So many people have gone out of their way for me. Family especially so, friends, even coworkers. It’s been overwhelming the love surging around. This combination of the holidays and getting married, way too many feelings going on here.

I told myself when I sat down to write this blog it would strictly be about being thankful and how we need to concentrate on the good things in life and here I am talking about my wedding again. I apologize for my repetition. This is an off the cuff post. My mind is like a tilt-a-whirl.

I guess all I am saying is I am very thankful to be in the situation I am. And I need to be better at focusing on that. I’m trying to find a way to do that. It’s been a journey trying to look outside of myself more and really appreciate the current situation I am in.

I read an article recently, I can’t for the life of me remember where or who wrote it, but the author was writing about how a lot of people don’t live in the moment. They are always thinking about the next thing that will “complete their life” or the next thing that will “make their real life finally begin.” “Everything will be great if I find the one person for me.” Then once you find that person, “Everything will be great when we’re married.” Then you have kids, “Everything will be great when the kids are a little older and we can do more stuff” etc, etc. We are constantly reaching for the next thing, while what we have in front of us is ticking by.

I want to concentrate on being in the now, particularly this weekend. A good example is earlier tonight I had to drop some things off at my apartment, then drop things off at one of the hotels my guests are staying at, and finally drop things off at the reception venue. My parents pulled the car up to my apartment, I jumped out grabbed all the things and started running them up the steps. Zach came out, all excited to see me and I hustled in not even looking at him. He helped me carry things in and I blew past him. All because I was “stressed” because I had to drop some things off. So stupid. We can’t allow ourselves to get caught up. I’m getting married! How can I let a little stress of getting a few things done cloud my excitement of marrying the greatest guy I know.

That is the kind of thing I am talking about, the kind of thing I want to be better at. And I will try to do better every day. Not just now because it’s the holidays. Not just now because I’ll be a newlywed. I will try every day no matter what’s happening. No matter the time of year.

This is probably my last post writing with the name Kate Sprandio, by the way. Saying goodbye to that name will be tough, but that’s a whole other blog.

Until next time……

Hello, again

Hello there everyone. I have been on a short hiatus. I don’t want to be lame and blame it on wedding planning, but I will. I’ve been super busy and haven’t taken the time to sit down and write out my thoughts. I finally have some time today to catch you up on my life. I know how you’ve been anxiously waiting on the edge of your seat.

Just a few weeks ago, my family and friends (spearheaded by my mom) threw me a surprise bridal shower. First of all, props to my mom for throwing a surprise party in her home for a person who lives with her. Thankfully, I am quite oblivious to things, especially recently with all this wedding planning. I can breeze through a room and not notice anything around me if I have things on my mind. And I ALWAYS have things on my mind. I was told they had been planning it for months. I did catch a few hints here and there, but ultimately I was surprised.

My sister-in-law Mary took me out that morning for a shopping trip with my niece Grace. Shout out to Mary for doing a great job of keeping it a secret when she was with me all morning. I was definitely sure it was a party when we drove up to the house. There were a ton of cars.

I walked in and it was overwhelming to see all the smiling faces looking back at me. My parents, brothers, Zach, his parents and sister, aunts, cousins, friends, my nieces and nephews. They were all there for me. I repeatedly said, “This is silly. You didn’t need to do this. This is so silly.” I didn’t know what to say or do!

Thank you again to everyone. To all those who put time and effort into planning, thank you. For all those who came from other states to be with me for an afternoon, thank you. Thank you most especially to my parents. They go above and beyond all the time to make sure their family is happy. They have really gone above and beyond through this whole wedding process to make sure Zach and I have the best day of our lives. The shower was just a preview of all the love and support Zach and I have in our lives. It was a magical day.

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Another step in the wedding process that we recently took was engagement pictures. When we got engaged, engagement pictures were thrown on the back burner. I figured if I needed a picture of us for something, I could take it myself. When we booked our photographer, we found out that an engagement picture session was part of the package. Since it was part of the package, I told Zach eh we might as well get them taken, it could be fun. But, again, they fell to the backburner because we had many other things to get done.

I like to say that Zach and I aren’t an ordinary couple. I think we’re special, obviously. I have often tried to be different in most things that I do. So to go with my “I want to be different mission,” our photographer is no ordinary wedding photographer. Major shout out to Jerry Tomko. Jerry photographed my brother Mike’s wedding a few years ago. He is also the father of my sister-in-law’s good friend. My thoughts when it came time to pick a photographer: I wanted someone who took great pictures (duh), I wanted someone who cared about the photos they were taking, and it would be a plus if I knew them personally. Jerry was an obvious choice.

Better late than never, with just 6 weeks to go until the wedding, we took engagement pictures. And they were anything but ordinary. These pictures allowed me to see us from a new perspective. Zach and I have a lot of pictures of ourselves, I blame me, the self-proclaimed selfie queen. I will cherish these photos Jerry took of us because they are not the everyday cute couple shots we take ourselves. They are stunning. And I don’t just mean we look nice in them, which we do. We look so grown up and so in love. The city in the background looks amazing. The composition of the photo itself is so artistic and beautiful. It will be a great memory to look back on when we’re married for 30 years. It’s a great memory to look back on now and it only happened just last week. Having Jerry as our photographer, gives me another reason to be super excited for the wedding day. I know we will have amazing pictures that capture the love and happiness that will fill the atmosphere.

I thought taking engagement pictures would be awkward. But Jerry made it comfortable for us and, like always, Zach and I laughed a lot and enjoyed our time together. It was also nice to take time out in the evening to dress up and do something different. For engaged couples, I suggest taking engagement photos. I’m happy we did.

To view the pictures from our session, click the link below:

http://gerardtomko.com/blog/nighttime-engagement-session-in-philadelphia/

I think you are all caught up. 37 days to go. Lots to do. Fingers crossed it all gets done.

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on

My best friend got married last weekend. My 3rd oldest brother and his wife welcomed their first child, Sadie Grace Sprandio. This Sunday, my youngest brother leaves for California for a 5-year PhD program. Zach and I get the keys to our new apartment this afternoon. Oh, and I get married in 85 days.

Um, WHAT!

My best friend’s wedding was great. And I don’t mean the movie with Julia Roberts.

Alexis and her new husband Lucas looked wonderful and over the moon happy. It was a beautiful ceremony and the reception was a lot of fun. It’s a moving experience when you watch a person get married, let alone a person you have known your entire life. I was the maid of honor. As I stood up there watching her process up the aisle, memories of our childhood flashed in my mind. We have been through every milestone of life together and there we were at her wedding. We had talked about what our weddings would be like since we were little. I felt like I needed to pinch myself to help myself realize that it was actually happening.

I looked over at Lucas. He had the sweetest smile on his face. It was an excited, confident smile. I like to look at the groom at a wedding when the bride is processing up. Lucas looked so sweet, so vulnerable yet strong at the same time. It was endearing. That moment solidified everything. The way they looked at each other, you could literally see the love. The evening went as planned and we danced and sang and celebrated. It was a magical evening for the guests and I’m sure it was just as magical for Alexis and Lucas. I gave a speech and in my speech I mentioned how Alexis and I have been friends for over 20 years. Later in the evening, a few people came up to me and gushed about how lucky we are to have each other, how rare it is to keep a friend that long. It made us realize how good we have it. In 85 days, she gets to stand up front and watch me process up an aisle and look at my groom. It’s crazy how we are getting married 3 months apart. It’s like something out of a movie.

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The day before Alexis got married, my family received a special gift. I am lucky enough to announce that I am once again an aunt. Sadie Grace Sprandio was born Friday September 4, 2015. She was 7lbs, 15oz and 21 inches long. She is beautiful. I was unable to be there the day she was born because I was in Michigan for Alexis’s wedding. I was bummed I could not be there, but consider myself lucky that I had two major, happy life events occurring in one weekend! I was able to meet Sadie this past Monday. No matter how many new babies are born into the family, it never gets less amazing. It’s a joy just to watch her, even if she’s only sleeping. Her sweet little face brings such happiness to my heart. She has so much ahead of her, countless exciting adventures in her future. Babies bring such hope, joy, and promise back into our lives. Their sweet innocence and peacefulness is inspiring.

The new baby is only one of the current family changes.

This Sunday, my baby brother is moving away. My brother Shane is making a revolutionary move in the history of our family. He is moving across the country to Santa Barbara, California. The rest of us all work and live in the Philadelphia area and probably will forever. I thought I was being revolutionary when I dated and now am going to marry a man who is originally from Massachusetts. Everyone else has married local. But Shane, being the Renaissance man that he is, takes the cake with his big move to California. Shane is going to attend the University of California Santa Barbara to work on his PhD in history. It’s a five-year program. With most things, I don’t think it will really sink in until he leaves.

Shane and I have had an interesting relationship. When we were younger, I bossed him around terribly. I’ll admit it. I was a tyrant. But bless his heart, he did everything I told him to and he was constantly by my side. We had so much fun together. We were a duo. Whether we were playing with Barbie or Army Men, it was Shane and I together, “the little ones.” My mom called the three older boys “the boys” and Shane and I were “the little ones.”

We have stayed close as we’ve gotten older, but in a different way. I can still be a little bit of a tyrant to him, but it’s only because I am protective over him. I think he understands that, at least I hope he does. When we go out with friends, we often extend an invite to each other. He’s friends with most of my friends. Often times when I go out, they ask, “is Shane coming too?” We can go anywhere together and we have fun. We have lived together almost our entire lives. When living together, there are always those moments when we end up watching TV together for a while. I’ll miss those moments. We can sit in silence or we can talk about random stuff and laugh together at whatever silly show we’re watching. It’s nothing forced, it’s just us being us. It’s definitely going to be weird not having him around and bittersweet to see him go. I hope we can remain close and I think maybe distance could bring us closer. It will be an effort now to keep in touch and I know we will both make the effort required. I am so incredibly proud of him. He is doing what I wish I had the courage to do, chasing a dream no matter how far it will take him and start a new beginning on his own. He’s intelligent and confident and I know he’ll succeed. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes him. I also can’t wait to visit him. Santa Barbara looks AMAZING.

Since Shane was young, a friend of our family has called him “Shane, never had a bad day in my life, Sprandio.” It’s the truth. Shane is a pretty chill guy. He takes things as they come and marches to the beat of his own drum. Now he’s going to never have a bad day in his life out in beautiful, sunny California. This big move may not seem that important to some, but to a family who has remained so close, it’s a different and difficult adjustment. Five years is a long time, but time does go fast and who knows if he’ll decide to stay there forever. The great thing about family is, no matter what he chooses to do, if it makes him happy, we will support him 100%.

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Speaking of moving, Zach and I pick up our keys today for our new apartment! We’re going to start moving furniture etc. in the next few weeks. It’s all becoming more real as we inch closer to December 4th, 85 days and counting. I keep thinking, am I really ready for this?! Am I that grown up already? I mean, my mom still does my laundry! I’ll be living at home until we are married. Come that day, I will officially be the last Sprandio to leave the nest, even though a Sprandio never really flies too far from the nest….well, except Shane. It’ll be the first time in 34 years that my parents have the house to themselves again.

I think this has been one of the wildest/most exciting years of my life. It’s been hard to keep my feet under me and my head on straight, but I think I’m taking it all in stride.

Life really doesn’t wait until you are ready. It goes, and all you can do is jump in and move with the current.

100 Days

Yesterday marked 100 days until I say I do. (But, hey, who’s counting.)

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Last weekend, Zach and I attended pre-cana. For those of you who don’t know, pre-cana is a marriage preparation course offered by the Archdiocese. We are required to complete the preparation in order to get married in the church. It was 6:30-9:30 Friday night and 9am-3pm on Saturday. I told a few people about it and some responded with, “Ugh, that sounds awful.”

The idea of giving up a Friday night and most of a Saturday does sound awful. But, Zach and I enjoyed it. It was a good way to break away from life and talk about things we don’t often bring up in normal conversation, such as finances, how we handle conflict, how the other is feeling about this whole process of wedding planning. I believe it is important to take a step back when you’re in the thick of things. It helps you get a different perspective on a situation and also helps you see the perspective of your loved one more clearly.

We had the chance to answer questions about each other and then share our answers. It was enlightening and we both enjoyed sharing the time together. There were couples that got up and spoke on different topics. Even if there were some things we didn’t agree on, we listened and kept our minds open to new ideas. And we also of course giggled and whispered like we were in 6th grade. I laughed more than Zach did. He was more of the nerd and I was the class clown.

I think it was good timing for us to reflect. We are 100 days away from one of the biggest days in our life. It’s been a whirlwind preparing for this whole thing and I think we both needed to slow down and reflect on our progress, not only our wedding planning progress, but our progress as a couple. I didn’t realize how much we have grown together in the 3.5 years we have been dating. Why would I? I am in the throws of being in love and creating my life. It’s hard to find time to sit down and grasp how our relationship has developed. Have you ever heard someone say, “Yeah, I think this weekend we’re going to spend some alone time talking about how we’ve developed as a couple and go over some aspects of our relationship that we need to work on, such as conflict resolution.” No, that is never on anyone’s weekend agenda. At least nobody I’ve ever met. And if that is how you spend your weekend, well more power to you.

So far, this year has been a formative one in our relationship. As exciting as it is to be getting married, it is also daunting. We have come to learn that it’s okay to be afraid. But it is important to talk about it with each other and not keep it bottled up. I think we have become more willing to lean on one another and share our vulnerabilities, which is important. Even though I am convinced Zach is superman, it is important for me to let him know that he can lean on me as much as I lean on him. It was funny to me how we both seem to be nervous about the same thing. We just want to make sure we can give the other the best life they deserve. We don’t have to worry about that though, we’ve already had good practice for 3.5 years.

It’s an incredible feeling knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with one person. There is a new level of responsibility that comes with it, one that neither of us has had to take on before. It’s a responsibility to the other person, to love them every day in the best way we know how. It’s a responsibility to continue being the best and truest version of ourselves. It’s a call to be strong for them when they are weak and defend them in times of trouble. It is going to be hard work. But, like they say, nothing worth having comes easy. There is a lot of new ground we are covering here and I think with each passing day we are becoming more prepared. The weekend of reflection helped us think about how ready we really are.

Being a Catholic event, they obviously talked a lot about God’s role in this whole thing. Zach and I both have similar beliefs in our religion and we have talked about it before. But, again, it’s not always a huge topic of conversation. We were able to discuss our thoughts on God and religion and what it means to us now and what we want it to mean to us as we start our own family.

One of the things that was said during pre-cana that really stuck with me is something I have noted before, being in love is a decision you make every day. When you are in a committed relationship, you wake up and decide, “Yes, I will love this person today.” Saying I do on December 4th is not the only day we will say it. We will say I do every day for the rest of our lives.

Through this process, I have discovered how easy it is to get off track and forget what the point of all of this is. When I first started, I remember saying, I won’t be one of those brides who stresses out over the small stuff. I know what this is all about and I won’t forget that. Ask Zach, there have been quite a few times when I’ve been “one of those brides.” It’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in minor details like what color cushion the chairs are going to have at the reception or what I want the centerpieces to look like, or what color shoes the bridesmaids should wear. In the end, nobody will notice that stuff. What they will notice is the love and happiness all around them. I am so excited to share my love and happiness with those closest to us. After reflecting on our time together so far, for the next 100 days I will try harder to keep in mind what all of this is truly about.

It’s simply about two kids who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together…..and they’re going to have one hell of a party to kick it off.