Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas!

A Christmas letter of sorts....
I had decided last year that I would write an annual Christmas letter like so many of my family and friends choose to do. I was newly engaged and planning the wedding and had nonstop ideas and energy. This year I have been back and forth about whether I would actually sit down and write it. Not for lack of things to say but…I am just so worn out from writing things and planning things and doing things…. I am just zapped!
But, as I continue to go home each day and open my new stack of Christmas cards (most with photos this year!) and I read the upbeat informative letters- I keep thinking that I need to write mine. But the Christmas cards were sent out without a letter and I had just about decided to be a Grinch about the it when suddenly on Friday the 21st of December I am somehow inspired.

2007. What a year! We brought in 2006 in Oklahoma with my family, Kyle and I were newly engaged and beginning to toss around possible wedding dates. By the end of February we had a plan and the planning really got going. In April I flew back to Oklahoma to pick out the dress, once more in August and then suddenly it was Halloween and family was arriving in Florida for the wedding weekend. Wow. That sums up the wedding part of it but a lot of other things happened this year too.

Kyle began working on bigger projects and getting more responsibility at his job designing sprinkler systems. We parked cars for the annual Strawberry Festival in our town for the second year in a row – thanks to Kyle’s office’s great location near the fair grounds.

My company had an amazing year this year. In fact it was the best and most successful year in the company’s 32 year history. So it was great to be a part of such a successful year. One of the principal partners retired this year as well. And as always we continue to enjoy ourselves here in Lakeland, especially now as the baskets of goodies keep arriving daily. We are all happy and overloaded with sugar by 5 o’clock. I don’t know if I have been hungry for dinner once this month!

Also this year I studied for and took my NCIDQ licensing exams which once passed will make me a licensed Interior Designer. This will be a huge step for my career. It is a 3 part test taken over 2 days. Once a part is passed you do not have to take it again it is almost identical to the Architecture licensing test just with fewer sections. I should find out my results in January but am being neutral as I know many people take it several times and most of my training has been on an Architectural emphasis and I found myself while studying somewhat less prepared when it came to strictly Interior Design information. Maybe I should just go get my Architecture degree…seriously…
Actually, I am not at all interested in Architecture as a career and I am excited to get my focus more directed towards interiors, and my license will really help me accomplish that.

The rest of the year was mainly spent in preparation for the BIG DAY and when it finally came it was just wonderful.

Lots of things have happened since then. Kyle and I went to Maui and Oahu, Hawaii for our honeymoon. Once we got back we prepared for our trip home for Thanksgiving. And we have been back for a few weeks to wrap up some deadlines, gain a few holiday pounds and now we are off again for a week in South Dakota.

This will be my first Christmas to ever be away from my family. It was hard to think about at first but now I am excited and ready to get to know my new family! They seem like a lively and fun bunch of people, and I am so excited to spend time and just fall in love with the whole big gang. I have told Kyle that when it comes to family Christmases his is definitely a different experience than mine. Where mine is a checklist of whose house we go to on which night until the whole thing is over. He has Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the same group! And as his parents are still together, there is only one set of parents to go and visit. Wow! What a novel idea! Hee hee… I love my big crazy dysfunctional family but I am excited to see how these normal people do it. I can’t wait to pack my bag and travel up to the Black Hills for a very very Merry Christmas!
Talk to you all when I get back!!
Lots of hugs and a Happiest of Holidays to each of you!

Leslie Hall

Saturday, December 15, 2007


My Mom arrived last night and we went to pick her up at the airport. It was so great to see her and have her here with us for a little Christmas. We ended up going to dinner at Maggianos (yum!) in Tampa and then a little light shopping at Westshore Mall. Just a little preliminary before the BIG shopping trip on Saturday.
I am so relieved to get to spend some Christmas time with my Mom. We have really gotten close over the last 5 years or so and having her here is just the best Christmas gift I could ask for. We are going to shop today and then tomorrow we are going to have Christmas together and act like it is Christmas morning with a big breakfast and opening presents!

So Merry Imaginary Christmas Eve!

L. Hall

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Well, it is Tuesday and I have nothing to say really. I just finished eating lunch and decided that I ought to blog. This weekend was spent cleaning house and doing a bit of christmas shopping in Orlando. The tree and stockings are up - there is a wreath on the door and a red holiday scented candle..Hello Christmas! My Mother is coming to visit for the weekend to celebrate Christmas with Kyle and I as we are headed to South Dakota (Brrrrr!) next week. I am so excited to get to have Christmas with my Mom! I can't wait for her to get here! It should be a relief to her as well as Oklahoma is in the middle of an ice storm and she has no electricity. She might not want to leave our 80 degree flip flop weather. It is a joy to wear flip flops all year long. I am going to have to really prepare myself for the cold cold week with Kyle's family in the hills. It will be nice to see snow!
Well, I finally have all my wedding pictures in an album (last night's project after I finally found an album I liked.
Kyle and I are in the midst of fixing up our room. This weekend we bought a new comforter set. It is an ivory and black damask kind of print. It is so pretty! We are going to make a headboard the ole' HGTV way and I am so excited to have a fun project. Although we wont be tackling it until after the Holidays.
We have been seriously considering getting a rental house in order to escape the apartment living but we are on hold until we know how a possible interesting job Kyle has been contacted about fans out. Who knows! We could be moving! But we are anxious to find a cute little rental that doesnt come with screaming children in the breezeway.
My Christmas shopping is almost done. Just a few more little stocking stuffers to pick up. I have always wanted to do stockings and finally!! I get to! We each went and picked out a stocking and a stocking holder and I can't wait to start filling Kyle's with goodies!
I have a big project wrapping up at work this week. I have been working a lot of overtime lately and I will be relieved when the job is out the door (the first time at least...there are always addendums). It is a church that bought an old mall and has completely converted it into their worship space as well as lots of classrooms and a preschool. It is pretty amazing. We are doing a lot of renovations to the areas and really giving it a facelift and more space and security options. The church in total is 330,000 square feet. Now that is a huge job, even for us!

I guess that is all for this Tuesday-
Have a great week and stay warm in Oklahoma!

L. Hall

Friday, December 07, 2007

Things to Do:

Funny YouTube video of Paul Reiser's comedy routine. The beginning is his opinion of list making.

1. Get Wedding Gown Preserved

2. Buy a Photo Album
3. Buy Christmas gifts
4. Mail Christmas Cards.
5. Have Anxiety attack
6. Run screaming into the hills
7. Do Laundry
8. Buy soymilk

I recently read an article about a “blog of note” about To Do Lists that was a Popular Blog and has now become a Published book about the things that we make lists for and what our lists say about us as people.

A few days later a friend’s blog approached the topic again.
Thus, my blog.
And I am enticed to write on the subject as I am a
desperate list maker. Yes, desperate.

I sit in almost anxiety when I have things on my mind that need done, it is only when I have the wonderful relief of grabbing a fresh page on a yellow legal pad, word document or post it note and listing the things in my mind that I can be calm. And then I will sit at my desk with the list beside me all day and add things to it. Some things need done immediately, while some are goals, others are hopeful fancies like “Clean out Closet”, “Lose 20 pounds”, “Become a Millionaire”. But I NEED these lists.

My listing habit has become increasingly consuming over the last year as I planned my wedding. Look at the madness: (this was my main list –followed by 5 or 6 other lists- of things that needed done for the wedding and this is completely condensed to what I had to do just before the wedding). I lived by these lists the last month or so before the big day.

The Master List (FINAL): Whitten – Hall Wedding

To Purchase:

For Wedding:
1. Starfish for centerpieces/shells
2. Welcome pails and filler items, saltwater taffy
3. Make-up (get consult and buy colors)
4. 2 palm trees and planters
5. lighter for reception candles
6. Kyle wedding shoes
7. Bouquet to toss – need: roses, green flower tape/wire, ribbon
8. something to hold the matches

For Rehearsal Dinner/ Party:
1. Plastic Cups – for beer and cocktails – 60 extra sleeve of cups
2. Tablecloth
3. Ice
6. Snack food/ Veggie Trays
7. Hawaiian music
8. Bring CD Player
9. Limes
10. Table - $40
11. Balloons for outside the house & Sign

To do:

1. Basket for wedding cards on the gift table (perhaps orange mtrl inside)
2. Need more than 100 chairs for recep and ceremony?
3. Welcome Pails – purchase final items and put together
4. Rehearsal Dinner/Party Invitations
5. Purchase supplies for rehearsal party: drink mix, liquor, food
6. Meet with Mae at Beach house – Final #, napkins, tables, kids $ meal
7. Discuss Birthday cake with Mae – to bring out after cutting cake activities
8. Pack for week at Anna Maria and Honeymoon
9. Meet with Rev. Shook to go over wedding ceremony and certificate

10. Double Check on Chairs, Flowers, Cake…
11. Plan Toast to be made at Rehearsal Dinner
12. Write Vows
13. Pay Nov. Rent and car loan
14. Leave Amanda a deposit slip to deposit pay check Nov.1st
15. Decide on someone to light reception candles and to help with seating chart – finding seats
16. Ceremony Decor

1. On the 3rd - Mail announcements!
2. Check WP into housing– explain check out procedure
3. Take Ribbon and cake topper to Bakery Di Europa
4. Pick up flowers on Friday and take cake flowers to Bakery
5. Final # to Taylor Rental for Chairs – finalize times- final bill
6. Pass out Welcome Pails
7. Bachelorette Spa Day – Nov. 2nd
8. Organize all checks and payment to be dispersed night of wedding
9. Rehearsal @ Beach (outline to everyone)
10. Rehearsal Dinner – Shells – Gifts/ Toasts
11. Rehearsal Party
12. Make Centerpieces
13. Set up for Reception and Ceremony
14. Get hair and make-up done
15. Pictures with WP before Ceremony (B&G separate)
16. Wedding Day
17. Flight to Hawaii early Sunday
19. A woman’s Shopping Day – St. Armand’s Circle – Thursday?
20. Make toss away bouquet
21. Buy champagne, orange juice and snacks for bridal party

1. Christmas in South Dakota
2. Thank you cards for Wedding Gifts.
5. Change Name
6. Cut out engagement announcements and frame/scrapbook
7. Frame invitation

It was my only connection with reality as the whole event started coming into shape throughout the year. And daily I would check things off my hard copy, and then go into my computer and gray out or strikethrough the item on that list. You are probably questioning my sanity now. But, I am being brutally honest. I tried when I returned from the honeymoon to not make any To Do lists and just relish the fact that the wedding planning was done and I could relax and be at peace. 2 days and I had made a list of all the things that needed to be accomplished before the Christmas holiday (this list has been altered and changed many times since and rewritten- I love to rewrite and redo lists to make them neater –this is another blog in itself).

These lists help me to function. They help me to accomplish “things”. To get “things” done. I need them!!! I also have the sickness of adding things to the list that I have already done just so I can check them off – come on folks…you know you’ve done it too!

What is it? Is it really because I can’t remember to do things? Is it to reward myself with check marks near completed tasks? Is it an attempt at an orderly lifestyle? I don’t know. I have three lists sitting at my desk right now. One is for work on a yellow legal pad post-it-note combo ( love em’)

1. Elevation of modeled bar joist –correct height with sketch
2. new millwork section
3. Call Bootsie
4. Typical Bathroom Elevations
5. Plot all Sheets
6. Storefront and hollow steel frame profile on A601
7. Begin Wall Sections

The other is for the weekend on a fresh legal pad from the supply closet.

1. Clean House, clean out fridge
2. Go thru wedding stuff
3. Return snow globe
4. Tree Skirt

The other is for Christmas Cards.

But I have been working on them all day and they are at various states of completion and honestly, it feels good. I love a good old fashioned list! I love cute paper to write on. Sometimes it is just about random tasks to keep me focused, other times my lists are goal oriented, while others are just to feel the calmness when the pen reaches paper and the thing on my mind is good and secure on paper where it won’t be forgotten. I mean…it’s on the list! It has to be done now!

P.S. I also have a task list on my Microsoft Outlook on my computer. It has said “Start Yoga” for going on 8 months. Sad but true. But, I can’t erase it…because it’s on the list and it needs checked off.

Well, there it is guys...a little insider info on yours truly.

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Wedding

I thought it time to finally blog about the wedding. It seems like so much has happened since then but really it was a month ago and it is still perfectly preserved in my mind and always will be. I will eventually blog about the honeymoon and share with you those wonderful memories but first I must tell you about our very special day. And the days leading up to it as well.

On Tuesday (Oct. 30) my Mother arrived in Tampa, we loaded up the car, checking the list three times to be sure and headed towards Anna Maria for a week of wedding preparation and festivities. Our beach rental was cute and perfect, situated exactly across the street from the gorgeous gulf. We unpacked, oohed and awed over the dress once more and decided to scope out the wedding venue for dinner. While we were there, sitting under the pavilion where our reception would be in just a few days we ordered food and sat back to soak in the year we had spent planning this very week’s events.

Wednesday morning we sat out with a few missions: We had to take the cake topper and ribbon to the Bakery (and while we were there taste the amazing pastries for breakfast at Bakery Di Europa!). Next we had to hunt down some last minute d├ęcor. We rolled back onto the island just in time to greet some family who had just arrived and to go hand out some last minute Welcome Pails. The welcome pails were orange pails that had lots of wedding info – printed up on cute paper, sunscreen, bath gel, beach balls, water balloons etc, and maps of the island. Each guest found one in their hotel room as they arrived on the island. That was Wednesday’s mission. That night a large group of us headed to the Sandbar Restaurant for dinner outside on the beach. We had a lot of fun and chatted about the wedding events to come. That night we went out for some dart and pool playing as more family trickled in from the all over the country.

Thursday morning a group of us ladies and a few guys (Aaron and Ashton, hee hee) headed to the Ellenton Prime Outlets for a bit of shopping. After lunch my Mom and I had to head back to the island while the others finished up shopping. We had to meet with our Venue Coordinator at the Beachouse Restaurant and then Kyle and I had to head to the North end of the island to meet with the Reverend who would perform our ceremony. Afterwards, we had to each go our own way to finish finalizing last minute details for the following day. I did manage to swing by the beach rental his parents were staying at and pay a quick visit to my future family who I had been all to busy to visit with earlier in the week.

Thursday night was the preordained night for my Bachelorette Party. The gals got all dressed up and had me wearing a veil and a hat, a feather boa and a light up necklace – all proclaiming me as a bride to be. We headed to dinner at Mexicali Border in Bradenton and we had a great evening. All of us laughing as we tried to figure out the best way to have my funny veil stay on my head.

Friday (Wedding Eve!!!) began with all the women jumping into 3 different vehicles and heading towards Sarasota for the Bachelorette Spa Day. We spent the day drinking Mimosas, getting make-up done, hair curled, mani’s and pedi’s, and massages. We were thoroughly pampered and primped when we left. We all wore our Bride and Bridesmaids shirts that I had made the wedding party. It was a relaxing and fun morning.

The guys planned a Deep Sea Fishing Trip for this time and 16 of them heading out into the ocean to catch some fish and smoke some cigars. Unfortunately it was a rough day at sea and few men were able to fish the majority of the time. (I told them that a spa day is always a safe idea.) Thankfully, they had recovered by that evening. After the spa day my Mom and I set off again to pick up the flowers from the florist and then we headed back to Bradenton to drop a few of them at the Bakery for the cake. A quick costume change and we were off again to the Beachouse for our Wedding Rehearsal. My Mom’s friend Letaza acted as our Wedding Coordinator since she has a lot of experience doing so. She was amazing and took charge starting at the Rehearsal. She had lots of cute ideas for the wedding party walking down the aisle and she put it all together fabulously as we all fought to hear over the noisy wind and waves. Directly after the Rehearsal, we all headed to the Rehearsal Dinner which we were having at a restaurant on the island. They had the room set aside for us with menus printed out especially for our event. They brought us champagne for a toast and really made the evening special. Kyle and I and our parents made toasts and thank yous to family and friends who had traveled so far for the wedding. We handed out our groomsmen and bridesmaids gifts and then a special gift for each of our parents. We had a clock with an engraving from Kyle and I that we had specially made for each set of parents. They loved them and we were so happy! After that, Kyle surprised everyone with a wedding gift to him and me of his and her matching watches. They are Movado and so elegant. He did such a good job. Between the speeches and the gifts, there weren’t too many dry eyes in the place.

After the Dinner we all headed to Kyle’s parents Beach Rental where his parents hosted a Wedding Rehearsal Luau for everyone who was already in town for the wedding. My little cousin Cameron greeted each guest at the door with a silk flower Lei and everyone enjoyed the Visiting with both families and friends. We had Tropical Drinks and Hawaiian Music to set the mood and everyone seemed to have a great time. All the planning was worth it for this wonderful day!

That night was another girl’s night and I headed to the house we rented for the Wedding Party and hung out with my Bridesmaids and talked while we stuffed little white organza bags with bright orange rose petals. After visiting for a while I returned home to get a good night's sleep before the BIG DAY!!!!!!!!

Saturday morning I woke up with so much excitement and anticipation! My Mom and I threw on some clothes and headed to the Beachhouse where the Bridesmaids and their recruited husbands met us to hang the paper lanterns for the reception. This was the only time we had to do it and we had quite a lot of fun watching the guys hang them up all around the pavilion.

After that we headed back home to prepare for the day. My Mom had planned a little Bridal luncheon while we all got ready and she had it decorated so cute. The photographer arrived soon after and we started primping and curling until we all looked perfect. We put our dresses on and headed across the street for some beach pictures and then sent the photographer off to meet the Groomsmen and Kyle to do the same.

Half and hour later it was time to go to the Beachhouse, Letaza and family members had decorated and set up everything while we were getting ready and it looked perfect when we arrived. Our guests were getting their pictures made in the Polaroid Guest book and finding their seats at the ceremony as I snuck into the restaurant with my Bridesmaids to stay hidden until the perfect moment. We started exactly on time and off I went! Over the bridge onto the beach where my Dad was waiting to walk me down the aisle to Kyle. I saw Kyle brushing tears away as we saw each other and we locked eyes until we met him. The ceremony flew by and then suddenly we were married!!! We took pictures and then headed to the Reception to dance the night away! We had our first dance, we cut the cake, we visited with friends and the entire night was magical. After we cut our cake, we had them bring out a birthday cake we had the Bakery make for Kyle’s mother whose birthday was the same day. She agreed to share her special day with us so we had a giant palm tree birthday cake made as opposed to a groom’s cake. It was a complete surprise and she really enjoyed it as right on cue our DJ sang the birthday song. We closed the night with “Now I’ve had the time of my life” from the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack and we hugged everyone and started off on our happy honeymoon.

Whew! That was so much fun to reflect on! I promise to account for our Hawaii adventures soon! Our wedding was so amazing and perfect. The weather cooperated and all of our family and friends had such a good time. They all keep going on and on about every amazing part and Kyle and I feel so very blessed. After a years worth of planning and coordinating the event I left that night feeling as if it all went 20times better than even I could have dreamed it.

Lots of Love!

L. Hall
Est. 11-3-07