Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Writing at the 'Bucks

As we recover from the flood of 6 weeks, has it been that long already?...I've been displaced to the Starbucks for internet access. Today we're getting the carpeting after the drywall has been finished. Today should be it for the carpet and then we move to building a new closet for LL and painting the ceiling. There just wasn't enough time to get all of that done before the carpet came, but that's ok. THEN we can start putting everything away and sorting through our wedding gifts and finding places for those things. Very exciting, but also a bit of work.

So this year, in addition to being married, the Fall is a little different than in the past. For one, I have very little softball on the calendar. So much weekend free time!! On the other side of things though, we're fortunate to have a bundle of good people as friends, most of whom want to have dinner with us. That's awesome, don't get me wrong and I wouldn't have it any other way, but scheduling folks can be time consuming. What a great problem to have!!

This week is flying by with all the work in the condo being done and some longer phone calls (one was 4 1/2 hours!), which is not good as I haven't been able to do stuff that I need to get done. I won't let it interfere with golf though which is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon as well as Saturday. Sunday is the Bears game and Smitty and Bill the Bear will be joining LL and me. Should be fun.

The following weekend I was supposed to have a softball tournament in Vegas, but our team sort of fell apart. Benny Baseball has been MIA for several weeks now and nobody is really sure what he's up to or how he's doing. He's not returning calls or emails and people just want to know if he's ok! His birthday is 9/11 which was the Bears home opener and not only did he bail on that game, he missed the Packer game as well! We're pretty concerned about him and have even had people stop by his house. No luck so far. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Recovering from Bears game

I'm recovering from an upsetting loss to the much hated Green Bay Packers, so my post is delayed. Plus there's mucho work to do!! I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Back to normal?

Not much else to say about the wedding events and the time in Puerto Rico. Now it's back to the reality of day-to-day living and crazy temperature swings in Chicago, at least crazy relative to the stable temps in Puerto Rico.

Our downstairs area is still torn up, but things are looking up. While in PR, we had Manual Labor Mike put in two curbs to block future overflowing drains from flooding the basement. The one we had MLM do previously, held tight during the flood. The two curbs we added were in the entryway to the boiler room and in the downstairs shower. There was already a smaller curb in the shower as you would expect, but now it's a super structure!

The rest of the replacement work starts today, but in earnest tomorrow. The drywaller is coming in to begin replacing the drywall and then the carpet, which has already been ordered, will be installed. Hopefully the drywall can be finished by early next week and the carpet laid by the end of the week. We'll see.

Last night we had dinner with a very pregnant friend, Carol and her husband John, with whom I played softball up to last year. Carol is ready to pop at any minute....ANY minute. Next Monday they go in and take the little fellar out if he doesn't come out naturally by then. Unfortunately, at the end of the evening, LL got really sick. We headed home quickly and she was in bed within minutes. She's doing a little better today, which is good news.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kayaking and Ziplining

This weekend we headed to Muncie Indiana, about 4+ hours away for a softball tournament in which we needed to participate in order to qualify for Vegas next month. Mission accomplished, but we weren't as successful with a somewhat depleted team, as we would have liked. We went 1-2 and had an early exit. Personally I struggled to get my swing down the first two games, going 3-7 and not really making good contact at all. Before the third game though, I bought a new bat, slightly heavier than the one I've used this year and went 3-4 including a triple and a double. I need to do more of that when we get to Vegas.

Some more pictures post-wedding:

On Monday afternoon we went ziplining at this park.

All geared up, mid-way through the 11 runs we did.

Pictures of LL and I on one of the platforms and a shot of one of the platforms from which we would launch ourselves.

Here's LL displaying good form on the zipline! She was not really jacked about doing this, nor was her mother, but the group had a blast!

This view is from our room at the resort to which we moved on Tuesday. This bay is where we started our bio-bay tour on Sunday night. The picture on the left shows the entrance to the mangrove water-way is on the right side and the bio-bay itself is on the left. So we had to kayak for probably 30 minutes or so to get to the bio-bay. Once there, the water sparkled with life. It was truly amazing. When you disturb the water, with your hand or paddle, the little organisms in the water glow green. It's really cool.

This is the view upon leaving the hotel lobby at the El Conquistador Resort. Pretty nice.

We had lunch down by the ocean one day and had this view. Very pleasant.

One day we went over to Palomino Island, the private island for the hotel to which they run a ferry every 20 minutes or so. We were only going to go for the morning, but we liked it so much we stayed all day! There's a restaurant and plenty of water activities if you choose to partake. We chose to lounge.

We went to an Asian restaurant in the hotel and found a way to beat their ridiculously priced entrees: get an appetizer and split one entree. They have a captive audience as it costs at least $15 to grab a cab off the premises, so they inflated their prices a tad. We never went hungry though and couldn't even finish one entree at the Italian restaurant we visited. Score one for us!

I finally got to go golfing while in Puerto Rico and actually played the course twice. Good fun.

This tree is on the golf course. That's a termite nest on the tree with pathways for the termites to follow up and down and all around the tree. Pretty cool.

I snapped this picture on my way back from golf one day. I believe it's a ginger blossom and was very pretty in the sunlight.

This picture was actually from Old San Juan and it's funny because it's raining outside (this was the day after we got down there I believe) and the cat is taking shelter. We were also taking shelter, huddled under umbrellas and trying to get cell reception nearby. Not the highlight of the trip by any stretch.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Wife Comes Home Tomorrow

Still getting used to wife. It's nice! Late this afternoon I went golfing with Bill the Bear and Nick the Greek, who is really Italian but looks Greek. The upshot of that information is that we went out for food and beer afterwards and now it's late so no post-wedding pictures today.

Anyway, LL comes home from Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon. Yay!!

I'll try to post some post wedding pictures. We went ziplining and on a kayak trip and then the honeymoon! All good stuff to come.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Reception Time!

I'll just jump into the pictures as it's really late tonight:

This was a low-rise table setting. We also had taller displays on every other table.

Here's the room setup. The table in the middle is actually four round tables and held the wedding party. We decided it was better to be able to see the better men and matron of honor instead of being in a long table where we couldn't talk.

The cakes! The flavors were vanilla, vanilla/chocolate swirl and red velvet.

Wedding cake topping close up.

One of the taller flower arrangements. The ginger is beautiful.

Eating the cake....oh no! It was mostly chocolate from the swirl. We wanted it to be vanilla. Damn. Hence the smirk on our faces.

LL's dad, sister, niece and my niece practicing the hokey pokey in the back room before the reception officially started.

We did walk around and say hi to all the tables early in the evening. Since we saw most everyone for a few days before the wedding, and after, this wasn't a huge focus for us. Here though we're visiting with my dad.

Here's LL parents, Don and Mary. They were integral to the whole wedding both financially and in man hours (or woman hours) of various tasks.

This was from the father/daughter and mother/son dance. It was At Last by Etta James.

Here's LL kicking it up with her nephew Ben.

Instead of going up for our first dance, the announcement of the first dance set in motion my posse: Naperville Greg to the guitar, Joisey Ken to set up a chair on the two stair stage for LL and Ricardo to position the microphones. LL had no idea what was being planned, but she does not like to be the center of attention to any great degree. I thought she'd like this though.

Here's Greg all set up.

To what end? Joe is about to sing to her! That's right. Instead of dancing to "I want to grow old with you" by Adam Sandler (aka Robbie Hart) from The Wedding Singer, Greg played the guitar while I sang the song. Even after breaking up during our vows and my welcome speech, I nailed the song.

And LL loved it.

Greg was pretty proud of me too!

And our real first dance, to Unforgettable by Natalie and Nat King Cole.

Now for the rest of the story. As we sat down to dinner and the Better Men and Matron of Honor gave their speeches, I quickly became very, very ill. I was sweating profusely, had the chills and couldn't eat any of the delicious dinner we had picked out. It was a no brainer to me that I had food poisoning or was getting a Meniere's attack and was not long for the party. LL was very concerned for me, but I really wanted to at least get through singing the song before leaving. The question was, could I make it to and then through the song?? Well, it turns out that it was just nerves! That may have seemed obvious to you, but I've spoken in front of groups as large as 600 people before, so being nervous was never a consideration for me. Maybe I'd forget the words or break down while singing, but I wasn't going to be nervous.

Well, it must have been the nerves because I felt 100% better as soon as the song was over and was very thankful that we decided to have snack food brought out around 10:00 or so as that became my dinner. It wouldn't have been another day of the wedding without some kind of drama!!

The Sutton, Davis and Kulinski Families.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ok, here are some more pics

The wedding day finally arrived and the weather was finally nice with no threat of rain. After a breakfast of Mallorca-egg-cheese-bacon sandwich and Puerto Rican coffee, I lazily went up to the sitting area where the honor bar was located as well as a few computers. Much to my surprise, there was LL!! Oh no!! No, not to worry, apparently seeing the bride before the wedding only counts if she's in her dress, which she wasn't. It was still 5 hours before the wedding and 3 hours until pictures, so she was still in the process of being "made up".

Shortly thereafter, the power went out...again. Arrrrrggghhhhh!! NO WAY!! Yep. But fortunately it only went out for about 15 minutes and then popped back on. No delay in LL getting ready or anything like that. It wouldn't have been our wedding day if the power hadn't gone off!

As the hour approached, I was huddled in a room with my two Better Men, the ushers and readers. It was a nice posse! Other people have a best man, but I had two Better Men (Ricardo and Joisey Ken). Why two and why Better? Two because why do I have to choose? Just because some ancient convention says so? Crap to that. And Better men because my best men are better than your best man and I think of them as better than me in many ways. Just seemed natural to me.

As the time to go out arrived, I wasn't nervous at all. What did I have to be nervous about? LL is awesome and I'm a lucky guy. So here are the pictures. I'll write tomorrow about the ceremony and reception.

This canopy would serve as the backdrop for our vows. The table underneath is where we lit the unity candle and signed our marriage license, in front of everyone as is the custom in Puerto Rico.

Here's the view above the canopy.

Here's a picture of where the 75 guests sat for the ceremony.

The flower girl and ring bearer. LL's sister and Matron of Honor, Linda.

Joisey Ken and Ricardo, probably trying to figure out what they did with the rings.

A great picture of Ken cracking up after I turned to him and said, "You and Rich have been a huge disappointment." No idea what I meant by that, but pretty much anything would have been funny at that moment.

And there's my gorgeous wife-to-be! Obviously she's getting ready to walk down the aisle.

A close-up of LL and her bouquet.

Here LL is saying her vows. She started crying during my vows, which caused me to break down as well. I'm a softie....I know.

Lighting the unity candle and the happy couple being introduced.

Yay us!!!

The table which held the names and table assignments greeted the guests. That leads us to the reception, which I'll cover tomorrow.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

So where are the wedding pictures already?

Ok, here's the deal, it was a bears home game today (the season opener in fact) which meant tailgating. Which meant yesterday(Saturday) was spent preparing for the tailgate, which I had to do all by myself since LL is in Hong Kong.

Oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, LL bailed on her new husband and headed to Hong Kong for a meeting. Granted, I could have gone with her, but she was flying business class so I would have had to shell out who knows how much money for a ticket AND miss the home opener. Plus we would have stayed longer than just until Thursday and we were already gone for two weeks recently if you recall.

In addition to doing all the shopping, cooking and car loading and unloading by myself on Saturday, I had an electrician in to fix a nagging problem down stairs. For my 900 square foot plus basement, one outlet was on one circuit breaker and everything else was on another circuit breaker. This meant that whenever LL used the hairdryer while the television and computer were on, the circuit would trip and cut power. Not good. So a sub contractor for a friend of mine spent 8 hours with an assistant running wires and rewiring breakers, which meant no computer for Joe. Now we have the outlets on four breakers and all should be good once he comes back to finish the final touches (he left at 8 p.m.). It took a few hours just to figure out where all of the lines were splitting off from and it turned out to be an electrical box buried in the ceiling, which resulted from sub standard work done by non-licensed contractors (who were inexpensive).

ON TOP OF ALL OF THAT, LL and I went to a wedding on Friday evening of my good friend and Bears co-fan, Doug. His father has the seats right next to mine at Soldier Field and we've become good friends over the years. Doug's bachelor party was up in Wisconsin a few weeks ago and I attended.

So anyway, it's been a busy few days and I'll work on uploading the pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A little more time tonight than last night as we went out to see the in-laws for dinner. It was a nice visit but we got home late.

So where did I leave off? Let me check...ahhhh, wedding day! This is going to be good!

The day really started where Friday ended, with Ricardo dragging me, the Cliffords and my brother-in-law Greg, to the bar across the street where I ended up playing some non-English speaking, toothless, potentially homeless Puerto Rican in pool. It was supposed to be Ricardo, but next thing you know I'm playing this guy. After one game and a beer, we left. My memory is fuzzy as to what happened next, whether we went back to the pool or whether I went to my room. Yes, it was just MY room as LL worked out in our contract that she would get the bridal suite for both Friday AND Saturday night so we would sleep apart on Friday night. Yours truly was none to happy about that idea, but I acquiesced. Plus she was getting her hair done and all sorts of girlie things were going to happen early in the morning.

You know what? I just looked at the photo sharing site we have set up and there are now 607 pictures up! I'm going to copy some of them from the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner first and get to the wedding tomorrow. What a tease!!!

Obviously LL and me and then my mom and me as I practice walking her down the aisle.

Joisey Ken walking LL's sister Linda and Ricardo walking with my niece, Sommer.

LL's father practicing giving away LL.

Taking instructions from the minister we used.

Rehearsing the vows.

Rehearsal dinner time!

LL's uncle, aunt and cousins. No, the uncle doesn't ever smile.

LL and her mom. Her mom did a great job helping out.

LL's sister and bro in-law. My cousin Mike and his wife Kendal, who took a ton of pics too!

My sister Lori and my mom.

Me and my sister Bee.

Me with Smitty and his wife Beth. We had a great time with them!

Laura with one of her best friends Nicole and her husband Ben.

The Groom's Cake! Yep, that's Homer! It was carrot cake and it was delicious.

Those are mojitos and yes they were delicious and they led to......

....surprise, surprise....Ricardo leading me in a dance after the Flamenco dancers took off after a brief appearance. You can see how this night was going to end up the way it did!