Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going Hollywood with NickMom's "Take Me To Your Mother"


I've been wanting to share the photos that Hannah and I took of the Art Party I put together for the NickMom show Take Me To Your Mother for quite a while now- but I decided I'd better wait until after it aired as to not piss the Nickelodeon folks off!

It was such a surreal experience and I wanted to share as much of it with my blog readers as possible- because I mean I'm pretty much famous now. Like crazy, totally, can't walk out of the house without sunglasses (not true, I don't think my own mom has watched it) FAMOUS. If you haven't watched it yet- that's the link above! It's really a fun episode- hello I'm in it (albeit the last five minutes- but I'm in it).

Let's start at the beginning. A lot of people have asked me how I "got this gig" and the truth is, I really haven't a clue! I have a feeling the name Miss Party Mom Event Planning conjures way more attention than I was ever anticipating... Yay? I did something right? According to the assistant producer who contacted me, Miss Party Mom popped up when they were searching for party planning moms in California and they liked my work... Hey, I'll take it! They asked me in November to film myself answering a list of questions and send it in to see if I'd be an on-camera "fit"... I can't even believe I'm releasing that "casting tape" here on the blog but I am... I must be drunk right now? Anyway the rest is history- they called me in December and we agreed to film in mid February, 2014.

WARNING: This is RAW Miss Party Mom right here, are you ready for that? I cut it a little short because 10 minutes already seems like quite possibly way too long. Obviously a lot has changed since this vid- our home, my hair, my party planning career goals, etc. but here she is... My casting tape...

video

In one of the phone calls between myself, the producers and Andrea we decided we would do an Art Party theme for Odin. I was throwing Cormac's {POP! Art Party} in January and would be able to offer them a bit of a deal on that package since it was fresh in my mind and I had so much of the decor at my fingertips. We were in the middle of our big move to Santa Barbara so I needed a theme that was accessible and didn't require me reinventing the wheel... And also, Odin was killing it with his scribbles at that point- so Andrea thought the theme would be a perfect fit for him. I asked Sandy from Sandy Ford Design if she would do the honors of customizing yet another art party package for me- this time for Andrea and Odin- and she knocked it out of the park. I think Andrea was even impressed by how spot on the illustrations were. If you're looking for a custom illustrated touch for your own party- I highly recommend Sandy, she has various themes in her shop.



We filmed the show for two days, both of which were at Andrea's home in Los Angeles. The first day we did the "party prep" which is kind of like a cooking show... I had all of the finished product behind my back and yet on camera we were "crafting it in the moment".... And then, wah-lah, it's done! (I mean I am kind of magical like that when it comes to parties). C'mon... You don't think I would let anymore attempt to actually make a birthday banner the day I meet them, do you? That's like straight crazy. That takes months of me telling you how you're doing it all wrong.



The second day of filming we actually threw the party (Odin's preschool friends and their parents were invited). Of course I got seriously lost on my way to her house on my SECOND day of driving to the EXACT SAME HOUSE. And Hannah, God bless her... She might be worse than me with directions... Have I mentioned we're creative? So getting there late was pretty much the most stressful part of the day, at 8:00am. However once we got there we just hustled like two mad women getting our backdrop up, meeting Mallory from The French Confection Co. (who had our cupcakes, cookies and cake), then setting up our paint brush cake pops and paint palette cake balls from The MaD Cake Pop Shop along with all of our other dessert table decor. As we laid out our dipped and sprinkled fortune cookies by Pixie's Sweet Treats, Odin kept coming up and snatching them- they were definitely his fave! We got all of our desserts set up in record time... Even with a film crew "in our way" asking us to "do things slower" for filming purposes (slow and MPM don't mesh) and Odin (and Andrea!) munching away at the desserts... All I have to say is they're lucky I had camera's on me.




After the dessert table was set, we moved on to the kids eating area where we set up our cookie and cupcake decorating station. Each place setting had an easel cookie with edible ink markers for drawing on it, and a mini cupcake to decorate with sprinkles (also by The French Confection Co.). In the show, you can see my daughter Birdie skipping out on the actual drawing part and just going to town on licking the frosting off of her cookie. That's my girl...




In order to not totally piss off the parents (I mean I was jacking their kids up on sugar right before universal nap time) each child had their own "Odin's Art Party" apron and beret to wear because yes, I'm a mom too- and I'd totally hate me if their clothes were ruined after the party...

The awesome 36" confetti balloon by One Stylish Party was a total hit- the kids were actually obsessed with it- pulling it down and shaking up the confetti... Which I was totally cool and not bothered by at all... HA! In another dimension maybe? Don't worry, I totally kept my cool.


Along side the dessert decorating table, we had another activity table set where each child got a paper mache letter matching the first letter of their name (see how helpful RSVP's can be?!) and a custom made crayon roll made by The Fresh Stitch as their party favor. There were art crates and small boxes full of stickers, Do A Dot markers, washable paint, markers and crayons in the middle of each table for the kids to decorate their letters with. Because the kids were all around 3 years old, it was a great parent/kid activity and the letters actually turned out awesome. I love this idea for a party activity!



All in all it was a great experience. I knew all along Andrea was attending quite a few other "styles" of parties, so I didn't expect the show to be all about me. I'll take my 5 minutes of fame and I'll be looking for my other 10 minutes in the future!

Andrea was genuinely nice and followed up with me to thank me for a great party that her friends truly enjoyed... And to rave about how great the cake was (go Mallory!). Here are some more of the details from party day... Enjoy!

And remember... Take Me To Your Mother is on Sunday nights at 10pm on NickMom!

xo Party or Die xo
kenna



These plastic milk jugs from The TomKat Studio were a perfect child-friendly fit for our "creative juice"... You can see Andrea pouring in to them in the show (and me hovering over her as she does).





One Stylish Party

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Single Parenting and On The Verge of Losing It

We're on Day 5 of Shawn (aka daddy) being gone and it's just in the last two hours I've decided I might in fact loose my mind. I lasted a lot longer than I anticipated actually, not feeling even an ounce of resentment until today. And then it kicked in with a fierceness. The kids are not listening to me at all anymore. They've completely moved on from thinking I am any sort of authority figure in their lives. They're teamed up to beat me and guess what? They're winning. I am Brazil. They are Germany.
Birdie drew this earlier in the week and said, "Momma, it's you!" I should have taken it as an omen.
Two hours ago I suddenly felt like crying on the way home from a picnic with friends at the Mission. Not crying because I miss Shawn (is that mean? I don't mean it to be) but because I NEED A BREAK. I've said before that I don't know how military wives do it. I don't know how single parents do it. I don't know how moms (or dads) give of themselves all day every day and not want to just scream at their kids and random childless people at Costco who run to the "I can help the next guest in line over here!" register. Hey- asshole! Look at me- I have two kids poking each other's eyes out over here? Throw me a bone?

{And if Birdie kicks the wall while she should be sleeping ONE more time while I'm trying to blog, I might scream. I'm convinced most moms drink around bedtime. I need to get on this.}

It's been a crazy week in general with all these play dates I set up to distract the kids from Shawn being gone and then the Santa Barbara newspaper running a story on MPM and the upcoming Nickelodeon show this Sunday... I feel like I should be so excited and hopeful and yet, I'm just tired. I'm tired of thinking about the business and what steps I need to take... Right now I feel like I will never be able to put the time in to MPM that I actually want to. I can't even walk in to Coffee Bean for 5 minutes to pin up business cards without my kids fighting and screaming and embarrassing the living day lights out of me. Why can't we leave our kids in cars again? (Thanks to the idiot that had to screw that up for me.) I feel like I'm swimming an upstream battle by trying to relaunch this business as a "real business" while I'm raising my kids sans a nanny. And I only have two! And they're probably decent children! But my goodness they're needy! Like two full-time jobs. I mean seriously if I were President the SAHP (whether it be mom or dad) would get paid a nice fat salary! Sometimes I think it's crazy I do this all day and get no financial compensation! It's THE hardest work I've ever done.
I'm like that kind of famous that's anonymous. It's a special kind of famous. 


And then there's way more awesome moms out there attempting to explain homemade Play-Doe recipes to my kids. LALALALA- we're not listennning! I cannot handle regular Play-Doe, why would we make it homemade? That sounds like the worst idea evvverrr... Especially when the husband is gone. For a week. And our carpets already look like the dog just rolled around in mud on them. Oh wait that's right he did.

And to think Shawn will be gone for 3 weeks in October. I might hire a live-in nanny and preemptively join AA.

Friends keep "giving me ideas" for blogs to write while Shawn is gone. Yes you. And you. Stop. I have ideas- I've never been at a shortage for ideas to blog about. I'm actually avoiding the blog because I'm tired. Like blogging currently does not fit in to a kids-home-all-Summer-long-and-Mommy-gets-no-break lifestyle. I think people who don't blog think blogging is easy and posts just go up magically and within an hour. Hey- try it! It's not easy! It's time consuming! I wish it were easy and magical and that when I posted something people would just read it and share it and comment and I got a paycheck where I could buy a new rug every month. Gosh I love rugs.

I digress... I need my husband back. I need my wing man- my parenting wing man. Because I'm not cut out for single parenting. Did I mention Birdie peed on the couch twice this week so my living room inevitably smells like good ol' fashioned urine? Ya! And that she got ahold of a bag of sugar at 7am and filled 6 glass cups to the rim (and the floor all around) with it? Win! And Cormac's having night terrors again... Awesome! And yep, I just need to have a day to myself a-sap. Like a-lone. Like I don't even want a stranger to say hello to me. (Unless you saw me in the paper, then tell me how awesome I am.)

Here's a picture so you know we're all still alive. Well really just the kids because I'm pretty much dead. Tired. Dead tired. No reason to be alarmed. I'm totally alive and kicking. And screaming.



Ps- watch me on TV this Sunday night. I'll be moonlighting on Take Me To Your Mother on NickMom (check local listings for times). Who knows how long I'll be on or what I'm even going to say- I'm a loose cannon you know, so I don't even I know what I said... Hopefully something about throwing parties but I give no guarantees.

Earlier in the week we celebrated my niece's adorable self at a Peanuts Gang party that my sister handcrafted. 
See, I told you I'm alive.

xo Party or Die xo
kenna

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Great Grand Glittery Giveaway!

Hello Party People! 

Welcome to the Great Grand Glittery Giveaway!



I used to do a ton of Giveaways and then I just pretty much got over them. It's been a loooong time since I've participated in one- but this Giveaway just looked like too much fun to pass up! There's a bunch of opportunity (5 chances!) to win a bunch of cash... And a nice charitable surprise at the end as well- and who doesn't love a good surprise... for a GREAT cause?

On a personal note, I'm knee deep in Woodland Critters over at my house, as my daughter's 3rd Birthday is THIS SATURDAY and I'm turning our backyard in to a colorful forest of sorts. I know right, SCREEEEAM... it's officially Party Week! Chaos ensues.

I'll be back to blogging with my normal amount of irregular blogging once her party is over... I've got to tell you that I don't think I've ever had this much fun on a party... This theme is just so meeeeee!  errr... HER! Duh.

If you're not following me on Instagram you're SO missing out on all the pre-party details!

Back to the GIVEAWAY- it's an easy entry Rafflecopter Giveaway- which will take you less than 10 minutes to complete and that's a pretty short amount of time for a chance at winning $444! So best of luck to you! You're going to find some amazing party planners and shop owners in here- TRUST me when I say this is a crazy talented group I am honored to be a part of!

xo Party or Die xo
kenna



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 8, 2014

10 Tips For Turning a Party Planning Hobby Into a Business!

Well hello! It's been a while! (Have I said this before? It sounds eerily familiar...)

As some of you know I've recently graduated a program called Women's Economic Ventures in Santa Barbara, Ca. It was a 14 week intensive business class where the end result required turning in a business plan. After meeting with my WEV Mastermind group this week (we'll get to what a Mastermind is- no I haven't joined a cult) I realized something about getting this here blog post together. I was doing what I do best and playing the part of major perfectionist- not wanting to blog about what I've learned until I was sure EXACTLY what I wanted to convey. I've had so many people (particularly my fellow party planning mommas) ask me to share what I've learned that I was trying to find something down right profound to write!



Well- I can assure you profound isn't happening. While WEV taught me some awesome business practices that helped me get out of a major rut with Miss Party Mom- they are nothing break frame- just basic business disciplines my very much right-brained self formerly never cared to think about. In this post I've put together 10 (ok, I lied- 11) of my biggest take-aways from WEV. Some of you may say, "well duh!" to all 11, some of you may never have thought of any of them... And some of you may have 10 more things to add to my list! Whether you're starting your business or in the same similar rut I was, my hope is that this post may help you shape something in to being or help fix some things that aren't currently working.

"You have to give up on the life you have to get to the life that's waiting for you." -James Hillman

Although the class I just finished was for business owner's in general, I'm going to specifically zero in on my own industry of Party Planning. I know from experience that party planning is a vast industry with a lot of vagueness to it- which makes it down right hard to get properly started in. In 2012, when I launched MPM, I found myself getting lost with pricing, time management, financial organization, etc. Even a simple task like becoming an actual business was daunting to me. I am convinced I was so overwhelmed by the amount of things I needed to research and find answers to that I was paralyzed to do any of them. I'd talk a lot of talk about trying to figure out profitable pricing, accounting and market research but then I'd be so confused on how to "get there" that I'd just do things unprofessionally and pretty much be working for free... For years. I didn't know how not to work for free! Can anyone relate?!

Taking this leap to go back to school was my husband's strong encouragement that I look in to some business classes in order to run MPM as... wait for it, a business! Crazy thought. I stumbled upon WEV and the rest is history. I gained the knowledge and the confidence I really needed to move forward with Miss Party Mom Event Planning and now I'm excited to try this thang out in Santa Barbara. I just started passing business cards out and we'll see what happens next!

My expo booth at the WEV graduation this May...


Lastly, while I'm aiming this post at helping my fellow Party Planners- most of these ideas work across the board if you just tweak the language to your own industry. Here we go...

1) Get Organized With Your Business
We're going to start simple. a) Buy a notepad. b) Start making some lists. Make a daily list keeping it to less than 5 things (so you don't get overwhelmed) and a weekly list with bigger goals where you can aim to tackle one per week. While a notepad app is fine for this as well, I learned that most people get more out of physically crossing something off of a list... There's like research behind it and everything! Once you've finished with your list, toss it! If you don't get to something on the list for a few days in a row, consider moving it to the weekly list!

2) Do Your Market Research
Market research entails answering A LOT of questions that all start with, "Who is your target market?" Are you trying to be a budget, moderately priced or a high end party planner? What is the economic makeup of where you live? What is your competition charging? If you're living in a middle class area, can you honestly be profitable in this business? For me the answer was no! The town that I recently moved from couldn't grasp paying $1000.00 for a party- they just couldn't. As much as I wanted to do it, MPM wasn't a reasonable business to be running there- and continually doing $400.00 parties wasn't profitable for me- unless you consider $5.00 an hour profitable? When we moved to Santa Barbara I decided to restructure my pricing to a high end market, because I knew it was a possibility here. In the past 6 months I've been working on upgrading the overall "feel" of my business starting with easy things like printing my business cards on a shimmer stock, having my website overhauled to be more user friendly as well as my logo updated to give me the feel of a boutique-style children's party planner- the niche I'm desiring to be! I made the very hard decision to start wearing makeup to preschool drop-off- simply because I'm now trying to present myself as someone who throws high end parties... Not a sloppy last minute mom... My former (and closeted) self.

Figuring out who your clientele is will also help you in deciding where to put your advertising dollars. Obviously higher end planners would want to put their dollars in to private school yearbook ads and fundraiser booklets whereas a more budget planner might find clients simply through a Craiglist post. Go where your client is!

"The only people who never fail are the people who never try." 
-Ilka Chase


3) Get Your Logo Designed
There's a number of ways to go about doing this. If you don't have a friend or family member who can help with this (who's aesthetic you like) a place like Etsy has a plethora of talented graphic artists. There are also people who sell entire branding kits who you can pay to do everything from your logo, slogan, business cards, website and more, it really just depends on how much you want to invest upfront in the business. I personally had a talented friend design my logo as a trade for some design consulting- and after she was too busy to continue I hired another graphic designer to turn the logo in to marketing materials like postcards, business cards, etc. Make sure to stay consistent once you nail down your logo- you want one design to represent you so that your always recognizable.


4) Secure Your Domain Name and Social Media 
Go Daddy sells domains for under $15.00, as well as a bunch of other web hosts. So once you come up with your name- be safe and buy the .com asap! To give you an idea... I initially wanted to be "Party Mom" but the website wasn't available, so I brainstormed and came up with Miss Party Mom. Don't be shocked if the original name you want is taken- just get creative! Once you've got your domain, secure your social media names too- keeping everything as close to the same as possible. For instance, on Pinterest- I'm Miss Party Momma because that's all that was available, it's close enough and it works- just roll with it and do the best you can staying as consistent as you can.

5) Get a Business License
If you're trying to be a legit party planner, then be legit! I can't tell you exactly how long I postponed getting an actual business license because their might be a warrant out for my arrest if I do... But let's just say I took some sweet time. When I finally realized that it's a pretty important for a number of reasons including IT'S THE LAW, I got my business license and fictitious business name (DBA) filed within an hour for less than $100. I put it on my weekly list, figured out where I needed to go, got a babysitter and checked it off within the week, it was REALLY that simple.


6) Get a Business Checking Account
Once you have a fictitious business name, you can apply for a business account. Keeping your finances separate from your personal expenses is HUGE and probably my #1 biggest issue as a business owner. Along with a checking (and possibly savings account) you'll need to link it up to a PayPal Business so that you can pay for party stuff online (which, if you're like me- is where you make most of your purchases). Consider also getting merchant services set up to link to your business account in order to be able to receive payments in forms other than the way out-of-style check. On a side note- try and find free business banking, they're out there- trust me, just shop around!

7) Breaking Even and Profitability
How much money do the types of parties you wish to throw cost on average? AND how much profit do you need to make on these types of parties to feel accomplished and be profitable? You will probably only know these numbers after doing a couple of parties and seeing what the break even number is on them- meaning the amount of money you will need to make in order to cover the expenses of the party. Using something like an Excel spread sheet will help you keep track of your spending... And just remember if Miss Party Mom can learn Excel, so can you my friend- no excuses, I've burned through all of them. To really have a grasp on the break ever number you can keep close track of your own children's parties or consider doing a couple of pro bono parties for family or close friends. Once you know how much goes in to a party (remember things like gas, mileage, vendors, insurance, taxes, etc.)

While we're on the subject of money... How much is the business going to cost you to start up, ie: Start-up Costs? Would it be better to throw a few pro-bono parties in popular themes to gain inventory? Will you be borrowing from your personal finances? If yes, will you pay yourself back once you are up and running? Lots to consider when it comes to finances! Don't be like me and just try and ignore the money aspect as long as possible- it will catch up with you so you might as well address it early on! Meet with an accountant to help you get set up properly if you have to!

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." 
-Anais Nin


8) Pricing Your Work
Figuring out if you're a Product Based or Service Based business is important for pricing. Are you charging for your services (an hourly wage) or your product (for instance, say you sell a "Party in a Box")... OR both your Service and Product? I decided I would price myself as both and give my clients pricing options in 3 tiers (think Basic, Middle and All-Out). However, many other planners give their clients estimates using the Service Based pricing method, taking what their clients party desires are (let's say the cost to throw their party is an estimated $2000) and billing it all to the client, then tacking on their hourly rate estimating how many hours they think it will take to plan the party (and updating their client as they go). So something like this: an estimated 20 hours of party prep at $50.00 an hour = $1,000 estimated paycheck for the planner. This hourly rate will range according to where you live... In Santa Barbara the going rate is $75.00-$150.00 an hour! Wherever you are, it SHOULD NOT be minimum wage! Remember you are offering a service most people do not have the skill set or desire to do! Charge for that!

9) Learn To Sell Your Business
Here's the thing: YOU are your best sales person. I hate this concept because I HATE selling things. When I started out in this industry I had the mentality that my product would just sell itself because it was that good. Newsflash, it won't. Or if it does- it won't last forever. You need to get comfortable talking about your business whenever you can (without annoying people of course). This concept has been really hard for me, but I will say- the more you practice, the easier it gets. And don't EVER leave the house without business cards. Because when you do- you WILL meet that perfect client, it's like The Law of Bad Luck, I swear.

More so than just simply passing out a business card- come up with a little schpeale (referred to as an "Elevator Speech") about your business- 20 seconds max. One that you'd be able to recite quickly in an elevator if you had a chance to chat up a stranger. It should be a captivating statement that introduces your business; shares the most important details; and gets your audience excited to learn more. Here's mine as an example, "Miss Party Mom Event Planning specializes in custom, boutique-style children's birthday parties for busy parents who actually want to enjoy their child's big day!" I try not to repeat it verbatim every time because I don't want to sound like a robot but the frame work for what I'm trying to convey is there every time: custom, high end parties for busy working parents.



"An essential aspect to creativity is not being afraid to fail." 
-Edwin Land

10) Don't Be a Perfectionist
One thing I learned in WEV is that being a perfectionist is debilitating. It fools you in to thinking everything must be perfect or else it sucks. I've had this exact thought about launching my business, my blog, website, business cards- whatever it is- I always thought it must be perfect from the get-go and if it's not, it's not worth doing. I've held back on promoting my business in perfect opportunities because in my mind it was not "totally perfect" yet. Well I recently learned a phrase in WEV that said, "90% is good enough." Even just repeating it the first time my insides were screaming, "FALSE! I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS!". However, the more it was explained that if you're always aiming for perfection- you're never going to actually JUST DO IT (someone should make this a slogan or something...) the more it made sense because perfection is fleeting. Sometimes you've got to just get yourself out there and get better as you go. No one starts as perfect, even you Miss Party Mom!


"The most successful way to do it, is to do it." 
-Amelia Earhart

If you know me or have ever worked a party for me, you know that I am the biggest perfectionist that ever walked the planet- possibly some undiagnosed OCD, who knows!? I notice errors that no one should notice... And then I point them out to anyone who will listen. I'm hyper critical to say the least (don't I sound like a blast to work for?! I am). I used to think that in the party planning industry being a perfectionist was actually a great trait to have, but in actuality- if you plan on making party planning your business, you have to let some things go. For instance, spending copious amounts of time re-glittering something because you didn't like the way your intern did it: not time well spent- you've just lowered your hourly rate- a lot. As Queen Elsa said, "Let it goooo! Let it goooo! That mistake never bothered me anyway!" (Just lie, we know it did).

"Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It as nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop... a debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what your are creating and lose sight of the whole."
-Julia Cameron

BONUS TIP!

11) Networking and Mastermind Groups
Networking is probably my least fave word everrrr. It pretty much makes my skill crawl. The thought of standing around and hearing about other people's businesses and then talking about how awesome of a party planner I am... Ya, I'd rather be typing numbers in to an Excel spreadsheet. However, if you want to tap in to some serious free advertising, you've got to network. Imagine you're a party planner who's just met a face painter- you exchange cards. Face painter gets a call from a client about hiring them for their child's party. Now imagine face painter says, "Great! Would you be interested in talking to a party planner to help you with your child's party? I know the perfect person!" OR try the reverse. Party planner signs a contract for a party, "Would you like to have a face painter at your son's party? I know a talented one who can paint faces to match this theme!" It's a win-win. You can attend networking events (Contacts N Coffee is a big one) to specifically meet other like-minded business owners or you can just be intentional about meeting as many people in your industry as you can and try building your network that way.

Masterminds are groups formed for business professionals who want to help each other accomplish goals- kind of like an accountability group for business people. It is a very structured and time sensitive meeting that meets once a week, every other week or once a month. It is not the type of group that starts talking about Andi's choices on The Bachelor this week... It serves the purpose of personal business growth and it should be focused and have a facilitator who keeps everyone on track for maximum results. I joined one with my fellow WEV graduates and I'm pumped to continue my growth as a newly found business women!

Me and my fellow WEV ladies, I'm so inspired by this bunch!







So there it is, my Top 11 Tips in a nut shell.... Maybe at one point I will delve further in to a few of these, but I've got my daughter's party to plan which is happening SOON! Follow me on IG to join the woodland critter fun!

I hope at least one of these basic business principles caused you to think about your business in a new way!

xo Party or Die xo
kenna

Ps- I'm reading the "EMyth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Succeed" and so far, I'm loving it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Met & Married in 19 Days: 8 Years Later


Last year on Shawn & I's 7 year anniversary I wrote a blog titled Married in 19 Days: 7 Years Later about the how and why we did what we did. If you're new to the blog and don't know that story, then I encourage you to read it before this one... Otherwise this one won't make as much sense.

I actually wasn't planning to post anything for this year's 8 year anniversary because I felt like I pretty much said everything I wanted to say last year. However, when I started thinking about our marriage and marriage in general and how young people are prepared for (or not prepared for) marriage... Well, a rumbling within my soul arose and suddenly I felt eager to write another "Anniversary Post".

So CHEERS (Clink! I hope you like champagne!) to the 2nd annual Met & Married in 19 Days!

About a week ago, when I started getting antsy about writing this post, blog after blog full of the exact content I was wanting to share just started appearing before me, inspiring me all the more to say some unpopular truths about marriage. It was like the blogosphere was calling to me... Read me, link me, re-blog me... Oh don't you worry little blogs, I will.

Side note: While I really love and am grateful for any reader who stumbles upon this blog... With this certain topic on marriage, as I began writing, I realized I was writing in particular to my single female readers... And if you're a Christian single female- like I was 8 years ago- this is for you all the more.

(We're still side noting, bee tee dubs- (my brother taught me that))... When a person chooses to begin blogging they do give up a certain amount of anonymity. As much as I don't like to go around shouting from the roof tops that I am a pastor's wife, it is a part of my story and a piece of who I am in my life right now. The same goes for being a Christian. While I don't use this blog to necessarily communicate my faith- I am a lover of Jesus and this makes up a huge part of my past and present.

I say that to say... I have experienced most of my adult life through a Christian woman's eyes. I wouldn't say lens- because I'd like to think I'm more open minded than only knowing what goes on in Christian culture... But I would say that I have reaped both the blessings and curses of being "raised" a young Christian woman. My values, ideals and ideas on marriage were all shaped by a churched upbringing.

With marriage on my mind all the more these days with two of our good friends getting hitched in the next few months, I truly can't seem to get away from the topic. One of these two weddings Shawn will be officiating, and the other one I am a bridesmaid in. As I plot fabulous outfits for one, and start planning an amazing Bridal Shower for the other I remember how ironic it is that at one time all I cared about was making sure my marriage looked about as good as my church clothes. Thank God (literally) I've finally gotten past that.

In a jog down memory lane from the last 8 years I've come up with a few ideas on marriage I'd like to share. Things I have learned through the elite school of Marriage Hard Knocks. With these ideas I am going to link a blog that I REALLY think you should read if this topic of marriage speaks to you at all. There is "language" in a couple of the blogs... Just close your eyes at the word and it'll be ok... No seriously.

Please Don't Rush It.

Look, I think I can speak to this one. Don't use us as an example and think getting married in 19 days is the way to go because it, "seems to have worked for them!" If you've met us, you know there is a lot of tenacity, stubbornness and competitive drive pulsating through this relationship. To get to where we're at took more work than I'd ever like to admit and you probably don't have it in you. Just sayin'.

8 years later I can admit that at 25 I was feeling some pressure to get married. Not from my parents, not even my friends... But from the church. At 25 as a Christian woman, I might as well have been 40+. At church, married people are the popular ones and as much as I hate to admit it, I didn't like the feeling like an "outsider". Now let me tell you that plan backfired just a bit- because getting married in 19 days is NO way to make you an insider at church (trust meeee!) But, at least you're married, right? You're in "the club"!

Well, 2 years in to my marriage, miserable and wondering why the hell I gave up my awesome single life I was asking myself why I cared so much about when people thought I should get married. But at that point all I could do was figure it out since I was newly pregnant with Cormac- because if you're not pregnant after two years of marriage, people suspect you're unhappy... AND WE WERE HAPPY DAMMIT.

READ THIS BLOG>> Wait But Why, "How To Pick Your Life Partner, Part 1 (&2)"

It's OK To Fight.

I didn't use that nicer word "argue" purposefully because Shawn and I have had some knock-down-drag-outs, without the actual knock-downs of course (although I did throw a shoe at him once). For some reason I assumed because we were Christians and loved God and scripture and all things holy, we'd be immune to real fighting... HA! That was so cute.

To this day we bicker on a daily basis. And you know what? It works for us. When I was just trying to be perfect and not stir anything up in our marriage- I was angry, bitter and unhappily married. But we looked good on the outside and that is huge when you're young and married and no one else is being real about their marriages and its just smiles and #DateNight #Selfies everywhere! At some point we decided to embrace being imperfectly married and that's when change began. Now a days, the minute anyone tries to tell me how cute of a couple we are, I assure them we fight... Daily. I refuse to be the poster couple for a perfect marriage because I'm sorry, I don't believe such a thing exists. I don't care how sweet your parents marriage looks or the neighbors or that couple at church or some fairytale you heard about, "So and so never having had ONE fight..."  In my humble opinion, if a couple isn't EVER arguing I feel bad for one of them because feelings aren't being shared and someone isn't happy. Ever heard of a little word called resentment? There, I said it. (Love killer over here...)

You Better WURK.

On a similar note, I don't care if you've dated 19 years or 19 days- you better be ready to work when you get married. You better have the best flippin' honeymoon you can possibly afford, because you're about to enter in to a commitment with someone where you will be doing things together like budgeting your finances, switching careers, moving homes, going back to school, raising children... Sometimes all at once! Your spouses passions on life just might change- they might experience depression, anxiety... If you believe in the sanctity of marriage, I hope you're ready to work HARD at protecting it.

READ THIS BLOG>> Renegade Mothering, "What's Love Got To Do With It?"


Sex Isn't Everything.

I was going to write some thoughts on this because I have them, but when I reread the blog I'm linking that my good friend Karissa recently wrote I realized she's pretty much covered all of the bases... PUN INTENDED.

READ THIS BLOG>> Weird Eyes, "Sex In The Eye of The Beholder"


In summary... I really don't want to come across as anti-love or anti-young marriage. That's seriously not my goal in writing this. It's just that this thing called holy matrimony is not easy...  And I guess I feel that there are enough people out there pretending it is, that I need to come around once and year and remind some folks- it's not. No matter if you're a Christian and taught to, "not let the sun go down on your anger" (HA!) or an atheist who's marrying another atheist... Cohabitating isn't easy. Raising kids isn't easy. Sharing finances isn't easy. It all takes work, communication, compromise, listening, putting another person first and SO. MUCH. MORE. And trust me, it's a lot easier to hear it, type it and say it then it is to DO IT, every day- for always.

Us. 8 Years Later.

Ok, so now after writing all of that, I've got to add a little bit of sappy to this post, I mean- it is my anniversary! Eight years ago on this very day I went to the Norwalk Courthouse at 9am to receive balloon flowers from my soon-to-be husband, a strapping young lad named Shawn, something or other O'Brien... After knowing him for less than a month. Why not?! (Pictures in the first post)

One thing I love about Shawn and I's relationship is that we've never had "rules" for each other in terms of looks and hobbies. I love that I can freely be me, it has given me a huge sense of security in our marriage. If I want to shave the side of my head one day, without warning- Shawn doesn't hold me back. If he wants to grow a beard out for a solid year... He does. I don't like to surf, hike or read books on theology and he doesn't craft, throw parties or read blogs. And that's fine. If every once in a while we do one of these things for each other, it's out of love and all the more special... But I don't need a clone, and I quite like being married to someone with their own interests.

In the same way we allow each other to grow as humans. I am trying to launch a career in party planning and starting off by going back to school. He is starting a doctorate program in New Testament History (or something). We work hard at making sure both of our dreams are met, so neither of us feels stifled in life.

I also love and am proud of our dedication to each other. We have grown so SO much in the last 3 years particularly and it makes me so glad I married as equally a stubborn man, who was willing to go through thick and thin to work this out.

Looking forward to growing old and crotchety with you babe... I have a feeling the best is yet to come.


Kenna & Shawn
 
5.3.06
 
Together FoEver
 
The End.