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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year...

Al and I had a fantastic New Year's Eve, though I was feeling somewhat sick-ish. :/ This year is all about fiscal responsibility for us, so we did dinner on the cheap. Because of my amazing future brother-in-law, Joey's awesome Christmas gift, we had an Outback gift card burning a hole in my pocket.

We had a few (alcoholic) drinks...

Side note: Al hates it when I say that I'm going out for 'drinks'. He thinks I need to be more specific, so I have tried to start specifying when we are consuming alcoholic beverages. ;)

Afterwards, we headed out to Jeff and Carrie Gaede's house for a NYE party. We had a great time hanging with friends and consuming more alcoholic beverages.

As you can imagine, I started my year off by sleeping till about noon. Awesome! :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Love

Al and I were so lucky to be surrounded by so much love at Christmas this year. As usual, we started off our Christmas celebration at my Grandma Michelle and Grandpa Don's house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

I have to take a moment and announce just how grateful I am to be part of such a loving, supportive family. I have the most amazing family members around whom I can be totally myself. Also, I have to say, they crack me up too! There is always so much laughter and joy at celebrations like these. In addition, I feel like I got extra lucky because I'm actually marrying into a family perhaps as amazing as mine! :)

This year, we opened presents after having some appetizers and drinks when we arrived. I am always amazed by the incredible generosity my grandparents have and this Christmas was no different.

Al and I received some great gifts, including a few items from our wedding registry. John and Jean got us the wine glasses I loved at Crate & Barrel. As you can see, we began enjoying them immediately...

However, Al took interest in some of Jack's new toys as well...

After gift-giving, we all headed upstairs for perhaps my favorite part of the evening: pigs in blankets! This is actually one of my favorite Panovich Christmas traditions. My grandparents also made country burgers...delicious...and had a complete spread of amazing sides and desserts to go with it. Needless to say, I was feeling a bit round-ish after this part of the evening.

Right after dinner, we made our charity presentations about what we each did with the $200 my grandparents gave us. This year, Al and I donated ours to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Champaign County. It was so awesome to hear all the different charities everyone chose and how far they were able to make their money go. This is a great tradition and I look forward to it every year.

The next morning, we work up to the sight of a beautiful tree decorated by my fam and enjoyed my mom's sausage bread for breakfast (yet another food-related thing that I love about Christmas)! We opened presents and were all super happy with what we got. For Al and I, Katy and Tyler got a beautiful vase we registered for at Crate & Barrel. Ty and Katy each got books...

and Katy even got an iPhone! Now we can FaceTime chat...woot woot!

That evening, we headed to Al's mom and dad, Mary and Ed's house in Rantoul to celebrate Christmas with his family. I received some awesome gifts from his mom, sis, and bro! (They all know me so well; thus, there was chocolate, Sephora, and steak involved in those gifts-three of my most favorite things, but not necessarily in that order.) Per usual for me, I once again stuffed my face until I couldn't eat anymore. ;)

All in all, it was a pretty awesome Christmas...I have to keep reminding myself that next Christmas, I'll be sending out cards signed by Lisa Nuku! :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


At work, we call our boss, Darin, the "taskmaster". Over the last few months of wedding planning, I have been striving to get as much done as possible before the spring craziness of teaching at a high school (and being a yearbook advisor at publication time-OY!) kicks in. Thus, I feel that I have begun to take on a similar "taskmaster" attitude. Though this attitude often makes me a little skittish, I am really liking that Al and I are checking so much off of our list.

Also, can I please be bragadocious for a moment? We have managed, thus far, to plan our entire wedding credit-free! This will be such a relief come June! :) Go Monteer-Nuku Super Team!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hangin' with Coco!

Now that I'm off from school for Christmas Break, I can finally sit back and relax! Of course, I have plenty of yearbook, classroom, and wedding planning to take care of, but I feel much more prepared for my break this year! I got all of my grading done early and can fully relax and can begin 2011 fresh and rejuvenated!

One of my favorite things about days off from school is setting aside time to hang out with one of my best friends, Colleen, and her son Andrew. Today, we met up at her house first and when we were trying to decide on lunch, we found that we were both dreaming of Monical's! We ventured out into the frightful weather, and fulfilled our mutual craving, with Andrew there to make us laugh along the way.

While at lunch, I approached Colleen with a special wedding surprise. Wedding plans are not always set in stone, so, due to some recent changes in our wedding, I had an opportunity to ask Colleen to be a bridesmaid! I can only say that I wish I had asked her a long time ago. She's been there as an amazing friend over the past several years, and I am very thankful to have her in my life. I so hope that she can make it to Mexico and can stand up there with me on my and Al's wedding day!

I think Kim, Colleen, and I make a pretty adorable trio, if I do say so myself! Add in Katy and Becky, and I think we've got a pretty dang cute bridal party! Woot woot!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ava's First Day of School!

Today, Kristin brought in an unexpected surprise at the end of finals...

I wish this little cutie could come to school with her every day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I'm always missing my best friend, Becky, now that she's relocated to New Jersey. Sometimes, certain things happen that will remind me of just how much I love her, and how much I wish she was here to laugh with me!

One such instance would be any time that I hear the word 'inevitable'. Even if nobody else understands, Becky and I hear this word completely differently from anyone else. It all stems from Becky's preparation for a college speech, a horrible (but hilarious) cartoon movie, and a long walk to class with each of us doubling over in laughter.

Oh, how I miss my Becky Head!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Caden's First Year!

Today, I celebrated a very special day with the Melby family-Caden Luke's first birthday. Unfortunately, Al was in Chicago for the Bears game...

Note the many layers necessary for this December game! I attended this Cookie-Monster themed event solo.

I always look forward to parties thrown by Jeff and Holly, as there is always such consideration for the guests involved. Case in point: the fantastic cookie arrangement Holly put out downstairs with about 10 different kinds of the delectable treat! Of course, it's always just nice to be around these two and their two cuties, as you can sense such a strong bond of familial love between the four of them, which they openly share with others. It makes me so excited for the days (soon) when Al and I will begin a family of our own!

Caden's entrance into the world a year ago was full of joy. He is the first boy to be born to any of Al's siblings, thus making him my soon-to-be very first nephew-YAY! I was in love with him from the very first moment I held him...

And now, "Baby Caden" seems to no longer be a tiny baby, but instead has grown into a very sweet little boy. I really enjoyed getting to spend this special day with Caden and fam...and the cookies didn't hurt either!

Happy birthday baby little boy Caden!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Spirit

I have been notorious over the past few years for being somewhat resistant (not on purpose) to the Christmas spirit. Somehow, with wrapping up the semester, administering and grading finals, and getting caught up on everything else at school, things just always seem to pass by without me noticing.

However, this year, I have made a conscious effort to improve my Christmas-y-ness. (I'm an English teacher, so I'm allowed to make up words.) :)

December 4th provided the perfect opportunity to get Christmasfied! First, it snowed a TON the night before, so I woke up to a glorious winter wonderland. Then, my friend, Coco invited me over to make cookies with Kim and Baby Andrew. Though I was worried about passing my flu virus on and just watched the cookie-making, I was still getting filled with cheer. Mostly because of this little baker...

More sprinkles, ladies!
Then, I headed over to Krannert to meet up with Holly, and her friend and neighbor, Sara to see The Nutcracker. Naturally, I was excited to see this, as I've never been to a ballet before, let alone a classic. 

It was a fantastic day, filled with some of my favorite people and a truly lovely atmosphere of Christmas spirit. Go me! Thanks for the help, ladies! :) 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Al and I reached an entirely new level of romance (Holly's beautiful way of looking at my unfortunate situation) when I became sick on Wednesday. I actually threw up for the first time in front of my fiance, which would have been traumatic, if I didn't have the best fiance in the entire world. He was so sweet and took wonderful care of me, jumping to fulfill each of my saucy demands. Prime examples are as follows:

1. "Can you pick up some applesauce? ...the natural kind though, I don't think I can eat anything else."
2. "While you're up, can you get me some lotion? I think I'm dehydrated, and it's hurting my skin. Can you get my face lotion, too?" [followed by an interesting back and forth over which one was the 'face lotion']

I think it's safe to say that I lucked out with Mr. Nuku... :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree...

Due to an unpleasant tree experience last year (see me for details), Al and I were quite glad to have a stress-free tree outing this year!

We decided not to cut the tree down ourselves (good decision #1) for the first time in our relationship, and went to a lot in Champaign instead. We found a beautiful tree with short needles, which are easily vacuumed (good decision #2). Finally, we made tree decorating into a fabulously Christmas-y event which took place the FOLLOWING night, seeing as we were both feeling exhausted (good decision #3)!

On that glorious Monday night of tree decorating, Al and I started with some fancy seasonal eggnog.

Al and I then turned on Scrooged (an uplifting Christmas classic), and began our lovely decorating adventure!

The tree turned out so pretty...and the perfect dog-admiring-Christmas-tree pose is not too shabby either!

We finally did it!

For the past two years, Al and I have gone pumpkin-pickin' and never actually carved them. This year was a first!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kim's Engagement ParTAY

Tonight was the night we celebrated Kim and Ryan's engagement! I am so excited for these two. They have such a special bond, and I feel very lucky to be involved in their life together!

The evening started out with some tasty food and drinks. We all sat around and chatted, but were anxiously awaiting what we had all come there to find out...Kim and Ryan's wedding date! However, we patiently enjoyed our dinners and continued visiting with one another. It was really nice to get to spend some time with Kim and Ryan's family members and closest friends. Both of them are very lucky to have supportive families who love them and are so excited for the wedding!

Such was evidenced by Kim's dad, Tim's sweet announcement of congratulations after dinner. He recalled a family bowling night during which the Ludwigs first met Ryan, and his beautiful daughter, Sam, and it was so clear how much of a bond this family has already formed.

Directly afterwards, Kim and Ryan made the big announcement! They are getting married on June 18, 2011 in Urbana! YAY! This, of course, is the weekend before the Al and I get married, so this will be a very busy and fun-filled couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to it!

We all relaxed and visited with one another before Kim and Ryan made their second big announcement: who the bridal party and groomsmen would be. Kim asked her bridesmaids to be involved with very sweet, personalized photo cards and Ryan asked his groomsmen by awarding them a medal! What a fun way to tell everyone!

I know Kim and I are now both counting down to our wedding days, and are running around super busy trying to get everything done, but I feel so lucky to have one of my best friends going through this with me at the same time. It's nice to be able to share our joy with each other over this huge event, and admittedly, many of our frustrations as well. I'm so glad to have such wonderful friends!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kimmy d. finds THE dress!

Tonight, I accompanied one of my very best friends, and bridesmaids, Kim Ludwig to her champagne appointment at Michelle's Bridal to look for her wedding dress. Kim had already tried on a few dresses elsewhere, but was really excited to see what Michelle's had in store for her.

Kim told her giant group of fans ahead of time what she thought she would be interested in, and we all searched for dresses that fit the bill, while sipping champagne/grape juice and snacking on hors d'ouvres. I can't share pics of any of the dresses, for obvious reasons, but everything looked amazing on her! We all had fun playing dress-up with our little Kimmy doll!

Afterwards, the ladies of the bridal party searched for our bridesmaid dresses in Kim's chosen color, pool. It's a very pretty light blue that I think will be gorgeous on everyone on the big day.

After taking care of all of the important stuff, Colleen, Kim, and I snuck off to M2, the section of the store devoted to outfitting girls for special occasions like dances. They were having a big sale and Coco found the perfect gown!

This was a wonderful night filled with lots of wedding excitement. Thank you to Kim for including me in all of the important decisions leading up to your big day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alberto's Birthday

This year, Al's birthday was so incredibly relaxing. Most of it was spent being lazy on the couch, which, apparently was just what he wanted!

However, the day before Al's birthday, his wonderful friend, Greg planned a special birthday tailgate. Despite the freezing weather, it was awesome to get to celebrate Al's 32nd birthday with some of his best friends at the Illini game and tailgate. 

I cooked breakfast for us in the morning, and we watched movies for most of the afternoon. Of course, there was a strong focus on delicious food all day, which is why I cooked Alberto red velvet birthday whoopie pies.

I'm so lucky to have such an amazing man as my fiance! I can't wait to plan his next birthday as his wife!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wedding Dress Shopping

Today was by far the most fun day I've had so far throughout wedding planning. I met up with my mom, sister, and my Grandma Michelle at Starbucks in the morning to sip gingerbread lattes and look over several pictures of dresses I was thinking about.

A bit later, we headed over to Michelle's in Urbana for my first appointment. A few minutes in, I was joined by Kim and Abbie, two of my bridesmaids, my good friend, Emily, and Al's mom, Mary, and sister, Sarah. I sat down briefly with my consultant, Keely, and went over my budget and expectations.

We began browsing and, to my dismay, most of the dresses were well beyond my budget. My family and friends suggested I look through the selection of bridesmaid dresses, as they would all be available in different variations of white, and many were quite beachy. :)

Right before heading to the dressing room, my grandma called me to the back of the store and pulled out a dress that had caught her eye. I could tell it was worth much more than I was willing to spend, but she insisted I try it, and I  (not so reluctantly) agreed. As I began getting into the dresses, Keely suggested I switch off between the bridesmaid dresses and the formal gowns, so that's what I did!

It was kind of hard to see the final product in the bridesmaid dresses, as they were all different colors, but some of them ended up fitting very nicely, and really did look beach-friendly.

However, once I started trying on the formal wedding gowns, I definitely saw the difference! It was so much fun getting to try on these beautiful dresses, and I actually loved just about everything I tried on. In the end, it came down to three dresses that I was in love with. I ruled one of them out somewhat quickly because the shape did less for me than the others. In the end though, I had to choose between the one that my grandma had picked out and another of the same price right next to it that had caught my eye while we were browsing.

Of course, I'm not going to post a picture of the dress I chose, but it is absolutely beautiful. I've been sneaking peeks at my pictures ever since coming home from shopping. I can't wait to show Al on the day of our wedding! It's going to feel like a long wait, now that I have something I'm absolutely dying to wear...

Also, I have to publicly declare how incredibly thankful I am to my grandma, not only for helping to pay for (a lot of) my dress, but for driving all the way down here to share in this special day with me. It was so nice to have so many people I loved there!

Of course, since I was trying on wedding dresses today, I didn't eat anything all morning to feel super skinny! ;) All of us starving ladies, headed out to The Olive Garden for soup, salad, and breadsticks. Yum! Unfortunately, we ended up waiting over 30 minutes just to get seated, which was totally understandable, but then waited another 15ish minutes for anyone to come to our table. When someone finally did stop by to get our drink orders, it was because Al's sister, Holly got up to find our server. Lunch ended up going on for about 2 hours, due to even more very slow service, but I was secretly thankful for that time to spend with all of my favorite girls! Al's mom, Mary ended up treating me to lunch as well...I felt like such a spoiled girl today!

Because I had already found the dress of my dreams, there was no need to attend my David's Bridal appointment. However, I was hoping to look through bridesmaid dresses there instead to see if I could find anything more fitting, considering the dress I chose. I had Katy and Kim be my models and we chose the dress below in the color 'watermelon', which Kim is wearing in the first picture and Katy is wearing in the second.

Finally, after choosing the perfect wedding dress and bridesmaid dress, my mom, sister, grandma, and I headed back to my apartment to relax a little, visit with Al, and taste-test the delicious cookies my grandpa Don made for me this morning! YUM! We wound up the fun-filled day with dinner at El Toro. So much food and love today!

I had an absolute blast today, and am so thankful to my best friends and family for being there and helping me to choose the perfect dress! It was a wonderful day!

Friday, October 29, 2010

She's Just Bein' Miley!

Today was the Halloween costume contest at DHS. A student suggested the other day that Kristin and I dress up as the two identities of Miley Cyrus, Miley and Hannah Montana!

I think we were a hit! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Little Things...

It's the little things that add up to make my relationship with Al so amazing. One of those little things is the fact that he can continuously keep me laughing, even when he isn't trying. See below.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I met up with some of my best friends, Kim and Abbie, at Sun Singer Cafe in Champaign this evening and indulged in a delicious Grilled Cheese Supreme, per Holly's recommendation. The girls and I also shared a bottle of Moscato, and I capped it off with a red wine slushie. Yum!

Colleen met up with us at the end of our meal, and she, Kim, and I headed to C-Street for some dancing. We had a blast bustin' a move to our favorite jams!

Coco had to cool off a bit before leavin' da club!

Alas, at one point Coco had to attend to a crying baby at home, so Kim and I headed over to Highdive to meet up with our menfolk.
Rob was lamenting about having to miss out on the smoochies...too bad!

Kim and I put our new sweatbands to good use on the dance floor! Don't sweat it girl!

All in all, it was a great night out with fantastic ladies and, later on, great guys too! :)