Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011

I love Christmas. It's my favorite time of year as we get to spend it with family, catching up and enjoying lots of laughter. It's a time of consistency where we can carry out traditions, create new ones, and expect a great time with the family. This year, we spent it with AJ's family and my sisters.  We had early morning church and then came home for Christmas brunch together. We had a good laugh figuring out how to pose for Christmas photos with the family afterwards, especially in trying to hide the gut we each developed after Thanksgiving. The day before, we opened one gift already as part of our tradition (Holly was most excited) and continued the present opening spree this morning. We had a wild time. It's nice to receive gifts that others have put thought into, but I really enjoyed shopping and trying to figure out what others in my family would enjoy. I find it funny that we jump through so many hoops to keep the gift a surprise and I seriously think that's the best part of the process. 

This year was the first year we celebrated Christmas together as a married couple. In prior years, we had a tradition of opening our present for each other before I left home for Christmas break in California. But this year, we were together as a family. I was so thrilled. AJ was so kind as to wrap a huge box of catheters and trick me into thinking I hit the jackpot this Christmas. It totally threw me off! But he gave me an even better gift after: a beautiful white Fossil watch so I don't have to ask what time it is or struggle to find my phone for the time anymore. I was so grateful for this practical and beautiful gift. My husband knows me well :)

The LARGE present in lots and lots of newspaper.
The real gift: a beautiful white Fossil watch surrounded by rhinestones.
**However, I hope we all learn that the principle reason we celebrate this holiday is in memory of our savior, Jesus Christ. He has provided us with the ultimate give: repentance and redemption. I am so grateful to know that there is someone who loves me so much as to make this sacrifice for me. I feel so blessed to know him and have him in my life.

Me, and my beautiful sisters, Holly and Molly

The Huntingtons: AJ, Holly, Me, Molly, Tony, Rose, and Aja
This was the most priceless picture ever of Holly--when she opened up Just Dance 3 Wii.

Children get the best and coolest gifts. In our family, it's tradition to save the best gift for last. Here is Holly opening obviously the coolest and coveted gift for last. We just loved her surprised expression because we had told her earlier that we couldn't find the game in stores anymore because it was all sold out. That expression was priceless and I would do anything to get it again in years to come. Kids are the best part of holidays. They make it so much more fun. I look forward to holidays with our children and traditions to come.

Unfortunately, it was a pretty snowless Christmas in our part of Utah. Thus I still have never experienced a snowy white Christmas. But I'm in no rush. It's already tough to brave the frosty cold here. So we didn't get to build a snowman. But did get to watch reruns of our favorite shows: House, NCIS, and Bond movies, then play Just Dance afterwards. We continued festivities with some of AJ's Christmas coxinhas, a brazilian tear-shaped savory deep fried dough ball with chicken inside. They were so delicious! AJ is determined to make those a tradition and I couldn't agree more. Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas together as a family. I hope you enjoy yours too :) Feliz Natal!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

I love this time of year so much! beautiful leaves, my birthday, and time to reflect on what I am thankful for in my life.

1. AJ, my wonderful husband and constant companion
2. My family, especially my little sister Holly!
3. The gospel of Jesus Christ, which has so many answers
4. Trustworthy friends whom are always there for me
5.  My education and learning
6. and simple moments of happiness.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose"

This was one of my most favorite quotes when I was in high school.  It motivated me to live life with a purpose and try to make a difference in the world.  I think about what kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind for my posterity and for this world.  The times that I felt most fulfilled were when I was doing service for others.  I feel that we will be happiest when we are serving the Lord's children, which will also grant us many blessings of happiness.  There's just something special about sacrificing your time and efforts to lighten the load of those struggling.  

Service manifests itself in many ways, even if it means simply giving a smile or saying "hello" to brighten someone's day.  I always try to smile at people, even strangers as I'm passing by.  It doesn't require a lot of work and hopefully it initiates a ripple effect.  It brings me great joy to know I have served my brothers and sisters with all of my heart; there's just incomparable joy that comes from doing good for others.  Now, don't get me wrong, they don't necessarily need our help, but we can always offer to serve and show them that we care.  When we commit to serving our brothers and sisters, we are committing ourselves to God as well.

As a program director for a Y-Serve program called, Service to the World I put on a monthly project night for the community and BYU students.  In the past, we have made hats, puppets, file folder games, school bags to send to children in developing areas of the world through LDS Humanitarian Services and other NGO's.  We've also worked with local NGO's to help women's shelters as well as schools abroad, by preparing hygiene kits, scarves, blankets, and nail kits.  We have had many great turn outs of volunteers.  I am impressed by those, especially students, who were willing to sacrifice time from studying and other obligations, to serve children they don't even know.  Now they are living their lives with purpose by providing as much care and love as they can for others.

 Jon, Martina, & AJ with some of the puppets.

There are so many ways we can serve others in our families, communities, and around the world.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve others, despite being in a wheelchair.  I've gained a greater testimony of my Heavenly Father's love for me because he still allows me the opportunity learn and grow through serving others.  I know that I can do many things because of his help, and I am confident that service is something everyone in any condition can get involved with.  From this experience and many others of service, I am prompted to dedicate my life to serving others--that is my purpose in this life. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A visit to the Pumpkin Patch

It's pretty amazing to see the change in dynamic when a child is in the picture.  Our world seems to center around little sister, Holly.  She is such a smart and amazing girl.  She brings light to our lives and so much laughter ensues her hilarious attempts to be funny and clever.  I can't believe how she encompasses a little piece of each of us.  Hopefully, we can somehow prevent the little quirks from getting to her as well.

Anyways, our family took a visit to the pumpkin patch. And my were lots of fun things for little kids to do--corn pit, hay maze, animal petting (including a real live reindeer!)hay ride around the farm, and the best part of all--pumpkin picking! AJ of course had to seek the largest pumpkin around (which he had to carry, thank goodness!), Holly got a pretty decent sized pumpkin, and I sought out the nicest, fullest, roundest pumpkin of all (I just have a knack for these kind of things, what can I say? JK).  We had a lot of fun.  I was definitely ready to change out of my hay-filled pants at the end though :)

 OK, so maybe she did pick out a pretty good one :)
I love spending time with my family, especially with my sweet little sister. It's such a blessing to watch her laugh, grow, and learn.  I really wish time would freeze, even just for a little!  I know kids grow up fast, so I'm trying my best to keep my eyes peeled and watch every moment pass with her. If I blink, I might just miss something cool.  She's amazing!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 Day Body Image Challenge

We should all love our body and care for it as it is what will carry us throughout our lives and for those who believe, into the next life as well. Since the accident, I realized how precious each part of me was and that I should never take it for granted. Recently, I took the 10-Day Body Image Challenge by the BYU Women's Resource Center, and learned so much about myself.  Lexie and Lindsay Kite, two beautiful women pursuing their doctrate at the U of U began a movement to "Redefine Beauty." They gave a lecture on the influence of media on women.  They brought in many great studies and statistics on how many advertisements target women each minute and negatively affect their perception of their body and self-esteem.  We constantly get the message that we need to change in order to look a certain way.  Women are becoming less connected and appreciative of their bodies, often relying on the opinion of others to feel their value.

The challenge made me reflect of how the media has affected my perception of beauty.  I was disappointed to discover that I, too have struggled with my body for a long time now.  But I will not allow media to influence me anymore!!! The challenge taught me a lot about love for my body, my soul, my personality, and it taught me how to overcome the media's influence.  Here are some facts I've discovered from this 10 day Challenge:

1. Meditation is necessary for us to clear our minds, fill our souls with goodness, and stay in tune with our bodies.
2. Only kind words should be used towards our bodies, even in thought.  Protect our body like our own child and love it!
3. We are given spiritual gifts and talents from our Heavenly Father to contribute to this world.  Let's hone those gifts and use them for good.
4. Giving meaningful compliments to others assure them that we can see beyond their appearance and that we also value their inside more!
5. Express our opinions (in a classy, not overbearing manner, of course) and stand for good.  Be headstrong if someone or something is hurting others.
6. The media portrays women as perfect beauty queens and objects.  Resist the need of becoming like those photoshop images.  Be grateful for your body and respect yourself.
7. I know that I wear make-up, but it's because I don't want o look like a zombie.  This may be the one thing I give in to (I am working on trying to feel beautiful, naturally without make up).  However, I just want to feel and look elegant and beautiful for myself.  I don't think light make up to enhance beauty is a bad thing.  Making thick make-up to cover yourself up, might be.
8. Let your body know how grateful you are for it.  I am very grateful to be alive and have my body.  I know that my body is not perfect, but it works.  The toughest parts are the limitations I sometimes feel from my body and the back pain from long hours of sitting and shooting pains from damaged nerves.  Anyways, I'm grateful to God for His love and His gift of a body to me.  I will never take it for granted.
9. There are a few superwomen in my life that I want to attribute my strength to (but not here).  They are so strong.  They juggle work, family, services, etc.  They love and appreciate life.  They lift me up when I am feeling down. I am so grateful for them in my life. I'm so grateful to have such great people to call friends.  Thank you ladies for being such great role models to me through the years. I really could not have done it without your love, prayers, support, and friendship.
10. I am beautiful because I understand my worth in the eyes of God.  Because of this, I can share myself with others, especially with my darling, AJ.

Please love yourself and love your body.  Realize that beauty is within and it can never be taken away if you hold onto it and take care of it.  Show your body some lovin' today :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Like There's No Tomorrow

Each year, we watch a new Warren Miller film to get us ready and pumped for powder season.  That was the first time I was introduced to snowboarding, and I've never looked back.  From that first movie on, I was ready to ride.  This year, the title of the film is "Like there's no tomorrow."  There were footages of skiiers and snowboards in many locations around the world including: India, Norway, New Hampshire, Utah, Cali-Squaw Vally, Alaska, etc.  It was sweet!!  Tons of steezy rides, fresh powder, and exhilarating views.

I have to admit, this is a pretty surreal time for me as we draw nearer to powder season.  As I was watching the rides, the leg movements of the boarders, the twists of their bodies, and snow flakes that rush up as they rode, I couldn't help but imagine how that felt while I was doing it.  I really miss it.  I really wish I were one of the lucky few to board this season.  But rest assured, I will be up there--monoskiing, not the same, but I can make it work.

I can really relate to the title for this year's theme.  After the accident, I have never lived my life the same way again.  There's so many things that I took for granted before, but I'll never do that again.  I will live my life to the fullest.  I promise to never let anything get in the way of my dreams.  I know extreme sports like snowboarding is tough business, but don't let my experience or your fears stop you from trying something new.  You never know what kind of things you can learn about yourself.  I felt like snowboarding was one of the ways I lived life to its fullest.  It brought me so much happiness.  Maybe it could do the same for you.  Word of advice: take it nice and easy.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

That time I came home to a surprise home makeover!

AJ and I came home to the greatest surprise of our lives. I still can't even believe it.  While were gone, our home ward got together to do service for us (I know, for us?!?). They provided me with a new lift to get in and out of the house in and a home make over to accommodate my wheelchair. They worked over a week to widen the doors in our house, paint the rooms, pour a concrete sidewalk, fix the room, reinforcements--all in anticipation for a lift that would ease my daily routine (not have to be carried up and down the stairs everyday), and enable me to be more mobile and independent. 
The Lakeview 8th Ward showed their love for us by this giant surprise.
Pouring cement for the new sidewalk that leads to the lift. 
The New Lift
  

I have to give the biggest "Thank You" of my life. I am amazed by the number of people out there who are so willing to contribute their time, talent, and efforts to help ease my life. I feel so fortunate that these are the people I get to call my neighbors, and even better, that they make up my ward family. I am so touched by such a generous act of love and service. There was not a better gift I could have asked for.  And our dear family who kept this huge surprise from us. I can't believe it! This is such a huge blessing. I'm so excited to use it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

First time in New York City in a Wheelchair

New York City really is the city that never sleeps. I don't know how you can when there's so much to see!  We had a lot of fun exploring this exciting city.  I really wish we could stay maybe just even a few more months. Wait, I just thought about it and I wouldn't want to try traversing the crowds of tourist for an extensive time!

 
There's so much history here, especially our most recent and unforgettable one--September 11th.  I will never forget the day I learned about this dreadful event that marked American history forever.  All of the surrounding areas of the Towers were wheelchair accessible, minus the metro. We learned the hard way that not all NYC metros, actually a limited few are wheelchair accessible with lifts. So I was awkwardly carried up and down many flights of stairs around the metro until we found the exit. NYC is definitely a walkable city with curb cuts for wheelchairs for the most part.  I would suggest doing that whether or not you're in a wheelchair, unless you're limited on time, then catch a cab (very expensive) or find the bus route (it's fairly punctual).  Not only is strolling around fun, but sure is fun to see all the details. However, a little disclaimer is that there are some hills, which is miserable in the summer with a backpack in the back of the wheelchair.

 
AJ and I were very fortunate to go see the very popular show, "Wicked" on Broadway.  That was such a magical event. I enjoyed every last bit of the musical. I wish I could to see it again!!!  I loved how much it made me laugh and the way the actors sang each song so beautifully and passionately.  I was so grateful that Gershwin theater was wheelchair accessible.  And because my husband and I called in to the theater ahead of time, we were able to get tickets for half price for the evening show, with really nice seats right up from the center of the stage.
We were also able to watch "Phantom of the Opera," which was also a beautiful classic, known worldwide.  The Majestic theater was a little less accessible than Gershwin, but they were still accommodating and also gave us and our friend a half price discount.  We sat to the left and a few rows away from the stage. 

**FYIW: If you go to the discount ticket office in the middle of Times, you can get ahead in the line by flagging the line attendant.

I would live in NYC, just to be able to watch the musicals.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Around Historical Boston in a Wheelchair

The city of Boston is very enchanting with a myriad of cultures, history, people--life.  I loved having so many Italian restaurants to choose, walk the Freedom Trail, walk the city at night, cheer at a Red Sox game, eat at a Hard Rock (My goal is to go to a Hard Rock whenever we visit a new place, I collect their pins and love everything there!). The tricky part is wheeling on the old cobble stone roads and broken cement side walks.

We made it in time to get our friend, Jeff from the Boston Logan International Airport in our rental, which was kind of confusing to get to with lots of construction and junctions.  After we picked him up, we went into the North End via our GPS, Richard to catch our reservation at an Italian restaurant called, Antico Forno.  However, it was a huge pain to get there; we took a wrong turn and ended up traveling back to the East End.  There are lots of one way streets and the restaurant was located in very small area (Come on, it's the North End) and no parking spots readily available.  We found a street that went through street cleaning, so people weren't allowed to park there for a while. Basically, driving in old town Boston is a nightmare. Try public transportation like the subway, the T, which is wheelchair accessible.

We snagged a spot right next to Copp’s cemetery, the second oldest in Boston along the Freedom Trail.  We were there briefly when it began to rain.  It was kind of scary go up and down hill (which there are many in Boston) and especially when the boys carried me up the slippery steps of the cemetery to take a quick gander, where pirates and witches were hung. 

We walked down hill to the Old North Church, which was wheelchair accessible, except I couldn't make it up the stairs to see where the action went on.  The entrance fee is donation based.  It was a cool to see the pews and the names of those who owned them such as Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere.  The richest could afford the closest seats.  We learned about the night of Paul Revere’s ride and how the church keeper helped him by running the lantern to the top to alert the colonists that the British were coming.  One of the French generals back then said that the bust of Washington there is the closest to his likeness.


Boston Commons
Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays- Fenway Park
As a wedding present, one of our friends, Peng kindly gave us tickets to a Red Sox game during the time we were there so we didn't have to find scalpers for our tickets, but for Jeff's. Of course it was very expensive and standing room, but well worth it.  We were led to wheelchair seating right near the Green Monster, and AJ and Jeff rotated sitting during the game.  The stadium itself was well adapted for wheelchairs with disable restrooms, ramps and lifts instead of stairs.  Unfortunately, our Sox lost this game, but we still had a great time!

Boston skyline at night

 I love Boston. I could definitely see myself living here someday. I find the East Coast culture very intriguing (don't get me wrong, I love the West, especially my sweet home state of California!).  There are many differences here mixed in with such a long historical background. You also gotta love the Bostonian accent and cannolis! 


Monday, August 15, 2011

Friends in the MBM

AJ served as a missionary for two years for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the Massachusetts Boston Mission.  He returned home nearly four years ago this coming September, which is when we first met (We went on our first date in late October).  We decided that this summer would be the summer he finally returns to his mission and I finally get to meet all the people he served and see all the places he has been to.

AJ learned the Cambodian language on his mission by serving the Cambodian community in mainly Lowell (Where the movie, "the Fighter" is based).  It was pretty cool to see how the sisters in the gospel were so strong (there were very little priesthood holders, sadly).  Everything here reminds me of being back home in Fresno, CA among the Cambodian community there.  Their lives are so similar despite the distance and environment.  It was also good to practice my language while there.  It's been so long!  We also got to hang out with some of his mission buddies who were also there for a summer visit.  We went out for a good hot pot meal.  A delicious meal with funny friends, what more could I ask for?

AJ also served people of many other ethnic diversity in Lynn.  My favorite is a family from Guatemala.  They are such a strong family in the gospel.  They are the epitome of sacrifice for love and family.  Both husband and wife work very hard both at home and at work to earn money for rent in their little apartment, necessities, and operations for their little daughter's heart.  Oh my.  On top of that, he had to make the tough decision of either keeping his job and working on Sunday's, or giving up a stable income to be with his family at church on Sunday's.  He chose the latter.  It was difficult at first, but Heavenly Father will send blessings to those who follow His teachings and make sacrifices out of love for Him.  They were such an example to me.  I want to be just like them when I grow up!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Honeymoon in Florida

AJ and I had a sweet and fun time in Florida on our honeymoon.  There were so many blessings to count.  For one, we had a whole house to ourselves thanks to some wonderful friends of mine, eliminating hotel costs. We also got pointers from locals as to where to visit in the area. There is so much to see! Here are some of our highlights.
We went to two beautiful, white sand beaches--Cocoa Beach and Siesta Key Beach.  AJ said that these beaches were the easiest ever for him to pull wheelchair on.  Now, these beaches were different in so many ways from the beaches I'm accustomed to in California.  Cocoa beach was actually very remote, with little people to crowd the scenery.  However, it was extremely windy and isn't the prettiest beach around.  We were told by a local that it rocks because of the remoteness and the fact that booze can be brought in without fines. haha

Ciesta Keys was an absolutely amazing beach.  The beautiful aquamarine water was so warm, with little waves as part of the giant Gulf of Mexico pool.  It was fun to swim and find little fishies everywhere! The sand was nice and warm to lie on.  It was also just fun to see people hanging out as we were and even some playing.  Kids are the cutest to watch when they giggle while running around and building sand castles. What a beautiful and warm day so bring sunblock and snacks! ((FYIW: This is an accessible beach. Your wheelchair might sink slightly in depending on weight, but it can be done! You'll definitely want to be bring a towel because the sand on this beach is so warm))

We couldn't go to Florida without hitting up the themed parks-Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World.  It was so worth it to visit each of them because they have unique fun to offer.

The shows that Sea World had to offer, with its many sea creatures were awesome.  The animals are so smart and well-trained.  The shows are very fascinating and fun to watch.  You can tell the trainers put in a lot of time and really love these animals. Don't sit in the front of the whale show unless you want to get wet! The stadiums are wheelchair accessible but requires some direction from attendants.

I loved the roller coasters at Universal because it was so fast and exhilarating.  Definitely go on the Hulk for one of the fastest and thrilling ride ever, but make sure you go to the restroom beforehand, and breath on your way up the scary parts. 
Harry Potter World was awesome! The makers did a great job at creating a rendition of the actually city of Diagonalley.  There were crowds every where (of course).  Be prepared for a really long line even in January as it is new.  But it's worth the trip to see the wand store, Harry Potter souvenir shops, magic shows, potter singers, and have a taste of good old butter beer.  

The ride was very exciting--a mixture of virtual and actual physically intense effects.  What a line!  We waited for a total of two and a half hours.  Go during off season, which is probably not going to happen for a few years, especially not during Christmas, or pay the extra money for a fast pass on any ride!  But it was so worth it!!! And yes, it was wheelchair accessible.


Disney is definitely a cute place take pictures and watch shows.  I loved the Japanese section of Epcot with Taiko drummers and a candy artist--she made me a blue dragon out of Japanese taffy.  The fireworks show at Magic Kingdom is probably the best fireworks show I've ever seen.  Fourth of July must be cool here, if it weren't for the massive crowd!

 
Posing with Jasmine and Aladdin

Massive fireworks show at Magic Kingdom

I'm so glad to be able to enjoy this fun experience with my sweetheart.  Thank you, AJ for such a wonderful time and your sweet company on our honeymoon!

FYIW: All of the Disney Parks are wheelchair accessible.  Unlike Disneyland, they will not permit special passes to those in wheelchairs because of their accommodations, so be prepared to wait or get fast passes!!!

If you have any questions about travel in Florida in a wheelchair, or would like suggestions of where to go, please feel free to contact me via Facebook or on this blog.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Martina and AJ's Wedding Day and some Tips

What an incredible day, full of fun and pleasant surprises. AJ and I were sealed at the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity, with wonderful friends and family as our witnesses.  What a packed sealing room.  That was the single most important part of the day, and it was so, so special.  Months and months of planning will pass in one magical moment, so enjoy it!
I hope to provide some tips that would be important in planning this special day, especially for someone in a wheelchair. First and foremost, it's all in preparation, but please remember that you can plan as much as possible, but it won't all go perfectly so don't freak out. Here are some suggestions I would give to anyone planning a wedding:
  1. Allow time for everything especially if you're in a wheelchair: travel, photography, freshening up, etc. You don't want to rush to everything that day because makes everything seem more stressful and you have less time to just enjoy things as they are happening.
  2. Have a checklist of what you need to plan out and do for the wedding months in advance i.e. booking wedding location, photographer, florist, decorations, etc.  
  3. Manage your schedule by having someone keep track of time for you.
  4. Keep it simple. Don't plan too much. Focus on the things that are most important to you and your spouse. Unless you have a lot of manpower, plenty of time in advance, a knack for keeping everything organized, and can manage all of the details, just keep it simple to save yourself the stress the day of.
  5. Leverage your resources and allocate tasks for your wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen). If you have special items you want to remember for the Church wedding, have someone from the wedding party put it in their list of tasks and bring it. 
  6. Unless you really want to keep to tradition, take some wedding photos of you two ahead of time. Save the family photos on location for the day of. This way you have more time the day of and can use the photos taken prior for the reception. 
  7. Bring make up to freshen up, especially if you're a crier (like me) 
RING CEREMONY/LUNCHEON

We had a ring ceremony in AJ's grandparent's backyard, which made it so much easier on us because it was intimate and low key. Our grandparents did an amazing job at decorating the whole place with tiki lamps, beautiful landscaping, etc. (If you would like, decorations and music would be a nice little touch, and remember to thank everyone!). We are so thankful for them.  

Here, AJ and I said our vows to each other instead of at the temple because we wanted my parents and friends to be a part of it (only members are permitted in LDS temples).  AJ used a great analogy of our differences in taste in ice cream.  I love fruity ice cream and he loves chocolate ice cream.  The flavors are like us-- pretty different, but still go so great together. We can withstand anything and make it work, together...

Having someone you really respect to offer words of advice on marriage is a great personal touch.  We had my branch president, Paul Gage from back home give a little talk about marriage. He pointed out some important keys regarding constant communication and resolving differences together. He did such a great job. I was so touched and learned that communication and trust are key for a long lasting relationship.  He and his wife are such great examples of true love to me.

Lunch was delicious. We had a light toss chicken salad with nuts and berries. My favorite! AJ's dad made a really cool chocolate and strawberries groom's cake (Be prepared for no one to eat the cakes so don't over spend).

Angelica, Jeff, Aja, Johanna, Ben, Rachel, Peng, AJ, and Me
FYIW: Big dresses do not work well with wheelchairs and definitely don't get a train in the back.  Something form-fitting, thin or short would definitely work better.  But if you've always wanted a big dress, go for it! Also, just plan on your dress getting dirty and dry cleaning it afterwards. The veil was pretty but a little annoying because it kept getting stuck to my chair and coming off (a bird cage is a better option. I used both at separate receptions). I avoided heals because they always fall off and kicks are my style anyway.

For a venue, choose a place that easy to maneuver in a chair. We had lunch in the backyard and I was pretty limited in where to move. Also, keep in mind you'll want to freshen up and use the restroom, so hopefully there is an accessible restroom available. 

PHOTOGRAPHY:

Create a list of people you want your photographer to especially take pictures of and make sure to introduce them. Also, let the photographer know at which locations you want photos, and people you want pictures with.  Put your bridesmaids in charge of props, and make sure you have your makeup supply with you! We did a lot of seated and head shots, and groom carrying bride shots.

 
My best friends: Seybee, Seyla, Molly (my sister), Carlina, and Aja (AJ's sister)
 




RECEPTION: 
 
Our evening reception was amazing. Teal and red, Asian-themed, great food, great people--everything to make a perfect Martina and AJ wedding. We arrived late, but just in time to start our reception line with President and Sister Samuelson :) The reception line was endless but it was so worthwhile to get to visit with old friends and ward members.  I sat in a stool with back support which enabled me to be at eye level with guests and receive hugs from them. Having the photographer there for the whole reception is a must if you want pictures of everyone there. Remember to have someone plate up a meal for you and eat!

We had several things going on to entertain guests such a photobooth that served as their souvenir, advice cards married couples can write (or funny stories about the bride and groom), a slideshow of the two playing, and of course a buffet of all sorts of food to enjoy.

Our first dance was to Boys like Girls and Taylor Swift's "Two is better than One."  I couldn't help but cry as AJ carried me to dance while I listened to the lyrics of the song. I was afraid this moment would be awkward because I would be like other able bodied brides, but it was even lovelier than I would have imagined to be held in his arms. He has carried me through everything, and for that, I am eternally grateful.  We complete each other.  Heavenly Father couldn't have blessed me with someone better. 

I'm so glad to share these moments with him, my bestest friend ever. Cake time was so much fun, especially when AJ's face was covered in it. haha!

FYI: One of the best ways to make sure things go smoothly is to plan out the day with those who are helping, hour by hour.  And make a checklist of what you would like to happen, figure out what time to leave, how things should be set up, who needs to do what, and what to bring.  I can see why weddings is primarily a once in a lifetime ordeal.  It takes a lot of work and planning, but it was so worth it in the end. I think it could be done without a wedding planner, but it's a challenge.  Make a nice playlist of songs and make sure to have a mic to announce events.  We skipped the awkward garter and bouquet activities.  

Remember to thank everyone especially those involved in the process. I gave special gifts such as photobooks to my bridesmaids and parents after the wedding photos came in.  Write those thank you cards right away.  Have fun!
 
If you have questions on certain aspects of wedding planning for someone in a wheelchair, please feel free to contact me here or via Facebook.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tea Time Bridal Shower

For my bridal shower, we had a an elegant backyard tea party in beautiful sunny May. Invites were handmade and sent out by my bridesmaids about two weeks in advance to friends and family. 
Tea bag inspired invitation
Made out of card stock and shape punchers (inside note, flower, and circle) from Stampin' Up.
Many of my friends who were still in town as well as the women in AJ's life were able to make it, for which I was so grateful. The backyard was meticulously prepared for tea time.
Turquoise table clothes, white flower centerpieces, doilies, tea cups and plates.
Paper tea cups with treats inside
We enjoyed delicious sandwiches, salad, pastries, cake, and lemonade.
Amazing women in my life
The girls played a cake decorating game and I got to choose the winner for the best decorated cake. 
We also played a game where I was supposed to guess how AJ would answer ??'s about our dating memories together, likes and dislikes, etc. Then we would watch a video to find out how AJ answered each question. Whenever I missed a question, I had to fill my mouth up with marshmallows as penalty. By the end of the game, I looked like a chipmunk.

There were also paper out for the ladies to put down advice for me.
At the end of the shower, I got to open presents from everyone. There were so many practical gifts that I'm excited to use, but the awkward lingeries were the ones that made things even more interesting.
I feel so grateful to have such wonderful ladies in my life who put on such a perfect bridal shower for me. I  had so much fun visiting with old friends and celebrating this new stage of life together. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Engagement Pictures




AJ and I were involved in a multi-vendor wedding giveaway and we won! This was definitely a huge blessing for AJ and me, considering our limited budget on this wedding. With this, I feel that we are able to do much more for the wedding reception than we were prepared for.

One of the most fun part about the wedding giveaway has already manifested itself in our engagement pictures. I have to thank our wonderful and photography, Jessie of Jessiealexisphotography. She made us look better than we do. It was a little trickier to take photos not being able to stand up and without my wheelchair. But Jessie worked around it. We mainly did face shots and positioned ourselves on the ground or on benches around the city. AJ helped carry me a lot. I would definitely recommend calling ahead of time to pay fees or get permission to take pictures at certain locations. We had to switch locations twice because of limitations we were not aware of.


Wedding planning is definitely easier and much more fun than I had imagined, that is, with the help of everyone around me. Many people say that is could be pretty stressful. I have to admit that it is a lot of work, but I just think of it as taking a fun and creative class with various projects to accomplish in a time period. AJ and I have been working on a timeline of when we should get things done, and budgeting. It's been a bonding experience for us. I love being able to talk to him about not only wedding plans, but future plans as well. Together, we have come up a goals board, which I recommend everyone have. In order to attain the things we want in life, we must constantly think and work towards it. AJ is my positive reinforcement buddy. We will work together to accomplish all of our goals :)