Monday, November 11, 2013

The Unintended Destination



When people ask me what my favorite artifact in our Museum is, I usually respond with an answer that surprises them.

A Nazi flag.

On the second floor at the end of the World War II: Sharing the Story exhibit, there's a portion of a Nazi flag from 1944. Someone cut out the white circle and black Swastika and framed it on a field of red. We don't know who did that, but we do know the flag used to be on an 8' red banner.



The best part about the flag, however, are the signatures. Around 50 signatures and addresses surround the Nazi insignia. The signatures belong to American soldiers.

We were given the flag in 2006 by a local businessman who had an affinity for militaria. If you ask him where he got it, he'll tell you that two brothers knew he was into World War II artifacts and offered it to him at a price he couldn't resist. He had never seen a flag like this. The brothers said their dad was a veteran, but his name was not on the flag. Their father never really told them how he got it.

A friend of the Museum saw the flag and talked to the businessman, who agreed that the Museum of World Treasures would be a good place for it. He donated it shortly after that.

When one of the former employees saw the flag, he decided he wanted to know the story behind it. The best way to do that was to call the guys who signed it. That proved to be a little more difficult than we imagined. He compiled a list of the names, some of whom left their addresses, and one of whom was from Argonia, Kansas.

But we ran into some problems: We knew the flag had been signed at least 60 years before we got it, during the war. That meant that there was no guarantee that anyone was still living, and we didn't know if anyone made it home from the war. On top of that, the majority of them had very common names and our list of potential signers went from 50ish to thousands overnight.

As you can imagine, the process was frustrating. Until we got down to the end of our list. One of the only  names without an address was at the top of the flag: "S.Sgt. Cyril Leuelling." We called Sgt. Leuelling and began telling him what we had: "We've got this Nazi flag, your name is on it, please don't hang up the phone." What Cyril said next blew everyone away:

"You found my flag."

We were finally able to piece the beginning of this story together. Cyril and his fellow troops had just liberated a small French village near Fontainebleau. They were in a high school auditorium and Cyril saw the flag hanging from the stage. He and a buddy ripped it down. Everyone signed it, and two days later, they found a military postal service. Cyril mailed home letters, a money order, and the flag.

Cyril said that the letters and money order got home. But the flag never did.

He spent 62 years searching for it. He said that at reunions, he and his war buddies would talk about what happened to it - and no one was ever sure. Until that phone call from our Museum.

Of course, we wanted Cyril to be reunited with the flag again, but we were surely not going to mail it and travelling to us was not in the cards. So the same staff member that called him drove to Illinois and spent a Saturday with Cyril. The photo we have hanging on the wall with Cyril and his two daughters is incredibly special. Imagine being reunited with an item that held memories of the most vivid, scary, and defining moments of your life. It was emotional. It's still emotional. He said we could keep the flag because having it where people could understand and appreciate it was important to him.

Cyril's story is told to school children and guests who go on guided tours. It's the last thing they hear on their tour and the first thing they remember about the Museum when someone asks them what their favorite part was.

Today, however, the story got better. For months, one of our volunteers and a Vietnam veteran, Ron, has called and written to Cyril to get his military history recorded. A few months ago, Cyril expressed interest in visiting the Museum of World Treasures to see his flag on display. We were overjoyed. Cyril told us he would be in Wichita with two of his daughters on Veteran's Day.

A local hotel donated two rooms for them, we had lunch and dinner at two of our favorite local restaurants, and invited all Veterans to the Museum with free admission for the day.
Here I am, watching Cyril's reaction to seeing the flag again.
It was perfect. Ron picked up Cyril from the airport and brought them to the Museum, where he saw the flag on display for the first time. He told us a few stories, and we took him to lunch. After lunch, I gave him a tour of the Museum; the same tour that I give that normally ends with his story. At around 3pm, we had a reception for Cyril and unveiled a surprise for him.

Cyril speaking to the crowd.
The local news was there to cover the event. There were two other World War II veterans, Vietnam veterans, and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan there. There were Air Force reps in their dress blues. There were kids, one of whom said her grandmother pulled her out of school an hour early to go. Our CEO spoke first to introduce the story, then the employee who found Cyril spoke, then the man who donated the flag (who said it was an honor just to shake Cyril's hand). Then Cyril got up, and told his story.

He talked about going ashore on D-Day, and being soaked to the bone. They thought they'd get a fresh pair of clothes shortly after they landed, but they didn't see that kind of luxury for months. He talked about his fellow comrades including an 18-year-old who was killed when Cyril was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He talked about saving a man's life and seeing the freed prisoners of war. "Skin and bones," he said. "That's all they had."

Cyril spoke about sending home the "souvenir" flag, and strapping seven German pistols to his belt. Four he gave away, two were stolen, and one still sits in his home and has never been fired. He spoke about his homecoming on a ship with 12,000 other men. He spoke about earning a medal from the French government as a thank you to him for helping save their country.

The Army flag we presented to Cyril as a gift.
While he was speaking, the Nazi flag was in the background. Next to it, a US Army flag covered a section of the exhibit. Ron told Cyril we had a surprise for him and took the US Army flag off the wall. He handed it to Cyril. Under the flag, his surprise was revealed. A shadowbox with all of Cyril's medals was hung. Cyril still had his medals (and wore them on his Ike jacket), but we wanted to show how important he was to us. The medals in the box were donated. Ron tracked them down. They were donated by collectors, different branches of the military, and Ron himself. The purple heart, the bronze star, the D-Day commemoration medal...a dozen more.
Cyril reacting to the shadowbox placed in his honor.



After we unveiled this box, it was Cyril's turn to cry. "This is a good day," he said to the crowd. His daughter agreed. "One of the best days," she said. He shook his head yes and looked again at his medals, his honors, his flag, there on the wall in our small Museum. He looked back out at us, as if in disbelief that we made something in his honor. The crowd erupted in applause.





At dinner that night, I told Cyril that around 8,500 school children heard his story this past year. He asked if I had pictures of them. "I have scrapbooks," he said. "I'd like to see them learning about it." I said I would send them. And I also told him my story would change now. Now, I said, I had the honor of adding in that he stood where the kids stand when they hear the story, that his voice echoed through the hallways here, and that I had the privilege of shaking his hand.



I shook his hand again and thought about the things he had done:

Fought during the biggest war our nation has ever seen. Swam ashore during D-Day. Shot at the scariest enemy during World War II. Almost lost his life when he was shot. Ripped down a Nazi flag in a French high school and just like any young man, sent home that souvenir to his parents.  Who would have guessed that 69 years later, in a small Museum in Wichita, Kansas, he would shake the hand of the person who told his personal story to thousands.

This is why history is important: it teaches us that every action has a consequence, no matter how small. Cyril Leuelling sending home a flag that missed its destination has resonated through my life, and the lives of so many others.

The flag's unintended destination has become its home.

"This is a good day," he said. Surely is. One I will never forget.




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Importance of Bridal Portraits

So as you know, I'm happily married and our wedding day was THE BEST day of my life. Seriously I know people say that, but really, this was my day:

Woke up
Greeted my photographer

Made breakfast with my bridesmaids

Scratched lotto tickets with my soon-to-be hubby
Kissed him bye!
Got my makeup done









Got my hair done



Went to the church and put on my dress

Took pictures,
Got married,
Took more pictures
Cut the cake
Danced
Danced
Danced
...Danced
Went to bed

I will soon blog about how your wedding day can be like this, too, but there is ONE THING that bugged me when I saw the photos of the day.

My hair got ever-so-slightly mussed. I got married in Kansas and it was around 110 degrees that day, so of course I got hot. I really assumed that in between my ceremony and reception someone would have fixed my hair. But they did not. So in most of the pictures of me at our reception, my bangs are all screwy.

Cowlick...forever in my wedding photos.


Whatever. If that's the worst thing that happened to me on our wedding day, I can certainly live with that. I still felt beyond beautiful that day and I know this is a super petty thing to whine about. I have no regrets about my hair...
Especially because I had bridal portraits taken about a month before our wedding.

Now this may seem like an unnecessary expense, but let me tell you, I cherish the photos of my mother and grandmother in their bridal gowns. I know that the photos of me as a bride will become important to my family if we are blessed with children! On top of that, I was able to see what I liked about my overall look because I had my hair and makeup trials the same day, and I did tweak some things. AND - I have photos of my hair sans dreadfully hot day, and it is perfect.

My photographer asked me if I wanted to go outside in my dress. He said a lot of brides choose not to because they're afraid their dress will get dirty. Because I know how to spot-clean a wedding dress (white Ivory brand dish soap, warm water, a white washcloth), I went for it! I am so glad I did. I also incorporated a chair that I call my throne in the photos; I've had the chair since 7th grade and it added a special touch.

After I had my portraits taken, I decided to add a belt for the wedding, wear a different necklace, change my hair slightly, and wear a petticoat under my dress. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to know what looked best if I wouldn't have done this. Plus, you only get to wear your dress one day! That thing is expensive and gorgeous and you should wear it at any given opportunity.

So here are some tips to make sure you're prepared for a bridal session:


Pin in my dress = Great reaction shot.
1. Get your dress altered. The photo shoot is also a great time to see how the dress wears for an extended period of time and you'll notice any changes that need made. I actually found a huge pin left in my dress!

2. Schedule your hair and makeup appointments. I recommend doing this anyway, but when you get all done up and then see what you look like photographed, you'll know what to change the day of. If your blush is too bright or your lip color is off, this is when you'll know. I say this to my brides at the store all the time: the day is one day, the pictures last a lifetime. Make sure you look good!
 

 3. Bring a fun object that means something to you. Maybe it's your grandmother's dress that you put on a dress-maker's doll, or maybe you do something like I did and bring in a special piece of furniture. I also used a parasol that was a gift from my sister.

 
 4. Bring your mom. She'll love to see you in your dress, be able to help you maneuver in it, and lace/zip/button you up. Then, she will know just how much help you'll need the big day getting into your dress.

5. Try to bundle the session with your photographer. Ours offered engagement, bridal, and the day-of shots in one bundled package. Yeah, it was expensive - but this is the day to spend on your photos. Whether your shots are in-studio or outside, you will not regret documenting your time as a bride.


  Until next time,

Jillian

Credits:
Photograph: Tim Davis Photography
Bridal Gown: Mori Lee by Madeline Gardner (#1667) From Dress Gallery
Veil: En Vogue
Shoes: Poetic Licence
Chair: Thrift Store Find
Parasol: Thrift Store Find



Thursday, August 15, 2013

5 Steps to Give Amazing Museum Tours

So the BEST part of my job (apart from my hilarious, amazing co-workers) is giving tours. I give tours to preschoolers, school-age kids, adults, and seniors. They come from all different places, religions, and socioeconomic statuses. In fact, some of my most rewarding tours are to groups of kids whose knowledge of the world doesn't seem to go past their own neighborhood. By giving an engaging tour, I not only inform them, I can inspire them to explore the world. Even if someone's exploration only goes as far as the Museum where I work, it is my job to make sure that any memories they make while I'm with them are positive and vivid.

So here are five things that will help you give engaging tours - keep in mind there's much more than this that goes along with great tour-giving!


1. Practice public speaking. That's what you're doing when you're giving a tour, after all. I have a pretty extensive history with public speaking and being in front of a crowd: I did drama, forensics, debate, and choir in high school. I have a degree in applied communication, and I did theatre in college. One of the most thrilling things I did in college was get up in front of my classmates and read my history papers to them. I'm not even kidding. It was a thrilling experience for me.
    I encourage you to take a public speaking class, particularly if you're a historian or scientist. While you may have passion for your chosen field, it's incredibly important to be able to communicate that passion in an appropriate manner to the general public. A person with no background knowledge of your field should be able to leave with some understanding of the topic, even if it's the basics.
   Do I go into the historiography behind the Declaration of Independence, or every nuance of the evolution of warfare leading up to World War I? Nope. But I communicate those things in a sneaky way - I plant little seeds that help people understand more than just the basics. That's why they're on a tour, after all.
   Some tips for public speaking: If you think you're loud enough, be louder. Avoid fillers: "like", "um", "uh", or clicking noises can catch peoples attention more than your actual content will. Then you lose credibility. Be funny, be poignant, and mostly be yourself. Don't let slip ups or interruptions slow you down; people will ask questions, kids will get distracted, and you will need to be flexible. Go with the flow.

2. Write a script and practice. Don't ever try to wing it on a tour, even if it's about something you're totally comfortable with. The first month I started here, I took a notepad to every exhibit and on every tour I observed. I got artifact folders from curatorial and studied every artifact in detail until I was comfortable with it. Then I wrote down all of my main points and wandered through the tour on my own without an audience. My script is my own and I don't expect or want anyone else to give my exact tour, but I have stolen some ideas and concepts from my coworkers and volunteers. Hey, we're talking about the same artifacts, we can have some similarities. By making a script, you also commit to memory what you're supposed to focus on and where you're going next. If you have memory problems, I find that hand-writing and then typing a script can help you remember it. But remember -  you're not trying to give a monologue. You're trying to engage and be personable on a tour. By memorizing a script and not being flexible, you're not allowing your audience to connect with you. You are not supposed to be a recording, you're supposed to be an expert. The more personable your script is, the more likely your guests will enjoy you as a person and therefore your institution. Also, don't carry your notes around with you. It just looks bad. Don't know how to make a script? Go to another museum or attraction and take a tour!

3. Be prepared for all kinds of questions. Answer them all if you can. That's why it's important to know the basic background information about the theme of an exhibit, but most questions I get are directly artifact-related. That's why it's important to study the artifact files if you have access to them. If you don't know the answer to any question, be honest. It's easier to say, "We should Google that!" than be wrong.
On the other hand... If a kid asks an incredibly sensitive question dealing with race, religion, politics, or sexuality, don't get flustered. Be tactful, honest, and appropriate. Only then will you keep up the level of respect they should have for you. While most kids on field trips are pretty well-behaved, you can bet that at least one will have something nasty to say to try and make you slip up. If you come up with a snappy, no-nonsense answer, they will get the message. If you blush and stumble over an awkward response, you may as well throw in the towel. Gaining back any respect from the entire group will be incredibly hard. Adults will also ask questions - some of them trickier than others. We often get "How much is this thing worth?" "Doesn't one guy own all this stuff?" or my personal favorite, "Isn't all of this fake?" While you would think that people on tours are there to be educated, some just want to be right. If you get questions like this, answer honestly and politely. One response I give when people ask if our two Egyptian mummies are fake is this: "Well, see we just don't have the time to make something like this, unless of course you'd like to volunteer to be mummified." It's snarky, but if said with the right intonation, it can also help you avoid conflict.


4. Be sensitive to people with different beliefs. We live in the Bible belt. Sometimes it's challenging to talk about sensitive topics like evolution, geological dating, and other religions. It's also challenging to talk about the American presidents without getting into a political discussion. It's important to keep these topics as neutral as possible - we do that by sticking to the facts. It's sometimes hard to remember that people have different political beliefs and while guests will make jokes about not liking a few current administrations. As a tour guide you must remain neutral. Even if you agree or disagree with what the guests say about how good or bad a recent president was, there may be someone in the museum who overhears you and is offended by what you say. That person then makes a judgment call about not just you, but the entire institution. A museum exists for education, not opinions. It's really easy to get caught up in the political dilemmas happening in the world, but do keep in mind that opinions can easily be misconstrued as facts to those on your tour. You want to be seen as a wise, neutral party. Your opinions should never be offered up. Stick to the facts only: President Bush just had a beautiful library opened in his name, President Obama's mother was from Kansas, etc. That way you look like a true professional.

5. Have fun. If it's clear to your guests that you don't care about a topic, exhibit, or even about them, they're going to lose interest. One of the best ways to do this is to share your favorite artifacts with them. For me, it's the mummies and our Nazi flag. I get more passionate when I talk about these artifacts than anything else, but it's a good thing because I normally end the first floor tour with the mummies and end the second floor tour with the Nazi flag. This offers a memorable ending, which is what a lot of people remember more than anything else. Then they have a positive memory to leave with and you've just given it your all. It's okay to get really passionate about one or two artifacts, just remember the others might be someone's favorite too. You can truly have fun if you're sharing passions with someone. If it's something you're not into, try watching some YouTube videos about the subject, talk to an expert about it, or read some historical fiction dealing with the topic.Here are some of my favorites: YouTube's Crash Course, any of your college professors, or Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. Be careful with the historical fiction, but keep in mind that most authors do their research. This will just help you get passionate. Keep in mind that tours should be a mental break for you. You can actually escape that grant proposal, programming challenge, or staff meeting for a few hours and enjoy sharing your gifts and talents.


So those are my top 5! Enjoy some photos of me on tours.   Just FYI, if you ever need help developing a tour or running a script by someone, just ask! I love hearing other peoples interpretations of history and I gave almost 200 tours to right around 8,000 people in the past year alone.







As you can see, I like to talk with my hands. Now another great tip is to practice - if you see guests wandering around the museum, offer to talk to them about an artifact. Then give your part of that tour, just as I am with the family in the last picture.

Good luck!

Jillian










Monday, July 15, 2013

Dino Day!

A few weeks ago, the Museum hosted a fun day in partnership with another attraction, Exploration Place. Because I'm the Education Director (aka Curator of Fun Stuff), I put together the activities for this fun Dinosaur-themed day.


Here are the activities and a list of supplies we used for each:







Amber Egg-Sploration


So this idea is so creative - my mom took control of this one. She made "amber" eggs out of orange Jello. The Jello was placed into plastic Easter eggs and as it began to set, a "fossil" was put inside of it. She put in gummy butterflies or dinosaurs. We had a real piece of amber with an insect in it from the collection to help explain to kids what they were looking at. They were able to eat the amber egg and learn at the same time! Supplies needed: Jello, Easter eggs, gummies, spoons, plates, wet wipes, egg cartons.

"Amber Eggs" In a Carton


Toy Dino Station


For kids who need a sensory break or really just love dino toys, we had an arsenal of dinosaur toys out. A great place to find accurate representations of dinos is Safari. We just put ours out on a table and the kids had fun. Supplies needed: Dino toys.



Fossil Sediment Station


The MOST popular activity we have at the Museum is our fossil sediment station. Anytime we have it out on the floor, people line up to participate. This has a threefold reason: First, it's unexpected. Second, it's challenging. Third, you get to take home anything you find. In this bucket of what looks like dirt, people have found shark teeth, sea shells, sea urchin spines, sting ray plates, barnacles, and more! This stuff is fossil sediment from the Carolinas, distributed by the PotashCorp, a phosphate company. The sediment is available at no charge (really!). You have to send them an email with an education url and education mailing address for them to send you a huge bucket of sediment. For more info, email me. They even ship free! We have the guests put anything they want in a Ziploc bag and write their name on it. The easiest way to have them look through it is to put a small scoop onto a paper plate and use a pencil and magnifying glass to search through it. One bucket of sediment lasted us a year with around 8,000 school kids digging through it.
Supplies needed: Fossil sediment, Ziploc bags, Sharpies to write names on bag, paper plates, pencils, magnifying glasses.

Compare-a-saurus Station




Isn't our volunteer adorable here? She's helping guests measure dinos with life-size rope and paper foot drawings. The rope is measured from head-to-tail for dinos. Sizes of dinos are found all over the web. We used Triceratops (32 feet long), Velociraptor (5.9 feet long), Stegosaurus (23 feet long), and Brachiosaurus (100 feet long). Just measure out the correct number of feet with your rope and cut. We labeled them with pictures of the dinos so the kids could know what they were looking at. The feet were a little trickier to get life-size. I used a projector and my laptop and marked them out on a huge piece of paper first - then I made sure the projected foot lined up with my paper markings and finished drawing them. Comparing feet was fun for the guests, but the best thing was seeing them unravel the 100ft. Brachiosaur that spread the entire length of our building! We had to use a bucket to keep it from getting tangled. Supplies needed: Long rope, scissors, dino lengths. For footprints: Big paper, markers, dino measurements.
Guests testing out how long the Brachiosaur was with rope!


Meet the Paleontologist Station

Well I know that not everyone has access to a paleontologist - but if you're looking to have a dino event, call your local university. Sometimes the geology departments have paleontologists on board who can come to your event and show their stuff. Our staff paleontologist did just that. He's been working on an outcropping in the next county over and brought in his recent findings to share with guests. He also wore his full get-up, hat, vest and all! Some kids were much too nervous to meet him, while others were star-struck.  Supplies needed: Paleontologist. :)

Our paleontologist examining his recent finds - note his sweet outfit!


 Fossil Skeleton Station

A more challenging station for guests was the fossil skeleton station, where we used pasta and printable dino skeletons to create fossil replicas. This was fun and made a neat take-home craft. The kids simply line up the pasta with the bone outlines to make the skeleton complete. It's a pre-cursor to what paleontologists who prepare skeletons do and a nice sensory activity. This one can take the kids awhile though, so be prepared to have some sit for awhile! We used spaghetti, rotini, macaroni, colored craft pasta, and bowtie pasta.
Supplies needed: Printable dino skeletons, Elmers glue, macaroni, toothpicks or pencils to help the kids move the noodles, a place to let things dry.






 Well, hope you enjoyed this little snippet of Dino Days! We look forward to doing another activity like this soon.

Until next time,


Jillian









Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence

Fireworks are bursting outside my window. Whiz, pop, laughter. Any neighborhood sounds like that on July 4th. Unfortunately, when I ask the kids at the museum where I work what we celebrate on July 4th, they say "Firework Day!"

If only they knew...

I have always been intrigued with the question "Why?" I asked it all the time when I was small - why do we do this? Why is this the way it is? Why are we celebrating these things? Most of my teachers and professors could not answer those questions for me. My trigonometry teacher would get particularly frustrated with me when I asked him WHY do we use these rules in math and WHO invented them and HOW LONG have people been doing this stuff? I learned the answers to my questions in history class.

So often, parents are celebrating our rich heritage with only the traditions and not the meaning behind them. The fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas...all of these holidays are important culturally, but we often forget why we celebrate them in the first place.


The fourth has a particularly poignant meaning to me as I get to work with one of the most amazing documents in American history. On the second floor of the museum in our Founding of America exhibit, there's an amazingly beautiful copy of the Declaration of Independence. A copy doesn't sound too exciting, but this copy is old, stunning, and revealing. In 1843, this copy of the Declaration was printed off the copper plate made from the original. The intention was to put it in American history books as a supplement, but the books didn't sell. We are left with few copies of such clarity and beauty. This gorgeous document reveals some amazing things about the Declaration that most people do not realize...


1843 Copy of The Declaration of Independence at the Museum


Things like mistakes! Even the founding document of our country is imperfect.
Notice the word Representative was originally spelled wrong...they went back to fix it later!

They left out the word "only" here and added it later.

Even though we know Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration, his sloppy signature reveals he did not pen the document itself. We believe a famous calligrapher, Timothy Matlack, actually did the writing.
Funny, but we actually celebrate Independence Day two days late. We formally declared independence on July 2, 1776. John Adams wrote: July 2nd "the most memorable epocha in the history of America." Oops. We celebrate it on July 4 because Congress approved the Declaration itself on that day. While some signed on August 2nd, 1776, at the formal signing meeting, a few signatures were added much later. We believe the last signer, Thomas McKean, didn't sign until 1781.

I always tell kids on field trips how important this document is. I also make it clear to them that the fourth is not just about fireworks and barbecue. The 56 delegates who signed this document risked their lives for us - in fact, several of them had their homes ransacked and some were captured by the British.

Encourage your family to celebrate our Independence for the right reasons - to commemorate those who lost their lives making our country independent, to remind ourselves of our uncertain beginnings, and to reiterate the fact that freedom always comes with a price.

Enjoy Independence Day and remember America's fight to be free.

-Jillian

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Beginning

"Well," I said. "I've made up my mind."

"About what, bug?" said my husband, Cody.

"I'm going to start a blog."

"You're real cute."



And so it begins. After following blogs found on Pinterest like Putting Me Together, The Small Things Blog, and MaskCara, I discovered that a lot of things I do are equally as cute! I want to share my love of quirky home decor, fashion, beauty, and cooking with the world. Not to mention, my husband and I are newlyweds who paid for (most of) our DIY wedding, are both full-time working professionals in growing fields (nursing and museums), are pet owners, adventure lovers, DIY'ers, are soon-to-be homeowners, and (maybe!) starting a family soon.

All of these things and more are soon to come. But first, a little introduction to our lives and relationship, along with our unique engagement photos by Tim Davis Photography.


Cody and I met August 6, 2010 at a bar on three-for-one night...pretty cliche! We joke that it was a sign of the rest of our relationship - we're fun lovers and bargain hunters. After a few dates, we couldn't get enough of each other.

Here we are about 2 months into our relationship, celebrating my birthday at the same bar where we met:

After only 11 months after we met, Cody proposed on a Caribbean cruise on July 21, 2011:




 We started planning our wedding shortly after (which I will blog about in detail later!). We had beautiful engagement photos taken in October and December, 2011.

Enjoy.











































































In the Pumpkin Patch photos I am wearing: Dress by Guess
Boots by Lucky Brand (That I got for a steal at $50!)
White Lace Cardigan by Poof!
Cody is wearing American Eagle sweater and jeans

In the Velvet Couch photos I am wearing: Jeans by BKE
Boots by Arturo Chiang
Charcoal cardigan by Loft
Leopard Scarf by Charlotte Russe
Gray T-shirt by Pink, Victoria's Secret
Cody is wearing American Eagle shirt and jeans

Photo Credit: Tim Davis Photography, Wichita, Kansas
Hair: Katie at ABLS Salon, Wichita, Kansas
Makeup: Krista at Beau Monde, Wichita, Kansas
Nails: Nicole at Beau Monde, Wichita, Kansas



 Until Next Time,

Jillian


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