Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Hillbilly Wedding

My sister is married. Little Girl has a new stepfather.

I still recall the day my sister called me to update me on the status of her wedding. "Did you hear we've changed the date?" she asked.

"Again?" was my response.

Before I tell you the rest of this conversation, I must provide some history. My sister was planning to get married LAST October, in Gatlinburg. Why Gatlinburg? Fiance's sister was working there and couldn't get a single day off work, so they said. And his sister HAD to be there. So our ENTIRE family, as well as the rest of HIS entire family, all had to go to Gatlinburg for this wedding to accommodate ONE person.

Nobody was terribly happy about it, but no amount of complaining would change their minds. If they wanted to get married in Gatlinburg simply because THEY wanted to get married in Gatlinburg, then that would be one thing. But the only reason they were doing this was for his sister. Personally, I think she could have gotten ONE day off if it was that important that she attend. But that's beside the point.

So in the spring, my sister stressed the importance of everyone finding accommodations. "You need to hurry up and reserve something," she kept saying. "October is prime season in the Smoky Mountains... everything's going to be booked."

So we all made reservations. My aunts and uncles were all renting a big cabin and staying together. I booked a room in a bed and breakfast next door to the wedding chapel for us. Did I mention that these reservations had to be paid for immediately and were non-refundable unless they could be rebooked, and then a 15% rebooking fee was applied?

So not two weeks after everyone has made their nonrefundable reservations, my sister announces that they've changed their minds, and they're going to wait a year to get married. Now don't get me wrong -- I'm glad they decided to wait. Fiance wasn't sure he was ready to be a dad to Little Girl yet and wanted more time to adjust to the idea, and to give her time to adjust to the idea. I'm all for that. But couldn't they have decided this a couple of weeks sooner?

Despite the fact that fall is prime season in the Smokies and we had difficulty making reservations, strangely enough, nobody wanted to rebook our rooms/cabins. Hundreds of dollars going down the drain here; we were not pleased. So many members of my family decided, "We were looking forward to this big family outing down in the Smokies, and we've got these rooms anyway, so let's just go!" I gave my B&B room to my parents and did not attend this family reunion, but many aunts, uncles, and cousins did attend.

They rented a big van and some of them drove down together. Now for some character introduction here -- my grandparents had four children: Phillip (who married Mary), Pattie (mother of my "twin cousin" Amy), my mom, and Jo. On a shopping excursion in the big van were: Jo driving and my mom in the passenger seat; in the middle row were Pattie and Mary; and Amy sat in the back. Reread that and make sure you know who all these people are, because the relationships are important... Jo, Mom, and Pattie are sisters; Mary is married to their brother. All fine Christian people; salt of the earth. Important to know.

Now Jo is the talker of the family, and she had talked SO much during this family reunion weekend that she had lost her voice. She was pulling the van out of a parking garage, and the traffic on the street was very busy. She wanted to go left, and waited and waited and waited for a break in traffic. At last, she decided to put the van in park while she waited. As vehicles will sometimes do when shifting gears, the van jolted forward just slightly.

At this very same moment, a woman pushing a stroller happened to be walking in front of the van. When the van made its little jolt, she looked up angrily and began shouting. "Are you trying to HIT me?" she yelled, and then let forth a stream of profanities. This van full of good Christian women were a bit appalled, but the woman continued on and was soon forgotten.

At last, Jo decided they were never going to be able to turn left, so she decided to turn right. As they drove down the street, they saw the lady pushing her stroller along the sidewalk. Before anyone else in the van even realized what was happening, Jo swerved the van right up by the sidewalk, rolled down my mother's window, leaned across her and starting shaking her finger at the woman and shouting in her hoarse gravelly voice, "I wasn't trying to hit you!" Due to the vocal loss she was experiencing however, not a word she said could have been understood by the woman at the street; all she saw was this crazy woman shaking her finger at her and growling out something unintelligible.

Once more, the woman let loose a string of profanities. Instantly, Pattie leaned forward from behind Jo, also across my mother, and shot that woman the finger. Every woman in the van, herself included, was in absolute shock.

Amy gasped from the back seat and said, "MOM, put that back in its holster!" Pattie said in shock over and over, "I can't believe I just did that. I have never done that before in my life. I swear I have NEVER done anything like that before! I don't know what came over me!"

But the funniest part of the whole story was Mary, who sat stunned, shaking her head back and forth and saying, "Oh my... oh my... they're all JUST LIKE PHILLIP!"

Well, everyone had such a good time at that reunion, and such great laughs over the van incident, that Jo decided we need to do a family trip like that every year. And she planned everything out for us this year, a nice little country ranch a couple hours' drive away, for the weekend AFTER my sister's wedding. A wedding which was now going to be a nice normal wedding, at home, in our church, by our pastor.

Let us now resume the phone conversation with my sister.

"AGAIN?" asked I. "Yes," answered my sister. "We're going to have it at the family reunion."

Lengthy pause while I LAUGH my head off. I seriously did. I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. But she was serious. They were indeed getting married at the family reunion.

And so they did. A true hillbilly wedding if you ever saw one.

It was an interesting ranch. They had animals there. Exotic animals. I was awakened at 6 am by something growling outside the cabin. I thought it was a bear. No. Nothing so normal as a bear. It was an ostrich.

My uncle went out fishing at the pond. But the fish were all scared away by the lion that kept roaring at him. Now that's a great fish story if I ever heard one.

Goats and sheep roamed all over the place. The little girls had a wonderful time playing with them and naming them all. Nearly the whole family attended. We filled up three large cabins in all.

And this is where my sister got married. Outside the largest cabin. She wore a white "church" dress. Her fiance wore a suit. So did the pastor who drove in from her fiance's church. Little Girl wore a beautiful flower girl dress. And everyone else wore jeans and t-shirts. Because we like to dress up for a wedding, y'know.

His family drove in just for the wedding itself. I had wondered if they were going to attend our family reunion. That would have been just too weird. Some of the men of the family decided to go golfing instead of waiting around for the wedding. Because golfing is more important.

The ceremony lasted all of five minutes. My cousin was supposed to provide the music but he had a panic attack the night before and backed out. So the four little girls in the family did a beautiful job humming "Here Comes the Bride" while the bride walked down the... uh... hill. Nobody thought to bring any rice, so the little girls picked up gravels out of the road and tossed them. Hey, we have to do things up right, after all! We quickly sent the bride and groom away. "Do you all want to come and have lunch with us? We're going to this nice little cafe in town. It will be like a reception."

"Um, no..." we all made excuses. "You see, there's this motorboat ride down the river and if we hurry, we can get there before the last boat leaves..." And off we all rushed to our cars, leaving the bride and groom to dine with HIS family while we went on a boat ride. :)

We're going to have our family reunion there every fall. To celebrate their anniversary. Won't they love that? :) That's what they get for choosing to be married at the family reunion!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me :)

I recently had a birthday, and after seeing Amanda's list for her birthday and thinking it a great idea, I've decided to put together my own.

1. I can't say as I remember my first birthday. :) From the ancient 8mm video we have, however, I know it was a fun time filled with family on both sides. So many of those people are gone now, but what fun my first birthday in heaven will be, having them all back again. :)

2. This was a fun year, and my first memories start to take form. I moved from a house next door to my great-aunt who adored me to a house next door to my grandparents who adored me. Lucky me. :)

3. Starting to remember more. I can remember starting Sunday School, and on my very first day, learning the song "His Banner Over Me is Love."

4. For my fourth birthday, I got an early birthday present -- a baby brother. Now he has his very own Baby Boy! How time flies! I started reading at 4 and have never stopped...

5. I started kindergarten this year. How excited I was to show my teacher, Mrs. Roberts, my new Wonder Woman Underoos. LOL. Took her to the bathroom to show her privately -- at least I had SOME modesty! :) I became a Christian at age 5, so this was a great year. :)

6. Another early birthday present -- this time, the baby sister I had been praying for since before God gave me the brother... I regretted that prayer many times growing up (whenever she did something particularly annoying, and my mother always said, "Remember, you PRAYED for her and now you've got her!") But I can't regret it now, for she is Little Girl's mommy! Again, how time flies!

7. 2nd grade. Busy with school and church and AWANA and play... just having good old-fashioned kid fun!

8. My mother chopped off my knee-length hair. I hated it. How I cried! How many times during my childhood I heard her tell me, "When you're older, you can have it how you want it. But then you'll want it short!" She was wrong. I've NEVER worn it that short again. And probably never will.

9. The last of my growing-up years spent almost entirely with my "twin cousin" (we were five months apart). My grandmother wrote a poem about us that year that defines our childhood together:

Two little girls, they'll win your heart;
Always together, never apart.
Making plans every day,
What to do and what to say.
Writing plays and singing songs,
Growing up, it won't be long.
One is eight, the other nine years,
Going to school, learning cheers.
It seems they're never ever done
Always having so much fun.
They're first cousins and also friends,
I'm sure they will be to the end.
I wish you knew them as I do,
For then I know you'd love them too.

10. My first Cabbage Patch Kid (of many!) Remember the hideous names they came with? Norene Madelle was this poor Kid's name; I promptly renamed her April LeeAnne. I dearly love her to this day! I played with dolls a little longer than many girls do (until about 12), and definitely a lot longer than girls do today, but as my Pappaw always said, "Better dolls than boys!"

11. 6th grade -- I had my favorite teacher of all time, Mr. Reed. His idea of a field trip was taking the class to his house. We girls spent the morning with his wife learning to cook and sew and take care of their little boys, while the boys worked with him in his wood shop and played football. "That's awfully sexist!" remark many... but we LOVED IT!!!

12. A weird year for me. I was homeschooled at school... our jr high closed down (Christian school) so my mother ordered a homeschooling curriculum, Mr. Reed supervised it, she administered the tests, and I was essentially on my own most of the day. It was an awesome year. I substituted for absent teachers, I sorted the teachers' mail, met the pizza and Wendy's guys at the door and passed out the lunches to everyone (our idea of a hot lunch program! :) ), watched the daycare kids during nap to give the teacher a break, and took care of my 3 year old cousin so my aunt could study, as she was taking college classes.

13. A bad year. Jr. high reopened, but instead of the kids I grew up with returning to the school, it was a bunch of "bad kids" who were in trouble or flunking out of public schools, and their parents decided they'd send them to that Christian school to straighten them out. Uh, well when every kid is a "bad kid", they don't get straightened out... and it was a miserable year for me!

14. Continuation of bad bad bad. I'd like to erase these two years from my life.

15. I went to public school and was shocked to learn that there were NICE KIDS in the world!! Really there were!! Who knew?

16. Ahhh, the freedom to drive!! Well, not for me. I got my learner's permit a time or two but never really got to learn to drive. Even took driver's ed, and my partner was always absent when it was our turn to go out in the car and I hardly ever got to drive there!! So no license for me...

17. My senior year! I joined the band -- good move on my part. Made school a lot more fun, and expanded my network of friends quite a bit. Still couldn't drive, but who needs to drive when all your friends can?

18. Freshman year of college... I lived at home, so didn't have the whole college experience people talk about, it was really a lot like a continuation of high school with a bit more freedom.

19. Finally got that driver's license!

20. A shift from all those generalized classes to finally learning about speech therapy. Such a tough program, and the teachers treated us more like animals they were training than human beings they were teaching. Discovered the internet!!! Very important!!!

21. Got my undergrad. degree. Began forming close friendships with people I'd met online. Many thought it was weird, but I was SO SHY (from those awful jr high experiences!) that I just couldn't develop close friendships in real life, but once I discovered I could really express my true self in writing, wow! I became a different person, and it eventually carried over into my real life as well. This was the year I became friends with some of YOU reading here today. :)

22. Grad school... what was the big deal about graduation from college? Same types of classes, same nasty professors, same classmates -- the college years just go on... This was the year of the big car accident that I can't believe I survived, let alone came away with nothing but a bruise, but it sure messed up my life financially for awhile, due to those HUGE insurance payments...

23. I began substitute teaching this year as a part time job while finishing up grad school. My first opportunity to stand in front of a classroom since 7th grade! Really, I think I did better as a 12 year old... or maybe it was just that our kids were better behaved!!

24. My first REAL job -- I got a job as a speech therapist in a very rural county an hour from home. I can't believe I commuted every day. But thanks to those aforementioned insurance payments, I really couldn't afford to rent my own place, even if there were a place to rent in this oh so rural area!

25. Bought a house!! An hour away from home, ten minutes from my school. What fun to finally feel "grown up" after all these years. A little later than most, but better late than never. :)

26. Life plugs on. An uneventful year. OH! Except that I became friends with a Katelet. I reckon that's important. ;)

27. Little Girl is born and blesses our lives abundantly!!

28. Switched jobs/schools. I work four blocks from home!! Can WALK to school! LOVE this job, teaching pre-reading skills to K and 1st grade kids. My favorite job ever.

29. Married. Left my job. Left my house. Left my family. Left my friends (except those on the internet -- another perk of having internet friends!!). Left my church. Entire life started over in a new place 3 hours from home... very scary year!!

30. Got out of that wretched apartment and bought our current house. Yay. My own private practice really kicking off now, and boy, do I stay busy!!!

31. Work, work, work, it's all I do, so not a whole lot to say...

32. Ditto. Baby Boy is born -- bringing one good thing into this year.

33. Beginning a new chapter in my life -- can't wait to see what will be written on its pages! Looking good so far!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Little Girl Lies

Little Girl is very honest. She always says exactly what she's done, even when she knows she's going to get in trouble for it. But last week, Little Girl told her first lie.

The book fair was at Little Girl's school last week, and Grandma told Little Girl she would give her money to buy a book every day that she earned a green on her behavior chart. Monday went by... Tuesday... purples for Little Girl. Grandma was getting worried that there would be NO greens, and she really did want Little Girl to be able to buy some books!! But on Wednesday, Little Girl got green! Grandma gave her money, and she picked out two books for herself, and even chose a little book on shapes for Baby Boy. Isn't she sweet. :)

Thursday came and Little Girl got green again and chose another book, but then on Friday, her teacher's note with how her behavior had been all week came. She was on purple (one offense) every day!

"Little Girl!" gasped Grandma. "WHY did you tell me you got green when you didn't!?"

She fully expected Little Girl to say she really wanted a book, but no...

"Because I wanted to make you happy, Grandma."

How about a big awwwww for that? Okay, so we can't excuse her for lying and she still has to be punished, but how sweet that she lied NOT to get a book, but because she was tired of disappointing everybody with all her purples? And I don't think she's being manipulative either, as I said, this was her first lie... :)

And hopefully her last! (Though I know better than that!)