I Fell Into a Burning Ring of Fire

I woke up this morning to the death stare of a 10-month old. My husband scooped her up, changed her, and let me rest for a few more minutes as I’d gotten up about half a dozen times to feed the little monster. It was too loud to sleep any longer, what with the other three greeblies fighting over the last two frozen waffles, so I tossed on my Nutella-stained Star Wars sweatshirt and dragged myself downstairs in search of coffee. The steps dropped me into the living room, where my #3 greeted me enthusiastically with, “Mama! Now we’re all here, a family!” She was draped over my husband’s lap, the little monster snuggled in his arms, and the other two played on the floor nearby.

I patted my husband’s head and wished him a happy anniversary. At first, he was puzzled, and said, “Wait, today? I thought that was tomorrow?” and I wasn’t the slightest bit annoyed. How could I be? Today’s schedule included two soccer games, a play rehearsal, a costume meeting, Girl Scout cookie pick-up, buying and delivering ten bags of ice for tonight’s Halloween party at the school, and of course, wrangling them all for said party which we’ll attend together instead of getting a warm meal in a quiet restaurant with cloth napkins.

When we were the well-rested, fresh-faced twenty-somethings in our wedding photo, what I just described would have made us cry. More than likely it would have sent us running in opposite directions. We weren’t going to be those people. When vacationing with my family, we’d celebrate our relative freedom as tiny children ran around like miniature tyrants. This would not be our fate, no sir.

In a couple of days, we’ll escape for 24 hours. While we’ll have the wee one along due to feeding requirements, it will be a well-deserved and long-awaited break from the chaos of our daily lives. It’s funny how it took twelve years for us to get to this place – most of the time it seems like the blink of an eye, but I am glad it took that long to work up to this. The silly boy and girl who registered for three different types of wine glasses and a game table were not cut out for a day like today.

Happy Anniversary, Babe.
Happy Anniversary. We’re every bit as crazy today.

So This Is How It Ends….

Twelve years ago, I was scrambling around town and dealing with the last minute details of wedding planning. Bridesmaids’ gifts were wrapped, Groomsmen’s gifts were also wrapped, (couldn’t exactly trust my intended with that one!) and I was on my way home to have the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

It was a perfect autumn evening, and while getting ready at my parents’ home was a cluster of unimaginable proportions due to the sheer volume of people, I somehow managed to somewhat pull it off and arrive to the church on time.

We held the rehearsal dinner at the now-closed Sly Horse Tavern, in an upstairs room with a brick fireplace and intimate decor. Everyone had a lovely time and a lovely meal, and I sent my soon-to-be husband off with his friends to a Travis show at the 9:30 Club and dragged my sister and a couple of friends out for one drink before attempting an early night so as to get much-needed rest.

never have hot russian friends
pro tip: don’t have hot friends.

In spite of the many out-of-town family members staying with my parents, my mother took care to preserve a room for me. She had put flowers in there, made up the pull out futon couch with an added air mattress, and laid out fresh towels and soaps. It was a lovely effort, which no doubt took away from the time she needed to get ready herself.

Unfortunately, however, the air mattress had a bit of a slow leak, and that night, when I attempted to get comfortable and fall asleep, each of my tosses and turns deflated it a bit more, until I was rolling atop a thinly-draped plastic sheet. Freezing cold. Shaking and freezing.

Around 2:30 AM, I gave up. I grabbed one of the blankets and headed downstairs in search of a sleeping surface. I stumbled into the den and found another pull out couch, but this one had my brother in it along with the German Shepherd. At that moment, the warmth of a dog was tempting, so I scooted him over and climbed in. Blessed warmth and sleep at last.

It wasn’t long before I heard a persistent tapping at the louvered doors. In a loud whisper, my nephew declared, “We’re hungry! We need breakfast!” It was still pitch dark in the room, so when I dragged myself out to the kitchen and squinted at their angelic faces, I figured I’d pour them some cereal and crawl back into the covers.

But then the dog was up, and then the nieces awoke and needed food, and that was the end of my rest.

I couldn’t help but think, was that really the last of my single nights? Seriously? To say nothing of the fact that I was supposed to look “the best I’d ever look in my entire life” less than 12 hours later.

If ever my daughters marry, they are staying in a hotel the night before.

The Graminator Strikes Again

My grandmother was ninety years old when she came to live with us. She stayed with us until her death at the young age of 101. Those eleven years are a treasure trove of stories ranging from the challenging to the ridiculous, and sometimes the cringe-worthy. Of course, perspective is everything here, and what may have started off to be a particularly dark moment is now the stuff of family legend.

Take for example my cousin’s wedding.

As luck would have it, I missed this particular event because I was at Girl Scout camp, but the basic premise was fairly routine: getting a large family which included a ninety year-old grandmother out the door on time for an event two hours away. It just didn’t happen.

So my family barreled up I-95 in the big brown van, running woefully behind, and strategizing how to quietly sneak into a wedding in progress. At least it was summer, so no overcoats would be involved.

As fate would have it, they arrived during the bridal procession. My mom corralled everyone in the parking lot to wait out all of the pomp and circumstance, planning to shimmy up the side aisle as soon as all the attention was refocused on the front of the church. It was a solid plan, and one I have also had occasion to implement.

It was at that moment that she realized Grandmom had made a break for it.

My grandmother was a smaller woman, not much over five feet, and she had a strutty way of propelling herself forward which involved a Kramer-esque head jiggle. She always nestled her one arm under her bosom and swung the other one a bit, leaning back as she went, seemingly fueled by her matriarchal pride.

And she was at that moment strutting herself toward the center aisle of the church, a few paces behind the bride.

My parents tried the loud church whisper, and whether it was grandmom’s failing hearing or a dedication decision to ignore them, on she went, right behind the clueless yet beautiful bride of my cousin, smiling and nodding at everyone she passed, certain they were all pleased as punch to see her.

Thankfully, my cousin’s wife is a gracious woman, and while this might have infuriated a good number of brides, she took it all in stride. Maybe Grandmom didn’t hear my mom, maybe she just relished the attention, maybe she was reliving her own wedding, no one knows. But at least everyone was able to have a good laugh.

Grandmom at nineteen.
Grandmom at nineteen, pre-wedding crasher days.