Tag Archives: wedding

We are all Mad Here

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On the Saturday following Christmas I had the fun opportunity to join forces with friends as we pulled off a really delightful bridal shower for a daughter of one of those friends. The theme was a Mad Hatter tea party…

Built around Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Boy, did we have fun embracing and running with the theme!

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It was a whimsical wonder for the bride-to-be and her handsome groom.

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Here is a look at the transformation as we fell down the rabbit hole into a world of nonsense:

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Grace and Zach’s Wedding Reception

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It is hard to believe it has been two weeks since Grace and Zach’s wedding reception. Since that day they have enjoyed an amazing honeymoon abroad while the rest of us spent time recovering from one heck of a party!

Slowly, the house is returning to normal, as each piece of furniture and each decoration finds its way back to its original spot. and we ease back into the routine of everyday life.

Molly has returned to school in Idaho. Grace and Zach, now home from their honeymoon, are enjoying the adventure of married life as they establish their own routines and traditions in their darling little apartment.

The reception was beautiful. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Grace’s vision of the night came to life in a way that made it feel as though we had invited our closest friends and family over for a holiday dinner. There was comfort food, familiar faces, music, laughter, dancing and displays of love that left all our hearts overflowing with gratitude over the blessings of their union.

We made the decision ahead of time to hire our dear friend, Holly (who is an amazing photographer) to capture the magic of the evening so that I wasn’t having to watch the events of the evening unfold from behind a camera lens…

And yesterday she sent us the edited photos, allowing us to relive what was an amazing night.

She perfectly captured the feel of the evening and the love that overflowed as we celebrated the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Tame.

Here is a look into that blessed night:

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The whole event made us dance with joy!

Love is in the Details

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Once the wedding day came a close, and we bid the bride and groom goodbye for the night, it was time to turn my focus to the reception. There was much to do in preparation for the celebration that followed the wedding two days later. In an effort to plan an event that was both beautiful and affordable, we opted to make Grace and Zach’s reception a home-grown affair. Luckily this homey theme tied beautifully into Gracie’s vision for the day.

As we began making plans months ago, Grace shared her vision for her reception. She wanted a vintage feel that made guests feel as though they were coming over for a family dinner. Since we don’t have the space in our dining room for 200 guests, we opted instead to turn the church’s cultural hall into home through the use of decorations from our house and heirloom photos. The theme was “home is where the heart is,” and that theme was a joy to bring to life. I am a firm believer that love is in the details and it is our hope that through the details in the décor our guests felt loved and felt the love Grace and Zach share. Here is a sneak peek at the reception hall prior to the celebration.

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Using Toby’s trailer we loaded up furniture from home to transform the gym into a reception hall.

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Continuing with this “family dinner for 200” theme, we opted to serve different homemade soups, along with salad and bread.

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We used pumpkins to serve as signs to identify the various soup choices.

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In the lobby we set up the “guest book.” Using the beautiful antique desk given to Grace and Zach as their wedding gift from my parents, we created a homey little vignette to greet guests.

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The bride and groom opted to pass on a traditional guest book, choosing instead to purchase a family bible with note taking margins for their guests to mark their favorite scripture and pen a message of love.

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For our younger guests we prepared activity boards as gifts to entertain them during the ring ceremony. Each clipboard came with colored pencils and wedding themed activity/coloring sheets.

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Pittsburgh Cookie Table Sign

For those readers not from the Pittsburgh area, you might not be familiar with the traditional cookie table. This sign was displayed to explain why cookies are served in addition to wedding cake at most Pittsburgh wedding receptions.

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The cookie table as it slowly filled up with cookies donated by family and friends.

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“To go” bags were provided so guests could take cookies home to enjoy later.

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Grace and Zach wanted to make their reception as much about celebrating family as they did celebrating their own love. They accomplished this through a lot of thoughtful and personal touches, including incorporating loved ones’ wedding songs as part of the DJ’s playlist for the evening, and in doing so allowed couples the chance to enjoy a slow dance to their own wedding song.

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Apple cider was the drink of the night at their October reception.

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Their beautiful cake was made by our talented friend, Kelly. Gracie’s request was a “naked cake,” one that was thinly frosted and decorated with fresh berries. It was as delicious as it was beautiful!

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The couple opted to have a ring ceremony at their reception so that family and friends could witness the exchanging of rings. In creating a space in the reception hall for that to take place, we opted against a traditional arch and chose instead to create a “arch” using old ladders and vintage details to create a more unique “arch” for the ceremony.

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The head table where the bridal party would sit.

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The tables themselves were decorated with mismatched vintage tablecloths, framed family photos, decoupaged houses (lit from within to glow when the lights were lowered), and mismatched glassware with fresh cut flowers.

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In family-style serving, each table had a cutting board with a loaf of bread in addition to salt sticks to accompany the soup for the meal.

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Our “party favor” was an individual apple pie at each place setting, tagged with the pun, “Appley Ever After!”

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The table numbers were recreations of old library cards to tie into the antique books that were displayed as part of the centerpiece at each table.

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The finished effect made me smile.

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But it wasn’t until the overhead lights were turned off and the room was lit only with strings of mercury glass lights that the place really began to feel magical.

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Photos of the actual reception will follow soon.

We opted to hire our talented friend, Holly, to capture the evening through photos, thus freeing me up to simply enjoy being mother of the bride and enjoy the magic of the evening. As soon as we get those photos back I will share with all of you, but I couldn’t resist giving you a preview of our magical evening with Zach and Grace.

The Big Day!

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We awoke Thursday morning, our hearts all aflutter…

It was Gracie’s wedding day!!

On Wednesday we headed out to Philadelphia where we would be setting up camp at a Home2 Suites. We booked two rooms for two nights and slept like babies upon arriving Wednesday night.

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On Thursday morning, after a tasty complimentary breakfast, we set to work, preparing for the day. While the boys enjoyed the hotel pool, the girls and I began pressing wrinkles out of wedding outfits and preparing for the day.

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At 11:00 we began getting dolled up for the big event.

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With the Mama Mia soundtrack serving as the background music to our day, we curled, pinned, and glossed our way into bridal beauty.

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Gracie’s heirloom engagement ring was beautifully complimented by the Color Street French tip manicure she gave herself the night before. A beautiful $14.00 manicure that looked like a million bucks!

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Final touches…

My already lovely daughters became show stoppers with the addition of bridal dresses and high heels.

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The beautiful bride and her maid of honor.

Then it was time for the boys to get gussied up. They all looked dapper in their matching ties, sewn by the bride and groom prior to the wedding.

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The fathers’ ties were gifted with a personalized iron-in tag printed with a message of love to the dads from the bride and groom.

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The male relatives also all received a beautiful metal tie tacks in the shape of the Philadelphia temple to wear to the wedding, while the girls all received beautiful scarfs to warm them against the October chill of the day.

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The mothers of the bride and groom also received personal gifts. Gracie gave me mine at the hotel before leaving for the wedding and I’m so glad she did.

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As I read her note of love the tears began to fall…

I was a mess as I read the inscription on my wedding day hankie and the loving message she penned in my copy of “Love you Forever.”

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Zach’s mother, Sherrie, received her wedding day hankie from Grace and a matching book from Zach at the luncheon they hosted prior to the big event.

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After many tears and lots of loving embraces, it was time to go. We were meeting the groom at the temple at 2:00 for photos. We opted to do wedding photos prior to the ceremony, as their 7:30 pm wedding ceremony would mean it would be dark afterwards and make wedding photos more of a challenge.

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Grace asked me to take their wedding photos rather than hire someone else to do it, so with Molly’s help we spent the next hour capturing the love Gracie and Zach share.

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The biggest challenge was the wind. With 30-40 mile an hour gusts, we found ourselves battling the elements.

It was a good thing I used an entire packet of bobby pins in Gracie’s hair! Despite the winds, her hair didn’t move.

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Molly and I didn’t fare so well!

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At 3:30 we strolled across the street to enjoy the luncheon  so lovingly put on by the groom’s family for the guests that traveled in for the wedding.

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The spread was amazing,

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And everyone enjoyed the time we had to celebrate the blessings of the day over good food and in the company of good friends.

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Following the meal, we took advantage of the beautiful courtyard that stands in the center of the church to take family photos with the bride and groom…

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Two families joined together in love.

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So much love in one place!

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Then it was time to stroll across the street to the temple and begin getting ready for the marriage ceremony. While the parents helped the bride and groom get ready, the siblings headed to the parking garage to decorate the “getaway car,” as Tyler called it.

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The boys each made posters ahead of time,

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And packed balloons and window markers to decorate Zach’s car.

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They did a stellar job with the help of Zach’s niece and some of his sisters.

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Then it was time for the big event, and it was beautiful! With tears of joy streaming down their cheeks, the bridcommitted themselves before family, friends, and Heavenly Father to love and honor each other from this day forward with a love that is never-ending and will endure into the eternities. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

They exited the Philadelphia temple to cheers of delight,

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As family and friends embraced them in love…

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Then it was time to say goodnight to the new Mr. and Mrs. Tame!

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Next big event: The reception!

 

Young Love

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Well, we are officially two weeks out from the big day!

14 days until Zach and Gracie are married and we legally gain another son into the family.

It is all very exciting and the young couple is brimming with happiness.

A few weeks ago they had the opportunity to have this exciting season of their lives captured on film by an amazingly talented photographer…

Who just happens to also be a dear friend.

Holly needed an couple to do a engagement photo shoot with for her business and asked if Grace and Zach would be interested. They jumped at the chance to work with Holly and the results were nothing short of stunning.

She brilliantly captured their personalities and the sweet devotion of their love.

The result was magical:

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Only 14 more days until “I do!”

A Happy little Housewife

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In May of 1955, Housekeeping Monthly published an article entitled, “The Good Wife’s Guide,” detailing all the ways that a wife should act and how best she can be a partner to her husband and a mother to her children…

1.) Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs.

2.) Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.

3.) Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

4.) Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

5.) Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables.

6.) Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

7.) Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes.

8.) Children are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

9.) Be happy to see him. Free him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. Listen to him.

10.) You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first — remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

11.) Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax.

12.) Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where you husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

13.) Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

14.) Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.

15.) Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

16.) Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

Soon after Gracie got engaged we began wedding talk. We discussed possible venues, menus, and colors for her bridal party. Grace was easy going about it all, as is her natural personality. The one definite in her mind was her vision for her bridal shower. She knew exactly what she wanted…

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A retro, 1950’s, “Happy little housewife” bridal shower,

And Molly and I were only too happy to oblige!

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This was a theme we could have a lot of fun with!

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On Friday we headed over to church and spent the day decorating and preparing for the shower.

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The theme lent itself nicely to decorations we already had on hand, as this is the look of my home.

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We just loaded up our living room and kitchen and used it to transform the church gym into the shower of Gracie’s dreams.

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It was a fun theme to decorate for!

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On Friday night, following Gracie’s bachelorette party, we drove over to the church so Grace could have a preview of her shower. She wasn’t with us when we were decorating, as she had work, so she got to experience the thrill of seeing it all completed.

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We also used that time to assemble the favors that came together with the help of my friend, Bonnie. She suggested we stop by Grampa Joe’s Candy shop to buy authentically 1950’s candies to fill our treat cups. The finished results were a perfect final touch!

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We were blessed to have family come in from out of town for Gracie’s special event, including my mom and grandmother from Ohio, and my sister and niece from Michigan.

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The boys that belong to these special ladies also tagged along, as we planned a special event for them as well. While the girls were brunching, Toby took all the boys to an out-of-this-world vintage arcade for some guy time with the groom-to-be and the guys in the family.

Meanwhile, back at church we finished up the last of the preparations as guests began to arrive. Many came decked out in aprons hoping to win the prize for the best apron.

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They also came bearing a favorite family recipe to share with the bride-to-be.

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Rather than traditional bridal shower games, which isn’t Gracie’s style, we offered activities located around the perimeter of the room for guests to peruse and participate in if they wished. Some of our stations included:

“Sign the apron for the Bride-to-Be!” :

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“A good housewife always sends thank you notes!” table where guests could address an envelope to themselves for thank you notes:

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“The Price is Right,” a game where guests had to guess the prices of a 1950’s grocery shopping list:

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And “How many Kisses for the soon-to-be Mrs.”:

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Grace greeted guests as they arrived, dressed to the nine’s as a perfect little housewife.

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Her bridal party was also sporting 1950’s era glasses.

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Even the mother of the bride embraced the theme!

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Molly also had an important job as guests arrived. She tagged each gift and card with a bingo number which would be important for later in the shower.

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The bridal shower began with brunch. We were blessed with many helping hands who pitched in to produce a scrumptious spread of bacon/egg casserole, artichoke casserole, stuffed French toast, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, homemade chocolate chip cookies, and a variety of yummy muffins topped with 1950’s happy homemaker tags.

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We were touched by all that came out to support Grace and Zach, and wish the bride-to-be blessings of love for her new life.

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After brunch we announced the winners of our bridal shower games and explained our final game of the party…BINGO!

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At each guest’s seat were vintage bingo cards that we found at a thrift store two months prior. I wasn’t sure what we’d do with them but they were so cute and so in line with our vintage theme I knew I had to incorporate them into the shower.

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It finally came to me that by tagging each gift with a bingo number we could enjoy an old fashioned game of bingo while the bride opened her gifts.

The prizes for our bingo winners were dish soaps that were dolled up with fabric aprons. The game was a hit and the dish soaps were too!

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As Grace opened the gifts, so lovingly and generously given, she had the assistance of her bridesmaids and her new niece.

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Molly penned the list for thank you notes, Lydia and Olivia brought her gifts to unwrap and whisked the open gifts away,

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And sweet Natalie was on wrapping paper clean-up…a job she took very seriously!

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The gifts that Grace and Zach received for their new home were so varied and so very generous. They were immensely blessed by the kindness of their guests.

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It was a wonderful bridal shower. Grace felt loved and the shower of blessings bestowed upon my Gracie girl filled my heart with gratitude for all the good people in our lives.

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That afternoon, while still in 1950’s dress, Grace filmed this little ASL ditty for Zach… in honor of  50 DAYS until “I DO!”

Only 50 days to go!!

 

 

Gracie and Friends.. Painting the Town!

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Our third big event of last week was Gracie’s bachelorette party. Her wedding day isn’t until mid-October, but since the maid-of-honor (Miss Molly) is headed west in 10 days, and won’t return until the day before Gracie’s wedding, we had to improvise and squeeze in multiple pre-wedding celebrations two months early.

One of those big events was Gracie’s bachelorette party. Molly planned a painting party at our local art studio, Burgundy and Brushes, and invited the remainder of the wedding party and their moms to join us.

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Oh, how I love my daughter!

Included in the bachelorette party fun was Gracie’s two bridesmaids, Olivia (Gracie’s best friend) and Lydia (my niece), along with their mothers.

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Gracie and her bridal party.

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Miss Lana and Olivia

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Aunt Kelly and Lydia

Zach’s mother and sisters were also invited but the party fell on the weekend Zach’s sister, Heather, had to check into Southern Virginia University, which unfortunately took a few of the Tame ladies out of town for the weekend. We did have Zach’s sisters Jenny, Andrea, and Stephanie join us as we celebrated Gracie’s journey from Miss to Mrs.

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Three of Gracie’s new sisters: Jenny, Stephanie, and Andrea

In planning Gracie’s bachelorette party we let Grace choose which painting she wanted to paint. In looking at the class options displayed on the Burgundy and Brushes website, she chose the painting that depicted a silhouette of a tree against a colorful background.

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Molly and I made plans for her party by purchasing bachelorette party decorations on Amazon and kitschy bride accessories to make the celebration come to life.

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We made plans to serve fun finger food to enjoy as we painted,

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And our party favors were new lipsticks for each of the girls, which were applied for the sake of Gracie’s party favor,

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A photo mat that said, “Kiss the Miss goodbye,” in gold script.

We had everyone leave their lip prints and signatures on the photo mat for Grace to use to frame the group photo of our completed artistic creations as a special memento of her bachelorette party.

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Once everyone arrived, made a plate, and settled in to their places before the blank canvases, we began to paint.

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We were guided through the step-by-step process of creating the piece of art Gracie chose for the class.

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The instructor was fun and entertaining, giving each of us as much or as little guidance as we wanted.

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As we painted we listened to the Mama Mia soundtracks, per Gracie’s request.

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It was fun to see the variety of painting styles and color preferences emerge as our trees appeared on canvas.

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It was fun to talk, laugh, and check out each other’s paintings as we worked.

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Gracie “carving” her and Zach’s initials in her completed tree…

The finished paintings were as unique as the artists who created them!

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It was such a fun night!!

Then it was time to head home for a good night’s sleep…

We needed to be well rested for the next morning’s fun: Gracie’s bridal shower!

 

 

“I’m fine,” she told herself…

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I feel as though I’m suffering from an emotional hangover…

Too many feelings squeezed into too short a period of time,

With all of the residual manifestations connected to an excess of living.

I literally feel as though I am emotionally hungover, with many of the symptoms seen in alcohol induced hangovers.

I find myself weary, heavy, numb, foggy and teary as I try to continue navigating the responsibilities of day to day life while accepting that life as I have known it for 20 years, is changing…

And changing very soon!

The crazy thing about it all is that everything I am navigating through is exactly the things I have prayed so hard for. There is a part of me that wants to smack the tears off my own face and remind myself that this is all good stuff!

Feelings of gratitude and joy are the prevailing emotions, but closely tied to feelings of gratitude and joy, are feelings of uncertainty and loss…

And guilt.

Guilt that I am feeling anything but gratitude and joy in the midst of such blessings. Unlike the seasons we have had to endure that are filled with such darkness and danger, despair and loss, this season is blessedly positive, but I still find myself struggling.

Perhaps I am unaccustomed to things going so smoothly.

Perhaps I have forgotten how to navigate life outside the emotional bondage of crisis management.

Perhaps I feel as though I am losing some of my purpose or value.

Maybe it is simply the emotional push-back that is rooted in the fear of change.

Or maybe, just maybe, this weight of emotions is simply bone-deep fatigue, born from trying to fit in so many “lasts” before life changes for good.

I am not certain.

I only know that time seems to be racing past and I am desperately grasping for its tail, hoping to slow it down.

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I know that I am not alone in this place. Many other friends have expressed similar emotions, born from similar situations. I take strength from knowing that this muddy mix of emotions is normal, that I am not the only one trying to gracefully navigate them, and that millions of mothers before me have made it through this season to find joy and purpose in the next season of parenting.

So many changes are coming down the pike, not the least of which are:

  1. Gracie getting married! Only two months until her big day! The last few weeks have been spent entrenched in bridal shower planning, bachelorette party planning and wedding planning. Grace and Zach have also been on the hunt for an apartment. They will be staying in the area, as Grace still has a few semesters of school to finish before earning her degree in American Sign Language interpreting.

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 Well, they found one that they love and fits their budget. And we have the benefit of having them nearby for at least the next year…which is a HUGE blessing for our adopted sons who have been struggling with triggered feelings of losing another person they love.

Last Sunday we drove over to Ellwood City to check out Gracie and Zach’s soon-to-be newlywed digs.

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It is an upstairs, one bedroom apartment with a big kitchen and lots of light. It is perfect for them and so exciting. Grace can’t wait to start decorating!

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2. Molly is about ready to take flight! In less than three weeks she will be heading out to school. Rusty and Braden will be joining us as we take a weeklong road trip to Idaho to drop her off. Along the way we are going to revisit some of our favorite national parks from our bus trip three years ago, so Braden can experience some of these national treasures.

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Over the last month Molly has been making piles in preparation for college, getting together with friends, and finishing out her employment at Eat n’ Park. In fact, a few weeks ago she was asked by her employers to reconsider heading west for school. They wanted to offer her a management position. Her boss told her how impressed they have been with her since she began working for them in the spring and could see a great future for her with the company. She sweetly declined, knowing that BYU-Idaho is where she is being called to, but was honored and touched by the job offer.

3. Molly will not be the only college student this year. Grace and I will also be working towards our degrees, and Rusty is now unexpectedly joining the college ranks as a duel enrolled high school senior.

A few weeks ago we toured our local community college’s aviation program to find out more about their drone piloting program. This is a field that interests Rusty and so we added CCBC to our college tour list.

As we sat and spoke with the Dean of the program, he encouraged Rusty to not wait until graduation, but rather enroll for the fall semester as part of the duel-enrollment program. After speaking with his cyber school, 21st Century Cyber Charter School, we learned that Rusty had the option of replacing his high school electives with college courses and receive both high school and college credit, thus getting a jump start on his college degree.

He is very excited and will be taking most of his classes at the local airfield where he will learn the skills to graduate with a drone piloting license. Toby and I were pleased to learn that the high demand for drone pilots, coupled with the minimal number of colleges offering this newly emerging degree, meant that 100% of their past students have graduated with job placement.

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4. Braden is also venturing into new territory. In June he expressed a desire to cyber school like the other kids for his senior year. He struggled with our local brick and mortar school and some of the negative influences that proved too much for him to manage. Since being home this summer he has felt the difference that separation has made on his emotions and his ability to make good choices. He is happier and more at peace. I’m hoping it is as good a fit for him as it has been my other kids.

In addition to cyber schooling, he and Rusty will be getting together with other teens from church each weekday morning at 6:00am for early morning seminary (a religion class that allows for studying the scriptures and discussing gospel topics with the other youth from church under the guidance of a teacher.) I think this will be beneficial to both boys and will meet some of Braden’s social needs as one of my extroverted children.

5. Tyler also continues cyber schooling, but through PA Cyber. And although I feel that PA Cyber falls short when compared to the education offered through 21st Century Cyber School, it has proven to be a great fit for Tyler. Last year was his best year ever and he took off under this model of cyber schooling. He is eager to get back in touch with teachers and peers whom he hasn’t talked to all summer. Tyler will be in 7th grade this year. How is that possible?!

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6. Ozzie continues to thrive in the residential treatment facility that he has been residing at for more intense therapeutic work. His success there is not surprising but rather an expected result of a structured, unattached environment. The goal we are working toward is for him to successfully transfer the skills he uses at the RTF to the home environment, thus making his presence in the home safe and stable. This isn’t an easy transition, as his diagnoses of Reactive Attachment Disorder makes the thing he most stands in need of (connection and attachment to family) the very thing he fears and fights against. It is heartbreaking in its presentation and heartbreaking to know that as devastating as this diagnoses is, it could have been easily avoided through loving maternal care as a young child. The transfer of skills we are working toward is accomplished by slowly introducing interactions with family members (and eventually visits home) to his treatment plan and then addressing the negative reactions to triggers  with his therapeutic team in the RTF upon returning back at the end of a visit.

This week he and I had our first off-grounds visit. I was allowed to take him to lunch for two hours. This initial off-grounds trip consisted of just the two of us spending time together. We will slowly be adding additional family members to upcoming visits as deemed safe by staff.

I let Ozzie pick the restaurant and he chose Quaker Steak and Lube, a well known wing place in this area.

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He chose it partly for the food but mainly for the décor. He loves walking around the restaurant and snapping pictures of all the cars and memorabilia with my phone.

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He did well and we had a good time.

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He got all dressed up for our date 🙂 

This week we will be taking Ozzie out again following his family therapy session. This time Molly will be joining me so she and Ozzie can have a visit before she leaves for Idaho. We are praying it is healing and positive.

And then there is this guy… working hard and making sure everyone stays in line. 🙂

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This is  BIG week for our family with many monumental events. We have an off-grounds visit with Ozzie on Wednesday, Tyler’s 13th birthday party on Thursday evening, Gracie’s bachelorette party Friday night, Gracie’s bridal shower on Saturday, all among everyday living. It promises to be a full and likely emotional week…

Wish this momma luck as I try to keep it together!

 

 

And Life marches on!

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The summer continues to race by at a breakneck speed. I can hardly believe it is mid-July. It has been an action-packed summer with one big event following the next. I’ve been so busy living life that I often forget to sit down and record the happenings of life,

So here it is…

A quick update on the latest and greatest at Patchwork Farm.

Rusty returned from Scout Camp, having had an awesome week despite record high temperatures and an aggressive swarm of mosquitoes. He returned home looking like a victim of a smallpox epidemic, but was smiling nonetheless.

July 9th was Chick-fil-A’s “Cow Appreciation Day.”

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This is a favorite tradition in the McCleery household, offering up all our favorite things:

A solid theme, group costumes, and free food!

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We have been enjoying this annual event for years…

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And this year was no exception.

But our numbers were down a bit due to kids’ work schedules and a resistant family member that looked at me, incredulous, and stubbornly insisted, “It would take more than a free chicken sandwich to convince me to dress up like a cow!”

Spoilsport!

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But those who did choose to participate joined hundreds of other “cows” at Cranberry’s Chick-fil-A for a fun, festive, and FREE chicken dinner.

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Thanks, Chick-fil-A!

And while he had no interest in transforming into a cow for a free chicken sandwich, Braden has been busy with other transformative projects, particularly the loft outside his bedroom.

Last Saturday he approached Toby with plans to transform the sitting area outside his bedroom into a teen “lounge” for hanging out and playing games. He had a vision already in mind and money set aside from his paychecks to bring his vision to life. His plan: tear up the carpeting, lay down a wood floor and paint the current yellow walls a smoky grey. Impressed by his initiative to take on a home DIY project independently, and his willingness to fund the project, we gave him the go ahead. After a quick trip to Home depot, he and Toby began laying the floor.

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Two days later paint went up on the walls.

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The space is quickly transforming into what will be a fun, teen, hang-out area. I’ll post pictures at the completion of the room make-over.

One of the biggest events from the last week was the wedding of Gracie’s best friend and future sister-in-law, Stephanie. Steph and Grace became friends when they found themselves sitting side by side in a Sunday school class at age 10. Who knew 11 years later they would both be “brides-to-be” and soon-to-be sisters.

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Stephanie and Gracie…4 years ago today! And look, Gracie’s future husband in the background!

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The Tame and McCleery girls.

A year ago, before Grace and Zach were even an item, Stephanie asked Grace to be her maid of honor. What a sweet turn of events it is that she finds herself now engaged to Steph’s big brother.

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The responsibilities of her role in Stephanie’s wedding has kept her schedule busy for the last few weeks, but Gracie has loved being an active participant in her friend’s big day and an extra set of helping hands to her soon-to-be second family.

The festivities began the week prior to the wedding with the bachelorette party. Molly and I were invited to join Grace, the Tame gals, and some of Stephanie’s friends for a night of creativity. It was a fun, festive celebration of the bride-to-be at a local craft studio called “Artsy Doodle.”

While there we each had the opportunity to make a burlap door hanging. There were so many cute choices but in the end the McCleery girls (and Melanie) each chose the pick-up truck door hanging.

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It was such a fun evening and the finished results of everyone’s efforts were nothing short of charming!

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One week later it was Stephanie’s big day!

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Grace giving her maid-of-honor speech.

I don’t think I have ever seen a more beautiful bride.

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Stephanie performing a song for her groom.

It was a beautiful day filled with love, laughter, friends and family.

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Next up: Gracie and Zach…Only 3 months until their big day!

 

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Bridal Showers and Showers of Blessings

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On the morning before Zach’s marriage proposal to Gracie, we celebrated another sweet couple. It was the bridal shower of Zach’s sister, Stephanie. Grace has been best friends with Stephanie since we moved here 10+ years ago. Grace was touched when Stephanie asked her to stand beside her as her maid of honor. Who knew that a year later Grace would be on a journey of becoming a sister-in-law to her sister-in-love!

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Four best friends and soon-to-be sisters!

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It was a beautiful celebration of a beautiful bride and we had a wonderful time celebrating with friends.

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Later that day Zach bent down on one knee to declare his love to Grace and invite her to officially become a Tame.

Only a few days passed before the happy couple had set a date and we found ourselves jumping into wedding plans.

Grace will be an October bride.

Knowing that our local craft supply store, Pat Catans, was going out of business, I suggested we take a drive over there to see if we could find any needed supplies while everything was 50% off. After Braden was dropped of for school, and Rusty and Tyler were settled into their online classes, the girls and I headed out for a girls-only excursion.

Before we left for the day we prayed for a fruitful day full of emotional healing and mother/daughter bonding, as well as inexpensive finds for Gracie’s upcoming nuptials.

God was beyond gracious and the day was filled to overflowing with His blessings! It was a day full of tender mercies.

What began as a trip to Pat Catan’s wedding aisle with the hope of some good finds, became a day of retail therapy, long overdue bonding with my girls, God leading us to unbelievable deals, and a huge chunk of wedding shopping taken care of.

We started at Pat Catans and soon discovered that the wedding aisle was not where we were going to find decorations for the reception. The the crystals and white silks did not align with Gracie’s vision of her wedding reception. Once we exited that section of the store, however, we discovered treasures galore and 2 hours of shopping (and four full shopping carts later) we had 90% of the reception decor purchased and loaded in the car.

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Our next stop was Salvation Army where God’s grace continued to rain down upon us in the form of reception decor, a graduation dress for Molly, as well as her shoes for prom.

By this point in the day the hour was drawing near for us to return home to meet Braden’s school bus. On a spur on the moment, last minute decision we decided to make one last, quick stop at a dress shop we were passing that advertised all their wedding dresses for $100, as part of their going out of business sale.

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We went inside just for the fun of it, not expecting to find anything. There were 10 wedding dresses left on the rack. Grace picked four to try on, and lo and behold, found her wedding dress. It wasn’t anything like the dress she had imagined liking but as soon as she put in on we all knew that it was the one. Alterations will need to be made but we couldn’t believe we were walking out of the wedding boutique with a $1200 dress for only $100.

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A sneak peek of the wedding dress!

Molly also found her maid of honor dress while we were there. It is perfectly Molly, and only cost $20, marked down from $250.

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For an investment of $550 God blessed us with an abundance of wedding shopping done and taken care of, in preparation for Grace and Zach’s big day!

It was a day full of blessings on many fronts and I came home feeling lighter…

No, it wasn’t just the result of a lighter wallet!

My to-do list was shorter, the heaviness of worry I have been shouldering was lifted, and my spirit was lighter thanks to the day filled with laughter and joyful creativity that I got to share with my daughters.

With just four hours of retail therapy with my girls and I had recaptured the joy of this season of life that has escaped me these last few weeks.

Here’s to all the beautiful brides-to-be!