Monday, June 29, 2009

Natalie's Wedding

I'm still a little overwhelmed, but I wanted to reflect on last week and Natalie's wedding. She was absolutely the most beautiful bride I have ever seen, and the wedding and reception were wonderful. Maybe I'm a little biased, but I really think it all was just perfect.

Our weekend started on Thursday when Natalie's two friends from ETBU got to Paris after trips to China. Brittney (BRob) and Brittany (Jones) spent the day finishing all kinds of projects for the wedding - tying bows on bubbles, stuffing welcome bags for hotel guests, and generally taking care of everything that Natalie and I needed. My sister Karen and her awesome husband Mark also got here on Thursday. They brought the table toppers from the rental store in Texarkana, and were ready to help with whatever needed done. Thanks to all their help, I even found time for a manicure and pedicure!
Brandon and his family arrived on Thursday also. They checked into the hotel and then came to our house for dinner. Chris did a fabulous job of grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, and we spent a very relaxing evening talking and laughing and enjoying ourselves. It was great.
The girls and I went to Chili's for a party hosted by Taylor and Melissa. They called it "Natalie's Final Fling Before the Ring." We ate some snacks and cake, and then all the girls went to Taylor's grandmother's house to swim. It was a fun night for all of them. Nick, Angela, and Ethan arrived Thursday night, so everyone was here for all of the wedding activities.

Friday was BUSY!!! We met at the church at 9 to decorate and then went to the Country Club for the bridesmaid's luncheon hosted by my good friend Paula. Nat and the girls went to get their nails done while I joined Chris, Karen and Mark, and several friends at Heritage Hall at 1 to decorate for the reception. We had a grand time getting everything done, and I loved seeing Natalie's expression when she arrived to see it all together.

Next was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. We were all a little concerned about Ethan - we didn't know if he would walk down the aisle with Brittany or if he would balk at the door. After running through the processional a couple of times, he was walking down the aisle like a pro. He just had a wonderful time. Brandon's dad Jay and my friend Becky did a great job of making sure that everyone knew where to stand and what to do. Once we were sure that the ceremony was good to go, we headed to Magel's for the rehearsal dinner.
The Wash family did a great job of decorating and hosting a wonderful meal. There were a few roasts with various people telling stories about Brandon and Natalie. Then, things got kind of serious as Natalie thanked her attendants in a very special and unique way. She brought Chris and me to tears when she made comments about us. I'll never forget them. We came home to try to get some rest while the kids spent some time together. It was a great night for all of us.

Wedding Day finally arrived! Nat and I were up early for hair appointments and brunch hosted by friends from church. Bless Elizabeth's heart, it took her almost two hours to get Nat's hair up. It just didn't come together as easily as it had for bridal pictures last month. Nat got her make-up done after her hair was finished while I ran home to get our clothes. I picked her up and we headed to the church. The girls got dressed, I got dressed, and then I helped Natalie get dressed. I stopped in mid-dress and said that I couldn't believe I was helping my daughter into her wedding gown for her wedding!!! I had helped her into it and out of it so many times through fittings that it kind of caught me by surprise that this was the last time and the most important time that I'd help her into it. I stopped myself from getting emotional about it and finished getting her ready. We quickly went into the sanctuary to take pictures and then hustled back to the fellowship hall to wait for time to go. The girls and I had a sweet prayer time together, Natalie had a last conversation with Brandon on the phone, and then I had a couple of very special minutes alone with her. We were both almost giddy we were so happy.

Everything about the ceremony was perfect. The brass quintet, the decorations, the lighting, the girls' dresses all were a beautiful background for Natalie and Brandon as Jay led them through their vows. There were many special moments throughout the ceremony including a beautiful song by Taylor and Jordan and a marriage braid ceremony. I had never seen this done during a wedding, but it was perfect for Natalie and Brandon. I can't wait to see the video because I know I'll see details that I didn't see during the wedding.

After a couple hundred pictures, we headed to Heritage Hall for the reception. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves as they ate and visited with one another and watched Nat and Brandon cut cakes, drink milk with the groom's cake, dance, toast, throw the bouquet and garter. They left through a cloud of bubbles as many friends and family stayed to see them off.

We cleaned up the reception and headed home while Nat and Brandon headed to Dallas and then to Orlando.
All in all, we had a wonderful week full of memories to last a lifetime. Melissa, one of Natalie's attendants, summed it up by telling me that the weekend was such fun and exactly what it should be for a bride and her bridesmaids. What a compliment!! All the work that went into the wedding and reception was completely worth it. With God as a partner in their marriage, Natalie and Brandon will have many happy years ahead of them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm not as young as I used to be

Natalie and I made a long awaited trip to Six Flags today. We had a great time and learned some lessons to pass along to those of you who might be considering a trip this summer.

Today was a great day to make the trip to Arlington. The weather was great - temps in the high 80s, low 90s with a nice breeze, but it was a little on the humid side. Also, Wednesday is an awesome day to make the trip - very short lines! Our goals were to ride as many of the roller coasters as we could and enjoy plenty of junk food. We almost met our goals but not quite.

First for our Lessons Learned:
  1. Do visit Six Flags on a Wednesday. Don't bother with the Flash Pass; you won't need it.
  2. Don't bring aerosol bottles of sunscreen. Those are confiscated at the gate.
  3. Don't bring a bag at all. We consolidated our stuff into one pretty small shoulder bag. Each of us only brought the essentials - wallets (travel size for me), sunglasses, chap stick, Advil, and tissues. Six Flags has instituted a strict No Bags policy for most of the Thrill Rides. To help their guests keep their belongings safe, SF has lockers (see Loose Articles) near most of the Thrill Rides that guests can use for $1.00/120 minutes. I'm sure they have their reasons for this policy, but there were several rides that we could have tucked the bag in the seat with no problem. Looks like a way for SF to earn some extra money.
  4. Do bring a non-rider to hold your bags to avoid the locker fee.
  5. Do get a Pink Thing. They're only sold near the entrance, so make sure you get one on your way in or on your way out. Better yet, do what we did and get one and take a break near the Merry-Go-Round.

Back to our day and the reason for the title of this post. Again, understand that Natalie and I LOVE roller coasters and thrill rides and Six Flags in general. I'm usually the first person on the ride and the last person to leave the park. Catch the adverb - usually. We first rode Flashback (AWESOME ride; no bag storage required) and then paid the dollar to stow our bag to ride Batman and Tony Hawk's Big Spin (both great rides...we scored front seats for Batman). The Tony Hawk ride was my first indication that this would not be a typical SF day for me. I made an unscheduled trip to the restroom with some tummy difficulties...something I've never had to do at SF. After spending $3.50 for water and munching on a snack bar we smuggled into the park, I thought I was good to go. For insurance, we made it to the front gate and found Pink Things which really do help everything feel better. So, we found yet another locker (and spent another dollar) and rode Titan and Runaway Mountain. By the end of Runaway Mountain, I knew that this day was going to end sooner than I wanted. Add another trip to the restroom, a Sprite (Chris's go-to drink for all tummy upsets), two Pepto-Bismol tablets, and a stop in the Crazy Horse Saloon to rest in an air conditioned room. We walked around a little more, but I was certain that I'd toss my cookies (and Pink Thing and everything else) if we tried another ride. That means that we didn't get to ride Shockwave and Superman and Runaway Mine Train, three of our favorite rides. Reluctantly, we made our way to the front gate, got Ethan a super Batman shirt with cape, and left Six Flags behind.

Before you think that all's well that ends well, think again. By this time not only did I feel pretty lousy but we also were pretty hot and sweaty. We were ready to get into the Jeep, kick up the AC as high as we could get it, and head to Paris. Sounds like a great plan, right? The AC died while we were in the park. We found someone to check the coolant for us (the "Coolant Low" reminder had been flashing) but it was all good. Evidently we have a bigger problem. So, Nat and I drove from Arlington to Paris through Dallas rush hour traffic with no AC.

There were several wonderful things about our day:

  • We had a great time riding the roller coasters and screaming our heads off.
  • We took a much deserved break from wedding planning (altho I'll admit that we made a list and talked about a few details as we were driving).
  • We enjoyed a wonderful dinner at La Madeline, one of our favorite "girly" restaurants.
  • We made it home before the storms hit.

But, by far the best thing of all was spending a fun day with my daughter. These times have been far too few and far between lately (wedding shopping and planning don't always count as fun), and I realize that those days will become much more infrequent after June 27. I'm going to miss hanging out with my favorite daughter.