Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's Saturday evening and I am eating pizza

and watching tv--so exciting! Actually it has been a pretty good week--went by far faster than I had anticipated!

We had our first company as a married couple: Spike's mom came and spent a couple of days with us. She brought with a beautiful quilt she made for our youngest daughter, and I am in awe of it. She hand quilted it in concentric circles, and it is lovely. See for yourself:

She has slept with it every night since she got it. Seeing it has me wanting to make a new quilt myself, although I have two in process right now, and I have one ready to start (for Spike and I). One is at the hand quilting stage, and is about a third done, and the other is my Baltimore Album style quilt that I have been working on for the better part of 15 years (not consistently, mind you, but as I have the time and the space to do it). I just really want to get out my sewing machine and my fabrics and get sewing! Part of it is also the time of year--it's State Fair time in MN and I used to wander the Arts and Craft building drooling over the beautiful quilts and noting those I could easily do and those that I can only aspire to "someday".

Spike and I have been wandering the local Lowe's looking for ideas for the house and gardens. We just purchased this swing for the front yard and I am so excited to have it. Already I have spent some contented hours sitting in it reading, writing, and talking on the phone to family and friends. We are looking at putting a small raised garden in the front of the house behind where the swing currently sits, and Spike's parents sent us some forsythia bushes and a few other perennials that will find a home there. We are also thinking about putting a round garden around the tree in front (as most of our neighbors have) and plant some seasonal bulbs there: crocus, daffodils, and tulips; we are also thinking about what else we might plant there that will bloom after the bulbs die back. We are looking at putting in some kind of patio in the back, running from the door to the end of the living room, with a pergola on one end of it, and a trellis facing the neighbor's house with some kind of climbing plant on it, maybe clematis or even a climbing rose bush. Eric's parents sent a hard maple tree for us, although it is still primarily a seedling, so we are looking to get a more mature tree (although bigger than a sapling) to put in the back yard, as well as some bushes (I really want a lilac bush) and we are looking to put in a fence too.

We are doing some work in the house as well: putting up mini blinds on the bedroom windows facing east, looking at paint colors for the main floor (we are going to base our colors on the picture of Lake Calhoun that we got as a wedding present, and use it as a focal point on the living room wall), install a ceiling fan in our bedroom to help with moving air, and so on. A little at a time! Being realistic, things are going to be done as we can and not all at once.

Good news: Bingo is doing ok in his first week and half at school. He says he has 2 A's and 2 F's--The A's reflect his doing his homework faithfully and participating in class; the F's reflect the fact that he was behind in some of his math skills due to two rough years at Sandford before moving to Sullivan where he began to catch up (the math teacher here just wants Bingo to review multiplication tables to improve his multiplying and dividing skills), and he didn't do well on a pop quiz in English (got half right). The school here goes on a tougher grading scale than we were used to in MN--anything below 70% is failing! Also good news, Spike is starting work on Tuesday as a cop for the Veteran's Administration. I am so happy he has a job doing something he enjoys doing, and he is thrilled to have a job! I spent most of this late afternoon/early evening writing up my resume so I can start applying for jobs myself. Our senior learned a rough lesson this week about NOT leaving important homework for completion in study hall (he didn't get it done) but overall he is doing well otherwise, and our sophomore is doing very well and is up to date on all her stuff. She is a good student! Our GI Jane is organizing herself for starting her college classes, and my kids in MN are both starting or are in school too--I am so very proud of all of them! Spike resumes his classes the second week of September, so I guess almost everyone will be in school except for me... Oh well, my day is coming to finish up my degree.

Tomorrow is gonna be a busy day at church: Spike and I are acting as greeters and ushers, and the younger two are servers (still trying to figure out what exactly that means as far as roles go--seems like a combination fo acolyte and Bible-bearer). Gotta make sure we get to bed at a decent time because we have an early morning tomorrow!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I am really tired tonight, but wanted to start an entry anyhow...

because it has been almost a week since I last wrote. Things are going fine here! It's just been a really busy week. We had to get the kids ready to start school last Thursday, and there were supplies to be purchased and clothes to get ready (read marathon laundry), and Bingo actually needed to be registered TO start school. We did that on Tuesday... When we got there for our appointment, the office was all locked up and we found our guidance counselor in the lunchroom at a staff lunch! What was scheduled to be a 30 minute appointment ended up being closer to an hour and a half, but we got everything taken care of that could be done at that appointment, then were told to return Wednesday for his actual schedule, and to pay the fees associated with being in high school (free public education my butt... We paid $64.00 for the privilege of having books, a locker lock rental, ID, and gym uniform, and another $50. for his school pictures package! None of that included lunch money....) We returned to the high school as directed on Wednesday afternoon and took care of business. Our sophomore and senior took great pleasure in giving our new freshman a tour of where his locker was situated in relation to his classes, a synopsis of the strengths and weaknesses of his respective teachers (interesting to overhear...), and, a rundown of the fastest way to get from point A to point C in any given situation. They introduced their "new brother" to people they knew (I guess I was just there as decoration, lol) and Bingo was as ready as he could possibly be when we got home.

The first day of school dawned grey and rainy, and the kids decided to walk early so they had a chance to get situated and organized at school. From the photos I'm sure you get an idea of how thrilled they were with the weather at 6:50 a.m.
Bingo was unhappy that he couldn't find his "hoodies" to wear, although he did have an umbrella he could use. It wasn't cold so much as it was damp.
The walk to school is a little over a mile, and begins in our "addition," through the front entrance of it, with a right turn onto the main road.
The walk goes past the Mascoutah City Cemetary (not fenced in or anything!),
a corn field (something you don't see much of in Minneapolis proper, but we have a few within walking distance of our house here!), and the athletic fields and student parking lot. (Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures--Bingo took them as we were driving to the school). In good weather it's actually a pleasant walk, although I am guessing it is more difficult when burdened with backpacks, text books, and in our sophomore's case, a clarient on top of everything else. Still, when I was their age I walked over a mile to school myself in rain or shine or heat day (barefoot in the snow.... just kidding!).

Anyhow school seemed, but their reports to go well, all did their assigned homework this weekend so we are off to a good start, and, everyone is even headed to bed at a reasonable hour! Spike and I took the opportunity to go out to breakfast after we got everyone out the door on Thursday morning, and it was nice to spend that time together celebrating the start of their school year and the end of his summer term (his fall term starts in early September).

The remainder of our week was spent cleaning and readying for the party we had here Saturday afternoon and evening. It was supposed to be in part our "Mascoutah" wedding reception, however many people had plans and were unable to come; Still, we had a really nice turnout of friends of the kids because GI Jane's fiance's band decided to play a live concert in our honor, some parents of the band members, some neighbors, and some friends of ours.

The kids played "RockBand" in the living room, taking turns on the instruments, we grilled and ate and drank sodas (and beer for the adults), and had a good time. At dusk the real band got organized and set up, and they had performed three numbers for us when the police showed up to let us know we had gotten a noise complaint. We are fairly certain we know who it came from (Spike had checked with all the neighbors bordering us prior to the party and they were fine with the band playing--we promised to keep the volume down and to be done before 10 p.m.--the city's noise ordinance goes into effect at 11 p.m. so we would have been fine otherwise, but there has to be a sour grape in every bunch...). We had the kids turn the volume down even lower, and they were allowed to continue playing. The highlight of their numbers for me was an adapted version of "Stacy's Mom", sung to the words of "Ray-Ray's Mom," which had all of us laughing uproariously and had the lead singer begging Spike not to punch him! I should have known something was up when the lead singer pointed out Bingo, and introduced him to the audience, then pointed me out as his mom... As the band moved into their 6th number, the police showed up again, and once more were very friendly and supportive. They reported they had received a second noise complaint from an "anonymous" person, and even though they didn't feel the music was too loud or disruptive, they still had to come out and ask us to turn it down. We ended up having the kids finish their number, then shut it down. They were disappointed, but we have to be respectful, and while we all have a pretty good idea of who the complaintant is, we have no way of knowing for sure... Anyhow, it was fun while it lasted. I have never before hosted a private party with a live band! They did some "cover numbers" as well as 2 of their own original songs. The party broke up around 11:30 or so, and we had a very nice night!

I want to end this entry by showing a picture of Bingo hard at work reading the first two chapters of "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee:
If you look carefully you can see the book resting on Spike's pillow, where Bingo is absorbing the novel using the scientific process of "multi-pillow-transference"... (He did actually finish reading the first two chapters after he woke up).

Monday, August 18, 2008

So today I attempted to run some errands on my own...

and got myself somewhat turned around. I had to drop Spike's youngest off at a babysitting job this morning, and decided it would be the perfect day to run to the bank and change my name on my checking account. I had been told there was a branch of my bank closer to us than the one off of I64, but I KNEW how to get to the one off the freeway, and that is where I headed... Got to the bank, completed the paperwork, no sweat! I was so proud of myself! Next door was a PetSmart, and I knew we needed a new dog cable to tie the dogs outside (the lab broke the last one in her excitement to join the kids in the front yard), so I got one of those, then decided to find my way back to Target and Michael's using the back streets... BAD Idea!!!! Unbeknownst to me, the street running parallel to the interstate, behind the Fairview Shopping Mall, does not run true East-West. It has some kind of a gentle curve to it, because next thing you know, I was running north across 64, and I was in the wrong lane to get onto 64 east as I wanted to be! I still had a general idea of where I was, so I crossed the freeway and turned around at a fast food joint (getting a cup of coffee in the process), and headed back to get on to 64 East again... Then, I knew that I wanted Green Mount Avenue (or is it road?) and I knew the exit was close to the one I had gotten on at, but when I saw exit 16, (and I said to myself, that is the one I want), there was no road label on it, just the name of two cities, one north, one south! So I didn't get off, and drove right past the shopping area I had wanted... No big deal, I told myself; I will just get off at the next exit and turn around! So I continue driving, get off on the next exit (Scott Airforce Base/Shiloh) and discover that there isn't a left turn option at the end of the exit ramp... So I went right, and not wanting to go on base, took the right at the lights towards Shiloh, thinking I will just turn around and head back... OOooohhhhh nooooo.... The road into Shiloh is a narrow, one lane in each direction road with a double yellow line down the middle, that winds on forever, or so it seems... I had to go all the way into Main Street in order to turn around and head back. Now already a significant way out of my way, I figured, ok, I am back on track to head to Target, and meandered my way back onto 64, now going west, and got off on exit 16, appropriately labeled with the name of the street I was looking for.

Got to Target, found a convenient parking spot, and went inside, only to find they were completely out of what I was looking for: 6-36" wide vinyl miniblinds for the two bedrooms that face East (three needed in each bedroom).... Bah! Ok, all is not lost, there is a Hallmark store there in the shopping strip, so I wandered in there to find "Thank You" notes for the wedding stuff. That was a wasted effort too: the ones I liked and thought were fairly affordable they didn't have enough of (read one pack of 10 notecards), or were very expensive, and you still needed at least 4-5 packages to have enough notes... No Thank You! Guess I need to check Michael's for notecards, I decided, and headed directly there, across the parking lot. Sure enough, I found exactly what I was looking for, at an affordable price (although not having a newspaper, I didn't have a coupon for the usual 40% off one item special they run weekly), so I bought them, and I also bought a retractable tape measure--it was on sale, and I can always use a new one with the knitting I do! I was responsible tho'--they have all the new fall yarns in and the colors all cried out to me, but I resisted temptation... Spike will be so pleased!

Now the salesperson in Target had said there was another Target just up the road about 3 miles or so ("Go left at the lights, then right at the next lights, and then go straight for around 3 miles....") and they supposedly had 7 blinds in the size I need in stock. I was tempted to try my luck in finding it, but decided to make that jaunt another day. I'd had enough of exploration for one shopping trip.

Yesterday we went as a family to see the movie "The Dark Knight"--the new batman flick. It was very dark, very thought provoking, and very good, although I am not sure that I can say I "enjoyed" it. It wasn't that kind of a movie. Spike made the comment that it was a movie one needs to see more than once in order to catch everything that wen on in it, because it was so dense. I agree! It was also kinda fun that when we came out, a martial arts school was doing a demo in the lobby of the theater, in honor of the new StarWars animated movie, Clone Wars. Watching those kids brought back some happy memories for me of when Bingo was in TaeKwonDo, and I really wish he would go back into it. He says he will do it if Spike does it too (seeing as Spike said he'd like to get into Martial Arts Training himself). I hope they do it! I really enjoyed watching Bingo as he trained and competed. It was so amazing! So we will see what happens...

Spike is at school right now, the kids are all watching tv in the living room (except for Bingo who is up here on the bed by me playing with the three cats--I got them a new toy today), and I am trying to make a plan for the afternoon. Job hunting is high on the list, ergo getting my resume put together, as is doing a few household chores that need to be done. One thing at a time I guess! I had a hard time sleeping last night: woke up at 2:30 am and stayed awake 'til after 4 am. In fact, as I was finally drifting back off to sleep, I heard GI Jane getting up for work!

Lots of thoughts were tumbling through my head, keeping me awake: money things, Bingo starting high school, the house closing (which takes place tomorrow without me--I have signed all the papers I need to sign long distance and fed-ex'd them to the closer, and my Mom is signing for me with a limited power-of-attorney at the actual event). I admit, I am having feelings about it no longer being "my house". I invested 24 years into that house and yard, and I loved it dearly. It represented Home and Family to me, and I struggled so hard to keep it as a haven for all of us, especially after my ex walked out. While I am relieved to be out from under the debt, it is hard to let go too--it hurts some. I am so very glad my daughter is getting it though--I know she will love and cherish it as I did, and I can always go back to visit. Settling in here too was tumbling through my head, about how to make it feel more like "mine" instead of still feeling like a guest. I have added a few touches of my own around here, and there is no one saying I can't personalize it more, but I am still not there quite yet. Too much is still in boxes and it still feels foreign to be rearranging things when they have had things in a particular way for so long... I know Bingo is feeling that way too on some level. So far I have made a small "nest" for myself in the bedroom, with my laptop, my Ott Light, and my Cross Stitching frame and basket by the bed, and that helps--it is a place that I can come to when I need to coccoon. Bingo has done the same on his bottom bunk... So it is a start.

Hmmm afternoon is here, and I haven't done much more than run the roads so far today. I guess it is time to get onto the next chore--either laundry or dishes or both!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Reflections on this past week...

I don't have a lot of pictures to share about this past week we have been here, but I thought I would share a few stories and thoughts...

On getting updated ID's: it's a pain in the tucus! We went to the driver's license place to get an IL driver's license for me and change my van's plates to IL plates (the tabs are due up this month and it just made sense to do so), so we went on Tuesday, only to find there were massively long lines. The reason? The site is closed on Mondays so everyone and their cousins were there first thing Tuesday, just like us. While waiting in line Spike dropped it on me that I would need to take the written test over again for IL... I hate taking tests I didn't study for first! Then, we reached the gentleman who reviewed my documents (birth certificate, marriage license, MN DL) and told me without a social security card, I could not get an IL license... I had been to the SS administrative offices on Friday and they accepted my documentation; they said the new card would arrive sometime in the next 2 weeks... (for the record, I have no idea where my social security card is that has my previous name on it). So on to plan B, changing plates on the van... I gave them my license, my insurance card, and my vehicle registration, only I didn't have the title with me, so that shot down that option too... I have the title, I just don't rightly know which box it currently resides in (there are about 5 boxes between the dining room and the garage which say "desk/office stuff" on them...). Sigh...

We ran back to the house to get Bingo, with the intention of next running to Scott Airforce Base to get our dependent military ID's. We had tried to do this on Friday, only to find out that there were intensely long lines, the computer system was acting up, and folks were not happy! So we tabled it for Tuesday. Tuesday was no better, especially when reading the sign that said the system was STILL down and would be offline Wed. and Thurs. for upgrading and maintenance. We saw the crowds waiting, but decided to give it a try, signed in, and we waited.... and waited... and waited... Two hours later, and adorable little girl in an airforce uniform called us back, congratulated us on our marriage, and went ahead and issued the ID's, using the information and documentation I had with me. Yay! Bingo was quite thrilled to now be an Army Brat, at least on paper and I was happy to finally have an ID that has my correct name and picture on it.

Things were starting to look up, so the next step was registering Bingo for school (Spike's kids were registered the previous day, as it was being done alphabetically). We had to stop by the house though for a utility bill, to prove residency. We got to the high school, found the correct office, and were told I needed to make an appointment to register him. This was contrary to the information we had been given previously (and it was NOT listed on the website either), so I made the appointment for next Tuesday (note--school starts next Thursday, a half day). Grrrr! At least I was given all the forms I needed to fill out, and they were pleased I had almost all of the necessary documentation I needed for him for their records. As an aside I spent a part of yesterday morning on the phone with Mpls Public Schools getting fax numbers and so forth for record transfers... Never a dull moment trying to get established in a new area!

The next stop on our list was the post office... I had done an address change form here and sent it back to Minneapolis, because I had run out of time up there, but when our mail was delivered Tuesday morning ALL Spike's mail had yellow labels that said "No Forwarding Address on File". We told the Postmaster that Bingo and I were being added to those living here, NOT replacing them! They said they would fix it, and sure enough, yesterday's mail had no yellow stickies on it. We also ran to the library, since we were right there, and got library cards, all three of us. I am so glad to have it cuz money is tight for buying books, and I'd just as soon borrow and return most of them... We went to the "city hall" and got added to the residency roster, grabbed a delicious ice cream cone from the coffee shop across the street, and then stopped at the grocery store for some things needed for dinner... Lots of running around, but it was helpful for me: I think I may finally be able to figure out where I am on my own now!

Unpacking... It is slow going! As a dear friend said to me when unpacking her things after moving into her house, each day is like a treasure hunt, minus the map... I have a general idea where specific things are, but given I had help packing up the main floor, I am clueless as to where specifically many things are, and the labels on the boxes are just vague enough to be of limited assistance! Like finding my Van title--I wonder if it would be easier to just request a duplicate of it! My clothes now grace that fantastic walk in closet we have (the one that Batman and Rosie call home), and I have filled the dresser, but I still need to figure out what I am gonna do with the rest of my things--and I have a missing tote that is probably somewhere in the garage--some of my blouses and dresses remain awol... I haven't really begun tackling the boxes themselves because we need to figure out where I am gonna insert my things, as well as what of Spike's he's thinking about parting with so we have room. I really love the closet space here, but miss the basement dreadfully!

The animals are starting to acclimate to each other, although Batman and Rosie are not venturing farther than the bedroom door (or the open windows overlooking the street) as yet. Spike's three dogs and the cat venture in and sniff, the cats have sat guardedly close to each other, (with occasional hissing and complaints), and we have taken to keeping the doors all open when we are home. At night Spike and I have tried to corral my cats back into the closet for the sake of sound sleep--Batman has taken to liking being "up high" and sits on top of the headboard, then pounces up and down as we are trying to sleep--13 lbs of cat hitting a sleep number mattress (kinda like an air mattress) makes for a bouncy night's rest! They decided last night that they no longer want to be in the closet and snuck out every chance they got... Batman has also decided that his spot on the bed is right between Spike and I, as close to us as he can get!

The kids are doing fairly well acclimating to each other full time as well. There have been a few ups and downs, but Spike and I are trying to be mostly neutral about all of it--no more his kids/my kid stuff, or as little of it as we can manage. I did my first official job as a stepmother yesterday in bringing the kids to their dental appointment, and it was fun! I still get caught off guard being called "Mrs. M" and I still am referring decisions to Spike that relate to his offspring, but I am taking a more active role in giving permission for activities etc. here at home. It is finally starting to sink in that I am here to stay and am not just a guest here for an extended visit. How wierd is that! And I like it. I like being Mrs M and I like being here with everyone, and I am slowly finding my place in the scheme of things. Bingo too is finding his way. I think it is harder for him than it is for me, and while they have been great to include him in everything, I know he misses his friends and his sibs. I see it in his eyes and his attitude at times, and I hear it in his voice. I am praying so hard for him that things ease a bit for him. If it is stressful for me, I can only imagine what it must be like for him.

My grandson has been talking to me on the phone here and there. Today was the first time he has told me I need to come home. He called me last week and told me "Bring Batman home Gram--I miss Batman" and it almost made me cry; he also added that "Unk" needed to come home now too, and he apparently has been telling his mother they need to go get "Unk" and bring him home. Up until today if I asked him if he missed me he would reply "Miss Batman and Unk" only... Today he missed me too. I am grateful that we can talk on the phone whenever we want to, and it pleases me that the kids let him call me when he asks. I miss my babies dreadfully! J-fizzle informed me during one of his calls that I "live way far away in Nininoise"...

Spike and I were looking at the school release calendars and figuring out when it would be a good time to make a trip north to go visit the kids. Right now, it looks the the weekend prior to Columbus day (October) will be the best, with the next opportunity being the weekend before Veteran's day in November. I am clueless as to what we will do for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays... One step at a time I guess. I have been told that family is looking at coming down here in September, so that will help too--I cannot wait to have company!

I have started to receive the final bills for utilities from home, and we will hopefully be closing on the house early next week; then most of my material ties to MN will be closed out. The emotional ones will linger forever tho'. So far my homesickness is at a bare minimum--there is too much to do here to dwell too long on thoughts of home, and I talk to family frequently enough now that it feels like they are just down the street and not 600 miles away. I do need to start job hunting--once the kids are all in school this house will feel too big and too empty I think, and I will need something to occupy myself during the day. I have already been approached (and gently but firmly told) to join the Women's group at church--they are meeting on Monday evening. I plan to go, to see what it is like, since I am free to do so, but as Mom pointed out, now is not the time to get myself over-committed to anything until I see what my time is actually gonna look like.

So that is what life is looking like for us right now: running the roads, unpacking, readying for the new school year, and working on job stuff (Spike has appointments for his new job scheduled for next week--YAY!). I have a to-do list a mile long, or so it seems, and as I finish one thing, there are plenty of others to add on at the bottom... Please keep sending me emails or commenting here--I am loving the feedback and staying in touch with everyone!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wedding weekend continued!

At 4 p.m. on August 2nd, we had a huge party at the homestead to celebrate our wedding, say goodbye to those near and dear to us, and to have a house-warming party for Ceesee. I am clueless as to how many people were actually there, but I am guessing there were at least 50 t0 100 people that came, maybe more! I had sent announcements to everyone locally letting them know about the wedding and the party, my daughter put it out on facebook and my son put it out on MySpace, so there were many avenues that folks were invited by. I was honored and humbled by the sheer number of people who came out to wish us well. Former daycare families with their kids (and do I feel old--my "babies" are all sophomores in college or older--one even recently got married!), old neighbors, co-workers, extended family, "my orphans" (friends of the kids who "lived" at my house during their teen years), as well as immediate family and dear friends. We grilled, we drank beer and champagne and sodas, and we chatted, played games, and caught up on each others lives. It was so wonderful introducing my fantastic husband and his family to these people who have been so important to me over the years, and we laughed, joked, remembered, and even shed a few tears! It is a day I will always treasure.

My kids, all of 'em, worked so hard to make the day special. The yard was cleaned up and organized, the house was as immaculate as one can make it, given the packed boxes that were stacked for the move, and the weather couldn't have cooperated more--sunny, hot, and breezy. I was, and am, so grateful to all their efforts to make the day special for all of us. One of our laughs was related to Max, an 80 lbs. golden retriever, who thought it was great fun to steal ice cubes from the keg, then run away and eat them.

The day ended for us with Spike and I escaping to a wonderful suite in the Historic Depot Hotel, downtown Minneapolis, where we spent the first 45 minutes taking down my hair from it's myriad of pins and flowers! There was a lovely treat for us of fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate, on a bed of whipped cream, and a white chocolate train engine that made us laugh, and the room was just perfect! Our thanks to Ceesee for a night to remember!

Sunday we ran to my mother's house to pick up Spike's parents, then we headed for home to open gifts. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of so many, and the cards were lovely to read. I am going to need to take up scrap-booking just so I can save them all! The day was overcast and gloomy, a perfect day for wandering around the Powderhorn Art Festival, which is what Spike, I, his parents, my sister, and my sister-in-law did. We didn't have a total plan for what we were looking for, although my hope was to find something by a local artist that we could bring with us to Illinois to remind me of "home". After extensive searching, my sister found a booth of photographs that really spoke to my heart, and after the artist and his wife heard what I was looking for, they showed me a number of photos, all framed, of Downtown Minneapolis, as seen from Lake Calhoun, at various times of the day. I settled on a picture that featured the skyline at dusk, showing the buildings I have grown up knowing and loving, the lake I lived three blocks from, and the knowledge that Mom's house was "just up the road behind me". Spike's parents bought it for us as a wedding gift, and I admit it freely, I cried. The picture has so many layers of meaning for me, and I will treasure it always. I cannot wait until we are able to hang it in a place where I can look at it everyday.

While we were at the art festival, the youngest of our brood played at the Mall of America, savoring the rides and wandering the stores. They finally called for a ride about the time the mall closed down, and they too had a wonderful time. Spike and I ran his parents back to Mom's--I think we wore them out with all the walking we had done--and then it was back to the house to pack. I had a hard time with going through everything that was left to go through, and I was an emotional mess off and on most of Sunday evening.
Monday was spent finishing up the packing, carrying boxes, and loading the trailer. I don't know how we would have pulled it off had we not had Spike's parents there helping to carry and organize things. They were totally amazing and they got us through it! The kids bunked out in a tent on both Sunday and Monday nights, and Spike and I crashed on a futon mattress on the floor. Tuesday morning we got up relatively early, finished a few last minute things, said our tearful goodbyes, and headed south!
That was our wedding weekend, severely abbreviated, and distilled only to the highlights! There are so many thoughts and feelings running through my head and my heart, that it will take time to process through it all. I am so happy and so grateful to everyone who helped to make things go smoothly for us, and I sure wish I had an equal amount of help with the unpacking!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Catching up, a week later....

I figured I would take a bit of time and just write about last weekend, and how wonderful and magical it really was. I don't have tons of pics from the days leading up to the wedding, but will share pics of that day when I get to it. Time to remember!

Last Thursday, July 31st, was a busy day, getting things organized and last minute shopping done: Bingo needed the "uniform" the rest of the young men were wearing--khaki pants, white shirt, and tie--for the wedding, and I too needed a few things for the reception and for birthday presents for my nieces, so off we ran. Our first stop was to Fort Snelling National Cemetary. My father and my grandfather are buried there, and I had a strong need to be by my dad briefly before heading into my new life. It was very emotional for me to sit by my dad's headstone. I think he would really like Spike, and that he would approve of all the changes I am making; in fact, in an email my mother forwarded to me this past week, my dad's youngest sister mentioned that my dad would be so proud and happy for me. I cried as I thought my thoughts and said my goodbyes. I know I will be back to visit, but it won't be the same.

Thursday evening Spike and his kids got into town, a little later than planned, but safely and happy to be here, and then Spike and I rushed right out to get to the train station to meet up with his parents. We got to the station a little early and it was nice to just be together. I had to laugh at Spike: he was watching someone taking photographs of the crowd, and mentioned his discomfort with that--you can take the cop out of the uniform, but not out of the man... We got his folks to my mom's shortly after 11:30 p.m. We visited there for a brief time to wind down, then headed home to bed. We arrived back at my house to find a party in full swing as all of the kids got re-acquainted with each other. Spike and I had a drink, then headed to bed!

Friday August 1st was spent meeting with the Pastor, running errands and showing off the beauty of the neighborhood I live in. We picked up the cupcakes for the reception (which we had in place of wedding cake) and the champagne, and we took Spike's parents on a tour of Lock and Dams #1 and Minnehaha Falls Regional Park. It was fitting in some ways to revisit those places together in that Spike and I spent the last day of our first weekend together at those self-same spots. We walked the trails and had the most gorgeous weather for our outing, and we watched pleasure craft and a small barge navigate the river passage. We had dinner at the Mall of America, and showed that off as well briefly; I was kinda' a wet, sticky mess because Bingo, in his excitement to be a part of a picture, accidently knocked my full glass of raspberry ice tea into my lap... It was either laugh or cry, and we chose to laugh about it. Then back to Mom's to drop off the folks, and home to bed...

The alarm didn't go off on my wedding day, and I awoke in a panic--was to be at my sister's salon at 7 am, and it was 6:29 when I woke up! Fortunately Spike's girls weren't quite so slug-a-bed as I was, and they were already up and showered... Ceese and I quickly readied and we were off to get me ready for the big day! My sister started to roll my hair, and my sister-in-law did my makeup for me--I was primped and pampered in fine style! While I processed, Spike's girls and Ceese got primped as well, and we all enjoyed highly caffeinated drinks to keep us powered up...

Once my hair was done, then it was time to get dressed, and the baby's breath added to my hair. I was so proud that it came from my garden--I grew it myself! I was thrilled with how it turned out, and couldn't believe it was really me: I felt like a fairy princess! My dress was very "untraditional", but suited me, and I was so glad I bought it. We then headed to the church, with my daughter driving, and I was quickly shuffled off to a back room. My beautiful daughter in law and granddaughter joined me in the wait, and I was glad for the company! I was so very happy--not worried, nervous, or anxious about anything. I felt like I was glowing, like my happiness was over-flowing.

My daughter was my maid of honor, and my boys walked me down the aisle, as Spike waited for me with his oldest son. When the Pastor asked "who gives this woman to be wedded to this man?" my children responded with "We do", and Bingo added in, "definately!" in a loud, firm, and joyful voice. It also made me laugh that as I was walking down the aisle my grandson announced "You gettin' married Gram!" to me, and I responded with a laugh and "Yes I am!". It was a small, intimate ceremony that focused on family, love, and joy, just as we wanted it to be!

After the ceremony was done, we headed to my brother and sister-in-law's house, where they graciously hosted our reception brunch. The food was fabulous, the company joyful, and the weather perfect! I was thrilled with how they had decorated the back yard with tables and canopies, and was surrounded by my my loved ones--who could ask for more!

I was so very happy that afternoon, and I had such fun! Spike and I stayed to help with a little of the clean-up, then in our wedding finery we were off to the local grocery store, to get supplies for party #2 at my house! I will save that for the next posting though--it is wonderful to just savor these memories for now!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Safely home to Illinois

I will post more later, with details and pictures, but for now I just wanted to let people know that the wedding was a fairy tale, the receptions were soooo much fun, and we are now safely arrived in Il. We got in just before midnight last night, and are tired and disorganized. We have the trailer 'til Friday but we hope to unload it before then, the cats are getting acclimated by being "locked" in the master bedroom (including bathroom and walk-in closet) until they feel a bit more comfortable, and we will be collecting the dogs from the kennel later today...

This is the new family portrait,with all of us in it!