Blended Beginnings Part 1

Earlier this summer, our oldest daughter and her man made the decision to tie the knot and blend their families together.

Nothing extravagant. It would be outside in their backyard with a large maple tree as a backdrop for the ceremony. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles would be invited to witness their families officially uniting together. Sounds simple, yes?

Unless you live in unpredictable Missouri. The week prior to the ceremony called for varying percentages of rain/storms for their big day. Nothing like stressing out the bride a week before her wedding. Plan B went into effect on Thursday when there was 90% chance of rain on Saturday. Entrepreneur and I transformed the lower level of our home into a chapel for 40 attendees. The arbor they built initially for their backyard was set up but the wall behind it did nothing to make it acceptable. Add borrowed sheers and some Christmas twinkle lights. Voila!

This was not the first wedding for either of them, but there was no less anticipation and excitement. It was a DIY wedding in almost every way and on a tight budget. My kitchen looked like a florist shop and bakery the day before the ceremony. They built and decorated the arbor, she put together all the flowers for bouquets and boutonnieres, as well as made the centerpieces for all the reception tables. I made program fans (because it was to be outside in the sweltering Missouri summer heat) and sewed reception table cloths and the aisle runner. Every tablecloth I owned was hauled out, cleaned and ready for duty.

The morning of the wedding was like any other. Last minute preparations and adjustments were being made. The dresses and suites were ready. The pre-wedding toast with champaign and sparkling grape juice was waiting.

 

Wedding attendants were their children, which I thought was a beautiful touch. Peanut was her Maid of Honor. His sons were the Best Men. The two four-year-olds were the flower girls. The rest of the photos in this post are a mixture of mine and the photographer. It was a lovely, intimate ceremony, filled with emotion and happiness for this new, blended beginning. Enjoy these captured moments and I’ll catch up with you at the reception.

 

After the “I Dos” the new Mr. and Mrs. moved the gathering to……our garage for the reception. Transformed from a lowly garage to a reception hall took some doing, but when you hang a few curtains and shoot photos close up, you can’t really tell, right? 🙂 Oh, and BTW…..it rained early in the morning and not a drop the rest of the day. Typical.

 

Our driveway served as the setting for those special first dances.

And, I could hardly see to take this one because my eyes were leaking. Thank heaven for auto focus.

It wasn’t the wedding she’d envisioned in her mind, but I hope it was one that will make both of them smile when they reflect on their special day. The pastor’s message was awesome, encouraging and perfect. Yes, there were a few hiccups, but when it’s all said and done, they made promises to each other in a room filled with the people who love them most. And, I can’t help but believe that Jesus looked upon the scene and gave his blessing as well.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
~Matt: 18:20

Blended families
Woven together by choice
Strengthened together by love
Tested by everything
And uniquely ours
~Author unknown

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July Photo Challenge: Staying Cool

I completely missed June’s photo challenge last month. Lately, life has this bad habit of derailing my plans; regardless of what they are. Peanut and Twix were gone to their dad’s house in Alabama all month, so Entrepreneur and I tended to vegetate whenever possible. Is vegetating even possible anymore? Doesn’t seem like it.

This month PJ’s theme is Staying Cool. Appropriate for the hot, summer month of July. Even though we didn’t do anything spectacular, I think I captured some contenders for this month’s photo challenge. So here goes……

Staying Cool #1
The Golfers from Jax Beach came to town the first of the month for a week and brought their Florida temps and humidity with them. During that time, we hosted an engagement party for them for the family and friends here in the Heartland. Thankfully, we have quite a bit of shade on our property, so no one suffered from heat stroke during the party. Here are my two very “cool” daughters!

Staying Cool #2
Who are these “cool kids”? These youngsters at heart would be four of the five grandparents who stayed to the bitter end of the engagement party! Hanging out in the shade with a cooler full of beverages made for a relaxing afternoon in the heat.

Staying Cool #3
Floridians know how to stay cool in the summer heat. Even though she was born and bred in Missouri, she’s a coastal soul…and will never be landlocked again.

Staying Cool #4
This is what you get when you combine the goofiness of a water-loving Golden Retriever and the playfulness of a Standard Poodle. A 50 pound, goofy, water dog. The hose and sprinklers are always a good way to cool off when you wear a fur coat 24/7.

Staying Cool #5
Ahhhhhh….everyone’s gone and Entrepreneur is napping. Time to float with Captain Morgan and a Pepsi 0. And shut off my brain for a while.

Staying Cool Bonus Shot
The end of July brought some relief from the oppressive, middle Missouri summer heat. Here’s a bonus shot on staying cool during the summer taken with my phone. Okay….it’s a screenshot….but I think it should still count! 🙂

Posting early this month because, come Monday morning, Peanut and Twix will return to our care during the day until school begins….and I’ll get even LESS done than I have these past six weeks! Blog hop over to PJ’s on July 31st to see how others stayed cool this month.

Monday Grand Girl Spark

Grandkids bring you into a sweeter, slower present. They show you the future at a time when a lot of your friends are thinking about the past. And they take you back to childhood–theirs, the Parent’s, your own: a three-time admittance to wonderland. ~Adair Lara

Peanut and Twix….our grand girls! Peanut is 9 years old and Twix just turned 4 years old. And not a day goes by where I don’t look at them and feel deeply thankful they are in my life.

Over these 9 years, neither of these girls have experienced a day care facility outside of a Pre-K program. Peanut and her Mama moved in with us when she was 4 months old while then-husband was deployed overseas. Upon his return, they moved to an out-of-state Army base, but were back under our roof when he decided to try college, and Peanut’s Mama took on the role of breadwinner. Peanut went happily to preschool and spent time after school at Entrepreneur and my office about a quarter mile from the school. Twix arrived in 2014, but a divorce disrupted plans and Peanut, Twix and their Mama continued to live with us for another 2 years while regrouping their life direction. Once Mama was stable in a better job, they moved into their own home. Entrepreneur and I moved our office into our home and Twix assimilated into our routine from the day she was born. An arrangement that continues to this day. Preschool is on the horizon for her in a few months, but until then, she is with us five days a week from 7:50am until 5pm.

I’d be lying if I said this didn’t come without challenges. But, I’m not sure I’d want it any other way. To, essentially, have the opportunity to co-parent with our daughter in raising our grand girls has been an experience many grandparents will never have. Granted, some may never want this experience! But, we’re gluttons for punishment looking at it as a rare opportunity to create a tie that binds us to them for the rest of their lives.

Some day in the near future, Twix will spend her days in preschool and then off to kindergarten. Entrepreneur and I will be more free to come and go without worrying about car seats and nap schedules. Our interactions will be limited to occasional family meals, special events, holidays and the periodic sleep-over at Nana and Papa’s house. And, of course, whenever school is not in session! But we will always believe we gave them both the best possible start in life by being spoiled loved and nurtured by family on a daily basis during those developing years before heading off to school.

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

Dear Granddaughter…..

In September, we celebrated Peanut’s 9th birthday. NINE! It’s hard to comprehend it was nine years ago I was promoted to being a Nana. A lot has been packed into those nine years…sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago she was placed in my arms, but at other times, nine years seems to have flown by at warp speed.

I put together Peanut’s school photos from Pre-K to her current 3rd grade shot. While they are not drastically different, the person behind the face has transformed in hundreds of ways in just nine short years.

Since time is a fleeting illusion, I want to take a few moments and pass on some Nana wisdom to my first grandbabykin.

Dear Peanut,

You have always been and always will be loved. I loved you before you were even put in my arms as a swaddled baby burrito. That is not to say you don’t do unloveable things….and I may not like you at times….but I always love you and will always be here for you. You can bet on that and be sure to win every time.

To steal a line from the 2016 Cinderella remake, Be kind and have courage. Both are difficult to do. Kindness may be becoming a lost art in our “me first” culture. It takes a lot of work to be kind to people, especially when you don’t like them, are mad at them, or see them as different from you. Extending kindness to family members is sometimes especially hard because there are times we make more of an effort to be nice to people outside our family and save the worst for those closest to us…who love us always!

Have courage. It’s scary to try new things. It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones in the way we think and act. I know this from experience. it was scary moving to a new house and school when I was in 3rd grade. It was scary to move to a new town after Papa and I got married….a town where I didn’t know anyone. It was scary when Papa and I moved to Columbia…a town where I didn’t know anyone either. It was really scary when Papa was told he had cancer. It’s also scary to do the right thing when you think others will look at you differently or not like you anymore. This is especially hard when your friends are doing things you know aren’t right, but you want them to like you so you’re tempted to do those things anyway. Don’t. Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.

Keep your faith strong. So many people walk away from their beliefs when they get older, thinking faith is something only for children. Our culture doesn’t encourage strong faith in God. It does encourage strong faith in doing whatever we think will make us happy…or is convenient…or easy. Being an authentic Christian is hard work. It requires we believe and do the right things even when we don’t understand or see the reason. Many times you will be tempted to not make your faith a priority in your life. But, dearest Peanut, your faith will sustain you in those scary moments when the storms of life roll in and tear your life to pieces.

Trust. Trust those of us who love you that the things we do are to help grow you into someone others will respect; someone YOU can respect. Growing up is hard, and there are many times when you’ll think you know what’s best….but you won’t. I ask you trust even when you don’t agree; even when you don’t understand. It’s related to believing and trusting God has a plan for your life….a good plan….even though many times you’ll feel like you don’t agree or don’t understand why things are happening the way they are.

Love yourself. Not in a narcissistic way, but love yourself as a person of worth. It’s easy to feel like we can never measure up to our culture’s ideas and expectations. I want you to always love who you are, flaws and all. That is NOT to say you shouldn’t try to change areas of your life that need improvement. And, this is not reason to excuse bad attitudes or behavior. You are a child of the King….who loves you unconditionally. If you can love your imperfect self, you can love others despite their imperfections too.

Peanut, you are strong-willed and incredibly talented in many areas. I encourage you to use that strong will and those talents in positive, constructive ways…and never be ashamed of the things you have accomplished and will accomplish in the future.

In the years to come, you will face many challenges and ride the roller coaster of emotions. I hope by keeping these things in mind, life will be a bit smoother….for everyone involved!

Love always,
Nana

 

Our first Twixism!

Back in 2012 we started keeping track of some of the random things Peanut would say as a three and a half year old. You can read some of them HERE, HERE, HERE an HERE.

Well, here it is 2017 and Twix is right on schedule. Her first Twixism (that’s been shared with me) was heard this morning while they were getting ready to come to our house.

Backgrounder: Peanut is starting third grade on Wednesday. She is both excited and a bit anxious. She started a new school last year when they moved into their newly renovated house. She knows the school and has tons of friends. But I suppose that doesn’t overcome those first-day-of-school jitters about the unknown that lies ahead.

This morning The Recruiter told us Peanut said she had “butterflies in her stomach.”

To which Twix replied: “Maybe you stood outside with your mouth open and butterflies flew in.”

Completely reasonable.

Planning on sharing this at
Peabea’s Scribble Pad
for Pictorial Tuesday.

A summer palette of color

Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer’s year—
it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul.
~Author Unknown

I haven’t played with the color palette template for a while. I find it interesting to take a photo that really appeals to me, separate out the colors and discover the combinations that makes the photo different…but you just can’t put your finder on why. This was one of those photos. Once I saw the warmth of the colors, I immediately knew it was a summer palette.

These posies were compliments of The Golfer during her surprise visit to see her dad. Arriving at 4:45am July 2nd, she let herself into the house and almost gave him a heart attack when we got up at 6am! She needed to see her dad….and he needed to see her. After all, Florida is a long ways away when major stress hits a family in middle Missouri. And, phone calls really don’t cut it.

She spent the week focusing on her dad, passing on other social invitations to spend hours chatting on the patio and watching TV in the evenings. They took a morning and went to the driving range so “her coach” could offer some pointers on her (LPGA-certified) golf swing. They floated in the pool, soaking up some Vitamin D. She spent Independence Day with us and her sister, The Recruiter. The only things missing were her god-daughters, who were still in Alabama with their dad. But she did get to meet Cabo….her fur baby little brother!

The summer palette…with the warmth of sunny yellows combined with the greens of life. No wonder I like this photo.

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.
~Barbara Bush

 

Conflicted

Well, they are on their way to stay with their dad for a month. The Recruiter, Peanut and Twix left this afternoon to make the trek to Nashville for the hand off for the second leg of their trip to Alabama.

And I’m oddly conflicted.

On one hand, with all that’s happened since February, Entrepreneur and I need a break from the endless energy and incessant “whys” of a three year old. And, having both of them since mid-May when the after-school sitter left college for summer break has been both a joy and a challenge. AND, add the fur baby that arrived the beginning of June and…..well…are you tired yet? We are. We really do need this time to regroup and Entrepreneur needs this time to rest due to chemo fatigue. So, we’re down two children….but training a fur baby.

But, on the other hand, each time they leave, the relief is replaced with worry and concern. Call it parental paranoia or whatever. I’m counting the days until their return. When they hit the door again in mid-July, there won’t be much summer left before those back-to-school and after-school activities begin again. In the meantime, my house will be void of munchkin-size clothing lying around, half-drank beverages in the frig, books, crayons, pencils and toys on every surface in every room. Gone will be the bath toys in my soaker tub, and luvies within arms reach of every bed.

I feel guilty about looking forward to the break…knowing the time we have with them is a gift not afforded to every grandparent. Am I ungrateful for that gift if I’m relieved to be relieved of those child care responsibilities? What if something happens to them while they are gone? I would be devastated knowing I was looking forward to time in the empty nest…even if it was only temporarily.

Such is the life of long-distance visitation.

So we try to pack as much as we can into the few weeks of summer before they have to leave. We did picnics and playgrounds; pool time and popsicles; Peanut and I visited a museum and took in a movie; went to our church’s version of VBS (on steroids); and scheduled horseback riding lessons. Plus, we made sure there were times for just hanging out with nothing organized so the mind could wander uninterrupted.

Please enjoy a few early summer childhood captures of our grandbabykins.


A nosefull of posies.


Yes, she is that high. Zoom lens required.


Picnic pupper and his pal.


The University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archeology; artifacts and art ranging from circa 1550 BCE to the 20th century.


Pool time with Papa.


Sittin’ pretty in the saddle.


He loves me……..


An uninterrupted afternoon.


Mermaids do exist!


She was a little uncontrollable at the sprayground!


The epitome of summer relaxation.


Litter mates.

I think I got a little carried away with my pics. But, I’m sure you’ll forgive me. 🙂 I hope everyone’s summer is off to a wonderful start.

xoxo