If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, a grandson, a granddaughter, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, 2 dwarf frogs, an unfortunate number of tadpoles, and a whole lot of love.




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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pranks, but no pranks.

When you live in a family whose antics often accidentally involve innocent bystanders, the thought of pranking someone on purpose just never crosses your mind.  The possibility of being pranked doesn't either.

So last December when I received a phone call from, you guessed it, Lissa, who simply asked if we had a lot of snow at our house, never for one moment did I consider the thought that a 5ft snow sculptor of the male anatomy would appear facing the road in our front yard, built against the very tree our girls stand beside when waiting for the school bus, which is rooted next to the driveway where my massage clients enter everyday.  And I'm quite certain the thought didn't cross Lissa's mind that the tree kept the sculptor hidden from view from within the house and that I'd have no reason to leave the house for 2 days, so the fact that giant snow genitalia stood erected...ahem...in my front yard, unbeknownst to me alone, was just an added bonus that brings her joy.

Side note; what kind of person do people think I am that everyone who saw it thought this was normal for our yard and no one bothered to mention it to me? 

It was on the 2nd day of it's existence that I came home from the salon, pulled into the driveway and stopped by the tree while my eyes adjusted to what they were seeing.  Of course Zac took my blame first and Ron ran a close 2nd.  Not once did I consider Lissa & Mandi, until they texted me pictures of themselves posed with the monstrosity.

Life was good, pranks are funny and everyone laughed and laughed.

Clearly the ringleader, Lissa later excitedly said to me, "Now we've gotta prank Mandi!"  This mindset baffles me, but when Lissa has a plan, there's no talking her down. 







An idea was hatched.  We'd sneak to Mandi's place while they weren't home and completely decorate the outside of their house for Christmas.  In February.  That left us the month of January to gather Christmas decorations and Andy & Lissa went so far as to scour their neighborhood after dark and swipe discarded Christmas trees people had put out by the road.  Thirteen, to be exact, because if you don't have a baker's dozen, you've got nothin.  They were stored in the back of a trailer beside their garage for all of their neighbors to question their sanity.

On a Friday night in February, while we distracted Mandi & George at Zumba, Ron and Andy decorated the outside of their house, we followed Mandi & George home afterward...because pranking and stalking go hand in hand...enjoyed their confused reaction, confessed what we'd done and then we had snacks.

Life was good, pranks are funny and everyone laughed and laughed.

Then my eyes popped open in the dead of night. 
Uh oh.  Lissa's gonna want pranked. 
Still can't wrap my mind around that, but it is what it is.

Months passed, life went on, everyone got busy with events and Andy & Lissa put their house up for sale.  And then one fateful evening, Andy made a decision that altered the course.  He watched the movie, 'God's Not Dead.'  (Dramatic music here...duh duh duh!!!!)

At the end of the movie, they challenge you to text everyone you know and say, "God's not dead!"  Seemed like a good idea to Andy.  But it didn't seem practical to send out that many individual texts.  So in the interest of convenience, he grouped his contact list alphabetically into chunks of 10, consisting of family, friends and co-workers, many of whom don't know each other.  What he didn't account for were the responses that would be seen by everyone in the group.  Here's how it played out in one particular group text:

Andy:  "God's not dead!"
Recipient #1:  Umm...I know.
Recipient #2:  Me too...why are you telling me this?!
Andy:  Watch the movie and you'll understand.  It was really good.
Recipient #3:  Who is this?
Recipient #2:  Ok.
Recipient #4:  What movie?
Andy:  God's not dead.
Recipient #5:  Yo momma!
Recipient #2:  MY MOM DIED IN 2004 YOU LITTLE F***ER!  HOW DARE YOU BRING HER INTO THIS!!
Andy:  Group message over.
(Flash to Andy in a corner rocking back and forth in the fetal position sucking his thumb.)

And with that, a prank was born.

Obviously, Ron and I needed to cover their lawn with God's not dead signs late one night so that Andy would find them when he arrived home from work the following morning.  Because life is good, and pranks are funny and everyone will laugh and laugh.

It needs to be disclosed that I sought permission from Lissa for this entire plan, lest you think we're complete a-holes.  Their house is on the market, after all.  I even went so far as to ask if it was too soon for Andy, heaven forbid we send him back into the corner.  "Do it!!", she says.  "It'll be hilarious!!", she says.

We spent all week preparing.  We stapled various sizes of cardboard to wooden stakes, printed off 25 pieces of paper that we taped to plastic forks and even went so far as to write on the 100ft isle runner from Aubrey's wedding...all of which said in huge block letters, "God's not dead!" 
(Except the isle runner.  I didn't know how to make a block G that big, so it said, "Cod's not dead."  Fishermen rejoice.)

Last Friday night we took Kearstin, Caymen and Barbara after the football game, because why wouldn't we involve innocent children and our 8 months pregnant daughter-in-law on our little trespassing adventure?  We lined their yard along the road with the staked signs.  We pushed the forked signs into the grass.  We duct taped the isle runner across their covered porch.  Then we topped the scene with one sign taped in full view of the driveway that simply read, "Yo Momma!"  I mean, we really had no choice.
I waited all day Saturday for the phone call from Andy telling us how good life is, how funny pranks are, and how he laughed and laughed.

***SILENCE*** 

I finally caved at 4:30 and called Lissa.  A huge knot formed in my gut when she said, "Wellllll, it might've been too soon."  Then she described what happened when Andy arrived home that morning.

He approached his house to discover tire tracks and a bunch of staked signs laying flat in his grass because someone had driven through his yard to knock them down in the middle of the night.  And speaking of things in his grass, the dew soaked the paper signs, tearing them loose from the forks and littered them all over his lawn, leaving what appeared to be trash, and, well, forks. 

Coming face to face with 'Yo Momma' at that point was just the icing on the cake...or maybe that was when he pulled down the isle runner, thus ripping the porch paint off with it. 
Six of one, really.

As for potential buyers driving by, nothing screams "You want to live here" like a vandalized yard.

When Lissa awoke, she found a distraught Andy drenched with sweat.

"What kind of disgruntled sickos would do this to our house we're trying to sell?!?"
Lissa nervously stammered, "I can't be sure...but I think it was Ron and Shari..."

No need to thank us, it's the least we could do.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Here We Grow Again...

My daughter got married.

That is the sentence that begins the entry I've been procrastinating.
Not because I'm unhappy in any way, but simply because these 'digging into my feelings' kind of posts are my least favorite.  From my writing standpoint, I'd be much more in my comfort zone if the cupcake tower had tipped over (Sorry Sue) and led to a domino effect of big drama during the ceremony.  

But this wedding wasn't what you might expect from us, because this wedding went smoothly.  Which is exactly the kind of wedding that this particular child of ours needed.

You're all familiar with Zac, Kearstin, & Caymen due to their starring roles in frequent posts and you might wonder why Aubrey doesn't make too many appearances.  There are a couple of reasons for that.

1.  I seek permission from each of my family members before I post a blog about them.  Nothing written here is behind anyone's back and everything written here is approved before posted.  You might be surprised at the detailed process that goes on around here.  That being said, Aubrey is my most reserved child and sometimes 'laughing with' and getting 'laughed at' feel the same to her.  Therefore, it's my job to make sure each of my child's needs are met on every level, right down to protecting their privacy.  It's a balancing act.  I screw it up often.  Hopefully I'm getting better at it.

2.  The main reason there aren't many posts starring Aubrey is because out of our 6 family members, Aubrey is the closest thing to adult supervision we've got.  This is the child born to Ron and Shari, raised by Ron and Shari, in Ron and Shari's home, who closed on her first house purchase the same day she graduated high school where she delivered the commencement address as Valedictorian of her graduating class after taking college courses full time her Junior and Senior years.  Basically, Aubrey single-handedly destroyed the whole Nature vs. Nurture argument.  Some things cannot be narrowed down to such a margin. 

Aubrey is a prime example of why parents need to recognize the unique traits God gives each of their children so that they know when to simply stay out of His way.  I'm in awe of Aubrey's intelligence, drive and determination, wrapped within a package of kindness and compassion, topped with a bow of pure strength that people tend to underestimate.

This blond haired blue eyed beauty born face up and turned around after 49 hours of labor, a running joke that she got lost and couldn't find her way out.  It didn't take us long to realize that she was actually the one who always knew exactly where she was going. This is the child that was hard for me to parent because I knew in reality she should probably be the one parenting me.  And just like I knew it would be hard to let her go, I also knew deep in my heart that it would be better for her when I did.

August 15th, the day before her wedding, was my hardest day.  Thank goodness for rehearsals.  Watching Ron practice walking her down the isle.  She giggled, beamed and glowed, and Ron wore a grin I knew hid tears that lay just under the surface.  I finally broke down while I was getting my nails done that night when Lissa asked, "Are you ok?"  No.  I was not ok.  The following day we would be asked, "Who gives this woman to this man?" and Ron would reply, "Her mother and I."

How do you prepare yourself to give your daughter away?

But deep inside we knew the reality.  We weren't losing our daughter.  We were gaining another son, just as Nick's wonderful family was gaining another daughter. And more importantly, I was gaining a friend.  I will always be her mother, but we now live in a more parallel universe.  One of daily texts, phone calls, hanging out at her house watching Big Brother together, lunch dates, excitedly talking about her plans for the future.  A world where my role is to offer a listening ear and then join in her excitement with full on support.  One where my advice and insight will only be shared when and if she asks me for it.

These past 18 years of her childhood where our differences were sometimes more obvious than our similarities, were all leading up to a most precious friendship.  All doubts and fears obliterated.  God knew exactly what He was doing even and especially when I didn't.

That's not to say that this Ohio State themed wedding wasn't covered in Courter touches, ie; the Ohio State theme.  Nick, his dad and Ron all wore Ohio State ball caps.  The bridesmaids each got to choose their own style of red dress and shoes were optional for everyone.  Aubrey chose my mother-of-the-bride dress, which was black, had a narrow cut-out around the middle exposing my bare mid-drift and required no bra.  (She knows me too well.)  She wasn't even mad (or surprised) when Kearstin, the maid of honor, and I swapped each others dresses the morning of the wedding as a prank on the bride.

Nick's mom, Anna, was escorted down the isle by her son, Dustin.  I was escorted by Zac.
She and I lit our individual family candles and then we hugged.  This wonderful woman is my daughter's 2nd mother. I don't feel threatened by that.  I'm relieved to finally have some backup.

When I sat in my seat on the verge of tears, Zac dropped to one knee in front of me and dramatically bowed and put his forehead against my hand like one might greet the queen, which of course made me laugh.  That boy still knows exactly what I need at any given moment. 

Then as Michael Buble's voice belted out 'The Best Is Yet To Come' the wedding party full of Nick and Aubrey's family and friends began their entrance.  Zac escorted his glowing wife, Barbara, with ever growing evidence of their son in her belly, leading the way.  Kearstin, stealer of all limelight, mischievously grinned down the isle despite the fact that Aubrey vetoed the tiara she wanted to wear.  Sweet Caymen gently tossed rose petals from her basket  as she made her way down to her seat beside me.

And then that sweet moment, as the song 'So Close' by Jon McLaughlin played, I saw Nick's eyes light up below the rim of his hat and I turned and stood to watch my husband walk our breathtaking daughter down the isle.  When they stopped beside me at the front for the prayer, I reached out and took her arm.  I couldn't not touch this creature of beauty in that moment.  And marvel that God chose me to deliver her to the world.

"Who gives this woman to this man?"
"Her mother and I do."

Yes. Without hesitation.  With no reluctance.  But with peace.  We really do.

After the sweet ceremony, where Aubrey inadvertently blew out the unity candle and then giggled amidst the rising smoke as they lit it again, they left the sanctuary to Heavy D's 'Now That We Found Love'  and the celebration started.  A party full of dancing and a reception featuring the ever popular nacho bar, because how could you have an Ohio State wedding without concession stand food? 

While guests began eating, we had family pictures taken on the stage.  When we came down afterward, my neighbor pulled me aside and whispered, "You might wanna tell Ron his zipper is down."

Aaaaaaand, we're back. 

****************************************************

 MANY THANKS go out to the team of people who helped pull this all together:
Anna & Jim:  The most wonderful in-laws we could ever hope for.  They not only love and welcome Aubrey into their family with open arms, they hosted an amazing rehearsal dinner and were an absolute dream to work with for the wedding, always ready and willing to jump in and help with whatever we needed!
Lissa:  Made all of the bouquets, planned, designed and set up all of the beautiful decorations and gave manicures and pedicures to anyone who wanted them the night before the wedding. 
Susan:  Made and decorated Aubrey & Nick's wedding cake and cupcakes, just as she did for Zac & Barbara's reception in May, and as she did for Ron & me back in 1993 when she was only 16 years old.  She also planned, organized, prepared and ran all of the food stations throughout the entire reception.  Thanks also to her mom, Kay and our mutual friend, Pam for helping her on the day of the wedding and Susan's husband, Chris, for making the tiered stand that displayed the cupcakes.
GenesScenes:  For taking all the amazing pictures of the event.  Can't wait to see them!
Randy:  For patiently walking us through the rehearsal process and performing a heartfelt ceremony that meant so much to everyone involved.
Eric:  For running the sound system during the wedding and setting up the stage beforehand.  
Barbara:  For creating the amazing block O-H-I-O on chalkboards that were displayed behind the food stations.  What an artist you are!
Justin (aka; JLo):  For putting together the music play list and keeping it running throughout the reception.  You set the tone for an amazing dance party!
Rebecca:  For hosting a fun Bachelorette party, gifting Aubrey with an appointment at your hair salon the morning of the wedding and for helping us organize the entire ceremony.  We seriously had no idea what we were doing, but I'm sure you figured that out pretty quick. 
Jennifer:  For co-hosting the Bachelorette party and your help with set up the morning of the rehearsal.
Cindy:  For coming to help us set up the day before.
Nancy:  For loaning us all the Buckeye nuts that accented the decorations.  What a neat detail they added!
Mark & Sara:  For loaning us the table cloths.
All of our friends and family who came to support our families as we unite by marriage and everyone who jumped in to help rearrange the sanctuary for the reception and pitched in to help clean up afterward.  We couldn't have done it all without you!

Last but not least, a special thank you to my husband.  During this very stressful year of events and change that has taken it's toll on me both physically and emotionally, Ron stepped up as my warrior and my shield.  He cocooned me in a shelter of protection and defended me against undue pressure and stress.  I can't put into words how much I love this man, who knows me better than anyone else on this earth and yet still chooses to love me anyway.

We all extend our unconditional love, support and appreciation to Aubrey and Nick for allowing us to share in their special day.  We look forward to watching their love grow and see what plans God has for their family.  

We love you!