Wednesday, August 28, 2019

So.Much.Joy (PART 2)

The morning of the wedding was filled with sunshine! It was the perfect August day...sunny and warm with low humidity. It was such a blessing!

The day for the girls started bright and early. The make-up artist started at 7:30 and the two hair stylists started at 9:30.

One of my pre-wedding goals was to keep everyone well fed and hydrated. I made ham and cheese quiches and Jay made waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. (Strawberries waffles are Liz's favorite!) The day before I had made chocolate chip muffins, Andrew's favorite, so the guys would have something for breakfast at his apartment. There was plenty for everyone!

The morning of the wedding was so special. It was filled with joy, laughter and well as random dance parties and singing. Having all of these beautiful young women getting ready to share in such a special day just filled my heart. (Jay's, too) We just kept trying to soak in the moment.

Kate's up-do

Ellie's up do

Kate and her future sil, Marisa

The beautiful bouquets!

One of my favorite things! Sarah had adult coloring cards and the girls all joined in!
It was relaxing for between the dancing and singing. :)

More coloring and make-up in the background

Victoria's up do (maid of honor and sister of the bride)

Liz's parents were with us the whole morning as well. I can't express enough how grateful we are that, not only did Andrew marry into a very loving, faithful family, but Jay and I have felt that our families have bonded in a special way. Liz's parents, Patti and Chris, are such kind, generous people and we have enjoyed spending time getting to know them over the last year. Liz's sister, Victoria, has really hit it off with Ellie and Sarah and they have become friends as well. It's been an added blessing that the daughter-in-law we love so much comes with such a great family! Being able to experience and share in the early morning festivities with all of them just made it that much more special. (And Chris was extremely helpful in running out to grab things we ran out of! He saved the day when we ran low on bobby pins!!)

At lunch time, Jay and Chris picked up several orders of wings and headed to Andrew's apartment for a special lunch with the guys. Unlike the girls who spent the morning prepping and primping, the guys spent the morning sleeping, playing games, and practicing a special dance for the reception.(more on that in Part 3!)

Quick side story...Jay stopped by Cumberland Farms to grab some Coke and Dr. Pepper the guys requested. Jay had Luke with him and didn't want him hyped up on caffeine for the afternoon. So he got him a chill zone instead. More specifically, a blue raspberry chill zone. (Maybe you moms know where this is going.) Luke had drank a third of it by the time they got to Andrew's. When they walked in, Mike and Andrew looked at Jay and said, "Dad, what did you do?!? The pictures!" It was then that Jay realized Luke's teeth and tongue were completely blue! So the chill zone was disposed of and Jay spent some time scrubbing Luke's teeth and tongue with paper towels!

Lunch for the girls consisted of sandwiches and fruit. The morning and early afternoon passed quickly and before we knew it, dresses were put on and we were waiting for the bride to emerge. Liz looked absolutely beautiful!

And just like was go time! Liz and Andrew got married at our Church just a few minutes away. The Mass started at 3pm...Mercy Hour...which is fitting because of our love of Divine Mercy and St. Faustina and the Polish heritage that both Andrew and Liz share.

The ceremony was beautiful...filled with a grace that I could feel. Andrew and Liz chose to live a chaste relationship, something extremely counter cultural in today's society. I've attended two other weddings,  a friend's many years ago and our God child's wedding 3 years ago, where the bride and groom had made the same choice. And at both of those weddings I had that same feeling. Just so much grace because both the bride and groom were open to receiving all God had to give them. It is truly a special experience.

The wedding itself felt surreal. I kept saying in my head, "Andrew is actually getting married!" It was a lot to take in and process. All the months of planning had led to that special moment. And, again, I tried to just soak it in.

Andrew and Jon, brother and best man

Andrew's face as Liz walked up the aisle

Liz and her Dad

In the days leading up to the wedding, Andrew and his brothers had come up with a list of who would cry first at the wedding. Liz, Liz's mom, Jay's mom, and his sister, Julie, were all at the top of the list. Julie had texted me the morning of the wedding...she had called Jay's mom and was talking about the wedding and they both started crying. So, technically they "won". But, other than tearing up a little before the vows, Liz didn't cry at all. She was just so happy! Liz kept looking over at Andrew during the wedding with a giant smile on her face...and his smile back at her was just heart warming. (And because it was the middle of Mass I didn't take any pictures...those images are just in my heart so you will have to take my word for it;)

And just like that....I Do's were exchanged, the new Mr. kissed his bride, and we were off to take lots of pictures and to celebrate. The reception was will have a post of it's own! So stay tuned for PART 3 very soon!

In the meantime...

...........a picture is worth a thousand words...

The wedding party

All the girls

All the guys plus Peter

Andrew and Kate have a special bond<3

Sometimes it's hard being the flower girl.....

Liz's beautiful dress and cathedral veil

And on to their own version of Happily Ever After....

Monday, August 26, 2019

So.Much.Joy (Part One)

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind! My son, Andrew, got married, we had a family trip to New Hampshire with most of our kids, and have tried to get ready for the beginning of the school year that starts next week! We've also started what I'm calling "The Great Room Swaps". With Andrew now living in an apartment with his's still surreal that I have a son who has a wife!...and Sarah moving into an apartment next week for grad school, out house is going through lots of changes!

For mostly selfish reasons, I want to share the events of our wedding weekend. One of my favorite parts of blogging is seeing my posts pop up in "memories" on social media and getting to read over special moments. Watching your child get married definitely falls into that "special" category....and I know that reliving the wedding weekend will be something I cherish forever.

And, honestly, it was just such an amazing time from start to finish! I'm so excited to share all the details! And pictures...there were LOTS of pictures!

Consider yourself warned :)

Our wedding weekend celebrations started on the Friday night before the wedding. The bride, all her bridesmaids except for her cousin, Sara, the mom of the bride and and I went to get our nails done. It was a perfect way to start the weekend as we were pampered with manis and pedis. We all scrutinized over colors and shared lots of excited conversation. Everyone's nails came out beautiful and we were one step closer to the big day.

Saturday was, in a lot of ways, a regular Saturday around here for most of the day. I got to start my day with adoration and Jay and I attended morning Mass with most of the kids. It just happened that the Mass was for Jay's Grandma that I had set up months before. It was such a great way to start such an important weekend. Life is all about family...even the ones that are no longer with us.

After Mass, we "company cleaned" the house for all the guests we would have the next day. The afternoon was actually pretty relaxed considering what it was leading up to. There was lots of excitement and anticipation as we counted down the hours until....

Rehearsal Time!

The rehearsal at Church went great. It went much quicker than I thought it would! Everyone, even the bride, was happy and relaxed. We did a couple of walk throughs and headed off to the rehearsal dinner.

The rehearsal dinner was held at a local restaurant called the Inn at Shipyard Park. It's right across the street from the ocean in a neighboring town. The night of the rehearsal dinner was beautiful. There was a free weekly concert right on the water that night, so we were serenaded as we walked into the restaurant. Definitely a special touch!

Sarah and Ellen(sisters of the groom), John and Jacob(friends of the groom)

Keegan(friend of the groom), Jon(brother of the groom and best man), & Marisa(Jon's fiance and bridesmaid:)

On the left, Victoria(sister of the bride and maid of honor),
 on the rt, Sara(cousin of the bride and in the middle Sara's +1) 

The parents and grandparents table...I was missing bc I'm the photographer:)

Mike(brother of the groom) with Sarah and Ellie

Jon and Marisa...another future Mr/Mrs in May 2020

Keegan, Jacob, John and Andrew were friends all through high school!

Andrew and Liz....aka the bride and groom

I had worked with the restaurant and we picked several entrees for our guests to choose from. There were 21 of us...the wedding party, a plus one, my parents, Jay's parents, and the parents of the bride and groom. The restaurant had made special menus with the wedding party color scheme and we had a view of the water, but the company was the best part. The whole evening was relaxed and everyone was just so happy. Liz gave out beautiful earrings and necklaces out to the girls as well as to me. She also gave me a special little jewelry box that said "Thank you for raising the man of my dreams". So sweet! She also gave Jay some special cuff links that said the same thing. Andrew bought a special frame for Liz's mom which I'm sure will hold a wedding photo soon! They also bought her dad a special set of cuff links.

Sarah gave Liz a bouquet of roses that represented all the friends that she invited to pray a novena for Andrew and Liz before their wedding day. It was an idea that Sarah came up with and organized. Such a sweet gesture.

Andrew has always had a special bond with all his sisters.<3

Conversation flowed freely and there were lots of laughs and happy moments.

Dessert was "Grandma's famous chocolate cake". Jay's mom makes the best chocolate cakes. Andrew especially loves them! For years, before he had a fiance or a girlfriend, he would tell Grandma that he wanted her to make his wedding cake. Well, unfortunately, the venue only allows bakery cakes. (Which I think Grandma was relieved to hear!) But she generously agreed to make him a cake for the rehearsal dinner.

I bought some special cake toppers that are an inside joke I will have to explain. Andrew is a huge Shrek fan! It's one of his absolute favorite movies...and he loves all the sequels too! Months before the wedding, I came up with the idea of finding Shrek and Princess Fiona cake toppers for the "groom's cake" at the rehearsal dinner. They were sitting in my drawer for months...and Andrew got a good chuckle when he saw the cake for the first time!

Just one of the many special touches I tried to find to make the wedding weekend extra special!

After the restaurant, most of the girls came back to our house and most of the guys headed over to Andrew's apartment for some games. Liz's house is a little over an hour from our house, so her parents and sister stayed in a local hotel and Liz stayed at our house since the make-up artist was coming so early in the morning!

We all tried to settle down and get a good night's sleep for The Big Day! (Which was hard to do because we were so excited!!)

The almost Mr. and Mrs.

To Be Continued..........

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Early Morning Reflections Before the Big Day

I'm sitting on my couch amidst a small mountain of laundry that needs to be folded and there is a random moment of silence all around me. Jay is out to breakfast with a good friend, and everyone else is still sleeping in their bed. Even the dog.

My mind isn't quiet, though. After all, in less than 36 hours the first of my children will be getting married! It's still pretty surreal. Yesterday afternoon, I was getting ready to go get my hair colored, and as I stood in front of the refrigerator filling my water bottle, I was thinking, "I'm going to get my hair colored for my son's wedding!"!

There are so many emotions...but the foremost is pure joy. I've felt it since Wednesday night, when almost all of my children, including both my future dils, were sitting around my table to celebrate Luke's 10th birthday. The only one missing was Ellie who was spending time with a friend. But even Jon had come home from his grad program in NH.  There was lots of excitement over the events that would be unfolding over the next few days. Seeing them all together and the friendship they all share that 10 years ago I wasn't sure would happen..(quick shout out to moms of siblings that seem like oil and water...their IS hope!) My heart was so full listening to their conversation and everyone's laughter. It was a blessed moment.

I'm so proud of Andrew and Liz. I've loved seeing their relationship grow over the last 11 months since they've gotten engaged. I've loved seeing them work together and make decisions together about their big day. I love the way they have worked through differences of opinion on wedding decisions. I love seeing one or the other bend to something that's really important to the other. A funny moment that I got to see was the decision over the tuxes. Andrew wanted black tuxes, but Liz wanted gray to go with the petal pink bridesmaid dresses. Here's how the conversation went:
(Before we left for the tux shop)
Me: So, what color tuxes did you guys decide on?
Andrew: Black
Liz to Andrew(in a soft, patient voice): I think gray would go better with the dresses.
Andrew: Black will go just fine.
Liz(still with that soft, patient voice): I really think gray will go better for a summer wedding.
Andrew: Black is fine.
(At the tux shop)
Associate: So, what color would you like the tuxes to be?
Andrew: Looks at Liz who is just smiling and patiently waiting for him to answer, then looks at the associate and says with a very small sigh, "We're going with gray."
Liz just smiled and squeezed his arm. :)

I've gotten to see Andrew change and grow and mature so much over the last year as he gets ready to give his life to someone else. I'm so proud of the way that he has jumped in to help with phone calls and emails and planning details. He has been so patient with Liz and tried to just love and support her, especially over the last month while things have been extra crazy. Not only has Liz been planning a wedding, she has also been finishing up her last class for her Master's Degree!(It just ended Thursday!) And, not only that, but on August 2nd..(9 days before the wedding!)...she had to take Oral Comps, which is an extremely stressful oral exam in front of three professors that determines whether or not you get your degree. And, as if all that wasn't enough, she also started training for her new job as a reading specialist at a charter school! Not to mention having to start packing and transferring her clothes and belongings to the apartment that will be their first home together come Sunday!! Seriously, Liz did amazing! I'm just in awe! I can't believe how much stress she had to carry on her shoulders....and I'm so proud of the way Andrew tried to help in any way he could to take some of the wedding stress off of her plate. (And the way he comforted Liz when the pressure got to be too much and she needed a shoulder to cry on.)

And now, the Oral Comps were passed, the grad class is finished, work is done until Tuesday, and all energy is now focused on the last minute many details!...that need to be taken care of in the next 24 hours.

Today, Liz and Andrew have to drop off things at the reception venue, sign paperwork with our parish priest, and move some more things into their new apartment, where Andrew will be staying tonight.

Touching story: Yesterday, Kate came with me for all of my errands. At all six stores we stopped at, she told every cashier that we had a special wedding this weekend. And because she is 7 and cute they all asked follow up questions. This is generally how each conversation went:
Kate: We have a special wedding this weekend.
Cashier: That's nice...who is getting married?
Kate: Andrew and Liz
Cashier: Is that your brother?
Kate: Yes
Cashier: Are you in the wedding?
Kate: Yes, I'm the flower girl.
Cashier: Are you excited?
Kate:(every.single.time) No
Cashier:(always surprised) Why not?
Kate: Because when Andrew gets married, he's moving out.
(To which I remind her that he is, literally, moving 5 minutes away and she will see him all the time. But, I get it, change is hard.)

I had a funny conversation with Kate a couple of nights ago:
Me: Kate, are you excited? Andrew and Liz are getting married in a few days and we're going to go to a beautiful Mass and a really fun party with lots of dancing.
Kate: Yeah....but Andrew and Liz are going to kiss on the lips!
Me: Yes they are.
Kate: I'm never going to do that. That's gross.
(I should have gotten a video of that one for future insurance!!)

Tonight is the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner! Our day starts bright and early tomorrow. All the girls are getting ready here. The make up artist comes at 7:30 and the hair stylists will be here at 9:30. Jay and I will be making quiche and strawberry waffles(Liz's favorite). The guys will be hanging out at Andrew's apartment. They are going to bring in special wings for lunch then probably take all of 15 minutes to actually get ready. The church is at 3...mercy hour!...then on to pictures and celebrating.

The honeymoon will be delayed because of Liz's new job. When they first picked the wedding date, they thought it would give them enough time to get married and have a honeymoon before Liz started whatever teaching job she got hired for. Unfortunately, that plan didn't work. But, they both adjusted and will be taking a "mini-moon" to Nashville over Labor Day weekend..which they are both excited for. Then, over February break, they plan on going to Rome.

I'm so excited for tomorrow! There are just so many graces that feel really tangible right now, and I am so grateful that God has blessed my son with such a beautiful woman, both inside and out. I can't wait for all the beauty that tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Countdown to a Wedding

So I blinked and now it's August!! Still not quite sure how that happened! The end of July was chock full of fun and adventures. Here are Seven(ish) Quick Takes that wrap up the month! 

#1 and #2: The Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

Front Row: Jacob, Andrew(who really was happy but doesn't generally smile for pics..insert eyeroll here...and Jon(best man and brother of the groom).
Back Row: Keegan, Mike(brother of the groom), and John
The guys spent a fun Friday afternoon/evening celebrating Andrew. They headed off to Foxwoods Casino, all wearing Hawaiian shirts for fun, and did a little gambling, had a great dinner at Guy Fieri's, and enjoyed a Weird Al Yankovic concert! Lots of fun was had and lots of memories were made.

Not to be outdone, the girls headed out to an overnight in Martha's Vineyard at my parent's vacation home. They enjoyed lots of girl time, beach time, yummy breakfasts, Mexican food, ice cream, more beach time, experimenting with funky colored make up and lots of games. Lots of fun was had and lots of memories were made! :)

From left to right: Sarah(sister of the groom), Victoria(sister of the bride), Liz(bride to be), Ellie(sister of the groom), Marisa(future sister-in-law of the groom)
#3: Pro-Life Boot Camp
Jay took Ellie and 11 more kids from the high school youth group to our Diocese's Pro-Life Boot Camp. It's the 9th year of the Camp, and it's something our older kids have always looked forward to. Andrew is still a chaperone for the camp each year and Sarah helps to organize the camp. It's also where Jon and Marisa met 5 years ago!! 

There are spiritual talks, visits to nursing homes, and they pray outside of an abortion clinic. The kids also get some fun time in with lots of games, including soccer with the bishop, an obstacle course, some kind of craziness with shaving cream thanks to Jay, fun with giant balls(also Jay), ultimate Frisbee and various other things that Jay finds on the internet.
Under all that shaving cream is Sarah!

#4: Time with the Littles
The last couple of years that Jay was away at boot camp, I've taken the younger crew and Peter over to the Vineyard with my parents. We get to go to restaurants, eat ice cream, go to the Flying Horses and go to the beach. It's just a tad more fun than being stuck at home with mom while dad, who is more of the "fun parent"(as you can see in #3), is away. Jon and Marisa were able to join in too!

Kate and my Mom 

Jon and Marisa

Kate loving the waves

Me and Peter

Luke sporting a new Black Dog early birthday gift

Marisa and Peter

Peter got the Brass Ring!

Jon and Kate

Peter in his happy place


ice cream!

More ice cream:)

Kate and Pa(and ice cream:)

Ready to grab the ring!
#5: Kate's First Fishing Trip

This year the weather cooperated and Kate got to go fishing on Pa's boat for the first time! And she had some serious beginners luck!! 

Two at a time!!! Grandma and Pa helped a little!

Kate and Marisa

Kate caught Ba-bee shark doo doo doo de doo! 
But she was too afraid to take a picture with it!.....

A little too much fear....Couldn't quite get her to smile..or get close to the shark!  lol
Not to be outdone...Jon caught Da-ddy shark doo doo doo de doo

Luke had some fishing success as well!

Peter fished for about 30 seconds and preferred hanging around in the sunshine

More success

#6: A Big Birthday!
Peter turned 18 on the 31st! I can't believe it! He was SO excited for his birthday. Sarah made him cupcakes to celebrate with the family and brownies to bring to his summer program. He got lots of special attention! We got him his beloved dinosaur balloons and a Mickey suitcase so he can pack his own clothes when we go back to the Vineyard next month and for our Disney trip in December! :) 

#7: It's the Final Countdown!

Only 7 more days until Andrew and Liz say "I do"!!!! I'm so excited! There is lots to do between now and then but I'm sure everything will come together. (Hopefully with minimal stress or mishaps!)

The furniture got delivered to their apartment this weekend and they are slowly starting to move their things in. Andrew got wifi hooked up and they bought a tv. The bathroom had needed work, but that will hopefully be done right before the wedding. So we get to enjoy having Andrew home with us for just a few more days!

Coming up this week: Luke's birthday gift...his first Red Sox game with Jay, Luke's actual birthday, a meeting with DDS to get Peter signed up for adult services, getting an appointment to sign Peter up for SSI, mani/pedi appointments, Peter's last week of summer program, picking up tuxes, and trying to keep everything organized as we head into a VERY special weekend!