Saturday, September 8, 2012

Erin's Graduation

     With each of my children's senior years, I have been concious of "lasts"... the last Christmas concert, the last sporting event, the last competition, etc.  Since Erin is my youngest, the '" lasts" were much more poignant this year.  They were not only HER "lasts," they were mine as well.... the last time I would watch a high school concert, play, volleyball tournament, competition, or spring concert.  The last high school banquet.  The last time I would drive one of my children to Hartford Christian Academy.  The last high school graduation!  Needless to say, I savored each event even more this year.  I have always enjoyed watching my children participate in school events, (or Little League, or gymnastics, or drum corps), so I knew that I would miss doing so.  Erin served as the captain of her volleyball team, sang a solo in her Christmas concert, played the lead in "Little Women,"  placed first in two vocal competitions, and graduated valedictorian of her class.
   HCA has held their banquet the day before graduation for the past several years, so it has become a part of the graduation.  Erin and I bought her dress on Good Friday, and went to lunch at Panera Bread to celebrate her birthday, which was March 21.  (We had already had a family celebration but I wanted to do something special for both Janet and Erin, whose birthdays are two days apart.)  We picked up the dress just a week before the banquet, and it didn't need alterations!  We chose her shoes and a cropped sweater to go over the dress.  Her dress was a light coral/peach, and her sweater was tan to match her shoes.  Caroline did her hair, and she looked gorgeous! As I have for the past two or three years, I made a pancake breakfast the morning of the banquet.  We took a few pictures at the house, then traveled to HCA to take pictures there before the students left.  Caroline came with me, and we went to Starbuck's afterwards.
     Ever since Caroline's graduation, we have had a tradition of taking the graduate out to breakfast on the morning of graduation.  Al and I took Erin to Mahaney's, a little breakfast shop in the Poquonock section of Windsor.  Al came with us, as did Caroline and Janet. Dave, Becca, and Noelle could not be there for graduation, so they were not there for breakfast either.  They would come later in July for Erin's graduation party.  The seniors did not have to be at school till noon on graduation day, which is why we've been able to take the girls to breakfast.  We also had a small gathering of our church family for pizza at our house just before leaving for graduation. 
  This year, the kidnergarten graduation and school awards ceremony was held on the same night as the high school graduation.  The kindregarten program was forst, and they are always so cute!  The seniors watched from the doors of the auditorium, out of sight till their processional.  Erin was the only girl in her class, and her last name begins with A, so she was first in line.  She carried a rose as per HCA tradition, and looked lovely.  Of course I cried when she came down the aisle, and during her speech.  After the salutatory speech, the awards were given out.  Erin got the Fine Arts award and the Valedictorian award.  I was so proud of her when she gave her speech.  She was the same irrepressible girl she's always been... bubbly and full of enthusiasm.  She shared many memories of her class through the years, and her prayer that all of them would be found in God's will years from now.  How proud and thankful we were to see her get her diploma! We were thankful not only because Erin was graduating, but because God had made a way every year for our children to attend Hartford Christian Academy.  He provided not only the finances, but the transportation help we needed every year when we prayed that He would.  Thank God for his faithfulness and mercy!  I know that we can trust our Lord to continue to provide through their college years, even when we cannot see the way, because He has provided for us up till now.  We love you, Erin, and we are so proud of you!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Easter and a Trip to Pennsylvania

     This Easter we had a special treat.  Becca, Dave, and Noelle came up for the whole weekend!  I traveled back to Pennsylvania with them for a few days too.They arrived Friday at around two, and Noelle kept her eyes closed for fifteen minutes when she got into our house as a way of maintaining her space.  She let us hug her, but she refused to open her eyes! 
When she did, she began a game of "The Monsters Are Coming," which involved her saying "the Monsters are coming!"  and all of us hiding from the monsters. In subsequent games she decided that one of us was the monster, so she dragged the"'monster" into a cage!  Yes, Grandma took her turn being a monster!
    Our church has a Good Friday service each year, and our choir sings.  Noelle loves music, so Becca brought her to hear us practice.  She wanted to stay in the service to hear the song as well, so Becca let her do so.  Erin actually brought Noelle in and we could not find Dave, Becca, or Al, so Noelle sat with me in choir for a few minutes.  She perched on my lap like a little doll, and would have stood beside me while we sang without complaint if Dave and Becca hadn't come in before we had to sing. 
     Saturday I had to work, but when I came home we  "made eggs" with Noelle, and then I made Easter baskets for the three younger girls.  I gave the older ones flowers and a little bit of candy, and I had already sent Dave and Becca a Cold Stone Creamery gift card, but I had a little shirt to give Noelle, along with a little lollipop. David was in Yemen so I had already sent him a care package.  The older girls put together an egg hunt for Noelle and Erin.  I also took some time to go over Erin's competition pieces with her, as she was headed to Nationals early Monday morning.  Noelle wanted to watch, so I let her, and she was fascinated.  Then she looked at Dave and Becca's wedding picture, and I had to tell her who everyone was.
     Sunday morning, we were up early.  I made corn muffins for breakfast, so that we could grab them quickly.  Caroline did Noelle's and my hair, and Dave, Becca, and Noelle, Janet, Caroline, and Erin, Janet, Al, and I went to Sunday school.  Caroline joined us for church.   We all enjoyed celebrating the Lord's resurrection together, and once again Noelle stayed for the music and then went into the toddler room.  After service I hurried home to put dinner in the oven.  We had ham with raisin sauce, mashed potatoes, and salad. Al and I also had some grilled chicken, because he can't have ham and I'm not supposed to have too much of it.  We also had invited a friend who doesn't like ham or pork, so he had chicken as well.  Missy and Eric,  and Gail and John came over too, along with John's brother, Michael.  For dessert I made a lime pie and a no bake cheesecake.  After dinner, the kids had their egg hunt, and Noelle was so adorable as she found the eggs Caroline and Gail had hidden just for her!  We ate dessert and played a game.  We went to bed early because the next morning Dave, Becca, and I were leaving early in the morning for Pennsylvania!
     We were up very early the next morning and got on the road around six-thirty or seven.  I had to get Erin to school by 5: 15 (according to what SHE told me and what was on the slip), as the students were leaving for the National Fine Arts competition in South Carolina.  We left at 4: 15 and stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a breakfast and drink for her and a coffee for me.  We were almost there and it was close to 5: 15 when Erin's cell phone rang.  She said, "We're almost there," and I heard the teacher say, "You  should have been there by 5: 00, Hon."  When we got there, I apologized to her teacher and said that Erin had told me 5: 15, and that the slip said they were leaving at 5: 30.  He said maybe it did, so everything was OK.  I said goodbye to Erin and watched the bus leave.  It was exciting because she was going to be singing her solo at Nationals, but also bittersweet for me because this was the last time I would see one of my kids off to Nationals, as Erin is my youngest and she is a senior.  I got back to our house at a little after six, and left with Dave, Becca, and Noelle a little before seven.   It was surprisingly cold, as the week before had been warm right through Easter, so Noelle and I wrapped blankets around us in the car.  I sat next to her in the back seat, and of course we stopped at (surprise, surprise!) Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and donuts for Noelle, Dave, and Becca, and a bagel stick for me. (Noelle had milk.)  Well, the blankets around me and Noelle inspired an ongoing game of "the monsters are coming,"  which since we were in the car involved pulling the blankets over our faces to hide from the monsters.  She also asked me to read her some books, which I did.  In the middle of the books, she would announce, "The monsters are coming!" so I would have us hide behind the book.  Sometimes I would tell her, "They can't get us because we're in the car and they can't get in the car," but she would say, "They're coming!  They are!"  Then I told her that they were in the trees and couldn't reach us, to which she replied,"I see them!"  We stopped at Hershey Chocolate World and went on the ride.  Noelle LOVES the singing cows and what fun to see her reaction!  It was COLD in Pennsylvania!  I was not expecting that, as the weather in CT had been quite warm, but by the time we got to the house all i wanted to do was snuggle down in a blanket to get warm!
  Rebecca was sick Monday and Tuesday so she stayed home from school.  We watched movies, read books, and generally relaxed.  Wednesday she went back and I watched Noelle.  In addition to "The Monsters are coming," Noelle had another favorite game.. "Your arm is broken!"  She has a doctor's kit to which she added a wrapper from a skein of yarn as a cast.  She would put the cast on my arm and tell me my arm was broken and proceed to decorate my arm with stickers. On Tuesday we were doing  this and Becca decided to take us to the library.   When we were ready to leave, I told Noelle that  my arm wasn't broken anymore, and I took off the "cast."   She said, "Yes!  It's more broken!"
    Thursday was my last day at Dave and  Becca's , as I was taking the night bus back to Connecticut.     One of Noelle's favorite babysitters came over, as it was her regular  day to babysit and I wanted to visit with her.  We had a tea party with Noelle, which Dave joined when he stopped home, and Linda and I also had some real tea while Noelle had her snack.  We went out into the yard even though it was cold, and we drew on the patio with chalk.  We made a whole playground!   Miss Linda is VERY creative.  Noelle used to call her "Grandma,"  partly because she looks a little like me  and partly because Miss Linda is Noelle's best friend's grandmother, so Noelle hears him call Miss Linda "Grandma" all the time.  I had met her several times and it was nice to have a visit with her.  When Becca came home and Miss Linda left, Noelle, Becca, and I played Legos.  We built "Bethlehem."  (Noelle's idea.)  She makes up very elaborate stories during her play. 
  I had to catch my bus at 6: 30, so Dave, Becca, and I left in time to go to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  The shuttle bus that takes people from Hagerstown to the train station, bus station, and airport in Baltimore leaves from the Sleep Inn right across the driveway from the Cracker Barrel. so it was easy to go and wait for the bus after dinner.  We sat in the hotel lobby and waited, playing with Noelle the whole time.  When the driver came to pick me up, I said, "Noelle, Grandma's bus is here.  Give me a hug and a kiss."  She would not give me a hug or a kiss because in her mind, if she didn't hug or kiss me,  I couldn't leave.  I said, "Noelle,  Grandma has to get on the bus to go to Connecticut.  Give me a hug and a kiss!"  Very seriously and quietly, she said, "I can't let you."  When Dave told her Grandma had to go back to Connecticut, she said, "I can't let her."  Oh, that broke my heart!  I told Noelle to write me a letter, and that I would write her one.  I got on the shuttle, and we waved till the shuttle turned the corner and we couldn't see each other anymore.  Ten minutes later I got a text from Becca saying that when they asked Noelle what she wanted to do next, she said she wanted to write a letter to Grandma, and that she was weeping the whole way home!   It is VERY hard to say goodbye, as we live so far away from each other.    Two or three days after I got home though, I got a letter from Noelle and I sent her one back!  I loved sharing in her transition from toddler to little girl!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Erin's Musical Club Competition

     Last summer, I began working with Erin on pieces for her Fine Arts competition in March of 2012.  She had to have me teach her the pieces, and of course I gave her instruction in vocal technique as well.  In order to ensure that she had the pieces memorized well before competition, we began early.  I also need to be careful that we do not put too much strain on her young voice. We made a trip to the University of Hartford bookstore, where we looked at music and settled on pieces.  We decided on "I Will Sing New Songs of Gladness" from Biblical Songs by Antonin Dvorak, and "Vedrai, Carino" from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  When Erin had learned the pieces, she began working with her accompanist at school, who would be playing for the Fine Arts competition.  While Erin was working on the pieces, the music director at school got a flyer from the Musical Club of Hartford, announcing a scholarship competition.  The director handed Erin the flyer and said, "Here, Erin, I thought  you could do your competition pieces for this."  Erin agreed, so we began working on the music in earnest.  I figured that it would be good preparation for the Fine Arts competition and a good experience for Erin.  I knew she had talent and that she had a beautiful voice, but I also knew that many of the other students would have far more training and experience than she had.  I talked to Erin about this and she understood.  She was accepted to the competition and her accompanist agreed to play for her.  I went to one pf her practice sessions to show the accompanist the tempos we had taken, and where she needed to slow down or speed up.  Everything was going well until the week before the competition, when Erin came down with a cold!  We prayed, gave her medicine, and lots of fluids.  By the next week she was better and had her voice at full strength.  We left church  few minutes early the day of the competition, and arrived at Hartt a few minutes before she was scheduled to arrive.  She registered and was given a warm up room.  I sat in on her warm up so that I could take her through some vocal exercises before she practiced her pieces.  Her pieces sounded great in her warm up, and I knew that she would perform well.  I could not be in the room for the actual audition, but I could hear her and she sounded good.  One of the coordinators asked me if Erin was my daughter, and I said yes.  She answered,"Lovely!", so I knew that Erin had sung well, but how she would stack up against the other students in the vocal category I did not know.
     The coordinators told us that they would be calling the winners and the honorable mention winners by 5:00 that afternoon.  When we got home, Erin and I began taking down the Christmas tree and putting away ornaments.  She kept her cellphone on her and turned on the whole time.  At 3:00, Erin looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't think they're going to call me."  I said, "Well, we knew that going in, but you sang well and I'm proud of you."  She said she didn't need a pep talk, and I knew that, but I wanted to encourage her somehow.  Then I looked at the clock, and said, "Erin!  It's only three o'clock.  The last audition was at two.  I don't think they're finished tallying the scores yet."  She agreed, and we went on putting ornaments away.  Not ten minutes later, the phone rang.  I said, "That's probably them,"  and when I heard the voice on the other end say, "Erin?"  I knew it was not someone who knew her. We were expecting to hear that she had gotten third place or honorable mention, but then I heard Erin say, "Really?" so I knew she had placed.  Then I heard her say, "First place?"  and  saw her grin and put her fists up in the air, and I was so thrilled that I yelled at the top of my lungs!  She won a five hundred dollar scholarship!  At the end of January the winners performed in a concert in West Hartford, so we all went to hear Erin sing.  She did beautifully, and we were so proud of her.  There was a little bio of each winner in the concert program as well as in the Hartford Courant article about the concert.  She went on to place first in Female Vocal Solo at the AACS Fine Arts Competition at school as well.  I am so thankful to be able to take something I enjoy so much and impart it to my daughters.  I have always believed that if I were faithful to use the gifts God has given me to help my children, that God would supply whatever was lacking, and I am seeing Him do just that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Christmas 2011

     It has taken me forever to write this post, mainly because we had many things  going on after Christmas.  This Christmas was beautiful and joyful, but also our first Christmas without David here.  His unit was deployed overseas at the end of October, just before Missy's wedding.  This was also Missy and Eric's first Christmas as a married couple.  Merry Christmas to Mr. and Mrs. Eric Burns!  I was blessed to have Christmas Eve and December 30 off, even though we're not supposed to ask for days off during the holidays, and I got a very early shift the day after Christmas.  We did all the traditional things.... the cantata on December 11, Erin's concert on December 16, and Janet's concert at Manchester Community College  on December 17.  Right after Thanksgiving I began my usual baking, with extra thrown in for the cantata and Erin's concert.  And then, of course, shopping, done between work, church, concerts, baking, cleaning, and getting everyone where they needed to go! We had no Wednesday church service that week because of Christmas Eve service on Saturday, and Dave, Becca, and Noelle arrived Friday evening just in time for dinner. I woke up early on Christmas Eve, as usual, and Becca and Noelle were not far behind.  I needed to run to Stop and Shop, so they decided to go with me.  We had waffles for breakfast, and then I went with Becca and Noelle so Caroline could cut Becca's hair at her salon.  She brought Noelle so Caroline could show her off.  While Caroline cut Becca's hair,  Noelle and I walked down the sidewalk to the pet store.  She loves animals and we enjoyed seeing the birds, hamsters, and fish.  Then a customer walked in with her dog and Noelle got so excited!  She LOVES dogs.  We went home and had lunch, and soon it was time to go to the Christmas Eve service. I love our Christmas Eve service and reflecting on the most precious gift of all,  the gift of God's Son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sins. After the service, we went to Glen and Lisa's house to celebrate with them,  It's a long-standing tradition to have Christmas Eve with Al's family, and it is always a great time.  Glen's house can be chilly, as it is so big, so Al and I were sitting on the couch with a blanket over us.  Noelle was between us, and she reached up to me, ran her hands over my face, and said, "You're beautiful!" What a precious gift that was!  Glen had lobsters for everyone, as well as two GIANT lobsters.  Noelle was fascinated with the giant lobsters, and worked up the courage to touch them.  When Glen cracked them open so we could eat them, she became quite concerned.  "The lobsters are broken! " she said.  We told her they were supposed to be broken.  We got to see a video of David's unit wishing their families a Merry Christmas, and Becca and Dave made one of us wishing David a Merry Christmas.  Guess what Noelle said to her Uncle David?  "The lobsters are broken."  The videos were on Facebook, so we could see his and he could see ours.  We got home late, about 1: 00 am, and everyone went to bed but me.... I had to fill the  stockings.  I got to bed at about 2 am and woke up around 7 am to get ready for church. We opened our stockings before getting ready for church,  then got dressed and went to the service.  Missy and Eric, and Gail and John, met us at home at around 1:00.  I put the turkey in the oven . put out some snacks, and we opened gifts.  Two of our friends from church joined us for dinner.  Oh, yes, I forgot, Missy and Eric ran late because they had to visit a friend in the hospital.  But we got the presents opened in time for dinner, and we had a nice time with our friends and family.  Somehow everyone managed to include stickers in Noelle's gifts, which sort of drove Becca and Dave crazy, because Noelle likes to put stickers on people as well as on paper! After dessert and after our friends left and Noelle went to bed, I reluctantly went to bed as well, because I had to work at 5 am. I always hate to go to bed on Christmas night, because I do not want to end the day,  Dave and Becca and Noelle met me on my lunch break the next day and took me to Friendly's.  I got out at 1pm, and came home. I put on my new pajamas that Caroline had given me and my new bathrobe that Al had given me, intending to take a nap and then spend the rest of the day in my PJ's.  That, however, was short-lived, because Dave and Becca and Noelle returned from shopping and Noelle decided to climb on me.  There's no resisting that!  Also Noelle wanted a sandwich so I made her one.  Just as Dave, Becca, and Noelle were leaving, Al decided to call the doctor about what we thought was either a toothache or a sinus infection,for which he had gotten antibiotics he night befre, but the medicine was not helping.  He had to go to the emergency room, so I got dressed and took him.  Well, we sat there for eight hours before anyone saw him, but he got stronger antibiotics and a pain medication, and by the next day it was better.  On December 30 we went to my sister Betsy's to celebrate Christmas with my dad and sisters, another long-standing tradition! My dad is always so pleased to have his whole family together, and we always have a nice time with them. My nieces and nephews are growing up and it is fun to catch up with them.  New Year's would bring Erin's Hartford Musical Club competition, her Fine Arts competition, the school play, and of course, decisions about college and her graduation.  It would also bring David's return from overseas, and the end of his enlistment in the Marines.  We're trusting the Lord for the road ahead for all of us.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Missy and Eric's Wedding

After a very stressful, power-less week, Missy and Eric's wedding went off beautifully! By the day of her wedding rehearsal, every place that needed power for the wedding had it, including the hair salons, the nail salons, and her house. The day of the rehearsal started in a crazy manner, though.... someone hit her car and she had to borrow mine, so Al and Caroline had to drive me to do my errands that were in preparation for the wedding. I had to go to Stop and Shop, and to find a nail salon with power. Actually, Gail decided we should have our nails done at Buckland Mall near her apartment. Al was preparing to drive us there, when Dave and Becca showed up. So we all went to Gail's. Caroline met us there, and she, Gail, and I went to get our nails done. Erin and Janet went to Gail's apartment with us so Caroline could curl their hair in preparation for their up-dos the next day, but we ran late so that didn't happen. Our nails took longer than expected, but somehow we all managed to get to the rehearsal on time. Getting that large a bridal party together to rehearse is quite an undertaking! We went right to the dinner afterward, at La Notte in East Windsor. Eric's uncle took pictures, and Missy and Eric had gifts for the bridal party and parents. It was fun to meet all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and some of Eric's family. We had to be up early the next day, as Missy wanted the women at her house to get ready at 9 am. Caroline went to her salon to have her hair done at 8:30, and Al drove me and the younger girls to Missy's. Caroline had been able to pre-curl Janet's and Erin's hair at Gail's after the rehearsal dinner. We stopped at Stop and Shop first,so that I could get bagels, banannas, orange juice, and cream cheese. We got to Missy's, had breakfast, and began to get ready. Amanda, one of Missy's bridesmaids, did my makeup first, while Caroline did Becca's hair. Then Caroline did my hair. Meanwhile, Missy and her bridesmaids went to their salon to have their hair done. Everyone looked really nice. I got to know some of Missy's bridesmaids and Meredith's mom. Meredith is Missy's best friend and was her maid of honor. The flower girls, Sage, Noelle, and Riley, were there as well, looking adorable. Sage asked me to take a picture with my camera, so I took a picture of her. She said, "NO," and pointed to her mom. I thought she wanted me to take a picture of her mom, so I did. She said "NO, I want to see Sagie!" She wanted a picture of her and her mom together, so I took one and showed it to her. Riley was a perfect young lady, and Noelle didn't quite steal the show from her Auntie Mimi, but she came close! Missy's photographer impressed me because he was everywhere at once without ever being in the way! Everyone looked so lovely all dressed up for the wedding, and Missy was every bit as stunning as I knew she woud be. We all cried when she had her dress on, and when she opened the necklace from Eric that used to be his mother's, we cried even more, because Missy cried! Al got there just in time for pictures outside by the fence. It was COLD! The bridal party got into the limo to go to the church, and Al and I drove in his car. At the church, we stood in the vestibule waiting for the bridal party to arrive, and had the opportunity to greet some guests as they arrived. I was relieved to see that my dad and sisters and Al's brother and sister arrived on time. The only one missing was our son, David, who would have walked me down the aisle. He is a Marine reservist currently overseas. However, my nephew, Patrick, did a fine job of filling in for him! Becca made a tape of David congratulating Missy and Eric on their wedding before he left for his deployment, and they played it at the rehearsal dinner. Anyway, Eric's dad and his fiance were seated, and then it was time for Patrick to walk me down the aisle. I smiled at my sisters and their families as I walked. My dress was a deep sapphire blue with a full skirt, and with the hairstyle Caroline gave me I felt very regal. I sat down, to wait in eager anticipation for the bridal party to proceed down the aisle. All of the bridesmaids were lovely, and their deep magenta Gerbera daisy bouquets really stood out against the espresso brown of their dresses. The groomsmen escorted the bridesmaids down the aisle. It did tickle me that my very petite Janet Marie was escorted by a very big guy, and I found out later that Missy and Eric had done it on purpose! :) Next came the flower girls and ring bearer. Avery held Sage's and Noelle's hands as they walked down the aisle. Sage and Noelle looked SO serious, and they were adorable. When the flower girls got down the aisle, I took Noelle to sit next to me till Becca got to our seat. Riley, the older flower girl, walked by herself and was a perfect little lady. Then came the maid of honor, Meredith, in a short dress the same color as the bridesmaids. Then---- we all stood up as the bride, our beautiful Melissa, walked down the aisle. I had begun to tear up when Patrick walked me down the aisle, but now I was REALLY crying, so happy for Missy and Eric, loving Missy so much, and glad she had found her love. Patrick read the first Scripture, then Eric's cousin read one. When Missy and Eric said their vows, Missy cried, which made me cry again. The ceremony was short but lovely, and Al and I had the opportunity to greet more guests as we waited for Missy and Eric to come out. Then we went to the reception while the bridal party posed for pictures. When they got to the reception site, Missy and Eric posed for pictures with the family. Her photographer got many candids too. I took pictures as well, but not at the ceremony. When we were ready to walk in to dinner, Missy made me put my camera and cluthch purse in the bridal suite, so I couldn't take any more pictures. We walked in to dinner before Eric's dad and fiancee, just ahead of the bridal party. Then each bridesmaid came in with her escort, and the moms or dads brought the ring bearer and flower girls. Missy came in with a Yankees #1 on her finger, while Eric came in with a Red Sox jersey over his tux! Then came the toasts, which made me cry, and Missy's and Eric's first dance, which made me cry even more! She is so beautiful and they are so deeply in love. Noelle began to dance as soon as she heard the music, and all the bridesmaids wanted to dance with her. Grandma even danced with her! She didn't stop the whole evening. Al and I danced together for a couple of dances too, which we've never done before. We were very conscious of the blessing and miracle God had given us in sparing his life last year so that he could dance with Missy and me at her wedding! We sat at the table with my dad and sisters, and with Mr. and Mrs. Glen and Barbara Anderson. Barbara and I used to teach at the same school, and Missy and Becca are friends with one of her daughters, so they know Missy very well. My dad kept looking at my fingernails, which were polished with light sapphire with white and silver accents. I normally don't do things like that, but I wanted something to match my dress. We enjoyed spending time with our family and friends.   Missy and Eric cut the cake without getting any frosting on each other, and afterwards was the father-daughter dance. Al chose "I Loved Her First," and of course that meant more tears! The reeption ended at 11, and we helped to gather the gifts and pictures to bring back to Missy and Eric's apartment. We were going to stay there, while the bridal party stayed in the hotel across from the reception site, but Al went home after dropping us off and said we had power, so we went home. The next day we went to breakfast with Missy, Eric, and the bridal party. When we got home, Glen and his family and Lisa and Patrick were there helping to clear our yard of downed branches and trees from the storm, so we had pizza with them. Missy and Eric left for their honeymoon in Antigua early Monday morning. After the week they put in, they deserved every minute of it! Praise God for making a way for them to have thier wedding on their day, and for providing power just in time! Praise Him for bringing the two of them together! Praise Him for sparing Al's life from his heart attack so he could walk his Missy down the aisle and dance with her at her wedding! I pray that He would ever bless and keep our daughter and our new son-in-law. We love you, Missy and Eric!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

October Snow

Snow in October is infrequent but not uncommon in Connecticut. What is rare is a snowstorm in October that paralyzes the entire state for a week! We had such a storm the last Saturday of October, one week before Missy's wedding. The weathermen were calling for a foot of snow. I thought, "Oh, well, it will all be melted and gone by Friday, the day of the wedding." I was right about that, but wrong about the effects of this storm. Since there were still leaves on the trees, the branches became very heavy and many limbs were broken, landing on power lines. That meant power outages all over the state, with many towns being one hundred per cent out of power. I worked that day, hoping that I would be allowed to leave before the storm got bad. No such luck! First of all, we were very busy. Secondly, the snow began earlier than expected. I left at the end of my shift, and it took double the time to get home as it normally does. I saw many wires hanging low over the streets, and no street lights, as the power had already gone out. I arrived at our dark, cold house to find Caroline and Erin huddled under their blankets, waiting for me to come home. First, I lit a candle to give us some light. Then, I lit a burner on our gas stove to boil water for hot chocolate. Then, I located the ingredients to make dinner, lit the other burners, and proceeded to cook by candlelight. We only had one small candle so it was tricky. Well, Al got home with Janet and we ate dinner. He located two flashlights, and we found a few more candles. I washed dishes by hand in the dark, and then we went to bed because it was dark and cold. We kept warm by layering clothing and blankets. Sunday morning we woke up to a winter wonderland, but also to downed branches and power lines. It was much easier to deal with the power outage when it was light out! I made pancakes, and we made hot cereal for two neighbors and brought it to them. Everything in our town and the surrounding towns was closed, so we couldn't get supplies. Even the Walmart where I work was closed! The main concern we had was Missy and Eric's upcoming wedding.... would they still be able to have it? How would we manage without power? As the week wore on, we were able to get some limited supplies by going to towns farther away from home, as they had power. We also found out that Missy and Eric were going to have their wedding no matter what, so they spent the week trying to figure out alternatives. We were thankful that we still had hot water and a way to cook, because so many didn't have that. I missed work on Monday because Walmart was still without power. I worked Tuesday and was off the rest of the week because of the wedding. On Wednesday I went to Buckland Hills Mall with Al, and we sat in a Starbucks with him. Brewed coffee tasted so good, and it was so nice to be in a warm place. I brought my computer with me to catch up on Facebook and email, hoping to communicate with my son who is overseas. We met Janet, Erin, and Caroline. who were at the mall buying wedding gifts for Missy, and gave them my computer to use. Then Al and I got lunch. When we got home, I went to a laundromat in East Windsor to do laundry. We slept in the downstairs room of our house from Sunday night on in order to keep warm. By Thursday afternoon, every place that needed power for Missy's wedding had it, though our home did not get power till Friday. God answered our prayers to provide for Missy and Eric's wedding, and He brought us through the challenging week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pennsylvania, Visit with David, and Noelle's Second Birthday

Over Labor Day weekend, something very rare happened in our family, something that usually happens only at Christmastime. We had ALL SEVEN of our kids at THE SAME PLACE at the SAME TIME! David was on leave, so he went to Dave and Becca's house for a visit and we went there to visit him, as well as Dave, Becca, and Noelle. He got there the Monday before Labor Day, despite a cancelled flight on Saturday due to Hurricane Irene, and Al, Janet, Erin, and I got there late Friday afternoon. Missy and Eric were to join us late Friday night, and Gail and Caroline arrived late Saturday night. Anyway, when we arrived on Friday afternoon, Al dropped us off, checked us into our hotel (the Hampton Inn right down the street from the house), and returned to the house. We went out to Ponderosa Steak House at David's request. Dave could not go to Ponderosa with us because he had another engagement. Here I need to explain that when I refer to our son, I say "David", and when I refer to our son-in-law (Becca's husband), I say "Dave." Ponderosa has a buffet which you can get either by itself or with an entree. The younger kids (Noelle, Janet, and Erin) got just the salad bar and the adults got the salad bar with an entree. David was very diligent to make sure Noelle ate her dinner. Then he got her some ice cream-- traditional for an Aldrich Ponderosa meal. We spent some time back at the house and then Al, Janet, and I went to the Hampton Inn to sleep. The next morning, after breakfast, we went back to the house and spent the day playing with Noelle, who dragged us into her room,showed us all her toys, and asked us to read books.She also played hide and seek with us, hiding in some unlikely places as well as her "sheep house", a play tent where she keeps all her stuffed sheep. Another thing she enjoys is climbing into her ball pit and tossing the balls out for us to throw back in. Sometimes she tries to get us to get in the ball pit with her, so we oblige by putting our heads in, though Janet and Caroline can fit all the way in because they're so tiny! David regaled us and Noelle with his harmonica playing as well. Auntie Mimi and "Uncle" Eric (who will soon have the quotes removed from his title) had arrived late Friday night, so they also entertained and were entertained by their little niece. Saturday evening I went to a family picnic with Dave, Becca, and Noelle, while the kids went mini-golfing and Al rested at the hotel. Noelle loves playgrounds, and it was all we could do to get her to come off the playscape to eat. When we had to take her from the playground to go home, she cried! I gave her a bath while Becca finished her birthday dress complete with princess hat. Noelle loves her bath, but does NOT like getting her hair washed.After Noelle went to bed, Dave, Becca, and I watched a movie till everyone else came back, Then Al picked up Janet, Erin, and I to return to the hotel. I decided to check on Gail and Caroline, who were en route. Since it was nearly 11 PM, I hoped they were almost in PA. Gail said that they were in New Jersey and had gotten lost. Al said he would call them and help them, so I went to the room. When he came back, he said they had been playing a trick on me! After breakfast at the hotel on Sunday, we went to church in Hagerstown, at Dave and Becca's church. Then we changed and went to their house for Noelle's birthday party. Becca decorated the house with stuffed cows and black and white balloons, and Gail decorated a cake in the shape of a cow. She also decorated cupcakes to look like a cow's pasture. When we lit the candles, Noelle kept pointing and saying "Look at my cow cake!" with her adorable giggle! She opened lots of gifts, even though Becca had said that gifts were not neccesary. Being the first grandchild for our family and the first girl grandchild for Dave's family means that there is a myriad of willing spoilers! Our gift to her was a remote control car designed for children under three. I told Becca about it, and she told Dave, who said, "I'll bet it's pink!" It was, but we did not get it because it was pink. Becca had said that Noelle likes cars and that one was the only one that was appropriate for kids under three. After the birthday party, all the siblings went to the Olive Garden for dinner while Al and I babysat a very overstimulated Noelle. I gave her her dinner and talked to her about going to bed. I said, "After dinner, we're going to put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, read you two books, put you in your bed, sing, pray, and snuggle you." She looked at me very sweetly and asked. "Will you play with me?" I said' "Yes, I'm going to play with you by reading you books." When we were done with the books, she again asked if I would play with her. I said that I was going to ply with her by singing to her and snuggling her. We did so, and then we prayed together. I snuggled her a little more, and then said good night. I was amazed that she stayed in bed even though she was not asleep when I left her bedroom. On Monday before we left for Connecticut, we all went to Lake Tiberias Wildlife Park, which Noelle loves. Missy and Eric did not go, as they had to leave early for Connecticut. David held Noelle for much of the safari ride, helping her feed the animals and telling her how much he loved her. We all held sort of took turns holding her, snd she told us the names of all the animals. At one point, after the safari ride. we were listening to a presentation in the Reptile House, and Noelle got restless. I took her for a walk to look at some lemurs behind the reptile house. They started shrieking, so we figured that they did not like having us in their territory. When the park attendant asked us if the lemurs had scared us, I said, "No, it was more like we scared the lemurs." Well, when we met the rest of our family at the petting zoo, Noelle proudly announced to them, "I scared the lemurs!" I was amazed that she knew the names of so many exotic animals. After the petting zoo, we had to return to Connecticut, which meant saying goodbye to David, who had to return to duty as a Marine. That was hard, but I'm very proud of him for serving our country, and I love him because he is my son. I love his tenderness toward little ones, his courtesy toward the elderly, and his grin that shows up when he's teasing or particularly happy. I love his desire to serve his country and protect people such as his current and future family. God be with you, David, We'll miss you and we'll be praying for you!