Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Boot Camp North

For most of the year I lead a pretty sweet life when it comes to manual labor.  We have a yard guy at home who mows, edges and cleans our tiny yard.  He even insisted on planting my annuals this year well ahead of the wedding so they would be established by the time of the wedding.  He weeds my beds and keeps the yard looking great.  I splurged this spring and hired a house cleaning service.  I haven't had a housekeeper since the last time we lived in Houston about 10 years ago.  Again, I used the wedding as an excuse because when I clean the house I do it bit by bit and by the time I finish it is time to start again.  Sometimes I just need the entire house clean on the same day.  With just two of us living in the house it does not get very dirty so it's easy to maintain most of the time.  If I want to exercise I have to go for a walk, a run, play golf or go to yoga.  My life in Houston is not labor intensive, it is pretty cushy.  Come to think of it, this could be one explanation for my never ending battle of the bulge.

As I sit here writing, my thighs are throbbing, I have an ice pack on my tired, over used knees and the rest of me is spent.  We have been at the farmhouse for three days.  There is no yard guy and no house keeper here.  There are countless jobs that need to be done.  When we run out of things to be done I am sure it will be time to start re-doing the things we did a long time ago!  We have entered DIY land.  Boot camp north.

The grass was super long when we arrived....BUT in order to mow we first had to pick up half of a tree that was blown all over our yard during a spring ice storm.  Must have been quite a storm judging by the amount of rubble on the ground.
Getting from this....
to these, plus one more giant pile not pictured...takes about 100 squats.
Once the grass was mowed the yard was full of...mowed grass and lots of it!  Unless I want to mow over the huge piles of grass all summer I had to do some raking.  I figure it's an upper body exercise plus a bit of core work.  I raked all morning and loaded the piles into the wheelbarrow and carted them off to the back corners of the yard.  That has to be worth at least a glass of wine or two, right?

Earning my wine one pile of grass at a time!
When I was raking I noticed our strawberry patch looked more like a dandelion patch.  Those poor strawberry plants were being strangled to death by those mean old dandelions.  After lunch I decided to free the strawberries from the clutches of the dandelions.  I need those berries for jam later this summer and the grandsons love do the rest of us.  Two hours of weeding not only worked my hands but kneeling for that long felt a bit like an ancient form of penance judging by my knees tonight.

"Help....we are strangling!"

"Ahhh, that's better, we can breathe!"
One more reason for my aching quads lies in our sun room.  We decided to insulate the floor, the walls and the ceiling hoping to make the room a little more bug proof and temperate.  This project meant the steps to the room needed to come out and left us with a 3 ft. drop into the room.  Going in and out means more high stepping.  The upside is that we can already feel the difference in the room.  Can't wait for summer nights in the porch!

One parting shot...TJ did his boot camp in the garden.
Talk about an upper and lower body work out!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And Then We Danced.....

Once the bride and groom were married it was time to PARTY!  One thing we are pretty good at, as a group, is partying!  After our oldest daughter's wedding the woman who ran the venue said, "I never knew white people could party like that!".  The DJ at this wedding said basically the same thing.  We are starting to get a reputation.  What can I say....we like to dance!

Before the dancing could begin we had to take care of a little business.  There were toasts to be made, a delicious meal to be eaten, and cake to be cut.

First the Best Man shared his toast to the couple

then the Maid of Honor delivered her toast

 the couple was touched by both and relieved no embarrassing stories were shared!
 The couple danced their first dance to "Feels Like Home" by Linda Ronstadt,

and they looked completely at home in each other's arms.

Father and daughter danced to "The Rose" ....Dad's favorite!
Daniel waited and wondered when it was going to be his turn to dance.
 One of my favorite moments of the entire reception was when the groom and his mother danced.  They danced to "Sweet Baby James"  by James Taylor.  A fitting song since the groom's name is James.  The "moment" happened when almost everyone in the room joined in and sang the chorus to the song...."and rock a bye sweet baby James".  By the end of the song everyone in the room was swaying back and forth and singing to the groom and his mother.

It was priceless!

When the "must do" list was covered it was a free for all!  The dance floor was full in the blink of an eye and did not slow down until the DJ played the last song.  It was just what the bride had hoped for all these months.  She wanted that happy reception when you wake up the next morning and realize your feet really hurt because you danced all night!
 At about the mid point of the reception we had an Anniversary Dance.  All the married couples were asked to the dance floor and the DJ dismissed couples beginning with the ones who have been married for the shortest amount of time and ending with the couple who has been married the longest.  The last couple standing was my parents, the bride's grandparents, who have been married for 57 years!  It was a "moment" and alas, I have no photo.  Their advice for a long and happy marriage was....from my Mom, "Love and respect each other always and say "I love you" every day."  From my Dad...." Say  "yes" and "OK" a lot."  He has always been a man of a few well chosen words!

After that poignant moment this happened....go ahead click on the link....I'll's totally worth the detour!

It was a great night that did not end when the official reception ended.  Of course not...we continued the party at a nearby watering hole and all slept very well that night!  I heard from many people that this was the happiest wedding they had ever seen.  It definitely was one of the happiest weddings and hopefully the marriage will be just as happy!

I thought once the wedding was over things would slow down.  That's what I get for thinking.  No sooner had the leftover cake been eaten and all the friends and relatives returned home than it was time to start thinking about our son and daughter-in-law moving to Dubai.   We went straight into making sure we ate at a few of Houston's finest restaurants with our son and daughter-in-law before they left town and that we spent as much time as possible with them over the next week and a half.  Yes, it was only a week and a half after the wedding that we kissed and hugged and said goodbye to them.
Happy Mother's Day!  Brunch at a new restaurant!

They have brains in their heads and feet in their shoes....Oh, the Places They Will Go!
I thought once the wedding was over and Michael and Jehnna moved things would slow down.  Again, that's what I get for thinking!  May really is the busiest month of the year!  We found a little time to rekindle our own social life with a few outings with friends.  I got to play a few rounds of guilt free golf in the lovely spring weather.  We enjoyed one entire Saturday by doing absolutely nothing.  That has not happened in many, many months.  Things were finally feeling a little normal again.

But....normal is a little boring right?  Why be normal when you can be different?  Our empty nest now has five...going on six, new residents for much of the summer.  Our friends who are living in Saudi Arabia are here for two months with their three boys.  Mom will be having number four while they are here.  We will be in Nova Scotia for most of their stay but will overlap a few weeks.  And since three boys are not enough, our nephew is here for a couple of nights.  I am once again very thankful for having my children when I was young and energetic.

Our house is still partying...just a different kind of party!

In one more day we fly to Nova Scotia for eight days.  It's time to plant the garden, open the farmhouse and get things ready for the summer.  I am really looking forward to a little vacation even though it will be a bit of a working vacation.  I don't think there will be any construction dust to deal with this time which will be the realization of one of my goals ever since we started renovating the farmhouse!  The end is near!  Let's dance!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Day They Said "I do"

Being a woman with certain organizational skills, our daughter had written a detailed timeline for the day of the wedding.  Being a woman of certain go-with-the-flow skills I was glad to have the timeline to refer to during the day of the wedding but found myself not quite "on task" all the time.  We were almost to the point when we could just let the current of the day pick us up and carry us while we sat back and enjoyed the ride.  

First on the timeline was for Dad to cook breakfast for everyone in the house.  Dad was very excited about this, he loves to cook breakfast.  He especially loves to cook breakfast when there are people awake and ready to eat very early in the morning.  Our timeline said breakfast was at 7 and he was at the stove at 7!  He was very surprised when he woke up at 6:30, came out to the kitchen and saw the bride in her running clothes heading out for a run!  Guess she couldn't sleep either.  Meanwhile I was still in bed clinging to the last quiet moments of the day.

We love breakfast!
After we were all fully nourished, it was time to start getting beautiful....not that we aren't already beautiful!  To quote my dear departed friend Debbie, "This... doesn't just happen."  which she would say referring to "her look".  Our daughter-in-law, aka amazing hairdresser, was at the house bright and early according to the timeline and did all of the Mahoney women's hair for the wedding.  Four heads of massive hair done in one morning and she did a fantastic job!  No small feat.

One down, 3 to go!

This is where the magic takes a village!

Things started to get very real when the bride's hair and makeup were done and the bridesmaids had all arrived in their dresses and the photographer arrived for some pictures.  We were all dressed up. I had seen the bride in her dress many times between fittings and bridal portraits but she never looked as beautiful as she did on her wedding day.  Maybe it was that early morning run or the breakfast Dad cooked or being surrounded by her family and friends but there was an effervescence that came over her on her wedding day.

Joy and happiness....check

Meanwhile, in the rose garden, the maid of honor practiced her toast to a captive audience.
Once the bride put the dress on it was only a matter of time.  The collective energy escalated.  We were all doing so well trying to be cool, calm and collected but once the dress went on we were all practically giddy with excitement.  We took pictures outside in what can only be described as chamber of commerce weather.  Did I mention we had the most glorious weather possible the entire weekend?  Low humidity, moderate temperatures and plenty of sunshine, we could not have ordered it any better.

The ring bearers/ grandsons/nephews
I think this is right after the photographer said, "boogers".... it worked!
A champagne toast before the short ride to the church, cheers!

These stairs were made for this!
Even when there is a timeline and the bride has planned everything down to the last detail there has to be a surprise.  Stealthily, her father and I decided there needed to be one more touch to the day and it would be a surprise for the bride and groom.  When the bride and bridesmaids left in the limo for the church, TJ and I jumped in our car and sped to the church so we would get there before the limo.  I wanted to see her face when she saw the surprise.

I think she is surprised...and a bit happy

Thanks Mom
What is a Mahoney wedding without a bagpiper outside to greet the guests?
Inside the church the guests arrived and there was waiting.  It was finally here!  Time to take a deep breath. This is when you just ride the current of the day and do what whoever is in charge tells you to do because you are in no condition to make decisions on your own at this point.

"Walk down the aisle with your handsome son now."
No problem!!!
This is where the pictures of all of us walking down the aisle should be, but I don't have any because we were all too busy watching it happen to take pictures.  I'm sure our photographer has some beautiful pictures, that I may just share when we get them.

The priest welcomed everyone, the readings were expertly read by the groom's sister-in-law and the bride's brother-in-law.  The priest gave a very nice homily and the marriage vows were exchanged.  Again, no pictures because we were all so focused on watching and listening to the happy couple say "I do". The bride and groom were introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. James O'Sullivan and they got to kiss!  And just like that....they were married!

Immediately following the recession there were high fives and happiness in the back of the church.
Note that shiny wedding ring on the groom's left hand!
Mr. and Mrs. James O'Sullivan
Father and daughter

Just married!
.... and the timeline says it's time to party!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Breaking the Ice

When the parents of the bride and groom have not met each other prior to the wedding, it is probably a good idea to get together before the festivities begin.  Fortunately, we were able to meet the groom's parents before all of the friends and family arrived for the big day.  I now understand why the bride and groom never seemed very worried about whether their parents would like each other.  They knew we would!  Well, at least we liked them, I can't speak for his parents, I just have a feeling.

We hosted a little dinner on Thursday before the wedding as an ice breaker.  What we needed was Mexican food.... and beer!  What we needed was a chance for everyone to get into the mood of the weekend and meet the family while still wearing comfortable shoes!  Don't ever underestimate the power of comfortable shoes!

I'm not sure the groom's family knew exactly what they were in for
but they look like they are having fun!
"Our shoes are so comfortable! "
Happy Moms!

Party in the pantry... or are they just wearing comfortable shoes?

Pocket watches for all the men from the groom!
With the ice thoroughly broken we were ready for all of Friday's events and the wedding on Saturday!

Since we were all "old" friends now, we totally enjoyed the bridal luncheon while the guys played golf, hung out with the kids and recovered from the bachelor party the night before.

The bride and her sisters!

Friends and bridesmaids!

Lovely junior bridesmaid and John...the lone fellow with all the women!
Lucky guy!

 The rehearsal is one of my favorite parts of a wedding for some reason.  I have been known to cry more during the rehearsal than during the wedding.  I think this is when it all hits.  It hits the bride, the groom, the father of the bride, etc. that this is going to happen!  We have planned and worked and waited for this day for a long time and now we are one day away.  The wheels are turning and there is no stopping now.

Our beautiful church!

Practice makes perfect...

The bride sang the Psalms and I just love the way he is looking at her.
#Melt my heart

With the ceremony fully rehearsed we were off to the rehearsal dinner.  Another favorite part of the wedding weekend for me....because I did not have to plan it!  The groom's family did a fantastic job choosing a great spot with great food.  It was the perfect place for everyone to visit, relax and get to know more about each other.  Coincidentally, it was also the groom's birthday!

Speaking of getting to know more about each other....I gave the groom a little gift at the dinner.  It occurred to me that he really does not know all about his bride's past.  I made him a scrapbook full of pictures of her from birth through university with highlights of some of her favorite things and some of the special events in her life.  I have made one for each of my children's spouses as a way to give them a glimpse of her/him "before".  I'm not sure who liked it more, the groom or the bride!

What a cool spot!

Mom and Dad welcoming everyone

They look so nice together!

Everyone checking out the bride's past....

At the end of the night we felt a lot closer to the groom's family and the wedding party.  We all came together for one reason; to witness Katie and James' marriage.  Two people brought together all of these friends and families because they wanted us to be there when they said, "I do.".  We were all there to give them our blessing.  With a common goal we felt close.  Each of us loves them in our own way and we want them to have a long and happy marriage.  Finding that one special person is a blessing and it makes everyone happy to witness such a blessing.  We were all definitely happy!

Stay tuned for the wedding!

Friday, May 2, 2014

It's Finally Here!

Tomorrow our daughter will marry the love of her life.  By the time you read this, we will be caught up in the wedding vortex.  We will be enjoying our time with family and friends from near and far!  After months of planning, it's finally here.  During the planning phase it seems like the wedding is so far away.  Before you know it, you are making sure all the t's are crossed and i's dotted and the borrowed, blue, old and new are present and accounted for before that walk down the aisle.  I know my daughter has gone over this day in her mind's eye thousands of times.  My hope is that this day is everything and more than she ever of those rare and exquisite experiences that not only lives up to expectations but exceeds them by far!

Last week I was reminiscing and read some old blog posts.  As fate... or the spirit would have it, I came across the post below, written three years ago. Apparently, May 3 is a very big day in my life! I thought it was too perfect not to re-post on this of all days.  We have planned, imagined, anticipated and dreamed of tomorrow.  There will undoubtedly be moments that far exceed anything we ever imagined and those that will fall short.  The best part is that after all the dreaming and scheming, Katie and James will be married and will begin their lives as husband and wife.  Here is to the the moments they will spend together anticipating and sometimes dreading the future and to living those moments together.

May 3, 2011
Anticipation vs. Participation

My mother used to tell us that anticipation is better than participation.  This statement was usually in reference to premarital sex and was one of her ways to encourage us to....wait.  I guess she figured our imaginations were much better in the sack than it was going to be in real life.  Why ruin all those great fantasies with that awkward first time?  Thanks Mom.

If you think about it though, how many big events in your life have you anticipated with great expectations?  The first day of school, that first kiss, high school graduation, college, the first day at a new job, your wedding, the birth of your first child, your first grandchild, moving to a new place, visiting some exotic land, my golf game on Tuesdays?  How many of these experiences created serious fluttering in your heart and kept you up at night before you actually lived them?   How many of them actually lived up to your expectations?  How many of them disappointed you?  Some of them might have exceeded your wildest dreams!  Those are rare and exquisite experiences that need to be treasured.

On the flip side, sometimes we anticipate with dread. Final exams, leaving someplace you have grown to love, breaking up with someone, going to the doctor (or is that just me?),  any science class (just me again?), going to confession, surgery.  These anticipations can also be greatly over exaggerated in our imaginations and turn out much better than we expected.  Sometimes they are just as bad as we thought they would be and then sometimes, and hopefully seldom, they are worse than we thought.  Such is life.

I am currently anticipating the month of May.  There are so many things to look forward to.  I am going to see family I haven't seen in a long time.  I am going to travel to places I have never been to before, I will see my youngest child graduate from college and finally, I will be heading to the shore for what might be the longest stay I've ever had there.  I anticipate these events with my usual positive spin....everything is going to be great!  But am I setting myself up for disappointment?  Will the real things live up to my expectations?  Will anticipation be better than participation?  The thing about anticipation is that it lasts for a long time and as far as participation goes, when it is over, it is over.

We can't wait until tomorrow!

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