Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An AMAZING Week!!!!! (long post --- squeezing it all in one)

For those of you who braved reading my last post, you know that I was going a bit nuts about the road trip we were about to take.  And for those of you who have been reading here for a while, you know that I was worried about how Ballerina and Music Man were going to handle the roles of being a flower girl and a ring bearer.

Well, both events are over (the road trip last week taking place BECAUSE of my brother's wedding).  And I couldn't have hoped for anything better than we got!!!!

I'm not going to say that everything was perfect.  It wasn't.  And I didn't expect them to be.  But I also expected things to be harried and I was ready for meltdowns everywhere I turned.  That is NOT what I got.

First of all, we started on Wednesday with 12.5 hours in the car.  We did take breaks, and some of them were longer than others.  We arrived at our hotel in Peru, Indiana around 9:30pm after this very long drive.  We had no potty-issues through the entire drive (well, not in terms of accidents).  Music Man did decide that he was NOT fond of public restrooms and the unexpected noises that they contain, and he especially didn't care for the self-flushing toilets!  But, we were able to convince him to do what he needed to do and he was rewarded with snacks, gummy bears, and a McDonald's Chicken Nugget Happy Meal.  All-in-all, the drive was uneventful.

When we went to visit family on Thursday, we also weren't sure what to expect.  We went to Dad's aunt's house (about 5-10 minutes from the hotel) which happened to be where Grandma and Grandpa were staying.  I had an appointment to get my hair done (I had to make sure I was GORGEOUS for my baby brother's wedding after all).  There was a playground near the salon, so Dad dropped me off and took Grandma and the kids over to this spot so they could run around in the sun and just be kids and have fun.  They enjoyed this!  They later went back to Dad's aunt's house to play and wait for me to be done (because when you're trying to hide so much grey hair, it takes a couple of hours).  They kept themselves busy with books, phones, and the piano.  They also ran around the back yard a bit.  When I arrived, I had a quick lunch, had a talk with my mother-in-law and aunt-in-law (she's a Mary Kay consultant, and my source for make-up).  We then took the kids back to the hotel for a quick swim in the indoor hotel pool and then back to aunt's house for dinner.  By the end of the evening, the kids were acting up a bit, but nothing too terrible and we were able to get them settled back into the hotel for the night.  They fell asleep VERY quickly (who were those children?).

The next day was another travel day.....bye bye Indiana, hello Novi, Michigan.  It was going to be about a 4 hour drive so we took Big Brother around to see some of the places that were important to his family (his family owned a mill, community has a covered bridge, etc).  We showed him the sites and then got ready for another long drive.  The weather didn't cooperate much, but still the ride went smoothly enough.  We got ourselves checked in and as soon as the kids' beds were set up for them, they fell right to sleep.

Saturday was when things really got going.  The wedding rehearsal was in the afternoon.  The rehearsal dinner was in the evening.  We needed to attend both events.  After all, I was a bridesmaid, Dad was a groomsmen, Ballerina was one of the 3 flower girls, and Big Brother and Music Man were the ring bearers.  We had to play around with the order of who walked in and with whom (Ballerina didn't want to walk in with the other two flower girls, so it was decided she would walk with me [and my handful of gummy bears]).  Music Man was happy enough to walk with Big Brother though.  We taught them to come into the sanctuary and sit down in the front row, where Dad's parents would be sitting (they love spending time with Grandma and Grandpa).  We had a backpack with books all ready for them (but for the rehearsal they had their phones) and of course, they had gummy bears.

Overall, the rehearsal went well.  We were able to relax a bit and head back over to the hotel before dinner and give everyone baths before putting them into their nice clothes.  And the rehearsal dinner could have gone better, but it also could have gone much worse.  They didn't really come across as being Autistic children......just children who were bored because too much had been expected of them that day.  We left on the early side, figuring that we didn't want to push our luck.

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(Music Man wearing his "tuxedo" shirt)

Sunday was the wedding.  I had to be there early for them to do my hair and be ready for pictures.  Dad brought the kids with them when he arrived early in the afternoon after taking them to a McDonald's near the hotel with a HUGE play area.  They were able to run around and play (while still in their every-day clothes) and get some energy out.  When they arrived at the synagogue, they read a few books to the bride's parents so Dad could come out for pictures and they were ready to get dressed.  Big Brother couldn't wait!!!!  He wanted to wear his suit and shoes and show his brother and sister how they were supposed to behave.  So, he got dressed first.  Then Ballerina wanted her pink dress.  I swear, she was such a pretty thing, it made me so happy (especially since we had problems getting her a dress -- perhaps I'll tell that story another day [I don't think I told it here yet]).  Music Man also got into his suit and was getting ready for the big moment.

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It had started to rain, so we had moved the picture-taking to inside the sanctuary (which actually may have already been planned).  This was when they were taking pictures of extended family and bringing the children into the wedding party photos.  I had made a request to get a picture of the 5 of us since it's so rare that we are all so dressed up.  While the photographer was taking pictures, Dad and I each gave our phones to someone to maximize the chances of getting a single good picture.  My cousin managed to snap this one.  I'm happy with it!

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But soon the pictures were done.  I was asked to sign the Katuba as a witness, so I joined my bride and groom at the table in the temple library and participated in the ceremony.  We watched both the bride's and groom's fathers sign the Michigan Marriage License and then the bride's sister and I each took our place next to the bride and groom, and we each signed our names to the Jewish marriage license (for lack of a better description).  All that was left was the ceremony.

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(notice Big Brother's silly face in the background)

The wedding party lined up for the ceremony.  This is when we had our biggest problems.  You see, Ballerina had decided she didn't want to walk in with me after all.  She didn't want to walk in at all.  Music Man was doing fine.  Because we changed the order a bit (groomsmen coming in before bridesmaids) it was decided that Music Man would walk in with Dad (since he had the gummy bears).  With her behavior, it was also decided that she would walk in with Dad and they would both be seated together in the front row.  I didn't see their entry toward the Chuppa, but I was told that Ballerina wasn't dropping her flower pedals, until reaching the end of the aisle.  Then a few pedals fell from her basket and she insisted on going back to retrieve them.  Then she wanted to walk up to the Chuppa (which was not her place).  There was a slight issue to get her to realize she needed to stay with her grandparents, but that was resolved quickly and she was fine for the rest of the ceremony.  Between regular infusions of gummy bears and a selection of their favorite books, we were all able to enjoy a beautiful ceremony.

The reception was nothing short of fun!!!!!  There was dancing to be had!  And there were places to explore.  Music Man had some difficulties at the start of the reception because it seemed to be a bit too much too quickly.  But once he realized he could go onto the dance floor and do his own thing, he too had a GREAT time.  But Big Brother and Ballerina were on the dance floor until they truly were exhausted.

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(after the bride and groom were lifted into the air, Ballerina insisted on having a turn too)

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On Monday morning, we said goodbye to the whole family, took another trip back to the playplace at McDonalds, and got on the road.  We left Novi, Michigan at about 11:15 in the morning and arrived at our front door with 3 sleeping children just before 10:00 in the evening.  We were all exhausted, but we had an AMAZING trip!!!!!!!

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