Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Princess and fifteen minutes of fame...

I'm late posting this because of the crazy week we've been having, and because I'm apparently too dumb to figure out how to get pictures uploaded to blogger. I think I've finally mastered it now, thank goodness, so I can finally share more than boring stories with you nice folks. I digress.

The wedding went completely without a hitch, aside from the nasty weather we had. The crazy photographer insisted on getting a few outside pictures, with the poor bride and her seven bridesmaids suffering sleeveless in 30 degree temperatures. Cadence got to wear a tiara and said, "I look just like a princess!" She was so excited and went about mothering the ring bearer, something she does with everyone smaller than herself, telling him where to stand and holding his hand right along with her basket as they walked down the aisle. We had to be at the church early to get ready for pictures, and there were some incredibly sweet shots of Cadence and the ring bearer exchanging cheek-kisses (which were quickly wiped off, of course) that I can't wait to get copies of from my friend.

Here's Cadence before the wedding:

You can't really see the pretty beading and lace on the dress because this was a disposable camera, and I'm still using my scanner, but you can believe it was gorgeous. Her hair is incredibly fine and is normally straight as a stick, so she wore about half a can of hair spray. Here she is waiting to go upstairs for "the show.":

I didn't scan any pics including the rest of the wedding party, since I have no permission to post pics of anybody but my own little family. I'm so proud of my beautiful little brown-eyed princess, and we had a wonderful time with lots of wonderful memories.

The drive home was treacherous and crazy, with sleet and snow and about 4 inches of slushy slick stuff all over the roads. This was the worst storm in several years, but we made it home ok and all got to bed on time - a blessing since the lack of sleep the night before made my kids all a little crazy (and me along with them!).

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Flower Girl and the Rehearsal...

A few weeks ago, I got a formal invitation to the rehearsal dinner following my friend's wedding rehearsal. I've been a bridesmaid in two weddings, but had never gotten an official invitation before. I was impressed.

The rehearsal took way longer than it should have, and poor Cadence was a nervous wreck wondering where to stand and when to walk and how fast. The ring bearer is four, cute as a bug, and he loved Cadence from the second he saw her. He insisted on holding her hand, even though during the actual wedding, Cadence is supposed to hold a basket.

SEVEN bridesmaids and groomsmen. Seven. There was barely room at the altar.

The whole time I felt completely out of place. I had every right to be right where my daughter was, yet I'm not part of the actual wedding party this time. This is Cadence's glory, but it's not really HER wedding. Is it ok to let her think it was her special day anyway? I've been telling her things like, "It's A's wedding, but you're gonna look like the princess and everyone will talk about how cute you are." I'm trying to psyche her up a bit. When she was asked to do this, she agreed but wasn't excited - I discovered later she just had no idea what a flower girl IS, so she didn't know how neat it was. Or how special to be asked.

The dinner was at a pretty nice restaurant and Cadence ordered a burger that was so huge it had to be smooshed to fit in her mouth. When I asked if she liked it, she said, "It's okay. Not at all like McDonalds." She didn't eat much of the burger because this alien child of mine likes salad and had filled up on her first course.

All the kids were up well past their bedtimes tonight. We're supposed to get a bunch of snow tomorrow, so I hope we can make it to pictures on time. I'm so excited for Cadence and can't wait to get some great pictures of her and the wedding tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My wedding...

Over the summer, a friend of mine asked Cadence to be the flower girl in her wedding this spring. Cadence has been so excited, asking almost every day how many days were left until the wedding. Our part in the planning has been very minimal: we showed up at the dress shop, Cadence tried on dresses till she found one she and the bride both liked, we went home. We bought some shoes at Payless last month and they've sat on a shelf since. Easy peasy. I'm hearing the usual stuff from the bride, like messes with caterers, arguments with people, dresses and tuxes and all that. I'm telling you all this because the wedding is this weekend, and today I've been thinking of my own wedding.

Vic and I were on again off again the entire time we dated. We were currently broken up when I discovered I was pregnant, and fought for almost two months over whether we should be together. Somewhere we reconciled, and I really can't even remember the details, but I moved in with him and his parents. (About the dumbest thing I ever did.) We got engaged, mostly because that's what his parents thought we should do. We applied for a marriage license. I bought a wedding dress from a second-hand store. We bought a bridal ring set. Then we decided to wait until at least after the baby was born. What if we didn't love each other at all and just wanted to get married because we "should"? I really loved him, but with all those breakups and makeups I wasn't sure marriage was a good idea. He wasn't sure either, and by the time I was 4 months pregnant, he'd signed up for the Marines and shipped off to boot camp.

Now it might have seemed like a terrible situation doomed to fail, as many stories we've all heard. Sure, he'll marry you when he comes home. Sure, you'll wait for him. Whatever, right? He DID write a letter to an ex-girlfriend while in boot camp, saying how "confused" he was. I DID have lots of fun with my friends and very much enjoyed being away from him. But I loved him, and the longer he was away, and the more letters we exchanged, the more I missed him.

Chad was due two weeks after Vic's graduation, but decided to come early - a week and a half before he left boot camp. When I met Vic in the airport with a tiny bundle of baby, he declared he wanted to get married in his two weeks of leave before shipping off to more training. I was overwhelmed, but also completely swept away with love for him and our new son. I was 19 and immature and knew nothing of the world, but I wanted to marry this man.

That afternoon, a call to the courthouse told us our previously-applied-for marriage license expired in THREE DAYS. It was Thursday. If we reapplied, we'd have to wait two weeks for a new one, and in two weeks Vic would be flying to North Carolina. We frantically called every minister we could think of, but they were all booked. Finally we found one, a kindly older pastor who had also married both my brothers-in-law to their wives. He had church service on Sunday and a funeral on Saturday he said, "But I can do it tomorrow." "Umm.." I stumbled, "Well, that will have to do." It was 6pm. Our wedding was scheduled at 5pm the following day.

The wedding dress I'd held on to since we got engaged no longer fit, since when I bought it I wasn't planning to wear it 11 days after giving birth. I borrowed a nice white dress from my (very)soon-to-be mother in law - one of those she'd kept since she was 20 for the day she's skinny enough to wear it again. It wasn't beautiful and was slightly out of style, but it did just fine. We had no caterer. No flowers. About 50 guests we'd called that night. ("Wanna come to our wedding? It's tomorrow.") We bought Vic's wedding band from a department store. My uncle made a cake and my grandmother cleaned out her basement for the reception. (Pretty good for Betty Crocker, some food coloring, and decorations from the party supply store, eh?) We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen and Vic wore his dress uniform, convenient since he didn't own even a nice suit. Isn't he dashing?My father was out of town working, so my father-in-law walked me down the little aisle. It was windy as hell, my mother got embarassingly drunk while I - nursing a newborn - drank 7up, and it rained all the way home. There was no fun wedding night sex, since we were sharing a twin bed in my mom's house and with Chad's birth and the subsequent 6 stitches, I was in no shape for it.My friends have expressed sympathy for not having a dream wedding, but I could not have asked for anything more special. My family came together for me, preparing the reception with food and cake and plenty of champagne. The wedding gifts were numerous and fantastic, despite the short notice. Our entire wedding cost $375, not several thousand. I still got married, which was the point, and it didn't have to cost a lot. Considering the length of the average marriage, I don't know why anyone would want to spend thousands of dollars anyway. Ten years later, my $375 has been a wonderful investment.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wildlife in our yard...

If I had that digital camera I'm jonesing for, it would be a lot easier to share pictures of our little world. For now, I'm stuck with scanning pics with my crappy printer/scanner. Bear with me on the photo quality, but I wanted to share our outdoor pets with you.

A few months ago, we spent every morning cleaning garbage up in our front yard because neighborhood animals got into our trash can. Since we couldn't get out right away to buy a garbage can with a lid, we decided to bribe them away from the can with readily available food. We placed a large plastic bowl outside the back door and started filling it with food items we'd normally throw away. Pizza crusts, melon rinds, egg shells, stale bread and crackers, etc. Not only were we helping out some animals that would normally be hard-up for food this time of year, but there was no longer food in our garbage can to tempt them into ripping into the bags. It's all in the bowl.

It took only two nights before the animals found it, and started making a nightly trek to our back door. It's a sliding glass double-door, so we get a fantastic view of the animals when they visit. Vic started putting a bowl of water out for them too. Within a week, we had a pair of opossums and a pair of raccoons visiting nightly. As is traditional for children, mine named our new "pets." The opossums are Hammer and Bob. We have no pictures of either, and they've recently stopped visiting since it's been so cold.

This is the larger raccoon, Scruff (with a nice reflection from the back door glass):

This is the smaller raccoon, Skittish:

Scruff posing for the camera:

This morning we had a new visitor, a squirrel that's missing a large amount of fur on his back. He will henceforth be known as Baldy the Squirrel. Baldy has altered many of my beliefs on squirrel diets by happily munching on rice and french fries. I'm looking forward to this summer and what new animals might find their way into my back yard.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Adventures in cooking...

I've recently become addicted to Eggs Benedict. I decided to try it a few weeks ago while out with my friends for breakfast. I can't believe I never ate eggs benedict before. I wasn't too impressed with it, but I was convinced it was the hollandaise sauce. Cheapo restaurant hollandaise comes frozen in a box and is thick and orange with very little flavor. Some people think hollandaise is a cheese sauce because the only exposure they've ever had was the thick orangey stuff. There is no cheese in hollandaise sauce. If you've never had it at an upscale restaurant or made it yourself, y'all are missing out.

I happen to make an awesome hollandaise sauce, despite the fact that I have so many cooking shortcomings. Recipes vary, but this is how I make mine:

8 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
dash red pepper flakes

Melt butter in a stainless steel saucepan. Add lemon juice and heat until steamy but not boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk in egg yolks in very small amounts, about a tablespoon or so at a time. Dump, whisk, dump, whisk, until all egg yolks are combined. Return to very low heat and whisk constantly until slightly thickened. You don't want it to clump because the egg yolk is what holds it all together. If the egg starts cooking and clumping, you'll end up with egg clumps and oil, instead of a smooth beautiful sauce. Serve immediately, garnished with a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes. This sauce is great on eggs of course, the traditional steamed asparagus, and just about any other vegetable.

Through my internet wanderings yesterday, I stumbled upon The Science of Cooking, where the process of emulsification is explained with this sauce. This website also has lots of other great experiments with food to explain other scientific concepts. I can see this being a great resource for us in the future.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Looking forward to a change...

Today schoolwork has been light. I must have slept in a very strange position because my neck is stiff and sore today. I find it difficult to look down to the desk or my lap, so I didn't write any lesson plans or read a single word from a book. Since the computer screen is level with the eye, I did finish some worksheets and test forms I'd been working on.

We've been dealing with a lot of tax issues lately. Somehow, the state claims they've not received taxes from us since 2002 - for the 2001 tax year. '02 and '03 we used a tax service, so they were no-brainers and unless there's a mail goblin eating mail for the last several years, I don't understand why they don't have anything. The guy I talked to on the phone was a jerk, and he suggested refiling. So we got to file 4 years of taxes. Again. Luckily, we still had our copies, but since I didn't want to send them copies of our copies, I printed the old forms from the internet and filled them out all over again.

We are expecting a rather large tax return from federal this year, which ought to cover some other past-due taxes and penalties for "not filing", and give us money left over. I hope it's not the source of an argument, but I had plans for a new computer, a digital camera and a vacuum. Vic plans on getting new tires for the car and a new window for our bathroom. He'll win, since his plans are for more important things. But I'd really really REALLY like to stop using this POS laptop that's missing three keyboard buttons.