Bitter Dip and 20th Reunions

Remember the dip we made yesterday that we thought was bitter?  This one:

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Turns out it is really good scooped into the ninja and mixed with 2 bananas and a little almond milk, except I was full after half of it.  So hah, a new smoothie has entered my cache of smoothies.  And with all the ingredients, it is only about 325 calories – eat half and you have a healthy nutrition-packed low-cal start to your day.  My pants are getting looser.  Not loser.  Looser.  I do lose stuff, but usually not my pants because I am wearing them – it is hard to lose stuff you are wearing.  And I mostly am too old to get “pantsed” so I think I am safe in the pant-loser category.

Our 20th class reunions are coming up this summer/fall.  Do I really want to go?  I cannot be the only one who thinks along these lines:

High School was great in so many areas.  I was in band, and I was pretty decent at it.  Band is probably my pride and joy.  I still dream from time to time that I pick up my clarinet and still got the touch, although that can’t actually happen because Curly plays it and it is now full of her germs and neither of us are into germ sharing.  I was a cheerleader, we were pretty stinkin’ good too.  I find that some of the dance moves are still beloved when I bust them out at school.  Yes, I actually do that.  Volleyball was a blast – mostly because I could see under the net without crouching down at all.  That makes for great volleyball moves – when you can vertically jump 100 ft and still not get over the net, why bother?  Not that I could jump more than 6” but whatever.  The year I was track manager was the best – get out of school to go watch people run…genius!! I was in NHS, SADD, Yearbook, and all that other stuff because my class only had 36 kids in it.  36 fellow students who knew too much about me, or pretended to anyways.  Not all of them spent the time to know who I was under all the high school act.  About five were true friends.  That is not a slam against the others in any way, I wasn’t true friends to them either – it goes both ways.  I have kept in touch with high school friends who are life-longers.  The ones who were in our wedding,  held my babies,  and know the real me.  Is that enough?

So now, I find myself trying to decide if going back and seeing everyone is worth the reliving of past years that weren’t all glorious and were full of stupidity.  I am worried that I am not at all who I was those years and it will be hard to present the real me.  I don’t want to know what others remember of me during those times.  High School was a hard time for me.  It has taken me 20 years to not care.  And it all comes back now that the reunion is being planned.

I know I am not alone in this thinking.  Did you all go to your reunions?  Or do you plan to?

Are there really people out there who think they were the bomb in high school, and can’t wait to spend a weekend rehashing it all? 

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It’s all about who you know

I know this lady:

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And we birthed these two:

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And these three:

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And these two:

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We saw friends and people we know:

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We met some new friends.

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And best of all, we saw Tigger,

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our governor and his wife,

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and a toilet.

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We celebrated all that makes our home great.

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And we came home from the WestFest parade with lots of candy, because when we know so many of the people in the parade, it works to our advantage.  It’s all about who you know.

PS.  Like our other trip to West Fest, we supported both candidates for senate equally.

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Overcoming Fear

This weekend, Bill and I celebrated with friends as our Best Man married the love of his life.  It was a shame that 3/4 of our kids had cross country meets that we had to miss, requiring Grandma to come stay at our home while we ventured to the cities just the two of us.  Just a shame to have to spend 3 days shopping and hanging with friends.  ShameShameBoBameBananaFanaFoFame.

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The weekend would have been perfect if I had not been forced to be one of the readers in the wedding.  I couldn’t say “no” because I owe Troy my life.

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Back in the day, the summer before we were married so when I was 18, this group of lovely people decided to spend a long weekend at the Wisconsin Dells.  It was my chance to get to know the people Bill called friends.  The main event of this wonderful vacation took place in the wave pool.

Someone had a great idea of getting one of those double tubes that is made to hold maybe four people and filling it with all hundred of us.  Ok, I exaggerate a smidge.  We all piled on and the waves started rocking us back and forth and we were laughing and giggling and having a great time.  We were bouncing up and down, getting that tube completely airborne and then slamming it back down and howling with delight.  I don’t know how it happened, but after a little bit of that fun stuff, I suddenly felt myself submerged.  I obviously wasn’t alone in the plunge – bodies were flailing.  I was hit.  I was kicked.  It was violent.  After a little while immersed in water unable to move toward the top, I knew I was going to die when someone stepped right on me, actually stood right on me.  I knew it was over.  Then, like a shining knight in armor, a hand gripped me and pulled me out of the water.  It was Troy and he was saying, “SAVE THE SHORT PEOPLE!”  I looked around, still trying to figure out what had happened, seeing no one – not the friends, not MY BOYFRIEND who had decided to save himself, but only Troy.  I owe him my life.   

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So a couple months ago,  Troy called me and asked me to be a reader in his wedding.  What I said on the inside was, “Are you freakin’ nuts?  Don’t you know that I will be violently ill the entire day? Do you understand that I have a HUGE phobia of public speaking?  I would almost rather do anything.  ANYTHING!”  I volunteered to be the flower girl, but they already had one lined up.  I was stuck doing the reading because how do you say “no” to the guy you owe your life to?  I somehow managed to get myself the job and then had to directly go take a hot bath to relax.  If I was a drinker, it would have been a double bottle night.

I avoided the truth the rest of the time leading up to the wedding.  I didn’t hear from them, so I hoped that somehow, they forgot, and I was off the hook.  But no, when we got to the rehearsal,  they handed me the selection I was to read.  Fear gripped my stomach, and I could tell the next 24 hours would be sheer torture.  (Well, except for the hot tub time, the sleeping time, the REI shopping time, and the time spent in Ikea – those were all good times.)  I couldn’t deny reality, so I put on the dress clothes and even got as fancy as to put in my contacts.  I put eye liner not only on the top lid, but under as well.  This was me, going all out in the roll of reader, for Troy and Tracy.

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When my time came, I stood like I owned the place  (it was a public park, so I kinda do) and got my feet to carry me up to the microphone somehow.  I flipped the switch to “on” and started.  “This reading comes from The Art…”  It was pretty obvious the microphone was not on.  I paused.  The sound man started moving a bunch of buttons.  I spoke again.  “This reading…” my voice trailed off because the only people who could hear me were, well, me.  More people moved, trying to help me as I stood like a deer in headlights.  And then, I looked right at Troy and Tracy, and knew that this reading was for them and as long as they could hear me, it would be successful.  Giving up on my dreams to read into a microphone in front of a whole group of people staring at me, I stepped aside, and started to read their selection, just loud enough for the first row or two to hear, but most importantly, for them.

The act of acceptance, or acknowledging that change is a natural part of our interactions with other can play a vital role in our relationships.  (Over time) our relationship may no longer be based on intense passion, the view of the other as the embodiment of perfection, or the feeling that we are merged with the other, but in exchange for that, we are now in a position to truly begin to know the other, to see the other as he or she is, a separate individual with faults and weaknesses perhaps, but a human being like ourselves.  It is only at this point that we can make a genuine commitment, a commitment to the growth of another human being, an act of true love. – and excerpt from The Art of Happiness.

What I really wanted to do was adlib.  I think that after 17 years of being married, I have some of my own wisdom to share.  So, the red font is my thoughts.

The act of acceptance, or acknowledging that change is a natural part of our interactions with other can play a vital role in our relationships. (Over time) our relationship may no longer be based on intense passion, (that is when you put Fifty Shades of Grey on hold on your wife’s library card – not that Bill would ever do that) the view of the other as the embodiment of perfection (whoa, if you make it past ten minutes of knowing someone and feel he or she is the embodiment of perfection, you are so full of grace you just might pop), or the feeling that we are merged with the other (merged, meaning joined completely -not be be confused by submerged, which happens in wave pools), but in exchange for that, we are now in a position to truly begin to know the other, to see the other as he or she is (and wow, sometimes that is not pretty, especially when wearing a dress requires squeezing into shape wear), a separate individual with faults and weaknesses perhaps (PERHAPS??), but a human being like ourselves. It is only at this point that we can make a genuine commitment, a commitment to the growth of another human being (my bad, I am thinking pregnancy is the actual growing of another human being), an act of true love. – and excerpt from The Art of Happiness in the mind of Deb Pieper.

My words for you, the new Mr. and Mrs., who are starting a new adventure together.  We love you and are so happy to welcome a new friend to our circle.

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Now, most of us have four kids already, no time to waste!!

A couple wedding highlights:

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The Ushers

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Some of us stole cupcakes. We all ate more than one, we were united in our love of a good cupcake or two or five.

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It was a little chilly – table clothes can be blankets.

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Never too old for glow sticks and dancing in the dark.  Oh, shoot, none of the guys had time to dance, they all had years of history to rehash and catch up on.

Bakin’ up Some Good Stuff

It was that time of year.  That time of year when the whole world stop keeps on keepin’ on but Janelle and I bake all day oblivious to it all.  We have done this for years.  It first started as a need – we had little children and if we were to get any baking done, it had to be when the husbands would care for the kids and we could pump the stuff out in bulk.  Now it is just one of those days we plan for and enjoy!  For the most part, we have a well-oiled system mastered.  Details of last year’s big bake are here.  

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Most importantly, I dressed for the occasion.  Jeans and Tennis shoes.  I hate this picture of me, but it is my proof.  I look like I have a spare tire.  I don’t.  Janelle is all business Type A, so I decided to up my game.  I hate being the slacker, but with her around, someone needs to balance her over-achieving self.  So basically, last year, she was a 10 and I was a 3.  This year, she was a 10 and I give myself about a 7.  Mostly because I had on the jeans. 

We tried a new recipe this year, and decided it is an annual thing now.  A co-worker brought these to school and I tucked the recipe away for this very occasion.  YUM!

20111126_141345_2498 Almond Sugar Cookies

1 Cup Butter (no substitutes), softened

3/4 Cup Sugar

1 Teaspoon Almond Extract

2 Cups all-Purpose Flour

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Glaze:

1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar

1 1/2 Teaspoons Almond Extract

2 to 3 Teaspoons Water

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in almond extract.  Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt;  gradually add to the creamed mixture.  Roll into 1 in. balls.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Coat bottom of a glass with non-stick cooking spray; dip in sugar.  Flatten cookies with prepared glass, dipping glass in sugar again as needed.   Bake at 200 degrees for 7 – 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Cool for 1 minutes before removing to wire racks.

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, almond extract and enough water to achieve glaze consistency.  Tint with food coloring if desired; drizzle over cookies.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Yield: about 4 1/2 dozen. 

(Note from the Piep:  I found that this recipe only made about 4 dozen when doubled, and I think I quintupled the glaze to have enough.  But then I like frosting.)

Not really.  Would you want to frost all of these?  Nope, but I want to eat them all.

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We dipped a bunch of stuff in Almond Bark, because Almond Bark makes all things Christmassy. 

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And in doing so, we learned a new trick.  Break the center two prongs off a plastic fork.  YEAH!!

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We decided it looked a little like something NDSU Bison fans would need!

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We also added one more new recipe that we loved.  But be careful, you can’t eat too much of this stuff.  Well, yes, you can.  What was I thinking?  Peppermint Bark!!  YUM!!!  You must try it.  It makes life worth living! 

Basically, we finished up earlier this year because, well, because we are getting old, had aching backs were craving Five Guys Burgers and Fries to balance out the sugar intake.   Yeah, that is why.  Not that we ate any or anything.

Plenty of baking remains ahead of us if we choose, but if someone asks for Christmas goodies, we simply have to grab some out of the freezer and call it good.  Cuz we are all awesome like that.

Camp Oh-yeah-this-is-the-way-it-is-supposed-to-be!!

This weekend, we joined our friends (Scrapping and Baking Buddy’s family) for a couple days of doing NOTHING.  It was the best.

Camping used to be a horrible amount of work.  When the kids were little, it was so much work it almost wasn’t worth it.  We came back and slept for days.  Just look how tired I was…

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Now, we go camping and while the kids run around, we sleep.

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We kick back and sip coffee while the kids do the work.

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We surf, we e-mail, we play games.

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Some of us were double fistin’ it.

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Campfires were always a nightmare back in the day.  We drew a line in the dirt and the kids were not allowed to go inside the line of terror.  S’mores?  Crap, I hated s’mores time.  Red hot pokers being held by pre-schoolers.  Tell me who thought it would be a good time?

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Now, it is enjoyable.  Wanna S’more?  Get it yourself.  I am too busy being lazy.

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This night, around the fire, we enjoyed some Wobblin’ and some Polka.  Yes, for real.  I danced.  The kids danced.  The video didn’t turn out.

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We made two-headed monsters,

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And “snow” angels.

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And we laughed a lot.

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And the kids had to drink a lot of pop just to keep up.

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Camping these days is everything it is supposed to be.

I’ve got Sonshine on a Cloudy Day

First off, the MC sang this song all the time and ruined it.  But I move on.

Now get this song playing to set the mood:

We went to Sonshine Music Festival this weekend.  Well, we went Wednesday, leaving at 6:30 AM and came back Saturday late night, so I don’t know if that should read “this weekend” or “this past week”.  (You can see how my brain is functioning this morning.) 

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I hadn’t been to Sonshine since I turned 21, so some of you are doing the math and coming up with “4 years ago” but really it would have been in 1996, when I turned 21 for real and celebrated our first anniversary all in one week.

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We saw Switchfoot.  In fact, Crazy Man got a high five from Jon Foreman because Crazy Man isn’t afraid of being trampled by the crowd and he pushed his way up to the stage.

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And we saw Skillet.    I was pretty impressed, actually.  I actually enjoyed the concert.  In. the. rain.  Fire and rain together = good.

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Day 3 started with a much anticipated hair purchase.

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This hair really came in handy when Bill hoisted Crazy Man up in the crowd of the Toby Mac concert.  Again, Crazy Man got a high five from the Tobster himself!   He will never wash his hands again, although he doesn’t do that all that often without reminders from mom anyway.  Thanks to the Mohawk, I could find him in the crowd – look close, you can see him, and then you can assume Bill is right under him, with aching shoulders. 

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Does this seem like it is all about Crazy Man?  Oh yes, other Piepers were there as well. 

JP and his two trusty side kicks were themselves a sideshow.  Ahhhhh, teenagers. 

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JP gave the experience 2 “thumbs” up (with his super-wrinkled, been-walking-in-puddles-for-3-days feet.)

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The girls spent the whole time doing whatever they wanted, and checking in periodically. 

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Oh yeah, I had friends there too!!  These other kids had to have come from somewhere!

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Bill and I celebrated our 16th anniversary while there. 

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And there was plenty of mud for everyone…

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…Even for those of us trying to stay clean…

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Name these bands:

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There was reading ~

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There was wrestling ~

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There was napping ~

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And we had a really good time. And we will go back.

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Ugly people put ur hands down!!

The second half got a little, well, stressed–an overview

Sit down, this is really long

Day 6 – Tuesday.  A wonderful day. Papa and I watched Grumpier Old Men.  I have been using one-liners from it ever since.  It made me miss my little brother Jon because he and I had those lines memorized as kids.  Good memories.  I’ve been to Hawaii.  Oh yeah?  What island?

Wanna come over to my place?

Then I took another nap.  Yeah, it was that kind of day.  I should have cherished the naps when I could.

For the evening entertainment, Bill and I headed up to Mankato to have dinner with a bunch of his high school friends.  I was not all that excited about it because they all tried to drown me back in the summer of ‘94 at the wave pool of WI Dells.    I have hard feelings about it still.  My own hubby, who was madly in love with me at the time, so he said, left me for dead, and I am alive today because of Troy Whitney, who was the best man at our wedding.  Bill hung out with a rough crowd of Future Farmers of America.  (I think only a couple are actually farmers, but what did they know back then?)  We spent some time that evening in The Buckle finding Bill jeans.  It was like a miracle before my eyes.  Cool jeans,  on Bill.  I wish I had my camera.  Then the store clerk, obviously lying to make a sale, told me that a woman is never too old for skinny jeans, and helped me find a pair.  The best thing about them was the size (27 – and I am pretty sure that means the maximum age a girl should be to wear them) and the worst was the price.  I don’t own them.  I don’t pay $136 for one pair of jeans. It was a special moment.  Then we went out for dinner and then bowling with the whole bunch of friends and was shocked by the fact that they were all super nice people who I really enjoyed spending time with.  I even added them on Facebook – time to start hacking some of the others off.

Day 7 was Wednesday, December 29th.  That was so long ago, I am trying to remember what we did.  It is either that or I cant remember due to post traumatic stress syndrome.  Wednesday was ball hanging day.  Yep, you read me right.  We hung balls.  (For any of my Mothers Of Multiples friends, this should remind you of good times from the past – minus the OSHA people telling us that we were not allowed on the scissor lift.)  Ok, if you are not following this post so far, it is all good.  You will understand near the end when I tell you what transpired the past few days.    Back to Wednesday.  We decorated for the wedding reception.  It turned out pretty awesome, I think.  I didn’t know if everything would come together, but it did.  The beaded jars were in place.  The pink and green snowflakes, white trees with mini-balls, the ornaments;  everything Hobby Lobby and I had been working on was ready to roll. 

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After that was done, a ton of us ladies headed out for Miss Stacy’s bachelorette party. She makes the green leisure suit look good. 

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We bowled    20101229_211243_6853

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Stacy opened presents. 20101229_222008_6940 

20101229_224726_6971It was a night enjoyed by all.  And that is all I can say.

Day 8  – Wedding rehearsal day.  This is where it gets good.

The roads were super slick from all the wonderful weather, but Bill and I decided that since some people were off getting their nails done, we would go get the work of the day done.  (Notice any spitefulness in my tone? I was starting to lose my servant’s heart, and instead was taking on the “what the crap is going on around here” attitude.)  We took off in the trusty Yukon with heated seats and delivered tooling to one town, drove to another to pick up the dresses, and then went to the church to deliver the dresses and hang tie bows on pew candles. 

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Sounds like a quick afternoon, but with the kind of help Bill was, it wasn’t.

20101230_152427_7086  (me working, and I think this is the fattest picture of me ever.)

20101230_152630_7095  Bill helping – at least he is wearing his new cool jeans.  He must be thinking of the Bible verse: Come unto me all who are weary and I will give you rest.  Well, thanks be to God, I didn’t slap him.

It was at this point, that I told Phil (a very patient and kind guy sucked into this vortex of wedding craziness) that I wanted to go on the record with this comment, “Where is Stacy, I am seriously going to kick her butt.”  End of comment.

But, we drove home to get our dress clothes on for rehearsal, and arrived to find Papa standing in the door to the house with a shotgun.  Then I remembered a text from the kids telling something about a raccoon in the yard.  Seems JP had now chased it into a tree with a shovel (wish I could have seen that) and Papa has decided Bill needed to shoot it.  After all, we had a bunch of people to feed.

20101230_163739_7099  20101230_163811_7101  The good Lord provided the reception dinner meat.

JP and Crazy Man carted the poor coon off so the dogs wouldn’t grace the yard with it’s presence.  All while wearing my boots.  (For those who wonder, a coon in the daytime is suspicious for many diseases and if you don’t believe me, go read Where the Red Fern Grows.)

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We got onto the business of practicing our wedding stuff.

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And then we ate cool food, all cooked by Phil’s family.  They are awesome people.  Seriously awesome.

20101230_200925_7146  Who makes cookies with names? Really.

20101230_202745_7152  And makes homemade ice cream every time I ask?   Yes, I love these new family members. 

Then we went back to the farm, and I locked myself in a room and checked Facebook and e-mail, because I was in a very bad mood and needed a time out.  And with bad weather looming, I really had a heavy heart because I needed to be with my people.  When everyone left except my awesome mother-in-law, I came out of my room.  It is a healing process, and I am working through it all.

DAY 9 – WEDDING DAY!!!!!

Got up early to get my hair done with mother-in-law and the little Pieper ladies.

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Then we went back to the farm and started packing all our stuff for the long drive north.  I was hearing of horrid weather back home, and wishing I was snowed in with nothing to do but watch TV and clean. 

We got to the church and did our duties.  I helped Stacy get in her dress, and helped the wedding party with all I could help with and then took 5 minutes to get myself dressed and ready.  After all, I cant go looking like this, even if it is my comfort zone:

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Do you remember all my wondering about what color nylons I should wear with my outfit?  I had decided on skin colored and bought myself some from Penny’s but then realized I had grabbed a seriously wrong color – like taupe.  Anyways, I just grabbed a pair out of my drawer and took them.  It was at this point in getting dressed for the wedding that I noticed I had grabbed footless nylons and certainly that would look ridiculous with my dress and shoes.  Never fear, Bill’s aunt is about the same size and had some – she would bring them.  All I had to do is walk around bare legged until she arrived.  About 5 minutes into the walking around, I noticed I was getting this beauty:

20110102_171318_7536  Please ignore the need for a pedicure, it is on my list of things to do since I was too busy tying bows and delivering dresses to get one of my own.

I fluffed her dress, I helped with traffic control, I fetched things, I was the best personal slave attendant I could be.

20101231_154131_7231  She looked awesome.  My legs were cold.

We had fun.

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I will blog more about the special moments of the wedding over the next couple days.  I am still recovering.

Thus ends the trip to the farm.  On the 10th day, we took off and headed north to spend a day with most of my family.  I didn’t even wash my hair, just took off, wedding crusted hair and all.  I was ready to leave crazy behind and head to serene.  Who am I kidding?  My family is just a different kind of crazy.  A crazy I love.

Family is awesome.  Weddings are stressful.  I am glad we made it through another week of bonding over fishing line and glitter and helped a very deserving couple pull off a spectacular wedding in 2 months.  They were ready to be married.  June would have been way too long of an engagement for those love birds anyway.  Holy Moly! 

One last photo for you all.  We missed the big storm at home, but this is what Lucy has to go through to go outside to potty now:

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I am so happy for my own bed, bathroom, and pink blogging chair.  It is always good to be home.

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