That Time There Was A Mess In My Brand New Car

My very first car I bought from my grandfather when I was 17. It was a 1994, forest green, Ford Explorer which I promptly dubbed, The Jolly Green Giant. This car was my baby.

It had so many quirks it was ridiculous! For example: to roll down the driver’s window you had to apply vigorous pressure to the glass while holding down the button to get it to actually roll down. The stereo couldn’t be turned up too loud on songs that had a lot of bass or the speaker might go out. To open the passenger side back door, you had to roll down the window and open it from the outside.

But this car carried me, my sisters and my friends on so many remarkable adventures. Oh the dance parties had in this car! It’s history and reputation were glorious! There was one time we (very illegally I might add!) crammed 8 people in all of its 5 seats. My sisters and a lot of their friends needed a ride to someone’s house and although they all had a ride home they did not have a ride to the house. So there’s me and one other person in the front, 4 girls double buckling in the 3 seats in the back and two girls huddled up in the trunk of my car.

There’s all laughing and squealing as we pile in still parked until I shout, “Listen up girls!” I gained their attention and silence, “I am not getting pulled over for this and you will not tell your parents about this until after we get you there are we understood?” I am met with nods, “Girls in the trunk, you will not sit up for anything, you are not supposed to exist right now. Girls in the back seat, if you see a cop one of you will duck your head and stay down until you’re told it’s safe to come back up.” you could have heard a pin drop, “I don’t want to be no fun here but there will be no dance parties or suspicious activity. What we’re doing here is not safe and definitely not legal and I really don’t feel like getting in trouble for it. So if you want to make it to your friend’s house tonight we will not be crazy okay?”

We made it in one piece without being pulled over I might add.

 

But my old car is not why I’m writing right now. My Jolly Green Giant died when I was about to turn 22. The husband and I were living in Auburn, 3 part time jobs between the two of us just trying to make it by while he finished up school. For a few months the car decided to not work and when it finally did start up one day we drove it to the shop and they told us it was basically on its last leg. Long story short; we fixed my car, sold it (telling the new owner of all its problems!) used the money to buy a somewhat newer car, and the car that I drove after that also was about to kick the bucket.

So when that car was about to die we decided to go look at some new cars; the husband works for an automotive plant and gets a pretty good employee discount on the vehicles. With that discount we were able to afford to get a brand, new car! I’d never driven a brand new car before and I felt like a queen. My car was beautiful and white and I loved it.

 

The first week I had it is the setting of this story–you know how much I love a good backstory to set up my real story!

So my sisters and one of my sis-in-laws came up to spend the night with me shortly after buying this car. And tradition for our sleepovers is a late night trip to Wal-Mart for snacks and shenanigans. After we’d finished terrorizing the poor employees at Wal-Mart, we’re driving back with all the windows down; music is blaring, laughter is constant and we’re incredibly hyped up on sugar and caffeine.

My youngest sister is in the front seat next to me drinking a bottled Starbucks drink. We were being silly and weird and swearing with weird accents. She had come up with a brilliant one, “You bersturd!” she shouted at me and we melted in a fit of giggles.

We’d just recovered from our laughter when I looked at her and said it again, “You bersturd!”

She had just taken a big gulp of her coffee drink as I shouted this to her and she started laughing. Of course now she was laughing so hard coffee was about to go spewing all over my brand new car! The desperation in her eyes as she tried to think of how to save my car was incredibly palpable.

Finally, she stuck her head out the window and spit it all out. During this whole ordeal, I was laughing so hard you could have seen abs forming on my stomach! She collapses back in her seat joining me in side-splitting laughter; and just as we think we haven’t laughed harder in our lives we hear this exclamation from the back seat:

“Eeww, what’s all this wet stuff?” my sister-in-law starts saying.

The two of us in the front seat are laughing so hard I start to seriously wonder if I’m about to get in a wreck! I can barely breathe and there are tears streaming out of my eyes. I’m laughing so hard I can’t speak; both me and my sister are trying to catch our breath enough to explain what had just happened but we cannot speak.

Meanwhile, my sister-in-law and middle sister are cluelessly continuing their conversation in the backseat;

“It’s not raining is it?” my middle sister asks.

“No! I was just sitting here and then I feel this wet stuff in my face. It’s like all over the head rest and stuff too.” my sister-in-law answers.

“That’s so weird!”

“Yeah, like, it’s sticky and stuff. Eeww, what is this stuff?!”

 

Finally, we catch our breath enough to inform them of what they had missed during their conversation. We all start laughing again and when we finally make it back home (alive and in one piece) my sister-in-law cleans the coffee off her face and out of her hair.

There was coffee all over the side of my white car and the headrest of the back seat. But at least it was still in one piece and was easily cleaned up.

 

Priorities right?

 

And that is the story of how there was a mess in my brand new car the same week we bought it!

Standard

The Day I Got Married

We just hung up most of the pictures in our house. Our wedding pictures have a prime spot in our living room so they can get lots of attention. And maybe it’s seeing those pictures that has made me reminisce, but I’ve been thinking about my wedding day a lot and wanted to write about it with the hindsight three and a half years has given me.

 

I was 21 and he was 23. He had proposed to me on New Year’s Eve and we couldn’t get married until August because of his school. He was still finishing up his degree in mechanical engineering at Auburn University. (WAR EAGLE!!) He had to get through the spring and fall semester and he was going to be doing a summer semester too. The poor man was so busy–during those months of being engaged, he barely had time to call me and talk to me, much less be a huge part of the planning. I was working seven hours a day, taking pictures for my sister and her friends because they were all graduating high school that year AND planning a wedding. My parent’s were planning a wedding for me and a graduation ceremony for my sister; life was upside down those months!

But finally the day came, August 6, 2011. The day before we were at the church, setting up decorations and the reception area. We had the rehearsal and then the rehearsal dinner at my in-law’s house. We danced funny dances and drank lots of Mike’s hard lemonades. I was so in love and so happy and slightly scared of all the changes.

I went home and stayed up all night with my sisters watching the Phineas and Ferb movie on the Disney channel. Phineas and Ferb was our tv show, and the movie was premiering that night–it didn’t matter if I was getting married the next day! (Priorities, amiright?)

 

That morning, me, my mom and my sisters all got to the church an hour later than we planned too. I had wet hair still from my shower and was in my pajamas; we pulled up to the church and there was the husband, just arriving himself. He was in his pajamas as well! We gave each other big hugs and whispered quietly, “We’re actually getting married today! It’s happening!”

 

All of us girls got set up in the bridal room at the church, I curled my hair and my sister did my hair for me. Eventually all my bridesmaids started showing up and we all got ready together. My friends did my make-up for me and we laughed and sighed and exclaimed how crazy it was that this was actually happening.

The photographer showed up and my husband got to see me in my dress for the first time, we took pictures and our wedding party was so fun and goofy. And then next thing I know, I’m waiting in the bridal room and we only have a few moments until I walk down the aisle.

 

My dad walked my mom down the aisle to her seat then came back for me. We’re waiting, my arm through his, my heart pounding.

“Are you ready?” I hear him ask.

“Yeah,” I sighed, “I am.”

I look up at him and his eyes are misty–I’d never seen my dad cry until that moment and tears immediately fill my eyes as I realize what getting married actually means. It means I move an hour away from some of the most important people in my life, it means changing my name, it means changing my life, it means being incredibly happy and growing up and moving on. But it’s also a little sad leaving my old life behind.

“You can’t cry sweetie,” he says, “You can’t mess up your make-up!”

To which we decided that we just couldn’t look at each other until we’d made it down the aisle.

 

I’m in front of the doors, my dress is being straightened by my friend before the doors open. I see another childhood friend walk into the church right as I’m about to walk down the aisle and I jump up and down when I see him, “I’m getting married!!” I whisper excitedly!

Those doors open, I see my husband’s face and the faces of so many people who care about me and who have made up the fabric of my life. The sound of my breathing as dad fights me to walk slowly down the aisle instead of sprinting as I so desperately wanted to! I can’t stop smiling. I’d seen so many weddings, dreamed of being that girl dressed in white…and now it was my turn.

The husband looks wide-eyed, happy and terrified all rolled into one. I’m so scared he’s going to faint. I keep mouthing, “Are you alright?” to him the entire ceremony.

I feel my dad kiss my forehead as he goes to sit down; I’m stepping on the hem of my gown as I walk up the stairs and for a moment, picture myself falling down in front of everyone. But then I’m up there on that stage, holding my husband’s hands, hearing those words. There’s a moment when we are looking into each other’s eyes that I have an out of body experience. I was the bride this time, I wasn’t watching someone else getting married…it was actually me.

 

He put the ring on my finger, he pledged his life and his love to me before God and our friends. My heart is in my throat and I feel myself beaming as I pledge my life and love to him. And then, in what feels like moments, I’m his wife. We walk back down the aisle together to the original Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and I can’t imagine feeling any happier.

 

We had our first dance together and he dipped me at the end making everyone swoon with happiness. I danced with my dad while the husband danced with his mom. Dad and I cried together one last time before the day was over, sharing a handkerchief someone so graciously gave to us during our dance together.

The rest of the day was a blur of faces, cake, champagne, hugs and pictures. My face hurt from smiling but I was so happy.

We left the church, our car covered in whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles and car paint.

 

It was a day that I will never forget. Although with time, a lot of the details have lost their potency. But there are so many moments from that day that are seared into my memory and I’m sure they will stay there for the rest of my life.

Marriage hasn’t been easy. Especially in that first year; I was so young and had so much growing up to do but that’s the beauty of marriage…it’s not supposed to be perfect. You can’t expect someone else to make you happy in life. If you can’t be happy with yourself, how is someone else supposed to make you happy? I certainly haven’t arrived, but I’ve learned so much from being married to this awesome guy. He’s the exact opposite of me in some ways, but my complete match in others; I am incredibly lucky to have a man like him. He has loved me well over the years and I’m excited to see where this crazy journey takes us.

 

0163

 

Okay, I’ll stop being swoony!

Standard

Introducing…

Hey readers,

So I have some fun news (no, no baby yet!) my sister just started a blog and you should totally go check out her work! She’s the writer of the family and she’s amazing.

If you love me, you’re going to like her even more. Here’s the link, go show her some love and welcome her to the WordPress community!

The Grand Parade In Our Past

 

Have the most loveliest Friday/weekend

xoxo,

Melanie

Standard

Sick-Day Movies

Do you have a movie that you always pop in when you get sick? A favorite that always seems to soothe your weary, disease-ridden body?

Well, the husband and I do, and that movie is ‘Star Wars: Episode 2’ and every time one of us gets sick and we make the couch our living area, that movie tends to find itself in our dvd player.

It all started at our very first apartment together. We’d been married only a few months, our apartment was so tiny; our couch was actually a futon. The husband got really, really sick that winter, I think it was bronchitis (which has come back to plague him again this go around.) We decided to get all the pillows and blankets we could find in the house, pull out the futon and pile everything on it and just spend all day long on the futon. We watched so many movies, ate so much McDonalds, and I was the nurse who was in charge of making sure he took his medicine and got plenty of snuggles to get better.

One evening, we popped in Star Wars and both fell asleep somewhere halfway through the movie. In the very early morning, I’m talking 4am, we both wake up slowly to the music that plays during the menu being repeated over and over and over and over and over–like a broken record! Eventually, I poked him in the ribs enough times to just turn it off already before I go crazy.

 

So the husband got bronchitis again over the weekend; he’s spent two days at home and we’ve ordered pizza and had lots of ice cream! The other day, we decided that in the interest of tradition, it was time to watch Star Wars again. Not to mention, we’d just finished watching Episode 1 earlier last week.

And sure enough, the first night we watched it, the husband dozed off within an hour of starting it! The second night we watched it and tried to finish it, I fell asleep probably an hour more into the movie. And finally, today, we’ve successfully finished our sick-day movie and can move on to the next movie in the series.

 

Send the husband well wishes to get better soon! He wants to be all the way better when this baby decides to make his arrival, it’s any day now!!

 

Have a happy weekend!

Standard

My Mom and Dad

My sisters get a lot of words written about them in this blog–it’s about time they shared the spotlight with some other pretty awesome people.

To be honest, I’ve had a hard time knowing how to write about my parents because how do you summarize a constant in your life? How do you explain and give credit to something that has remained strong and loyal since a very young age?

Right? Hard isn’t it?

Now, don’t get me wrong; my parents are far from perfect! In fact, I think they’d want me to write a “non-perfection clause” in this post somewhere. But regardless of their mistakes, they have influenced my life incredibly.

So without further ado, here are some things I’ve learned from my parents over the years:

 

1. Never apologize for a decision you firmly believe in: this may come across as kind of harsh, but let me explain what I mean. My parents made the decision to homeschool me and my sisters. Some people are totally cool with that…turns out a lot of people aren’t. I grew up seeing the weird looks when we went to the store with mom during school hours. Hearing the snarky remarks from people; all of it! As an adult, I’ve grown to realize how hard it can be to know that people don’t approve of your life; the eyes sizing you up and looking at you in a new light. It’s not easy! And I’ve seen my mom and dad handle it with such grace. Not to say it didn’t hurt them, I’m sure it did, but they were able to brush it off and act like they really didn’t care if others thought they weren’t making the right choice. I appreciate that about them because it gave me such an example. If you really and truly believe you are doing the best thing for your life and the lives of those involved with you, you don’t have to explain yourself. You don’t have to feel bad when other people try to bring you down! That doesn’t mean that you never take the advice of others–but you don’t have to feel bad for not taking the advice of total strangers!

2. Hospitality is one of the greatest gifts: there’s a difference between having people over in your home and really catering to and loving the people who come over. Anyone can throw a dinner party or have friends over, it takes someone really special to be a great host or hostess. My parents are the most amazing hosts you will ever meet. The food and wine flowed freely as did the talking and the stories. There was never a lull in the conversation; my parents knew how to turn people inside out; guests who came into our home who were quiet and reserved all of a sudden were telling the funniest stories and leaving us all clutching our sides from laughing. There was an openness at my parent’s table, a freedom to talk uninhibited by fear of judgement. (even though there may have been opposing views) When my parent’s hosted dinner, it was like our guests had come home in a sense. I’ve yet to perfect that skill that they have mastered so gracefully. I still don’t know how they do it! I mean, guests would stay hours after they said they had to leave. Nodding to sleep even as they are laughing and telling stories. People found it hard to go! There was a beauty and an art in their hospitality that mesmerizes me to this day and I hope one day to master myself!

3. The kitchen is the heart of the home: one of the things my parent’s are known throughout the land for is their food. My mom and dad know how to cook and they know how to cook good!! There is always an abundance of food in their house. When I would go to visit, there was always a spread of fruit or cheese or hummus just within reach. The more gourmet the food is, they more they are inclined to love it. It’s so difficult for me when I’m craving a food from my childhood (like mom and dad’s homemade biscuits and white sausage gravy!!) because when I try to duplicate their recipe, it never turns out the same. Even if I follow it to the letter!! I’m convinced there’s some kind of voodoo they use in the kitchen because their food is addictive. After my family moved to Virginia, the most frequent phrase I heard from all my friends was, “I miss your parent’s cooking! I want to have dinner at your parent’s house again…” Good food is a common thread found in my life; good food that brought family and friends together and fueled the stories of my past. And damn it! I’m craving biscuits and gravy so much right now….

4. Your family are your first friends: maybe this came from being homeschooled and always being around each other, but there was always great significance put on getting along with each other. When we were younger especially, there were a few more fights between the three of us. In particular, me and my youngest sister were the ones who didn’t get along very well. I remember one time my mom sitting down with me, pleading with me, “Mel, you’re driving a wedge between you and your sister!” Those words stuck with me and eventually wore me down until I could get over my pride and try being best friends with my sister, rather than enemies. My relationship with my sisters is closer than close. They are my first best friends (I call a lot of people my best friends….it’s a problem!) and I love them so much. My mom and dad were the cornerstone of that relationship with them, they were always encouraging us to get along and love each other because your family will always be there, no matter what! There’s a fierce loyalty that runs deep in the veins of our family and it’s really beautiful to know that if everyone on earth turned their backs on me, I’d still have them protecting me and loving me.

5. Be happy no matter what life throws your way: my parents definitely enjoy the finer things in life, it’s great because they can afford to. But they weren’t always in that position. As a matter of fact, there was a time when dinner meant eating fried bologna sandwiches because that’s all they could afford. The one thing that has characterized them throughout life is that they are happy wherever they are. Whether it was living off PB&J sandwiches, or having four different kinds of caviar to sample from at our pre-Thanksgiving snacking station. They know how to really live no matter what phase of life they are in and they make their home a happy one. I’ve learned to look at life that way through them.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I could go on and on about things I’ve learned from them; this is probably a topic I will come back to at a later time.

But for now, I will leave you with these 5 lessons I’ve learned from them throughout the years. I hope they bring you as much clarity as they have me!

 

p.s. I just realized how relevant this post is for today! My mom and youngest sister are flying back down South from Virginia to be with me for the arrival of the baby and they are getting here this evening. I’m so excited!! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got lots of things to do before they get here–namely pacing the house until the husband brings them home from the airport!

Standard

On Capturing Life

I’m a photographer.

I started taking pictures when I was 17. My two sweet friends were over and the night before we made a movie about three princesses being chased through the woods by an evil witch.

*Side note: it was very dramatic and vague, it should have won awards…but alas….

The next morning, since we didn’t have the time to film another movie, we decided to have a photo shoot. Now both of these friends were ballerinas and I was the gawky, awkward friend of the group: I decided that I’d spend the majority of my time behind the camera.

I found a joy in taking those pictures, in arranging an image that told a story. And so, I started experimenting with my little point-and-shoot camera.

 

Fast forward two years to me opening up a box with my brand new, shiny, digital slr camera! I was hooked. I took my camera everywhere and captured the life of my sisters and our friends. I even tried starting a 365 project! (There was another blog that stemmed from that project…it’s still out there somewhere, so embarrassing!!)

I’ve done a lot of pictures for high school graduates, several engagement pictures, a few family/baby pictures and I now have 3 weddings under my belt! It’s been a crazy long ride and I’ve learned so much along the way. One of my favorite things about this job, no matter what event I’m taking pictures of: when I take that picture, I’m freezing an image in time that will never, ever be recaptured again. Those moments when the person in front of my camera forgets I’m there and is just themselves…it’s like you’ve captured their soul, their essence. It’s really beautiful and I love it so much.

 

I’m a photographer, and I love capturing life.

Standard

Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda, my sweet dog is without a doubt my first baby. As a matter of fact, the husband and I very frequently comment on what a great big sister she’s going to make for our baby.

Yes, we are those people, but we only dress her up for Christmas card pictures–promise!

Let me just tell you about a typical day in the life of Zelda and me.

 

My day begins promptly at 9am, when Zelda sticks her front paws up on the bed and her nose in my face. When she’s ready to wake up there’s no going back to sleep–she will whine and whimper until I drag myself from the warmth of the sheets. Immediately it’s time to go outside and take care of her daily duty of scaring off squirrels and birds.

Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, sometimes it takes a lot longer.

When she’s finished with her guard duty, it’s time to come inside and eat a big breakfast. While she’s eating, I’ve moved her bed from the floor in my room to the big window in our living room. The big window affords her a prime spot for observing the goings on of the neighborhood. Mostly in the morning, when the sun is streaming in that big window, she likes to spend her time napping lazily in the sunny glow that warms up her bed. She curls her slim body into a ball and gazes sleepily out the window until sleep takes over.

Now sometimes during nap time, the vicious post man happens to walk up to our door to leave a package and ring the door bell. This is not acceptable because as everyone knows, the post man is really just a cold-blooded killer out to destroy all people. If she could bust through that window and rip him to shreds she would. She is not happy when he walks up to the door and makes that very clear to him–for some reason, he’s yet to get the memo.

Once lunch time gets here, she gets a little more restless. Maybe she goes outside again or maybe she decides she’ll play with her plastic bone, running around the house making it squeak. Mostly she just follows me around and makes sure that I’m okay while I work on laundry or dishes or whatever it is I’m doing.

Once 2 or 3 in the afternoon gets here, guard duty picks up again–this time, she’s got to keep an eye on those pesky schoolchildren walking home. You never know when they could just attack from out of nowhere! And then of course there’s those monsters who like to jog or take a nice walk with their kids in strollers. They might look innocent but we all know the truth don’t we? She sees through their disguise in a heart-beat and makes sure that they know she’s watching them and they can’t fool her.

Once the fitness crowd starts to disperse, it’s time to wait sleepily for her favorite person in the whole world to come home from work. She sits by the window and waits for the husband to make his appearance. Her nose pressed to the glass, sad eyes scanning the road and our driveway. Once his car pulls up in the driveway, she is inconsolable until he walks through the door, unable to contain her excitement. She cries like she hasn’t seen him in years.

When he walks in the door it’s all jumping and whimpering and crying until she can finally settle down.

The rest of her night consists of bothering both of us while we eat dinner and catch up on our Netflix. The husband normally banishes her to the back yard until she settles down and once she’s worn herself out and goes back to sleep.

Once she’s finally worn herself out again, she naps peacefully on her bed until it’s time for sleep. Her bed is moved from the window to the floor on my side of the bed where she joins the husband in the beautiful chorus of snores that permeate my sleep.

 

And that, my dear friends is a day in the life of Zelda the dog.

IMG_1372

Standard