After six long years of dating and waiting, Uncle Adam (Bret’s brother) and Aunt Caroline were married last Sunday (5/31). It was a good weekend, full of family and friends and celebrating, but it was utterly exhausting. The Wellsbrothers were in rare form…
This has ended up being a rather lengthy post, but it had to be that way. Sorry. To even begin to understand, you must experience the weekend as we did, as a unit, all at once.
Shortly after we got there Friday afternoon, we learned that Gammie’s dryer had quit working that morning. Awesome. Twenty-two people staying there that night (the Bachelor Party was taking place out back), four of them five and under. We quickly ran out of dish towels, bath towels, burp rags, etc…
Several people had brought clothes that needed to be washed, including Adam, who needed to do all of his laundry so that he could pack for the honeymoon. But we made do, finding washers and dryers at other people’s houses, and turning everything in the laundry room into a towel drying rack. My usual happy-go-lucky manner of packing for and going through clothes at Gammie’s house became a careful budgeting of the use of clean clothes for four people. (Bret was on his own!) It wasn’t by any means awful…just something else to constantly be thinking of.
Friday night was a bit of a circus. It was late when I finally got Joey to sleep. Then I was awake with him from 3-4:30 and again from 5-5:30 when Micah had apparently had a bad dream, was scared when he walked out of his room and into the living room full of strange, snoring boys, and came into our room screaming. Saturday morning we had to be at the rehearsal (45-ish minutes away) by 10:00 am. After not much sleep for anyone, we managed to wade around the mess of people there that morning, and somehow got everyone fed, cleaned up, dressed, and got to the rehearsal right on time.
The wedding would be taking place in the front yard of the Astin in College Station, a beautifully restored historic mansion. Wow. The rehearsal went fairly well, everyone pretty much knew what to do. This was Conner’s fourth ring bearer gig, and Micah’s third. I expected Conner to be an old pro, and for Micah to follow suit without questions.
I knew that there would be a lot of waiting until the boys got their turn to practice, and that there would then likely be a lot more waiting. Luckily, little cousin Kaleb provided a good bit of entertainment when we first got there.
After he had had his fill of the Wellsbrothers, (which didn’t take long!), I was on my own with my bag packed full of goodies, toys, and coloring books. Well, apparently I did too good of a job packing this bag with fun stuff. Joey had a nice little snack of purple and green crayons, and when the time came for Conner and Micah to practice the processional, neither of them wanted to leave their new coloring books.Conner settled for just carrying his…Micah, however, kicked and screamed the whole way to their place at the end of the sidewalk.
After I got them calmed down and situated, they made it three steps down the sidewalk…and Micah was on the ground again, a heap of kicks and screams. Conner was instructed to just keep going, and to do the same thing if this happened at the actual wedding. Micah and I had a heart-to-heart, I gave him Softie, a snack, and a juice box, and he joined Conner in their spot next to Poppy. Aside from a few more nibbles of the crayons, the rest of the rehearsal went without incident for us. Then we got to the rehearsal luncheon…
Lunch was in an art gallery. Apparently there is this guy who paints all kinds of wonderful Aggie-type things and makes a pretty decent living on it. There was a room full of prints that you could buy, have autographed, and/or custom-framed. And then there was a room that boasted many of the originals. Which were all for sale. With price tags up to $12,000. That was the room that housed our luncheon.
Well, the caterers were late…and when they did get there, they had messed up the order…and forgotten the paper goods…came back with those…and then we realized that we still didn’t have plates… Needless to say, we were waiting in the room-of-paintings-worth-more-than-my-life for probably over an hour. The Wellsbrothers were hungry. And tired. And getting cranky.
After snapping a cute little picture of all four of the cousins in their matching duds, I once again got into my little bag of tricks, which luckily had not been completely demolished at the rehearsal. I got everyone some cheese crackers, hoping to buy some time and sanity. It worked for Conner and Micah. But Joey was so tired that he wanted to be held, but didn’t want to be held, but if you put him down he wanted to be held, but you better not even think about sitting down while you were holding him…you get the idea. Somehow my telling him that maybe he should have slept some more the night before didn’t seem to get through. And on top of that, he was so hungry that he insisted on holding a cracker in each hand, but was too tired to eat, and instead used what energy he could muster making cracker mush in his hands.
I ended up caving, letting him make cracker mush and not caring if he wiped it all over me, while holding him, standing up, next to a wall, where the multiple-thousand dollar paintings lived…some of them without the protection of glass…and…well…imagine my hypothetical horror if my hypothetical child hypothetically wiped his hypothetical cracker mush on one of those hypothetically outrageously priced paintings. Luckily, my mommy-skills are sharp and well-tuned and no one ever knew!
After not being allowed to do anything the rest of the time we were there, Joey was asleep before we even made it out of the parking lot. But awake the minute we got home. That kid SO needed more than a 45 minute nap. I so needed that kid to take more than a 45 minute nap! But instead, we got the tired and cranky and there’s-no-way-I’m-gonna-slow-down-long-enough-to-go-to-sleep Joey for the bulk of the afternoon. Finally though, after we discovered that he had found Bret’s prescription sunglasses somewhere and completely demolished them, I decided that I would have to put on my mean-face. It took me laying on the floor of the hall just outside his closed door, listening to him scream, too tired to even cry myself, for who knows how long before he finally went to sleep. But it was worth it. For everyone.
But that night, Joey didn’t sleep well again. Thanks to Micah coming into our room screaming again…
And then Sunday morning we awoke to a badly clogged toilet, methane gas from the septic system seeping into the house. More awesomeness. Luckily Bret and Eddie got it fixed. Bless their hearts, no one wants to start a day off that way!
After that, other than being exhausted and trying to hide my bad mood, the morning actually went pretty well. I got a shower, and managed to get all three of the Wellsbrothers to take a much-needed nap – all at the same time!
But once again, I outdid myself. They wouldn’t wake up. I had to find that fine line between letting them get as much sleep as possible and waking them up in time to get a good snack and dressed in tuxes in time to leave at 4:00 for 5:00 pictures.
It was about 3:30 when I realized that I had two little black jackets (Joey didn’t have one), three little black vests, three little bowties, three black pairs of pants, six little black socks, six little black shoes…and only one white shirt. Immediately I remembered that I was supposed to remember that because they went to the cleaner’s separately, the shirts were hung in a different closet. (Why in the world did I do that?!) Oops.
Gammie and her amazing shopping abilities to the rescue!! Thank goodness Dillard’s was actually right on the way! They weren’t tuxedo shirts, and Micah’s didn’t have long sleeves – but they were white, collared, button-up dress shirts that worked just fine under the jackets. Hallelujah!
We had about two hours of hanging out at the mansion and taking pictures before the wedding began. I was so relieved to find that there was a room – with absolutely nothing in it – that we were able to stick the Wellsbrothers in and shut the door. They dug in my bag, they ate their snacks, they took pictures with my camera, they played with their toys…and once again, let’s just say that hypothetically speaking, it would be about par for the toy light-saber wielding 14-month-old to crack a window in a mansion…or hypothetically speaking, for the same destructive 14-month-old to break an (already partly broken) antique crank off of another window. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Finally, it was almost 7:00, and time to take our places outside at the end of the sidewalk. Everyone in our family had a job to do. Mine was to keep up with the Wellsbrothers and make sure they got to the right place and the right time. So it was three-on-one, in a dress and tuxedos, outside…for what seemed like forever.
They threw rocks…and got in trouble. They got too close to the street…and got in trouble. They ran circles around the tree and began to mess up the landscaping…and got in trouble. They climbed on the water meter…and got in trouble. They climbed the trees…got stuck!...and got in trouble. Apparently it was great entertainment for the groomsmen standing just inside the mansion in a room full of windows (two of them now hypothetically broken). But did anyone come to help me? No. They just laughed their heads off at me, destructive baby on the hip, desperately trying to get Conner’s size 13 out of the tree one-handed.
Bret assures me that he was watching us carefully, ready to jump in the moment that I started showing signs of getting to “that” point – but didn’t want to come out unless it got to that. Where he was waiting, for him to come and help me, it would have looked like the minister was coming out to address the crowd with news that the bride had changed her mind or something. We didn’t want that either. Besides, he was right. I wasn’t to “that” point yet. “That” point is coming…
Not to worry. We soon decided that the twinkle lights around the trees should be counted… And the bench needed sitting on… And finally the bridesmaids drove up. Whew! I got the boys lined up to do their thing…and they did it!! We had talked about it several times, and Micah even walked without Softie!Aren't they so handsome and grown-up?!
But, not two minutes after he got to his spot by Poppy, all eyes were on Micah. “Mooo-ooom, I need my Softie!” Micah and Softie were quickly reunited, all were at peace, and Caroline made her grand entrance. She was beginning to walk down the sidewalk when Micah decided that he didn’t want to stand at the front after all. He took off toward Caroline, and we narrowly escaped stealing her spotlight. I snatched him up before he got too many people’s attention, and thankfully the wedding went on without incident. Micah and Joey had lots of fun with the fans that were lying in our seats, and Joey made himself right at home digging in Kelly’s purse. They did pretty good, thanks to Bret’s awesome thirty-minute wedding service. I’ve gotta say though, I was a little jealous that Tiffany’s kid just laid there on her shoulder the whole time. Kaleb, you did great, man. (Grrr! I can't get this picture any bigger. Sorry, Tiff.)
And even though he ended up being the only one, Conner was an awesome little ring bearer!
After the wedding was over, we made it through more pictures. Then the Wellsbrothers and I mostly just hung out in the yard playing tag and digging in the water bucket during the reception activities. I missed all the first dances and receiving line and stuff…but I probably still would have missed all of that even if we had been inside. What I was really waiting for was the food. We were starving, and I was so looking forward to all of the wonderful goodness a dessert reception would have to offer. We happened to be bravely venturing inside just as the dessert line opened up, and we were among the first in line.
Again, I had all three of the Wellsbrothers with me, and there was no way I was about to let Joey loose. So I was one-handedly serving up desserts on several plates, destructive baby on the hip grabbing at everything I had. Conner and Micah were right behind me, holding our napkins and forks. I was so thankful when someone had pity on me and came over to help. I held the plates while she loaded us up. I was feeling much better about the situation…until a glanced over my shoulder to check on Conner and Micah…and did a double-take when I saw Conner holding a flaming napkin.
Apparently, Conner chose this moment, in this historic mansion, at my brother-in-law’s wedding, to complete one of the first of many rites to becoming a man. Later he said, “But I just wanted to see what would happen.”
Well this is what happened. I screamed, “Conner!” as I watched the flaming napkin (which, by the way, looked eerily similar to the all-too-fresh memory of my curtain that went up in flames just a few short weeks ago) take what seemed like forever to float down to the antique finished wood floor. During that short-but-long time (it was actually only a second or two) I “saw” the mansion go completely down in flames, family and friends screaming and running in terror, and my new sister-in-law in tears over her ruined wedding. I “saw” every dollar to our names flash before my eyes. (Yeah, that didn’t take long!) I “saw” us living in a cardboard box on top of the heap of ashes.
But, a bit anti-climatically, the napkin landed close enough to me, and I actually had enough presence of mind to just reach over and stomp it out. I don’t think it even left a mark on the floor. And here’s the kicker – I don’t think anyone saw that, either. Not even the girl who was helping us with our plates, and was still talking about whatever it was she had been saying.
By this time I had had enough. No matter how hard I willed them not to, the tears still began to spill over as I carried Mr. Destructo and our desserts, and drug Micah and Captain Inferno to the table Bret was sitting at. I knew that he was in the midst of a conversation with an old friend who is experiencing one of “those” seasons in ministry. (If you don’t know what “those” seasons are, I can share a few stories…)
Bless his friend’s heart, I didn’t care at that point. I not only interrupted a much-needed listening and understanding ear, but think I completely scared him off when through my tears I declared that I couldn’t do it anymore and needed some help. I left Joey and Micah with Bret and it was Conner’s turn to have a heart-to-heart with me.
Poor kid, it was one of those times that I didn’t really even have to punish him. He was so scared and embarrassed because he could see how scared and overwhelmed I was. Let’s just say that we are on the same page now, and if something like this ever happens again, there will be no excuses.
By the time we got back to the table, word had spread that Rachel was having a meltdown. Gammie had jumped in to help Bret with Micah and Joey, as Bret was still trying to figure out what in the world was going on. And everyone else wanted to know, too. What in the world had happened? I just sank into a chair and started shoveling my homemade banana pudding, even though I was still too rattled to even taste it. Conner didn’t want me to tell anyone. He didn’t want to do anything except sit in my lap and quietly sulk in a way that I have only seen on a few occasions. I felt really bad that he was that scared, yet thankful that he had (hopefully) learned a lesson. By the time I was finally able to explain, everyone responded with the proper amount of horror, and even encouraged me to give myself a break and just gather up my children and go home. (I think what they really meant was “Get those crazy kids out of here before something awful really does happen!”) But I wasn’t about to leave yet. That would only mean that I had to do bedtime with three over-tired kids by myself. And besides, I hadn’t had any of the wedding cake yet!
At no point in time for the rest of the evening did I have all three of the Wellsbrothers on my own again. (I don’t think anyone trusted me anymore.) And it did get better. The cake was amazing, and I got to see Micah put on quite a show with his “disco dancing” (which looked much more like break-dancing to me!) in the middle of the dance floor. Mike, of course, taught him all of those “dancing gwicks (tricks).”
We went home not long after that – but not before I stopped at Sonic for a Diet Coke. All three of the boys fell asleep on the way home, and only Joey woke up when we got there. And then after we got him back to sleep, I found myself in heaven sipping my Sonic Diet Coke and pigging out on more wedding cake.
I would say that I slept well that night…except Micah came in screaming again…and woke Joey up again…
I have an idea for a new tradition: the parents of the ring bearers should get to go on a week-long honeymoon vacation following the wedding – without the ring bearers.