Thursday, June 4, 2015

Catching the Small Joys--Going to the Chapel Edition

 I think I've mentioned a time or two that my remarkable mama really knows how to celebrate big.  So, it should come as no surprise that she is marking the occasion of the 25th wedding anniversaries of both her & my stepdad AND me & my Personal Chef with a vow renewal ceremony in Las Vegas.  Here are some of the joys I've caught getting ready for this fandango:

  • For starters, the generosity of my mama for gifting me and my Personal Chef, along with my brother and his partner-in-crime with not only the trip, but also with the deluxe Hound Dog Ceremony at the Doo Wop Diner Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. That's right. We are getting the full-on, Elvis-themed experience. It might not be your cup of tea, but it absolutely delights me to get to play along with my mama.

Photo courtesy: Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapels

  • With a minimum of eye-rolling, my kids have been going along with the fun. I came home one afternoon last week to find that the Evil Genius had put on a "Golden Oldies Classic Hits of the 50s" station to help get into the proper mindset. The family debate about Black Leather Elvis, Blue Hawaii Elvis, and Fat Jumpsuit Elvis has been epic.
  • Thing 1 and her Best Guy have volunteered to take care of the Evil Genius and the dogs while we are away. Thing 2 promises to help (or at least not burn the house down.)

  • The back and forth with my Favorite House Guest--who lives in Las Vegas--has me giddy.  It's been over a year since we've been together. I am really looking forward to seeing her. That she'll be joining in the shenanigans just tickles me.

Photo courtesy: Deposit Photos

  • I will admit to doing a little happy dance when the UPS guy delivered my Personal Chef's Daddy-O Dress Shirt.

  • My sisterfriends have gone above and beyond the call of duty as Fake Bridesmaids.  There was the incredible evening of dress shopping.  They found the perfect Audrey-Hepburnesque, white eyelet swing dress AND black patent leather Mary Janes that give me that perfect rockabilly bride vibe.  Then, despite being dreadfully ill, my seamstress sisterfriend took some measurements, gave me and Thing 1 a shopping list and sent us off to the fabric store. The next morning, I returned to find she had lovingly put together a teal blue tulle petticoat to complete the look. There has been much giggling about the wedding night lingerie, and secret conversations that I am not allowed to be a part of, and all sorts of glorious bridal party hoopla. I hear that they are gathering together to watch the ceremony by live stream, then whoop it at a Faux Reception, because they are made entirely out of awesome. I have been completely overwhelmed by the love. I am blessed beyond words by it all.

So, in less than two weeks, I get to go on a trip with my FabFam, 
visit with my Favorite House Guest, 
tease my mama & stepdad about being so freaking mushy after all these years, 
have Elvis help me say, "I still do" to the guy 
I cannot imagine going through life without
 (because, yeah, we're a bit mushy, too), 
and revel in the notion that back home, 
there are amazing folks loving the stuffing out of me.  

That's a whole lotta joy right there.  What's filled your heart this week?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Small Town, USA

     A decade ago, our family moved from a small city to a really small, rural town.  Somewhere in the assimilation process, I missed a step.  I had no trouble adapting to the environment.  Turns out I was born to be a country girl. All those cows and turkeys and vegetable gardens that make up my 'hood suit me just fine.   Somehow, though, I never quite became a member of my little community.  My work continued to be out-of-town, and my social life continued to revolve around the same people and organizations I have been engaged with for years.  So, while I have met some terrific folks--some neighbors, my children's friend's parents, fellow marching band program volunteers--I have never quite become a real part of this community where I call home.

Photo courtesy:

     Then I spent this past school year substitute teaching. Many of the teachers and administrators actually live here in town, too, and I've come to know them pretty well. I have to admit it feels good to be greeted warmly when I come into a school building, or to be invited to join a colleague/neighbor for lunch in the staff room.

Photo courtesy of  Blackstone/Millville Parents Group

     Last weekend, I chaperoned the marching band during the Memorial Day Parade. I have done lots of things as a Band Mom, but I have never been the water-bottle-toting chaperone before. It was a revelation of the most heart-filling kind.

Photo courtesy of BMR Band Announcements

     My town is a nice mix of working class and middle class families. They are folks who have lived here for generations, or wanted their children to grow up in that kind of place--a town where families set down roots. My town is the kind of community where whole families gather together to watch the parade. Houses are draped in bunting and flags. Mothers dress their children in red, white, and blue. I've lived here for a decade and somehow missed that. I'm glad I finally caught it.

Photo courtesy of BMR Band Announcements

     Because I have always watched this parade from a prime spot near the end of the route, where the ceremonies honoring our war dead take place (including a very moving ritual where a wreath is released into the Blackstone River by veterans), I had no idea what the start of the parade was like. I was touched to discover that it begins just beyond the town's nursing home. Every year, the residents sit on the home's front porch to watch the parade go by. And every year, the high school band director makes a point of having the kids stop long enough to play through their patriotic songs in their entirety before moving on down the parade route.

Photo courtesy: BMR Band Announcements

     One of the most wonderful, and totally unexpected parts of the experience was the number of people who called my name out in greeting. The MOST wonderful part was the number of school children who gave a shy wave and the children who squealed out, "Hi, Mrs. Allen!"  and "Mommy, that's Mrs. Allen from my school!"

Photo courtesy: BMR Band Announcements

     It's taken me a while to figure it out, but I think I'm going to like it here.