Monday, May 26, 2008

A few wedding pictures!

If you click on the picture you will get a larger image. The two bridesmaids are my two younger daughters, and, of course, Will is walking Hannah down the aisle. I'll post more pictures soon!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Wedding Weekend- Saturday Morning

Our plan was to pick up the photographer (Olivia) at 8:30 Saturday morning, so I set the alarm for about 6:30. (The photographer is the daughter of a friend of mine who is apprenticing in photography.) I woke up before that, but felt so tired I couldn't drag myself out of bed right away. The morning's activities looked daunting to me, and I wanted to delay getting started! However, I finally did rouse myself to action, and after a cup of coffee, got the kids up. Hannah was already up after getting only 3 or 4 hours sleep. Will, Hannah, and I had all made "What To Take" lists and after each list had been consulted, we managed not to forget anything at home. I call that a miracle, especially considering we had all of the bride's stuff, the dresses, shoes, etc, for both bridesmaids (my other two daughters) and for myself, as well as make-up, hair stuff, bouquets, table decorations, rings, homemade candies, cupcake stands, and more. It all made it!

We picked up Olivia about 10 minutes late, and got to the restaurant a little later than planned, but no harm done. We dumped all the dresses and paraphernalia at a "sister" restaurant next door since we would all be dressing there, and took the rest of the wedding stuff on to The Red Room, where Hannah was getting married. The groom and groomsmen arrived in a timely fashion, as well as the flower girl and the pastor, Jimmy Chalmers. (Jimmy wrote a short piece about the wedding on his site yesterday.) They did a quick run-through of the wedding, and then we "girls" retired to get ready.

Hannah and the bridesmaids walked up the aisle to Pachalbel's Canon, and the whole wedding went off smoothly, even though the grooms ring was still sitting in a box next door at the other restaurant! The pastor, my daughter Rebekah, Hannah, and Erik all pulled off a convincing pantomime, and no one knew until afterwards that no ring was actually there for the ceremony! The service took 12 minutes. Afterwards, the guests talked outside in the beautiful weather while the chairs were removed and tables set up, and while photographs were taken.

Speaking of photographs, I honestly don't have any. Not one. We'll be getting some, of course, but over the whole weekend we did not personally take ONE photograph. I was too busy! I'll try to post some as I get them from friends and family (and photographer!).

We had a tight budget for this wedding, but it was intimate and beautiful none-the-less. the bride made all the floral decorations herself from silk flowers, including all the bouquets. She made her necklace and earrings for the wedding, as well as her sister's earrings. A good friend made hundreds of molded chocolate candies for the wedding as a present, which we placed in small bags around on the tables as eatable decorations. The bouquets were placed in glass vases filled with glass stones on a square of mirror for table centerpieces.

For a wedding "cake," we opted for cupcakes in decorative wire cupcake holders, and a small (8") round decorated cake for the bride and groom to cut. We had 4 dozen yellow cupcakes with white buttercream icing, and 4 dozen chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. The cake was chocolate with a basket weave design in white buttercream. The cake "basket" was "filled" with decorative yellow icing roses on top. We taste tested cakes from several area store bakeries, but no "wedding" cake makers because of the cost. We picked a local food store called Lowe's Foods. The 8 dozen cupcakes and 8" cake together cost us about $70. The least expensive wedding cake we could find for 100 people was $300, most were close to $450.

What we did pay for was great food and great service at The Red Room. We payed for the party, and it was well worth the expense! In my opinion, the food was a much better place to put the money than fancy decorations or over-priced cakes.

The wedding started at 11:00 a.m. and the reception was over by 2:00 p.m. Later I'll make a short post about our fun-filled Saturday afternoon and evening with family.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Wedding Weekend- Friday Evening

The last week leading up to the wedding was exciting and tiring. On and off Tuesday and Wednesday I had a few min-panic attacks. I felt stressed with all there was to do, and all the unknowns surrounding the wedding details. By Thursday, however, I felt much calmer. There were still unknowns, and still lots to do, but I felt more excitement than stress. I kept checking things off my list and seeing it all come together. By mid-afternoon on Friday, the house was ready, the food was ready, and all the paraphernalia for the wedding had been gathered. Just in time for the out-of-town guests who started to arrive.

Most of my entire family arrived from out of town, coming from the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia, and as far away as Oklahoma. Will's family came as well, from Virginia and Ohio. All together we had almost 30 people arriving Friday afternoon and evening ranging from 2 years old to mid-70's. I planned food that could stay out and be snacked on all evening, and had a cooler full of drinks on ice.

Friday evening was full of catching up between family members, and making new acquaintances between families. There was always some group telling stories and people laughing so hard they were gasping for breath. As hostess, I stayed busy and didn't have as much time to just sit as I might wish, but it was fun to be an "observer" of this wonderful group of people. I was struck again by how blessed I am to be surrounded by such loving and open people as my family and Will's family. How can anyone be so doubly-blessed?

Erik and his two close friends (and future groomsmen) from Oregon stopped by for a while, and then went off again to see Iron Man and try not to stress over the wedding.

All the guests had headed to their hotel rooms by 10:00 pm or so, and Will and I cleaned up some before getting everything organized for the morning. Then we all went to bed, except Hannah, who I think got very little sleep!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Rant against DirecTV

I will make this as short as possible.

In late March we signed up to switch from cable tv, cable internet, and digital phone to Verizon phone (land line), Verizon DSL, and DirecTV. The monthly savings were significant (>$65 a month). We knew the internet would be somewhat slower, but that seemed okay.

It's been a nightmare.

First the internet connection crawled. We weren't getting the 1.5 Mb promised. In fact, at one point we were getting less than a third of that. Will finally got that fixed (hour-long service call later, after I'd already spent an hour earlier in the week). (Head's up: 1.5 Mb isn't fast enough for 8 computers, especially when you have several teens downloading games and videos.)

But the frustration over slow internet is nothing compared to what we've been through with DirecTV.

Short version:
April 8th- satellite installed, good signal. Signed the contract.
April 20th (or there about)- signal starts breaking up....losing channels.
May 1st (or there about)- no signal on any local channel. Almost all channels have deficient quality and pixilation problems.
May 9th- Technician comes out and says we have "no line of sight" since the leaves have come out on the trees. (Are you getting this??) He may be able to get a line of sight if we agree to put it right smack on the front of our house, but he can't promise how long that will last since the signal would barely be making it over the tops of two sweet gums in our back yard. If they grow any, the signal would be lost. Plus, it would be on the FRONT of my house.
May 9th- a few minutes after the tech left- called DirecTV with this information, asking to cancel service since we have no lone of sight. But guess what? If we "break" the contract we signed, we have to pay them $480. Even if their technician is the one who screwed up and placed the satellite pointing through bare trees that got their leaves two weeks later. Since there was a line of sight when the dish was installed, the contract is valid. We lose $480.

Keeping the dish is no option, since we aren't getting service. We'd do better with an antennae.

I am ashamed to admit I totally lost it with the service rep on the phone. I was screaming at him. He hung up on me.(He was being an arrogant jerk, but.....) I called back and talked more calmly to another rep. She said she'd "appeal" the action with the "back office." We should hear in about two weeks what they decide.

I call it fraud. BTW- the tech that was here today said he's going on all kinds of calls in the past few weeks moving dishes for people who had their dishes installed in the winter when there were no trees. If your are out of warranty, the service call is $80. DirecTV is making money by duping ignorant customers.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'll be back after the wedding!

I probably won't get around to Part 3 of Dog-paddling Across the Tiber until sometime after the 17th. It's not so much that I don't have time to type, but I don't have time to think.

The week after the wedding should be a quiet one. I'll plan, Lord willing, to continue then.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dog-paddling across the Tiber Pt 2

About the time I started reading all about Catholicism from a Protestant point of view, my family left the very reformed church we'd been attending. The church had sapped all our joy (this had something to do with the leadership, not just the doctrines), and we felt in need of healing. We started attending a local PCA church where we knew the pastor. He is a wonderful man who preaches a great sermon, but my family didn't seem to fit into the church. It was as much us as anything, I know, but we couldn't quite make it work. Out of 400-500 people, we were only one of four or five families to home school. Also, with five children, we were the largest family in the church.

About a year later, my oldest daughter wanted to go to a youth group at a non-denominational church called Grace Church. We had friends there, and my daughter knew at least 6 other teens going to the youth group. She didn't know any at the PCA church we were attending. The new youth group was a large, active one, pulling youth from several churches around the area, some too small to have their own groups. It had a nice balance of public, private, and home schooled teens.

One Sunday Will and I brought the family to Grace, mostly to see who was influencing our daughter and to let them know we were around and involved. The service was primarily divided into worship time (lots of singing) and sermon time, with communion in between. It was very different from the Presbyterian services we were used to, and that's probably one reason it appealed so much. We continued attending Grace Church after that, and, as a family, we're still there.

But I wasn't being idle in my research of Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Some of the books I read about this time include:

Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us

Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians" by Karl Keating (The book that mainly prompted the email to John Holtzman. Keating is not a winsome writer.)

Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy
, At the Corner of East and Now, and The Illuminated Heart, all by Frederica Mathewes-Green.

I also read parts of Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian by Jordan Bajis and a short biography of Pope John Paul II. Will read The Evidential Power of Beauty by Dubay, and we both read books on church history. But mainly I read articles and books by Protestants about what was wrong with Catholic (and EO) beliefs.

Next I'll talk about how the faith journey of a friend challenged me to give Catholicism an honest look.