Friday, July 18, 2008

Wedding Finale

A lot of couples spend an entire year planning their weddings. We were able to plan--and execute--four in the same amount of time. It literally was a year to the day. The then-mustachioed Jon dropped to one knee in the middle of Kansas City International Airport on June 29, 2007, and we celebrated our final wedding reception on June 28, 2008.

The locale for this fourth fete was Lake McMurray, Washington in the Sons of Norway Pavilion. While this party had a very laid-back vibe, I still was able to wear my wedding dress one more time, possibly setting the record for "Most times wearing a wedding gown (when marrying the same guy)."

Jon was a trooper for also wearing his suit one more time. He kept it casual, though, by going sans socks.

Normally wearing a suit in June in Washington would be no big deal. However, when we were making final preparations for the big event, we came across a very alarming piece of information. The National Weather Service had issued a weather warning for our weekend of camping and celebrating.

Coming from the Midwest, I'm completely used to all kinds of crazy weather, especially in the summer. From tornadoes to flash floods to severe thunderstorms to heat indices in the triple digits, you name it, Missouri has it. However, in western Washington, the temperatures were holding steady in the 70s on a warm day and I hadn't yet seen a single lightning bolt.

Needless to say, we were intrigued, so we opened the alert on the computer and this is what we found:

Warning: EXTREME Heat!

Temperatures were expected to reach...wait for it...the mid-80s. Gasp. Obviously, we laughed when we read it. Guffawed, really. As did most of our out-of-town guests, also used to hot--often humid--summer weather. (The native Washingtonians, not as much, because it was legitimately hot.)

Okay, so it was a bit stuffy in the pavilion, but that just encouraged people to take a dip in the lake or play bocce ball outside, which is what we'd been hoping for in the first place. The sun shone all day long and the environment was incredibly festive.

Like nearly every other event we host, this one also centered around food. We thought we were pretty clever by getting food from a local brewery under the guise that we would warm it up ourselves. It was a good idea...a great idea if there hadn't been quite so much food. We picked up trays full of ribs and barbequed chicken, mashed potatoes and potato salad; buckets of green salad; and tub after tub of beans and barbeque sauce. (In fact, we still have ribs and chicken in the freezer if you want to come over.) Thank goodness we had the "A-Team."

My mom makes a living from cooking for large groups of people and one of our dear friends is like freaking Wolfgang Puck/Emeril/Bobby Flay/Rachel Ray, so the kitchen was covered. They did such an amazing job, in fact, that one of the other guests complimented "our friends at the brewery." I'm not sure he believed me that they were ringers we had enlisted ourselves.

In addition to these two, we once again were blessed with the help of friends and family. There is no way we could have pulled off yet another reception without them (you know who you are). How else would we have gotten the pavilion set up in time, went shopping to pick up last-minute items, taken pictures, and cleaned up by ourselves?!? And that's only a fraction of the help we received. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have such incredible people in our lives.

Other than watching me try to eat ribs whilst wearing a wedding dress, there weren't really any formal activities.

We were, however, able to recognize a few special individuals. Jon's dad and his wife were awarded with the "Trifecta Award" for attending three out of four of our wedding extravaganzas. (A private ceremony was held to honor a lovely couple who also achieved the "Trifecta" back in Kansas City. I guess that means we still owe my younger brother who can boast the same...) And then finally, the only person--besides Jon and me--to attend all four weddings received the "Wedding-a-thon Award." Congratulations once again go to my mom for such a wonderful achievement.

The remainder of the day was spent eating cake, killing a pony keg full of fresh root beer, and catching up with friends and family, which was followed by another night of camping by the lake. Quite a nice book-end to all this wedding business. I think it's safe to say that we're done and done. Although we were talking just this morning about going to Vegas and getting hitched for the fifth time...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tip Tap Toe

Back in the day when I took dance lessons (kindergarten through senior year, to be exact), I could never quite decide what to make of the adults in my tap and jazz classes. Was it cool that they still were getting their groove on...or was it more of a pathetic endeavor?

Well, I can now say with authority that they were cool. Really cool. What, praytell, sparked this definitive conclusion? The fact that I am one of those adults taking dance classes. This winter I decided I needed a hobby. Subbing was unfulfilling and I just didn't really have a lot going on (other than planning a plethora of weddings). I have always enjoyed tap dancing, even taking a class in college (by far my hardest one that semester) and "performing" in my service organization's variety shows at the nursing home. So it seemed natural for me to find a studio on the internet and enroll in a teen/adult tap class.

And what an appropriate description that turned out to be. The approximately 16 students in the class covered all ranges of the age spectrum. There were a few middle and high school students, a couple other girls in their 20s like me, several moms with daughters in the class, and even a handful of women in their 60s and beyond. In fact, as we were carpooling to dress rehearsal, one of the women told me that she worked for the military during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Seriously.

But I'm getting ahead of myself a little bit. I joined the class in the nick of time, as the instructor had just begun to choreograph the recital routine. That's right, we were going public. Recitals were always one of my favorite things about dance: the costumes, the hair, the (streetwalker) make-up, and the adrenaline rush of being up on stage.

Fittingly, the song our instructor chose was Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." A perfect song for a brassy bunch of women ready to shimmy. (Really--there were requests to do some sort of shimmy move from day one.) I was surprised by how many of the steps came back to me and found it quite easy to mesh into the class and routine. Plus, when you're working with, ahem, more mature students, you do a lot of reviewing along the way.

Fast forward to June and recital time. Keep in mind that when you're dancing to Tina Turner, you have to look the part. Our costumes consisted of red sequins, a black (fake) leather skirt, and fishnets. Lots and lots of fishnet. Not only did we wear fishnet stockings, but we also wore fishnet sleeves. Some of the ladies were self-conscious about having that much arm showing, if you catch my drift. Picture, if you will, 70 year-old women wearing fishnets and black leather mini-skirts... Nice mental picture, eh? (Actually, they looked darn good.)

On June 21st, I made my dancing debut with this new studio. I wriggled myself into the aforementioned costume (which Jon had to help me with because I kept getting the sequins stuck in the fishnet) and troweled on the hooker make-up. For those of you who have never performed before, all that make-up is necessary so that you show up on stage. Otherwise you look washed out. But I digress.

Jon dutifully attended the show as he very much played the part of the supportive husband by watching (perhaps suffering through) several hours of little kids dancing. But he was rewarded in the end by getting to watch his "Poptart" of a wife tap her little heart out. Just like I remembered, being up on stage was pretty exhilarating. I think the performance went well. At any rate, no one fell off the stage.