Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Family Wedding Weekend in Michigan


Happy Tuesday, my friends! I'm still recovering from a whirlwind of a weekend. We traveled out of state to Michigan for my niece's wedding. I cried more tears than I care to admit over the past few days. It was an absolutely beautiful, long awaited wedding!

I think it hit me so hard because my niece, Michelle, is the first niece I really remember being born. I became an aunt twice in one month before I even started Kindergarten, so I was too young to understand, but I was a few years older when Michelle was born. I vividly remember my sister going into labor at a New Year's Eve party, and hearing the news that Michelle was born on New Year's Day.

I started babysitting her when she was a baby, even though I was only 8 years older than her. I remember how she always made me laugh when she was little. She was opinionated and sassy (exactly how my Lily is now), and I thought it was so cute how she used to proudly state her first and middle name ("Shell Teese") and mispronounce words like living room (AKA The Rivin Room)! Michelle, her older brother, and I went on so many adventures together when I babysat.

When Michelle was the same age that Lexie is now, I picked her up from school every afternoon, and drove her home. Most of the time, my new boyfriend, who became my husband, rode with us. As she grew, I sat through hours of watching her dance at her recitals, and later, I remember trying to be so brave and strong for her when her big brother was in the ICU following a terrible car accident, even though I was on the verge of falling apart.

I remember the moment she told us the shocking news that she was pregnant, while still in high school. But most of all, I remember squeezing her hand in the back of her parent's SUV, on the way to the hospital when she was in labor, then seeing her gorgeous daughter, Aubrey, enter this world. Aubrey is proof that the most unexpected things can be the most incredible gifts. We love her dearly!

Michelle and Ryan are the couple that I am most proud of. They stayed together through teenage pregnancy, and still managed to graduate from high school, go to college, get their degrees, start their careers, and buy a house, all while raising an incredibly smart, kind, and beautiful daughter. And 13+ years after they became a couple, they finally tied the knot!


Michelle and Ryan only live a few miles away from us, but they decided to get married in Michigan, at Ryan's family's lake house. We've been counting down for months, and the weekend finally arrived. Most of our family packed up, and headed to Michigan for the wedding!

Grant had to work on Friday, since it's the busiest time of the month in the mortgage industry, so we decided to drive there early Saturday morning. Dylan and Lexie went with my sisters on Friday morning, and Lily, Liam, and I had a ridiculously busy day. I finished packing just 5 hours before we had to leave!

On Saturday morning, we piled into our SUV with my mom, and began the 5 hour drive to Michigan! It was a calm, uneventful trip. Lily and Liam were exceptionally well-behaved, and other than hitting some traffic in Michigan, the road trip was a breeze!


We arrived at our destination about an hour before check in, so we decided to grab a late lunch. Then we headed to the hotel, checked in, and ran into about a dozen family members, and Dylan and Lexie, on the way up to our room!

I knew my emotions were going to be out of control all day, because when my nephew, Kelvin (Michelle's older brother), knocked on our door, I began to cry. I hadn't seen him or his family in almost a year and a half, because he lives in Florida. When I opened the door, my great-niece, Peyton, walked right in. I immediately burst into tears, because the last time I saw her she was only 2 months old, and now she's so big, and even has a newborn baby brother!

After some hugs, I pulled myself together, and we rushed to get ready so we could make it downstairs to the wedding shuttle in time! The lake house was only a mile away from the hotel, but they thought it would be much easier to bus all the guests to and from the wedding. So we loaded up our family of six, two bags, my camera, and a stroller! After a few minutes, the bus pulled out and headed to the wedding!

Wedding Shuttle

When we arrived, the rest of the guests were already there, and everything looked so beautiful! They ceremony was going to be held right at the edge of the lake, and the reception tent was in the yard. There was only a few minutes before the wedding started, and I started crying again, as soon as I saw my sister walk out to line up. She was already crying, so what can I say? It was contagious!

I made sure my family was seated, then grabbed my camera to document Michelle and Ryan's big day! The tears fell even harder when Aubrey and Peyton walked up, but I was practically choking back sobs when my brother-in-law started walking Michelle toward Ryan. I could barely see what I was photographing, but I managed to capture the special moments!


The ceremony was very sweet and very quick! I hurried to get my kids settled in before I had to run off to take pictures.



While everyone else headed to the reception tent, I started to take pictures of the wedding party with Ryan's cousin. Between the two of us, we captured plenty of shots for the newlyweds!  I have almost a thousand pictures to go through, but this one of my Michelle and my sister really stood out the most. It just made me think that I will be going through this with Lexie and Lily in the not too distant future.


Once the pictures were taken, we headed to the reception to have some fun (and my camera didn't get put down the entire night)!


My kids spent the entire time playing with their cousins. Most of them are together at every family function, but they were thrilled to have Peyton there, and excited to get to know her! My kids fell in love with her!

Wedding Reception


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My family is unique in the sense that there is such a huge age difference between my kids and their oldest cousins. I was the baby of my family, and I was actually closer in age to my nieces and nephews than my own siblings. So even though Kelvin and Michelle are old enough to be my kids' parents, they're cousins! That being said, they do call my nephew Uncle Kelvin. Although they get to see Michelle and Ryan all the time, they miss Kelvin so much (I do, too)!


Everybody was having so much fun! Liam hit the dance floor as soon as the ceremony ended, and he literally never stopped!



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Everybody was having so much fun and the reception was going by so quickly!


Before we knew it, the sun had set and dusk was falling! And the wind coming off of the lake was CHILLY! We rushed to get in the last few family pictures!

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When dark set in, everybody started dancing. I swear, Liam danced with almost every single person at the wedding! Every time I turned around, somebody else was holding him. He was a party animal!


I finally reached the point where I could relax with the picture-taking, get on the dance floor, and get in a few pictures, too!

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Before we knew it, the shuttle had arrived to take us back to the hotel. It was a great night, with awesome people, and I was sad to see it end! It's always a letdown when a wedding ends, because the excitement is over, everybody heads home, and you don't know when you will all be together again.

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We made some amazing memories that night! My kids had a great time, and Liam literally partied until he dropped. I am so happy we were able to be there for Michelle and Ryan's big day! I guarantee we'll never forget how special it was, or the memory of us all being together!

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Our family had so much fun celebrating Michelle and Ryan's long-awaited wedding this past weekend! They are an amazing couple, and we wish them, and our beloved Aubrey, a lifetime of love and happiness!


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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dancing Queens {Lexie & Lily's Dance Recital}

DANCING QUEENS - Lexie & Lily's Dance Recital

We did it! We officially survived our first year of having two girls in dance. Over the past month, it felt like we lived and breathed dance, but watching Lexie and Lily dance at their recital was worth every minute (and every single penny)!

For the past nine months, every Tuesday and Thursday evening was spent at the dance studio. We had to juggle our schedules at times, but we made it work. Thanks to Grant leaving the office early on Tuesdays, and my parents watching the rest of my crew on Thursdays, I didn't have to drag my other kids to the studio twice a week. I also had a dear friend step in to take Lily several times when I had other commitments.

Overall, it was a great year, and my girls had a lot of fun! Lexie was in the tween hip hop class, and Lily learned tap, ballet, jazz and acro. Lexie just dances as a recreation, and this was Lily's first year. Let me just say I have a feeling that I'm going to log in many years at the dance studio!

The dance recital is a HUGE deal where the girls dance. I'm talking major production. The studio has an award winning competitive team, and several "stars" danced at that studio (think Dance Moms fame). People actually drive from out of state each week to dance there!

The girls opted to do the recital finale, in addition to their regular dances, so they had a lot of rehearsals leading up to the recital. They spent two entire weekends before the recital learning the dance for the finale, and on Friday, they had a full dress rehearsal. Each dance had a time slot to take the stage, but of course Lexie and Lily's times didn't coincide in any way!  I ended up taking Lily for her two rehearsal times in early afternoon, then returning with Lexie in the evening for several hours. 


Dance Recital Dress Rehearsal Ballet

Hip Hop

Dance recital dress rehearsal Hip Hop

I learned a few important lessons at dress rehearsal!

  1. Buy a portable clothing rack for next year.
  2. Do hair and makeup BEFORE arriving.
  3. Buy hairspray and bobby pins in bulk.
  4. If you think you are applying too much makeup, you really aren't. 
  5. Find an empty spot when you arrive and stake claim IMMEDIATELY. 
  6. Make sure the girls pee before they put on their leotards. 
  7. Get close to the stage and take all the action photos while they are onstage during the dress rehearsal. 
  8. Don't bother taking video, because you are just going to order the full DVD anyway!

So...we survived the dance year and we survived the dress rehearsal. We were exhausted by the time we arrived home that evening, but we still had the recital ahead of us!

Because the studio that my girls dance at is very big and very popular, the recital was split into two times. Thankfully, both Lexie and Lily ended up in the 1:00 show. And thank goodness it was split, because their show lasted 3 1/2 hours!

The girls were a bundle of nerves when we arrived at the auditorium, but also very excited! I let Grant and Dylan find the perfect seats while I went backstage with the girls to help them get ready. (We opted to leave Liam with our awesome "framily" for the recital since we knew it was going to be a long afternoon.)

I think I was just as nervous as the girls! It was incredibly stressful trying to fix two heads of hair and apply makeup to two faces, plus make sure they were wearing everything they needed for their first numbers. I have tons of personal experience with performing, but I'm not quite sure I'm cut out to be one of those dance moms!

Somehow, I pulled it together and had them ready 10 minutes before showtime. I even managed to snap a few pictures first. They looked so cute!



Dance Recital


Dance Recital Hip Hop and Tap

I wasn't sure if I should stay backstage since Lily is so young, but I knew Lexie would be with her most of the time, and I really wanted to watch the show. I decided that Miss Independent would be perfectly fine, so I kissed them goodbye and left them near Lily's dance teacher at the stage entrance.


(They were fine! Lexie said Lily got a bit weepy when they were lining up, but as soon as she stepped onstage, she turned back into a little ham!)

Apparently, things were just as chaotic and cutthroat in the auditorium! Grant said his seven saved seats in the perfect location were almost stolen several times in the 10 minutes before our family arrived! 

By the time I got to my seat just before curtain, he was already overwhelmed, and had no idea what to expect since he had never been to a dance recital. He had only been to the dance studio twice before. He was completely impressed after the first 30 seconds of the opening number! (The teachers and dancers are incredibly talented.) This year's recital theme was Pop Royalty, featuring songs from Madonna, Prince, Michael Jackson, and many more!

Lily was the first of our girls to take the stage for her tap number! I'm not going to lie. My hormones were in full force and I was practically sobbing! She looked so sweet up on stage!


Tap Dancing

Tap Dancing

Lexie took the stage next. I was so impressed with her confidence and stage presence! She even missed 6 weeks of dance due to her broken wrist, and it wasn't even noticeable!

Hip Hop

Hip Hop Really Don't Care Dance Recital

The entire first half was amazing and I was able to watch the entire thing! As soon as the lights came on during intermission, I raced back to the dressing rooms to get Lily changed for the second half. I was very surprised to see the girls already dressed for the second half! Lexie got Lily completely ready, and they were sitting on the floor eating snacks, putting on makeup and watching the recital on the TV.

Dance Recital

Dance Recital

Dance Recital

Lexie and Lily said they loved dancing onstage, and they couldn't wait for the second half! When I left them to return to my seat for the second time, I didn't feel the least bit guilty!

Lily performed her ballet/jazz number during the second half! It was so sweet, and made me cry even harder than the first dance!



After her dance was over, I raced back through the dark auditorium, to get her changed for the finale, then returned to my seat. The girls were energized, excited and ready to perform!

Dance recital finale

Dance Recital

Lexie and Lily's first dance recital was fantastic! The excitement on their faces during the finale brought tears to my eyes, especially when they released the confetti over the stage. They were caught up in the excitement and so thrilled to be a part of something so special. They were both bitten by the dance bug that afternoon!

Studio 19 Dance Complex

As for what the future holds, I'm not sure! Lexie was completely certain that she was giving up dance in the Fall for soccer, but now she wants to dance again. Lily will be starting Summer dance on July 3rd, then taking a few classes during the regular season. After that, she can decide whether she want to join the competitive team or not. I may not be the "perfect" dance mom, but I will do what makes them happy! And it looks like dancing does just that!


I ran back to get the girls, and help them gather the tutu and glitter explosion, as soon as the curtain closed. We rushed back to the lobby so my mom and dad could congratulate them on a great performance. (Grant's mom and nannie left immediately after Lily's second dance, but I'm so glad they got to see most of the show.)

Dance Recital

We were blown away by the dance recital and so proud of our two dancing queens! I can't wait to see what the future holds for both of our girls!

Dance Recital

Dancing Queens The Dance Recital

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