Monday, June 4, 2018

Today is the Day!

The day has finally arrived!  Grace's trip to Europe begins!  We started this journey about a year and a half ago when she got the invitation to go on the trip and she and Dave went to the first meeting.  They were excited about her going from the very get go.  Me?  Not so much. But I quickly came around.  At the time, it seemed like it was so far off.  And even, over the past few months, it still seemed like it would be awhile before she would actually be leaving. Then today actually arrived.  We got most of her packing done over the weekend and just had a few toiletries and odds and ends to do today.  I took the day off of work to spend with her and do any last minute tasks that needed to be done.  And we actually spent this morning at her pediatricians office to get a referral to an allergist for the hives that she's been getting for the past month.  That's another story!  

She requested Smashburger for her last American meal before leaving the country so we went there for lunch.  Dave worked this morning but came home shortly after lunch.  Unfortunately, I had scheduled a well-check for Zach for 3 pm today, the exact same time that Grace was supposed to be at the airport.  At the time I made the appointment, I didn't have her flight schedule.  So, Dave said his goodbye's to grace at home and took Zach to the doctor while I took Grace to the airport.

We were to meet everyone in the lobby/check in area and her friend Hannah, and her family, were already there when we got there. So, we went ahead and got the girls checked in and got their boarding passes.  We were hoping to be able to change their seats so they could sit together, but the Delta agent wasn't able to do it but said they could ask someone to switch with them once they boarded.

We hung out in that area while waiting on everyone to arrive and check in.

Grace and Hannah

Mrs. Vaughn told everyone to go ahead and say their goodbyes unless we were planning on walking up to security with them.  Grace looked at me and asked me if I would, so of course I said "yes".  Hannah's family said their goodbye's as well as Grace's other roommate, Rachel's mom.  Hannah and Rachels' moms got teary and started to cry and I almost lost it watching them but I said "no".  I'm not going to cry.  I'm excited for Grace and this amazing trip and opportunity so I sucked it up and laughed and just followed the girls to security.

Grace, Hannah and Rachel

 Once we go to the security checkpoint, I did have to say my goodbye's to Grace and we hugged and kissed.  I reminded her to soak up every moment and have a blast!  I told her that the best gift or souvenir she could bring me was lots of pictures of everything she sees and does and pictures with her in them!  And to journal!  I want her to fill her journal with her thoughts about the trip, things she sees, what she does, the sights and smells and how everything makes her feel.  I want her to journal, journal, journal!  Add her journaling to the pictures that she will hopefully take and we will get an amazing blog book/souvenir of her trip!  

I stayed at the gate while they went through the line, up to the point she showed her passport and boarding pass and then went through security. Once it looked like she made it through security OK, I texted her to make sure and told her I was leaving unless she needed me.  We texted our goodbyes and I left her there.  

As I am writing this, I just got a notification a few minutes ago that her flight to Atlanta had landed and then she texted me to let me know she had landed. She has a layover of a couple of hours in Atlanta then she is on her way to Heathrow Airport in London.  I'm so excited for her and can't wait to see all the pictures and hear all about her adventures!
In the TSA line

All through security and ready to go!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Only 5 Days Till Grace's Trip of a Lifetime!

First semester of Grace's freshman year, she received an invitation in her Pre-AP English class to go on a trip to Europe with EF Tours.  Evidently, you had to have a teacher recommendation to be invited to go on the trip.  At the time, I thought "that's great" but really didn't think anything more about it.  There was an informational meeting that I was not going to be able to go to but Dave thought that he and Grace should go just to see what it was all about.  

They went to the meeting and came home completely sold on the idea that she should go on this trip. I was not quite as keen about the idea as they were.  First of all, it was going to be very expensive and I had no idea how we would pay for it and secondly I couldn't imagine her going to Europe by herself without us (or at least me!)  But then they proceeded to tell me all about it and where all they would be going and then there was a video they wanted me to watch.  Well, after seeing the video and how excited Grace was about it and realizing that it truly would be a trip of a lifetime and after a few tears, I reluctantly agreed that she should go.  

So, we emailed Mrs. Vaughn, the art teacher who was heading up the trip, and informed her that Grace would be going and then we signed her up.  We started making monthly payments and we made our final payment the first of this month and today, we had our final meeting about the trip!  The time has finally arrived, and she will be leaving on Monday to go to London, Paris, Florence, Rome, Pompeii and Capri for 12 days!  Wow!  I'm so excited for her but also nervous and a little jealous!

Here she is at the final meeting with her friend, Hannah, who is also going on the trip and will be her roommate.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

No Longer a Sophomore and Middle Schooler!

Today was a bittersweet day.  It was the last day of school which meant as of 11:46 a.m, Grace is now an upperclassman as an 11th grader and Zach finished his last year of middle school.  This means we now have two kids in high school, no more driving Zach to school as he will be able to ride with Grace, no more car lines (woo hoo!), no more lockers, and that much closer to college and an empty nest (boo hoo :( ).

Both Grace and Zach had a great 2017-2018 school year.  Grace took some hard classes, Pre-AP English, Pre-AP Algebra 2 and Trig, Pre-AP Calculus, French 1 and 2, Chemistry....She worked hard, studied hard and prioritized, and her grades were proof of this.  Zach also excelled this year and took some tough classes, although I think he's in for a rude awakening come his Freshman year as he is going to have a lot more homework and studying than he had this year.  We are so proud of them both!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry

Grace had been anxiously awaiting the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for months, practically ever since they got engaged and a wedding date was announced.  I'm not sure why she is so enamored with them other than she loves Prince Harry and thinks he's 'hot' and has been a fan of Meghan Markle since watching her play Rachel Zane on Suits. 

The day before the wedding, I set the DVR to start recording at around 4:30 a.m., as soon as the networks started televising. We thought about getting up early and watching it live but just couldn't bring ourselves to get up that early.  

It was a gorgeous wedding and an entertaining one, especially for a Royal Wedding!  I loved how obvious it was that Meghan had a big part in actually planning her wedding and incorporated so much of what she wanted in it.  And the Royals didn't know what to think of Rev. Michael Curry's sermon; their expressions were priceless!  It's definitely worth watching just to see their reactions!

It was a beautiful ceremony and one that we will remember!

Here is a news article from the BBC:

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have become husband and wife in a moving ceremony at Windsor Castle. An emotional-looking prince and his smiling bride exchanged vows and rings before the Queen and 600 guests at St George's Chapel. Ms Markle, wearing a white boat-neck dress by British designer Clare Waight Keller, was walked down the aisle by Prince Charles. At the altar, Prince Harry told her: "You look amazing." After the service the couple - who will now be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - kissed in front of cheering well-wishers on the steps of the chapel. Thousands of members of the public turned out in bright sunshine to see them driven around Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage. Later, Prince Harry drove the couple to their reception in a 1968 silver blue Jaguar that has been converted to run on electric power, with a registration plate that referenced the date - E190518.

Guests at the wedding included Oprah Winfrey, George and Amal Clooney, David and Victoria Beckham and Sir Elton John, who later performed at the wedding reception. Ms Markle's sculpted dress was designed by Ms Waight Keller for French fashion house Givenchy. Most striking was a diamond bandeau tiara, loaned to her by the Queen, and a trailing five-metre silk veil embroidered with the flowers of each country in the Commonwealth. Prince Harry, 33, and his brother and best man, the Duke of Cambridge, wore the frockcoat uniform of the Blues and Royals. He was given special permission from the Queen to keep his short beard as it is customary to be clean-shaven when dressed in Army uniform.

Their 10 young bridesmaids and pageboys - including Prince George and Princess Charlotte - rose to the occasion. However, the excitement became too much for one of the younger ones who started crying just before Ms Markle, 36, entered the chapel.

Prince Charles walked Ms Markle down the aisle, after her father, Thomas, was unable to attend for health reasons. Mr Markle, 73, reportedly watched the ceremony from California. He told the US celebrity website, TMZ: "My baby looks beautiful and she looks very happy." Ms Markle's mother, Doria Ragland, stayed with her daughter overnight before accompanying her to the chapel. Dressed in a pale green Oscar de la Renta dress, with a neat hat, an emotional-looking Ms Ragland sat alone on the bride's side of the chapel for some time. As the witnesses were called to sign the register, Ms Ragland appeared to accept an outstretched hand from Prince Charles with some relief.

In her vows, Ms Markle did not promise to "obey" her husband, while the prince has broken with royal tradition by choosing to wear a wedding ring. Prince Harry's ring is a platinum band with a textured finish and Ms Markle's has been made from a piece of Welsh gold.

'Power in love'
The wedding service combined British tradition with modernity and the bride's African-American heritage. The Most Rev Bishop Michael Curry, the president of the US Episcopal Church, gave an address, the Rt Rev David Conner, Dean of Windsor, conducted the service and the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, officiated.  "There's power, power in love," said Bishop Curry, who was invited to speak by Ms Markle. "If you don't believe me think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to centre around you and your beloved." In a fiery, passionate speech, he also referenced the African-American spiritual song Down by the Riverside, which was sung by slaves, and when he realised he had gone on too long, he told his audience he had better wrap up as "we gotta get you all married!"

Speaking afterwards, Bishop Curry said it was "a joyful thing" to see diversity in the ceremony, adding: "That happened today, in different ways, different songs, different perspectives, different worlds and all of it came together and gave God thanks."

Lady Jane Fellowes, the sister of Prince Harry's late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, gave a reading from the Song of Solomon. Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir performed Ben E King's soul classic Stand By Me during the service.

As the bride and groom signed the register, 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason - who won the 2016 BBC's Young Musician - performed three pieces by Faure, Schubert and Maria Theresia von Paradis. He was accompanied by musicians from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Philharmonia. The gospel choir also performed Etta James' uplifting version of Amen/This Little Light of Mine as the newlyweds left the chapel.

After the service, the duke and duchess travelled through Windsor along a route lined by tens of thousands of well-wishers. The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said more than 100,000 people visited the town on Saturday.

Analysis by BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond

It was a traditional wedding - the dress, the bridesmaids, the vows, the hymns. And it was very, very different. The Palace made it clear in a stream of announcements that they wanted a different kind of wedding. But it was the service that marked this out as a modern, diverse wedding for a modern, diverse couple: the Kingdom Gospel choir setting toes tapping, a young black cellist, and a breathtaking address from Bishop Curry, the President of the Episcopal Church.

Every royal wedding is a chance for the Royal Family to relaunch and reinvent. There may have been trouble in the week before the wedding. But that is in the past. This wedding was about the future, a different future for the Royal Family.

All 600 guests were invited to a lunchtime reception at St George's Hall, hosted by the Queen. The best man, the Duke of Cambridge, acted as compere.

Guests were treated to a performance by Sir Elton John and were served langoustine canapes, Windsor lamb, and champagne and pistachio macaroons. Instead of a formal sit-down dinner, food was served in bowls. The reception also included the cutting of the lemon and elderflower-flavoured wedding cake.

Guest Suhani Jalota, the founder of the India-based Myna Mahila charity, said Elton John performed a "mini-concert". She added that speeches by the Prince of Wales and the groom were "lovely", adding: "Some people were even crying." Posting on Instagram, David Beckham said: "Watching Harry as happy as he was makes us all proud of the man and person he has always been... what a day." Other celebrities attending were tennis star Serena Williams, TV personality James Corden, singer James Blunt, actress Carey Mulligan and former England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson.
Prince Harry's uncle, Earl Spencer; the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson; and the Duchess of Cambridge's sister, Pippa Middleton, were also invited.

Politicians, including Prime Minister Theresa May, were not invited, as it is not a state event.
But the former Prime Minister, Sir John Major - a special guardian on legal matters to Princes William and Harry after the death of their mother - was among the invited guests. About 1,200 members of the public - many who were recognised for their charity work - were invited into the grounds of Windsor Castle for the wedding.

On Saturday evening, the newlyweds are celebrating with 200 close friends and family at a private reception less than a mile from Windsor Castle at Frogmore House, hosted by Prince Charles.
Ms Markle was expected to break with tradition for royal brides and make a speech at the event.
The Royal Family will pay for the wedding, including the service, music, flowers and reception.

Dave's cousin, Troian Bellasario, attended the wedding with her husband, Patrick J. Adams who co-starred with Meghan Markle on Suits.  Grace and I got excited when we saw them on TV as they were entering the chapel!

Flowers and foliage surround the West Door and steps of St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle as the countdown to the service begins.

St George's Chapel was filled with white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves, branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, crafted by floral designer Philippa Craddock.

 Crowds of well-wishers and the world's media gathered in Windsor in the week leading up to the big day.

Prince Harry looked relaxed, waving to the crowds, as he made his way to the chapel with his brother, the Duke of Cambridge.

The Queen arrives at the chapel.

She left her overnight hotel to travel to Windsor Castle with her mother Doria.

Meghan Markle arrives at Windsor Castle.

The Duchess of Cambridge arrived with the bridesmaids and pageboys.

The bride-to-be arrived at Windsor Castle wearing a dress by British designer Claire Waight Keller.

The bride had 10 bridesmaids and pageboys, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Ms Markle was met by Prince Charles, who walked her down the aisle.

Prince Harry lifts Meghan's veil.

The couple exchanged vows and rings before the Queen and 600 guests at St George's Chapel.

Most Rev Michael Curry, the head of Episcopal Church in the US, gave the address, focusing on the idea of love.

The ceremony was watched by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, together with other members of the Royal Family.

The couple became the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after their marriage. 

The newlyweds emerge after the wedding.

The couple kiss on the steps of the chapel.

The newlyweds descend the steps of the chapel to board their carriage.

Doria Ragland, mother of the bride, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall after the wedding.

The duchess wore Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara, loaned to her by the Queen.

Meghan and Prince Harry leave St George's Chapel.

Princess Charlotte waves next to her mother, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family wave after the wedding.

Crowds cheered Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, as they travelled in the horse-drawn Ascot landau.

Crowds filled the streets to watch the procession after the wedding.

Up to 100,000 well-wishers lined the route as the duke and duchess travelled through Windsor.