Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.
Low: Last Wednesday, I broke one of my contacts (the rigid gas-permeable type) and have had to wear my glasses for days. I finally had an eye exam today with my new optometrist today, so the contacts are on order!
High: Today is our second snow day in a row here in Great Bend. The school district and college preemptively canceled classes on Tuesday and then it snowed all day, blanketing the town with at least five inches of snow… granting us a second day of “snow vacation.” We have spent the past couple days doing laundry, keeping the house tidy, and watching mini-marathons of West Wing and Quantum Leap on Netflix.
I also like to bake when I am snowed in, something Brian had not yet experienced with me. In all, I made Apple Pie Streusel Muffins, roasted chicken, tamale pie casserole, and peanut butter cookies.
What were your lows and highs from the past week? Do any of them involve snow?
Where Does the Time Go?
Somehow October flew by and I have not been very inspired or prolific when it comes to writing of all sorts.
At the beginning of October, we had a CCF cookout complete with hot dog roasting and s’mores!
Our nephew, Eli, turned one and we were able to visit the weekend before. He is curious and strong-willed, and very expressive. He went through a phase (and maybe is still in it) where he stared blankly at anyone trying to take his picture with a camera or phone. On this visit, though, I flipped the camera view on my phone so he could see our image while I took the photos and he had fun making these faces!
Taking selfies with a cute nephew – Embarrassing or excusable? Vote in the comments!
Fall Break, Parents’ Visit, Snow
My parents came out to visit while Brian and I were on fall break. We wanted it to be a relaxing weekend for all of us but Dad and Brian finished their one project (replacing the furnace filters) and also tackled replacing bathroom outlets, removing and adjusting door hinges, and repairing a kitchen drawer support. Mom and I cooked, tidied, and did manicures.
We did squeeze in a fun dinner-and-games night with our friends Pennie and Clay, a movie night, and a yummy Chinese buffet lunch, too.
I had hoped to take our guests on some walking adventures through our local zoo and the nature preserve, but the first snow of the season arrived on October 18 and canceled our outdoor plans.
For one of our weekly dates, Brian took me to a pumpkin patch and corn maze. We wound our way through the maze and found all the markers, then took photos with some of the biggest pumpkins I have ever seen! Brian’s thumbs-up in the collage is because he ordered sweet tea at lunch and the waitress left him a glass and a pitcher full of tea. He was a happy guy!
The CCF group helped serve snow cones at the college’s Halloween party. Brian was Mayhem from the Allstate commercials and I was Flo from Progressive. Rounding out our group of leaders, Clay was Jake from State Farm, Pennie was the Orbitz “clean it up!” girl.
Funny story: I sketched the lettering for my Flo apron on paper and then transferred the outline onto the apron and painted it in acrylic. When I was about halfway through painting (starting at the E and working backwards), Brian came over for a look and frowned.
“Um… you forgot the I.”
“What?!” I had a tiny bit of space between the S and V so I squeezed in the missing letter and moved on.
It so happened that my sister was on speaker phone when he told me and she thought it was hilarious because I am usually good at conventional spelling and she was a more phonetic speller as a kid.
Share your funny (mis)spelling story or tell about your Halloween costume.
We do not have our official wedding photos back yet but here are some of our favorite informal ones!
Clockwise from the top left:
1. Groomsmen looking sharp: Mark, Chris, Clay (the best man), and Ben.
2. Cool, secret-agent-like ushers: Luke, Brian, Conner, and Cliff.
3. Lovely bridesmaid (and new sister-in-law!) Shanna.
4. Beautiful bridesmaid Laura.
5. Officiant Jon, looking relaxed.
6. Us with our attendants and ushers, looking a bit formal.
7. Personal attendant Rene, a rock star at organizing and assisting (note the way she easily holds three phones, a water cup, and a bouquet!)
8. Glowing matron of honor Sara (my favorite biological sister)
Left to right from top left:
1 & 2. Getting dressed: Mom safety-pinned my dress straps because she did not trust the snaps. She told me to have someone check them if I felt anything tear or give way. Sara added that I should get help if I felt stabbing or bleeding and we cracked up.
3. Mom kisses Ben, my brother, after helping with his boutonniere.
4. Clay is a good sport about getting drafted to hold a bouquet.
5. My side of the family.
6. Brian’s side of the family. Interestingly, both grandmas pictured are on our dad’s sides, are named Ruth, and were born January 17 (one year apart)! Crazy, huh?
7. One of Brian’s favorite wedding day photos of me. I was laughing at the groom and groomsmen antics while they were posing for photos.
8. Josh, my brother-in-law, with Eli, my nephew. Eli’s ensemble is a white onesie with attached gray vest and purple tie because my sister is creative and handy with sewing! She added a purple band to his favorite hat (because he doesn’t like sun in his eyes or sunglasses).
9. Wedding party picture. I think our instructions were something like, “Okay, now act silly… or really excited… or something.”
10. Brian with his grandma Ruth.
11. The five of us girls grew close during our years in senior high girls’ Bible study with Andrea, our youth pastor’s wife. When the first one of us got married in 2007, we decided this photo would have to be our special tradition. Five years later, this was the fifth wedding.
12. Jon prays with the bridesmaids and me right before the ceremony begins. He told me, “This has been the most relaxed, special, fun wedding.”
13. A kiss from Dad as we wait around the corner from the sanctuary.
14. A high five from my brother, Luke, right before he and Conner open the doors for our entrance.
15. “You may kiss your bride.” At the reception, a dear, long-time family friend quizzed me, “I have to ask, was that a first kiss? Like, the first kiss?”
I smiled, “Um, no. It wasn’t.”
“Dang, I lost a dollar!”
16. My parents kissing after we drove away in a shower of bubbles.
The day before our wedding was hot but cooled off a little in the late afternoon when thunderstorms rolled in. As we gathered for the rehearsal, my dad warned everyone we may have to take shelter because the storms were likely to produce tornados. My response was something like, “Okay, let us know if we have to move.”
We ended up having to take shelter twice in two of the church bathrooms (there were two consecutive storms or one big one with two parts). The second storm was the biggest and Dad had us take cover in the shelters right before the city tornado sirens sounded. (A storm-wary dad with a smart phone is better than a weather radio and faster than tornado sirens!)
While we were in the shelters/bathrooms the second time, the power went out. Eventually, the worst of the storm passed and we emerged to a dark church and flooded parking lot (as far as I know, no vehicles were damaged).
Conveniently, we had planned to have the rehearsal dinner in the fellowship hall and the lasagna stayed warm in the ovens. There was still no power, though, so the hall was very dark. I saw someone start lighting tea lights on the tables and realized I had better candles. I recruited my brother-in-law, an usher, and a friend to help me get most of the pillar candles decorating the sanctuary and put them around the dinner tables.
One of the guests seemed surprised, “These are your wedding candles! Are you sure you want to use them?”
“Oh, sure! They won’t burn down much. At my sister’s wedding, we burned the pillar candles all day and barely made a dent.”
Before dinner was over, the power came back on. As people finished eating, Brian stood up to thank everyone. His speech began something like, “Abby and I would like to thank everyone for being a part and – oh, we have a fire!” By the time his sentence registered in my brain, he was already at a nearby table, snatching a burning paper napkin and dropping it on the floor to put it out. Everyone was fine and I found out later that one of the kids had been playing with a tea light. Poking a candle with a paper napkin is not advisable!
Brian finished his thank-you speech and we wrapped up the rest of the evening without further incidents. As Brian drove me to my apartment, I told him, “After what happened today, I think there’s something we need to discuss that most couples don’t think about.”
“If we have to take shelter during our wedding tomorrow, I’m not waiting anymore, I’d want Jon to marry us in the shelter.”
“I don’t think there are any storms forecasted for tomorrow.”
“I don’t care. If there’s another tornado, will you marry me in the shelter?”
He laughed, “Yes. Maybe we could stand with Jon between the two bathrooms and finish the ceremony there so people could see from both sides!”
What’s your funniest or most memorable rehearsal story? Ours is a tornado, a flood, a power outage, and a fire!
I had an intense headache that started around noon on Sunday and worsened as we posed for engagement pictures. It reached its worst as I drove home from our weekend celebrations. It finally abated a bit when I took a power nap in my car when I stopped to run some errands.
1) I enjoyed the way people enthusiastically participated in Brian’s birthday surprise.
2) Brian’s aunt and uncle hosted a lovely and fun engagement party for us. The food was delicious and I enjoyed seeing some of our family members meet and interact for the first time.
3) On Sunday afternoon, the weather was sunny and over 60, which made our outdoor engagement photo session much nicer than it could have been in February! Our photographer is sweet and energetic and creative and took some terrific pictures.
What were your lows and highs from the past week?
Brian’s fortieth birthday was last week so I wanted a fun and memorable way to celebrate him. Even though we live 250 miles apart, we planned to meet at his parents’ house for his birthday dinner on his actual birthday (and other engagement festivities during the weekend).
Out of Nowhere
Brian knew something was up when he was setting up for college Bible study the night before his birthday. A few students were already in the room when one of the girls stuck her head in and motioned them to come outside. When he walked through the hall a few minutes later, the students immediately stopped talking. Near the beginning of Bible study, the ringleader gave him an envelope that contained a decorated plastic zipper bag and a note from me. He was about halfway through the letter when the students began throwing ping-pong balls at him! On each ping-pong ball, I had written a milestone from his life and a note from me.
The last part of the letter explained:
To honor and celebrate you on your milestone birthday, I have prepared an unconventional highlight reel of a few of the experiences, achievements, and blessings of your life so far. Enjoy!
The next morning, on his birthday, Brian stood chatting with colleagues who share the same office area and told them about the students’ ambush from the night before. He went to his morning class and was trying to call the office secretary when she and the rest of his colleagues came “charging in and throwing ping-pong balls.” Brian was so surprised that he gaped at them, still holding the phone until it went to voicemail. He was not, however, as shocked as the student who was caught in the crossfire next to him!
Flashback: The Setup
Over a week before Brian’s birthday, I secretly recruited my co-conspirators via email and Facebook and then mailed them each a box of decorated ping-pong balls. They may have thought it was a weird request but both cheerfully agreed to help and to enlist others.
Back to the Birthday
After birthday dinner with his family and some relatives, Brian opened his gifts and wisely (or cautiously?) saved mine for last. The first package held a large jar and I asked if he knew what it was for.
“I have an idea.”
“You’re probably right. Where is that bag I suggested you keep handy?”
“In my car.”
“You should really go get it.”
“Oh, really?” He grinned as he started out of the room slowly and looked behind him. When he saw me going to get something, he began moving quickly in the direction of the car. I called after him, “Take your time!” but he didn’t listen and was back in the living room before we finished passing around the ping-pong balls. Brian sat there smiling and laughing while we all threw our projectiles at him and even his grandma joined in the fun!
Side note: The jar I liked and purchased to hold the ping-pong balls did not come with a lid, so my dad made a custom lid out of walnut.
People ask how ping-pong balls became a symbol of our relationship. The short answer is that I have a vivid imagination and Brian listened and then added his own romantic spin. It has escalated from there.