Friday, 15 August 2014

Wedding Outfits (Mothers)

When I spoke to Brenda last week, we also got to talking about wedding outfits. Not for the bridal party, which we are planning separately, but for the family. Grab a cuppa whilst we flick through the catalogue together.

Brenda mentioned a tradition she encountered when attending a wedding of her close family friends: the mother of the bride wears blue, and the mother of the groom wears pink, and asked if there was anything like that in England that she should be aware of when she came to get her own outfit. I'd never heard of the above tradition -- that wedding had a bride from "the South" (of the USA). It's kind of its own country, in the way that "the North" of England is kind of its own country too. But no, there's nothing like that here.

My Mum has already bought her outfit - the full outfit. Shoes, bag, fascinator, the lot. This is because, before we had a wedding date, we had thought that maybe, once we got a date, we would move really quickly -- 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks maximum, kind of timing. So we were laying the plans in rough draft so they were all ready to go-go-go when the time came.

So Mum has bought her outfit, and it looks lovely. I haven't seen it on yet, but it looks good on the hanger. I hope she won't mind me telling you, it's cream with black accenting. She didn't have the fascinator yet when Brenda and I spoke.

Brenda was asking me about the dress code. Obviously it's a wedding, so "fancy" is appropriate. She asked about hats and fascinators. Mum really does not have a hat face, which is why I thought she'd get a fascinator. She'd been trying different ones on in a few different places, but I think Brenda will get a hat. Maybe a big hat. I didn't tell her this, but I think a blue will look great on Brenda. I hope she finds something great!

(Sidebar: family friends of my own once had to fly to Italy for their daughter's wedding, and she -- Mother -- had a massive hat that needed its own seat. The Italian airport on the way back was actually considerably less perplexed by the idea of paying for an extra seat for the hat, than the British airport were for the journey out there.)

Oh, and Mum bought her fascinator the day after this conversation; she walked past a stall in the shopping centre that she'd never seen before and they had the EXACT fascinator she wants, right there. The EXACT same shade of cream as the shoes (that are just a smidgeon lighter than the dress), it was cream edged in black and not black edged in cream, like she needed, and was of the clippy variety, seeing as Mum had tried various headband styles and found they hurt her ears.

Things like that happen to Mum a lot. She grabbed a scarf and paid for it quickly in a shop in Amsterdam when they were on a river cruise and her coat let in a draught. They only had a few minutes before the boat left again, and she couldn't have picked a colour closer to the colour of her coat if she'd spent three months looking. When she and my stepdad were getting married, the first cake shop they went into had the exact cake that she wanted as one of the displays. They tried to offer to change the shape of the cake, the number of tiers, the shape or colour of the protruding decorations, and it took five times to tell them that she wanted a copy of that cake, exactly as it was.

We finally also set a date for the four-way calling, so I wonder if Mum will show Brenda her outfit then?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

TBT - Crying on my bed

I heard this song again on the radio today. Make some tea and listen to it, and try not to cry.
Right Here Waiting, by Richard Marx.

This was the song I listened to and cried (and cried) to, after I returned from visiting Pete last October. Sad times.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Always On

This is a story for a cup of tea, with two friends curled up on the sofa. Go put the kettle on and then come back.

Things have been difficult here lately. I've had headaches quite a lot, and I've been getting overwhelmed. I realised today that at least part of the problem is that I'm required to always "be on". Looking after kids is a full-on, ALL day endeavour. Living in a could-be-tidier household is an "always-on" endeavour, because there's always something to be done to make it nicer. Housework is never "done"; there's always something else to do and research with wedding planning, and the same goes for running a blog and trying to get a consistent schedule.

None of which is necessarily a problem, just that I'm not getting much of the payoff for it -- the kids' parents get all the lovey-dovey moments, I'm planning this wedding but not with Pete as such, etc.

I need to be gentle with myself. I'll still be writing, I have lots of ideas, but for now I am skipping things like Make-a-plan Monday, Wedding Planning Wednesday, etc.

I'll be gentle with myself and I'll let you know how it goes. How are you, friends? Let me make some more tea too.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Soft place to land

I got to talking with one of the bridesmaids recently, about something that came up during Pete's and my pre-marital counseling; one of the questions we were asked was, "What do you consider the husband's role in a marriage relationship? What do you consider the wife's role?" Do you want to get some tea whilst we explore that?

There are people who would say something like, "There aren't really any differences, it works exactly the same way as it does in a gay relationship, it's just that one happens to be a man and the other happens to be a woman."

Yet, if a person believes that men and women are even a little bit different on the inside, then the above can't hold true. That's not to say anything against gay relationships, just that they are at least a little bit different from straight ones, because the people are different.

When I expressed that I thought the wife's role is to provide "a soft place to land" for her husband, it was met with some confusion. What I mean by that is things like, when he's been out at work, when he's tired, busy and stressed, a wife should be someone who will run her husband a bath and rub his feet, not berate him for all the things he hasn't done or try to tear him in two directions by wanting other things from him when he's already trying his best. She's a warm, inviting smile that makes him happy to come home at the end of the day, and not want to head off down the pub.

Now, I run with the feminist crowd, and I would like to point out that yes, women have brains in their heads and deserve to be treated with respect and equality, without risk of sexual assault and should be able to be in control of their own lives, bodies and families with reference only to relevant people such as her immediate family and medical practitioner, not her employer or some dudebro who thinks she should do what he says.

I would also like to point out that no, men are not "entitled" to have baths run for them and so forth, and that yes, I can see how doing that sort of thing regularly might make him feel more entitled in the outside world, but that isn't really the point. The point is kindness.

In this culture, at least, we have the choice to get married or not, and we do so of our own free will. But in making that choice, the biggest choice we'll ever make in our lives, why wouldn't we want to make the little sacrifices that mean we don't end up regretting that choice? More to the point, why wouldn't we want to be kind to the person we love most in the world?

Kindness is a two-way street, of course, but I am not responsible for the way my neighbour behaves, even if that neighbour is my husband; I am only responsible for me. I can only change me. And I'm answerable to a higher authority than the feminist crowd. I'm answerable to Christ.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Spirit Sundays -- Community

Today's my birthday, and it hadn't been marked that well. Well, looking back on it, there are people who've gone out of their way for me; Pete stayed up late to talk to me when it was midnight his end, morning my end. My sister came back for the weekend even if she was out last night, my stepdad has cooked pancakes for our breakfast and a roast chicken dinner for our lunch, and my oldest friend had me round to her house yesterday for pizza, wine and a good ole catch-up. And yet, as of this morning in church, it all felt very low key. Not one single person from church remembered, even though most of them have me on Facebook. Only a few people on Facebook messaged me too, most of whom were family relatives or who had also sent me cards (and one whom I haven't spoken to for four years).

And I cried at church. Big, fat, unstoppable tears of self-pity rolling down my face! Tears that were completely deserved. I hadn't/haven't been keeping up with other  people's birthdays, I haven't been sending them cards and presents and Facebook messages, for the most part, and that hurts when it comes back around again, but I know full well I can't actually complain about it.

When I told my friend from church the harvest I was reaping, she just reminded me that God can fix everything, and that no-one is perfect -- it's very easy just to get wrapped up in ourselves. So she gave me her baby to cuddle and promised to pray for me, which is everything I could ask for, really.

Then, when I got in, the person that things we the most not-ok with had dropped a card through my letterbox, so that prayer has been answered and maybe, just maybe, things are on the way to improving? I was doing the happy-dance because of this!

Then, like I said, we had a nice lunch with the family, we played games (and I beat everyone at Cluedo! Yay me!), and I have seen loved ones Friday, twice on Saturday -- different people -- and mostly all day today. So I think God is giving me a community back, slowly, and I'm going to do my part too. Happy Birthday, Sarah.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Two headstrong women

I finally caught up with Brenda today. She's fine, she's just been busy. We chatted for quite a long while. She's excited about being able to say, "I have family in England!" She's so cute. We're getting a pet together when I move out there. We'll surprise Pete with it! (Hi, honey!)

She's been a real advocate for me. I told her the rough draft of the wedding schedule and she replied, "Sounds great!" She's the only one who has done this... and I'm really glad she has. I needed an advocate about it. I can be very headstrong, and I know I sometimes need reining in, although honestly, I don't think I need it as often as other people say I do. What I suggest (and then stick like glue to), I'm almost always open to suggestions about. But then, the suggestions come, and more often than not, they are things I've already considered, so I don't think they're worth re-examining. And if, having examined this point in the first instance, I arrived (tentatively) at a particular conclusion, and that's the best they've got to poke holes in it, I'm going to become more convinced that that is the correct position and therefore more entrenched in it, which is where people look at it and say "I won't be told." I think they're wrong.

Brenda is actually, just as headstrong as I am. Maybe more so! But, she wields that power well and sparingly. If it is something she can give on, she will, and is happy to do so. She knows the boundary of her own opinion and isn't domineering, and she possesses oodles of one of the qualities I admire most: emotional honesty. Honest about feelings, and particularly about motives. Straightforward, I guess. What you see is what you get. Which is... love. Gentleness (unless you cross her). Kindness.

And welcome.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Throwback Thursday - When Sarah Met Brenda, part II

Sorry this is late, friends. Find part I here.


We drove back to Pete and Brenda's apartment, parked a good way away because parking spaces in that complex are few and far between, and lugged my stuff all the way to where they live. Opened the door straight in to the sitting room, and nearly tripped over the end of the guest-bed before Pete could get the light on.

I had anticipated being too tired to meet Brenda properly that night, thank God. Pete had asked if she could be asleep when we arrived. Brenda said "I can be in my room with the door shut," which is basically the same thing. What I hadn't anticipated, was a beautiful hand-made card with my name on propped up on my pillow. Pete commented that that had not been there when he'd left the house. Inside was a welcoming note filled with love. I was so touched, I might have cried.

Still wired from getting to see Pete, I think I needed a snuggle from him even more than the sleep I desperately craved, so that happened, and then I went to bed. Slept like a baby and sweltered under the thick fleecy blanket Brenda hadn't realised I wouldn't need, given that I was visiting a warmer climate.

The next morning, I was the first awake, which I was glad about. 8am with light streaming through the patio window next to me, and I was up! (I learned how to close the shades ready for the next night.)

I spent some time on the patio by myself that morning, in my pyjamas. Looking at the sky, that beautiful sky, praying and writing in my travel journal, and I think I really needed that to collect myself.  I love that patio. I love that sky.

Not long after Pete was up and Brenda had heard us talking, she timidly came out of her room to make a cup of coffee and gave the most massive hug. She said "I'm so happy to meet you" and "I love you already", and we were friends for life.

Wedding Planning Wednesday -- Gathering my Supplies

Sorry for the delay, my internet crashed just as I was about to post. Good job I saved it!


A fortnight ago, I didn't really have any papers for wedding planning. A few items (mostly flyers and business cards) were in a box. My Mum had quite a lot of papers too. We had a good ole session making an actual plan about ten days ago. The numbers of papers I have seems to have multiplied.

I wrote a to-do list (I did about 75% of it and then lost the list -- better than my usual batting average!). I have a piece of paper I've drawn a rough draft of the invites on. I have prices for some things now, and not just in my head. I relocated the "bride's book of lists" we bought when we were first engaged, in the USA, so now I have that with me (and it's actually useful! Tell that to 10-months-ago-me who was crossing things out in it left right and centre). The samples for the bridesmaids dresses have also arrived; all of my stuff is in a big gift bag that came with a present someone from church gave me in preparation for the wedding.

Since then I also have more lists. Lists, lists, lists! I have to confess, it's great not having everything in my head. I didn't even realise that until I'd written it down.

I'm getting together with almost all of the bridesmaids, individually, this weekend. (Ironically, the noticeable absence from that list is the one I live with, who is currently away camping.) The one who loves notebooks is going to try to sell me on notebooks to put all of my wedding papers in. I am open to convincing, but I still haven't ruled out a more binder-like structure. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The elusive Brenda

I've been trying to speak to Brenda for about a week. She's been around, we have interacted via facebook, but not to chat specifically. I hope she's ok :-/

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Spirit Sundays -- The 'Not Going to Church' Version

I haven't been to church this morning. Partly for reasons, partly not.

Only 6% of adults in the UK go to church more often than not, but those 6% do wonder what the rest of the adults get up to on the Sunday mornings that we're filling the pews. More time running errands or finishing the D.I.Y.? That's a sad state of affairs for the country.

Visiting family (as my Sundays always were before I became a believer)? Well, I still spend many of my Sunday afternoons doing that, too. Sleeping or reading a book - yes, Sunday afternoons for those too.

Sports? There's some of that, but it's probably not as prevalent as it is in the USA. Working? Staffing all those shops and D.I.Y. shops for the people in the first paragraph, and (the one that bites) waiting tables for the after-church crowds? Not forgetting of course the many necessary workers in hospitals and police stations, even power stations I suppose. In this case, it's up to the church to do church things at other times.

Churches, at least in most them, in this country, tend to be rather like pubs, and people will travel further afield to find the one that they like rather than going to the most local one even though, on the surface, it's the same thing.

Perhaps that contributes to the feeling that Sunday sometimes feels as crowded as all the others. I love church, but today, watching cookery shows over brunch feels like a welcome fresh breeze. I'm going to use the day to do the things I don't have time for on regular days, like watching videos on the internet rather than reading blogs. Pause. Is this what you're doing to?

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Integrating with the Natives

I just asked for a band-aid. Rather than a plaster, which is what we call them over here. (Don't worry, my thumb is fine. I just knocked the scab off whilst washing up.)

I have been known to say things like "Shall I put this in the trunk [boot]?" or "Can I borrow ten bucks? I mean, ten pounds?", and I have been mocked for saying "Stick it in the trash can" rather than "Put it in the bin."

That being said, I don't think I'll ever say "Math." ;-)