Looking at all the incredible photographs from this past weekend fills me with gratitude and joy. My favorite nephew (please do not tell the others), Collin got married. The wedding was in Santa Barbara. The weekend included the rehearsal dinner on Friday followed by an incredible cocktail party on the rooftop of the Hotel Californian. Saturday was the BIG day. A spectacular, Christ-centered service outside officiated by the fathers of the bride and groom. Both put their trust in their dads to perform the nuptials, and they did so flawlessly. From the sound of nature and the beautiful band singing praise songs, to the scenic view from our seats, it was magical.
Anyone that has a child/adult with disabilities knows that a weekend away requires planning and preparation. For our family, the planning for this weekend seemed next level, and at times, a mission impossible. You would think finding caregivers for Emily would be the most difficult of the tasks to check off the list. Our family is fortunate to have wonderful people in our lives that stepped up and helped to make sure her needs were met so we could attend Collin and Saylor’s wedding weekend. Emily’s care was coordinated between two amazing caregivers and friends that covered the weekend. I scheduled caregivers the moment I received the “save the date” invitation in the mail. This was not an event I was going to miss.
Getting my boys on board with a black-tie event proved a bit more challenging. Todd and Justin are jeans, tees, and Carhartt men. I am fairly certain Todd hasn’t seen the inside of a tuxedo since 1992 (the year both Todd and I, AND his brother and sister-in-love wed). Times have changed, but I will say tuxedos have pretty much stayed the same. Once they had absorbed the shock that tuxedos were required, I let them know they must also wear suits for the rehearsal dinner and cocktail party. That had them teetering on the edge of the cliff. They recovered until I brought up beard trimming. Remember Duck Dynasty? (Todd could be Phil and Si’s brother and Justin could be Willie and Jase’s cousin.) We scheduled beard and hair appointments to make sure they looked appropriate for the festivities. It definitely took more effort to get the men camera-ready than it took me (and they say women are high maintenance)! After sorting out the details and some shopping, the men were handled.
Now, the dogs! Really, what the heck to do with them? I discussed with Todd that I thought it would be too much to leave the caregivers with our disabled daughter, blind and deaf 16-year-old poodle, and the unpredictable (and possibly bi-polar) rescue dog. We decided the safest thing was to kennel Coco. At 16, she has never been kenneled. I found a bougie dog hotel that offered private suites. I got all the requirements in order and handed over the credit card. We relegated Ben to the back half of the house when we left Friday afternoon. He would have to stay there until the second caregiver arrived around 8 or 9 pm. He did not seem to take to the first shift caregiver. We found out later that he tried to eat Sommer that evening when she went to give him free rein to roam. His fight response only lasted a short time and by Sunday morning they were friends, for now.
The wonderful village kept everyone alive and safe. The dogs survived, but they seemed slightly traumatized by the weekend, especially Coco. Emily was not feeling great on Saturday and Sommer had some extra work added. It is not fun to deal with Emily when she has digestive issues, so I am extra grateful. Sommer was kind enough to throw the fish some flake and give the chickens some scratch. (Collin was shocked to hear that Guacamole is alive 12 years after he suggested I get rid of him. Lucky for Guacamole, I have his back.) Sommer made sure Emily was showered, shampooed, and shined. She even organized Emily’s shirt drawers. I know Emily got the best care while we were gone. The dogs will recover, and the boys looked terrific.
I am having trouble describing the beauty of this weekend. I cannot remember the last time I experienced so much love in one place. It was a weekend of warmth, love, family, and fellowship. It was like a delicious cup of coffee on the deck watching the sun come up over the horizon. It was like the sun setting over the ocean in January. It was perfect. It was beautiful. It was painted in perfection and love. This weekend I felt the love of my family and friends, but I also felt God’s love. While I know God is always with me, sometimes I miss His whispers and forget to see the beauty He surrounds me in, but this weekend his presence was palpable in the sounds, in the setting, and in my soul.
Note: I wanted to include as many photographs as possible so please cut me some slack on placement and text. I know beards, dog, and bodily fluid text is not usually sandwiched between stunning wedding photos, but I roll a little differently (#adultingdifferently). Also, a special thank you to Tarah Reynolds at Salon Glam for always keeping our hair (and beards) on point when needed!
Thank you Guy and Stephanie for making sure our weekend was easy and wonderful. Thank you for making all the arrangements: from hotel rooms to transportation to events. We appreciate the love and support you have given us through the years. I could not imagine the Short Life without you and the kids in it. You have been my rock through some tough seasons. Thank you!