Saturday, January 31, 2015

TCP Part 4: The Circus Cleans up real-nice

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3

Part Four: Friday, January 9, 2015
(Photos all taken by John Dols who had Troy's camera. This post has more photos than any post in history, and I am having trouble knowing where to stop.)
Writing about the wedding day may be hard for me to do sequentially. I will do my best to recall things in a less A.D.D way than my brain holds things. 

Also, on the wedding day I made a conscious decision to withhold crying until later. The potential of flooding, drowning the guests, hyper-ventilation followed by mouth to mouth from someone other than Troy, along with the risk of ruined make-up all helped me come to the decision to delay feeling my feelings until later.  

(I have since watched Sarah Braverman's wedding on the Parenthood finale AND the wedding of Paige and Michael two times; sobbed my eyes out all the times. I write this post without eyes.) 

~         ~         ~

We slept an hour and 41 minutes between Thursday evening and Friday morning of the wedding. 

The alarm went off at 5am and we cursed ourselves for doing a morning wedding. 

Paige woke Graham up to nurse him before we headed to the hair/makeup appointments we had set for shortly after 6am. 

Paige and I went first. Britt and Lydia followed us a little later. Thankfully Hope and Phoebe had their hair freshly braided before we left home and they didn't need to wake up before the sun. My Mom also met us at the hair place.  The hair-ladies that greeted us were sassy and fun, we enjoyed the next two hours of watching one another get artistic up-dos. 

Paige and I had our make up done. Paige looked utterly amazing.  I, on the other hand, looked like an entirely different person. My eyebrows and lips were increased drastically. The circumference of my lips freaked people out until it wore off a couple hours into the day. 

The strong brow thing might be in fashion, but there is a difference between a strong brow and Bert from Sesame Street.  The problem was, time on the clock allowed for zero tantrums or fits or changes. We went out the door without asking for a reduction of anything; beautiful Paige and the lady with the intimidating brows. 

After the hair and makeup was finished we raced home to meet the other bridesmaids and help Paige get dressed. 

Meanwhile, at the ranch, KJ had the guys setting up chairs and tying bows on chair-covers and putting table decorations out.

Tara's Dad, John and Josh - Masters of tying decorative bows on chairs
(see proof of experience above)
Soon to be brothers, working on awesome breath 

While the guys were getting ready and we were heading toward the ranch, other people in our lives were by their computers ready to join us.  

Troy told me a story about the boys getting ready that included Isaac getting white powder all over his suit pants and being oblivious about it. Isaac was attempting to shove his size 11.5 feet into Troy's size 9.5 shoes because he didn't recognize any of the shoes. They wer all new to him. When they weren't fitting he tried the powder to help make it fit. 

I am told that had Chris Bernard not been there to help with the boys, one of their lives could have ended that very morning. Father of the Bride takes down young groomsman moments before ceremony. Probably would have been a real bummer for the bride. Thank you, Chris.

As a last minute idea Troy asked our friend "Tex" (Harold) if a live-stream of the wedding was at all possible (you may remember he lived in Haiti for three months and he is often a wizard-person in our lives - dropping in with awesome technology that helps everything work better for us).  

Harold figured it out in six seconds. Because of him Paige's Grandma & Aunt Laura in Minnesota, Michael's brother in the Army, our staff at the Maternity Center, cousins, and family & friends from dozens of places all got to tune in.  

I am a little sad we don't actually have a list of everyone that watched it live. I think a guest book from the electronic wedding would be fun for Paige and Michael to have.  There was a hilarious comment thread during the wedding, but we know that the obnoxious and sarcastic friends/family chimed in - we are guessing a lot of folks stayed quiet. 

A tiny piece of the on-line chat is included below. 

Laura Liveay attends from the High School that employs her

Keight Dukes attends from her work too
Geronne watching from Haiti (because the US Embassy wouldn't give her a visa to come)
Thanks to ALL the Virtual Wedding Attendees.  
We're sorry you missed out on the Mimosas and French Toast.

Keight Dukes This is extra best because we can totally talk during the wedding and not get dirty looks! I'm going to have my husband live stream all future weddings to me while I wait in the car.

Nick Mangine I see the Cox family!

Lisa Slater We need a Steel Magnolias move here with the birds

thesextoncrew I keep trying to "like" comments.  Doesn't work here.

Nick Mangine I am seriously feeling anxiety at the prospect of people accidentally talking smack or having their butt in front of the camera.

Aaron Ivey 
Aaron Ivey yeah i asked harold to have people wave at us!!!

Nick Mangine The birds in the "background" are better than the hum of a generator if she was having this shindig in Haiti

DiannePorter1 Cool dude ranch

Levi Hanusch Don't worry everyone, I'm trying to give Harold wedding videography tips on the fly

Glady Thomas Paige is going to say her vows an Kreol...

DiannePorter1 Ah, Troy

Glady Thomas HI Mr CHoy

Els Vervloet TROYYYYY

Christine Moers TROY!

thesextoncrew Awww.


DiannePorter1 I will cry during the duet!

declan slater it's very "Western-y" there...

Thad Norvell Troy is wearing a shirt! Surely he doesn't know this is online.

Aaron Ivey yeah!!!  love this.

Keight Dukes +1 Thad.

Thad Norvell Troy doesn't like to keep his shirt on if he knows he's on the internets.

Keight Dukes Those dresses are genius, paige! They'll wear those so many more times.

Glady Thomas oh DO we also get to watch Graham's dedication ?

Glady Thomas JOHN

Thad Norvell J Mac!

Els Vervloet and there is Beth

Laura Livesay Dedication is part of ceremony, I believe

Keight Dukes OH MY SHEESH! This is a who's who of Livesay blog ALLSTARS!

Drew Kalbach I can't tell..are there any holes in John's shirt???

Christine Moers #17 on my Bucket List is to backpack through John's hair for a winter.

Laura Livesay Here we go!!!  

That was all before the wedding ever started. It only got more snarky from there. We ended up with all the snarks for friends.
Bridesmaid Posse
Michael and his beautiful Mom, Hope.

The wedding was beautiful. 

To me it felt like a truly holy moment and I very much felt the presence of God's love there next to that pond in Weston, Florida.  

Paige and Michael chose the songs that were sung by Troy and Hope, they chose the scriptures that were read by Paige's brothers, they decided to dedicate Graham as a part of their wedding service, they asked their Pastor from TX to come marry them. 

It was a gorgeous setting on a beautiful day and everything fell into place perfectly. 

Michael has fairly recently been reunited with his father. His biological Dad and his Grandma from that side of the family were at the wedding offering their support as well. Our niece Whitney only re-joined Paige's life a couple years ago and there she was standing with Paige as a bridesmaid. (I refused to think about any of that too much.) 

The tangible (huggable - breathing right there in the same place) reminders of healing and redemption were found everywhere we looked. I forced myself not to pay attention to my Mom and Dad who were seated just over my left shoulder. They were going through the tissue. I had to focus on the people that were not crying. They were sort of difficult to find. Midway through the ceremony Noah's crying became hard to ignore, Phoebe delivered him a Kleenex. 

Troy had to sing four times. He also made a decision to compartmentalize in order to get the singing done. He told me that he knew if he gave in to crying at all, it would mean no songs and he knew the song choices were important to Paige and Michael.


Super Fiiiiiiine line between laughter and tears - we rode that line like true champions

nobody wonders what this one is feeling 

The virtual wedding attendees requested a chance to see Paige's dress up close, she happily walked over to say hi.  Paige wore my wedding dres, but she wore it much better. 

Lydia had a little melt down thinking that this was the last day she would ever see Paige. We pulled off to the sideline for a little psychotherapy and got that straightened out quickly. 

After the ceremony we had brunch and photos for a few hours. The three groomsmen that were there and could talk, along with Julia and Britt, made toasts to the bride and groom. (The best-baby-man gave no toast, Michael's brother Andrew could not be at the wedding, because Army). 

The amount of left-over food was shameful. Even as I type that I know that only tortured people worry about that stuff at an event like a wedding, but there was no way I was willing to throw away that much ham or eggs benedict. I sent the strongest negotiator I know to be sure the catering people would let us take the leftover food home. As I type, there are bags of frozen cheese cubes from the wedding in our Port-au-Prince freezer.  Wasting food makes me the crabbiest crab there is. 

We headed back to the house for down time and naps. (Rumor has it that Lydia possibly accidentally drank a real Mimosa - instead of the kid version - and promptly slept for three hours the afternoon of the wedding)  

The plan was to return to the Ranch at 7pm to dance and have cake and continue celebrating the happy couple.  My Mom and Dad graciously hosted the evening reception. 

The second reception and the dancing was very fun. It was another great time of celebration.  We had a very hard time ending at 11pm as planned. I think there were at least six "very LAST" songs of the night.

costume change late night
My Dad had arranged for Paige and Michael to have a room at a nearby hotel.  We begged for Graham to stay with us for the night, but neither of the newlyweds wanted to give him up. So selfish with their baby! 

Sadly, when you are not 25 the car-rental companies are not super kind about renting you a car. Troy and I were asked to drive them to their hotel.  It was all super sweet and we enjoyed talking a million miles a minute about the funny parts of the day and night. 

Paige's most amazing commentary of the night was during the ride to the hotel. "Mom!!! I pretty much figured out why having a baby AFTER you get married is the best idea!" I said, "Yeah, why is that exactly?"  "Because I wet my pants dancing because I don't have bladder control post-baby. My jeans are soaked."

When we pulled up to the front of the hotel and walked into the hotel and up to the desk it struck me, "Oh, I am not supposed to stand at the flipping front desk with the dang bride and groom, I may have overdone it here."  Eeeeeeee.

Troy stood outside giving me the slow head shake.  "Did they get all checked in okay, mommy, or did you have to do it for them?" he mocked.  

I came to my senses too late! I was already standing there with them when it hit me how overboard it was.  Oh well.  The hotel desk agent probably thought it was super presh. Or something. 

Many days after the wedding I asked Noah, "Be honest, my make-up was a lot, huh?"  

Ever the gentle honest one, he said: "Well, when I saw Paige I was like, Whoa, is that Paige? Because, wow, she looks like the Queen of England!"  (uh.  not seeing that. but whatever - I think he meant well)  

"But when I saw you, I thought, that doesn't look like Mom."

Thank you to EACH of you that helped before and on wedding day!

KJ the Coordinating Ninja
Mark and Kristen -flowers and sound/music
Jen & Josh & John & Joanna Dols - photos/errands/set-up/clean-up
Mom and Dad - evening reception
Gilly and Joel -Bloody Marys, Mimosas
Amanda and Jer, signage, etc.
Harold - Wizard of Ozery 

Next installment, part 5 Traveling Circus Posse: The goodbyes after 50 hours of family togetherness and packing up a wedding to leave for a cruise.

Friday, January 30, 2015

TCP - Part 3

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

(Part 3 - T.C.P, the reunions and tears, and the week of prep before the wedding - January 4-8)

We wrapped things up at Party City (par-tay!!) and left the Naples area.  As we drove back toward the Everglades, south on Alligator Alley, the excitement over meeting Graham for the first time grew exponentially with each passing mile.

Isaac, Hope, Noah, Phoebe and Lydia have never been aunts or uncles before (duh.) and this was a moment they had been anticipating since Graham was born in October. Everyone argued over who would be allowed to come to the airport and who would have to wait at the house.

Before we could go pick them up, we needed to stop and get luggage and butts unloaded from the epic mini van and into the house we would be staying at for the week.

The house was wonderfully bizarre and interesting, it had a large place to chase each other around and play games, (some call it a sanctuary) - this meant only Noah ended up coming to the airport with us. The other kids played tag and went around counting beds (lost count, more than 30 beds in the house) and deciding which one was best to lard on while playing Minecraft.

Noah is true to Paige.  Loyalty is a Troy and Tara value that Noah absorbed, possibly too well. Paige listens to him talk and talk and talk, therefore he thinks she is mainly without fault. The last couple years have been hard on Noah, he has grieved Paige's move to the USA heavily - we keep waiting for him to move to acceptance, but he is still hurting.  This guy came to us with all the feelings. Trusting Michael was difficult for him, but he eventually got there. All that to say, there was no way he was going to stay at the house while we went to get the Gonzales Party of 3 from the airport. He planned to be the first to meet Graham and the first one to hug Paige.

Sunday the 4th:
airport pickup team - Noah
We arrived back at the house the exact time same time that my (Tara's) Mom and Dad pulled up.

First Time Meeting all the young Aunts and Uncles ...

Grandma and Hope reunite in the back, Lydia and Graham meet in the front 
Tito and his Graham-son

Many weeks prior to the wedding our son-in-law, Chris, had talked to his parents about contacting a family friend to see if she would let us use her ginormous unoccupied house.  (She hosts many missionaries from Asia and has allowed others to use it for events.)  They contacted her, and they helped us a ton by being our local knowledgeable go-to people in the area.  They also held all the packages we shipped ahead for the big day. They ended up giving us a central place to try to be organized while coordinating things from Texas and Haiti.

With the house, we did not really know what to expect, we just knew that she said we could use it and that sleeping 20 people there would be no problem.

We learned that the house had originally been built to be a boys home and that the voters of the community wouldn't go for it and they did not approve the project.  The house had more beds than any house I have ever been in, a giant sanctuary where a lot of dodge ball and soccer were played, a prayer room, and a kitchen.  It slept our people with room to spare.  It was one of the strangest set-ups ever, but it totally worked for us.  Hashtag, because strange loves strange.

We ended up with our entire tribe of 12 there as well as KJ from Haiti, Joel and Gillian from Austin, Jen and Josh and Joanna and John from the Twin Cities, Carn-Dog from Waco, and Julia from Winona, MN.

There were a significant number of unfinished things to accomplish from Monday to Thursday. Some things that had been considered "finished" turned out to not be that at all.  We thought we had chairs, but we didn't. We thought we had a place for the night-time dance reception, we did - then did not - then did - then did not - then did again. I must have called KJ about not printing the program (because no address to give for the nighttime reception) about five times. FINALLY, we found out that the Ranch where the wedding was happening had been notified that the Friday night event cancelled, therefore we could dance back at the Ranch on Friday night.

As I try to write about the week, I realize that I existed in a fog. I couldn't keep the lists and the to-dos straight and at night I laid awake wondering what massive item I had forgotten. My parents and the friends that trickled in each day all offered to run errands and help. People that were graciously helping us all treated me like I was okay, but I felt very floaty and forgetful - but not in a fun one glass of wine way.

From day to day I couldn't remember what I had done and what I had only thought about doing. If anyone handed me anything, there was a good chance I wouldn't recall that interaction later.  Jen gave me new earrings.  Later when Brittany told me she really like them and asked where I got them, I could only say, "someone gave them to me."

My week of Alzheimer's only serves to solidify my wish to be put down once I stop making sense.  I know that our vet friend in Haiti can supply what the kids and Troy need to make that happen.
(I kid. But not really.Don't be offended, please.)

Michael's Mom arrived, my sister, my niece, Paige's best friend from childhood, Paige and Michael's Pastor (and landlord), Britt and Chris came in, the McHouls and KJ represented Haiti.
People rolled in from all over God's green earth. Because of the date we chose and because Florida is not necessarily an easy destination for most,  it was a small wedding (65 people came) - but we were grateful to have so many of "our people" there with us.

In 2013 Paige (and Troy and I) fostered a little guy named Alex.  We have forgotten all the really hard parts of confronting (and being loathed for it) a really bad and corrupt situation with his orphanage because we ended up making good friends with Alex's adoptive family, becoming his Godparents, and seeing his adoption come to completion. Paige was pretty excited when she learned that Alex would be at her wedding.  The Cox Family took their vacation during the week of Paige's wedding, we were lucky enough to be invited on their aunt and uncle's boat one day the week of the wedding.

Lydie and Phoebe worried a lot that they had never even been to a wedding and the pressure to do their part as flower girls without having any life experience really stressed them out, Lydia especially. One night as I put her to bed (waaaay overtired) she cried, "How will I even know what to do. I don't know this job, Mom!" I tried not to laugh, assuring her that the rehearsal would help her sort it all out.

The GreenGlades Ranch is owned by the father of a friend of ours.  She basically provided the DREAM spot for Paige's wedding, and she provided it free of charge.  If I had been given a chance to choose any spot (if $ were no issue and all things were equal) - the ranch is the spot I would have chosen.  When we took Michael to show him for the first time he couldn't believe how perfect and beautiful it was. Paige kept saying, "SEE what I was trying to tell you?!?"

During the floaty week of getting all the things done, I cried a lot.  Just five minute cry spurts. I don't know yet what exactly caused it all, but I suspect the overwhelmed-ness over the loving family and friends arriving to support and stand with all of us, the realization that Paige is really grown up, the lament over how fast it all flies by, knowing the goodbyes were coming again, the concerns for the day to be perfect and all the complicated history and (past) relationships that would intersect again - and on and on.

The wedding was planned in about six weeks (not because we only knew for six weeks, but because Haiti and life and we really couldn't get much planned until December). KJ helped me. She told me what I was forgetting and she used my Amazon account freely to make me look good.

Pastor Carn-Dog showed up and ran the rehearsal like a boss, putting a lot of the fears about organization to rest. Lydie and Phoebe decided they could flower-girl it up, no problem.

Photos from the week...

Monday Michael's 22nd Birthday & Visiting the Ranch:

Troy's artsy iphoto ~ the Ranch was one of the most beautiful places you could imagine 

family practice for wedding - the part where they look at each other with love - boom, nailed it!

22nd Birthday for the almost Groom 

wedding crafty stuff with the gals - "crafty" is wrapping silverware into napkins in my world

Tuesday (6th) - more bonding, errands, wedding stuff, then boating with Glori, Ken, Amanda, Jeremy, Ariam and Alex:

bromance (Troy is very much a player in this field - I cannot count his bromances)

(Jen and Joanna arrived Tuesday night.)

Wednesday - never ending buying, organizing, and finding things I had lost - then practicing dancing and singing : (that is not a video anymore, I screen shot a video)

the sanctuary in our house where we danced and played dodge ball and got carpet burns from intense competition

(Great) Auntie Tina and Whitney meet Graham for the first time
(Tina and Whit and Julia all flew in Wednesday.)

Thursday (Day before the wedding) - 
Facebook tells me I said this:
Tara Porter Livesay
Troy just reminded me that we got to the USA one week ago. No wonder all of you in the USA are fried-out. This place doesn't stop.
My parents have been here helping a ton with errand running and driving people around and buying the things I forgot.
Wedding is tomorrow morning, weather is supposed to be 70 and sunny at ceremony time. There are a handful of beloved friends in the air today. One more bridesmaid needs to get here, and three friends from Haiti are on their way from the island now. Our Wizard of Oz is coming in today too, he will fix everything broken and make all in the world right. My friend, Kristen is working magic with flowers and while I had imagined a few leaves and sticks, it appears the girls will have lovely bouquets in their hands.
Sometimes, even though I am not really stressed about the logistics of the wedding, I feel like crying. I just go with the feeling - and I cry. Every little piece of watching our kids grow-up and go is like having your heart wrung out wet-rag style. I cannot even identify everything happening emotionally, I just know it is crazy-town up in this heart/head-space.
If you are a praying person, this Mother of the Bride is asking for prayers for baby Graham, Paige and Michael. They will be flying back home to Texas on Saturday and Michael will begin six months of intense training on Monday. They won't see each other very much during those six months as Michael will only get Saturdays off. Paige is as strong as they come, but I know she will really miss her best friend and the adjustment will be a large one.
My goal for this, our rehearsal day? Be the kind of bossy that gets all the $*%# done - but also does not make my friends/family hate me. Wish me luck.

Rehearsal day and Rehearsal at Ranch:

boys' coats were made to fit - arm length issues abound in this house 
some of the bridesmaids and friends hit the nail salon 

Next Installment: Wedding Day ~ January 9th ~ Glass Cage of Emotion Day
(Also, it takes a village to make a destination wedding happen)

Flowers, compliments of master Florist K. Howerton :)
The Cox Family and the signage they created to help folks find the turn :)