A September Wedding

Written September 23, 2013.

As I write this, my family’s still in that tired-out-yet-happy mode from our main event last weekend: my nephew Mark’s wedding.

Most people my age don’t have a nephew that is old enough to get married, but I am one of the lucky chosen few who comes from a family with a dozen siblings. With a 26-year age spread between the oldest and youngest siblings, we get unique family dynamics because of that age range. For instance, my sister Deb (Mark’s mom) got married exactly one month after I was born. Her son Mark is just a few years younger than me.

 Mark the groom and my son, looking like Mini Mark.

Mark the groom and my son, looking like Mini Mark.

And even more interesting, he’s actually older than my youngest sister. Somewhere, there is probably a photo of my nephew Mark holding his brand new baby aunt. Now that’s a scenario that doesn’t happen every day.

During the summer that Mark was about 12, he stayed overnight at our house about once a week. He played with his uncle Matthew and aunt Victoria like most kids play with cousins. Over and over that summer, Mark, Victoria, and Matthew set up a card table in the living room and played late night Monopoly until the wee hours of the morning.

Fast forward many years, and we all gathered for his wedding. Getting together to celebrate such a happy family event is wonderful.

Here are some highlights in numbers:

1967–The year my mom wore a classic little black dress for her 10-year reunion. My sister Victoria dug it out of the attic about a year ago and tried it on. We decided the dress looked timeless, and Victoria decided she would wear it to Mark and Sheila’s wedding. Forty-six years later, it still looks as classy as ever.

Victoria, decked out in our mom's 1967 class reunion dress.

Victoria, decked out in our mom’s 1967 class reunion dress.

1000–(Or more) photos taken. My little ring bearer son asked, “Mom, when are they going to have enough pictures?” when he’d had enough of standing nicely and smiling.

111–Miles from our home, to the wedding in Kellogg and reception in Wabasha, and back home again. Worth every mile.

65-– Degrees on a beautiful September day of sunshine for the wedding. It was warm enough to stand outside, but nobody sweated to death in a poufy dress or tuxedo. Why does everyone think June is the perfect time to get married? September seems pretty ideal to me.

12–Midnight, when we finally turned into a pumpkin and went home. Even when feet hurt and legs are tired, and it’s hard to want to leave such a fun occasion. Our kids managed to stay up and dance several hours past their usual bedtimes.

6–Year old ring bearer, my son. Normally, I have to beg my first grader to put on a simple polo shirt to go to church. And as soon as church is done, he takes that “fancy shirt” right off. I have to say, it was awfully fun to play dress up with him and see him fully decked out in a tuxedo. He looked quite dashing. With his red hair, he looked like a little mini version of the groom Mark, who had red hair as a kid.

5–Lovely bridesmaids, including my two nieces, Kristina and Nicole.

Sheila and her bridesmaids share a laugh.

Sheila and her bridesmaids share a laugh.

4–hours dancing. Everything from a polka to the Chicken Dance to 80’s rock, the Kramer family maintained a solid presence on the dance floor the entire time. At the end of the evening, my tired two-year-old insisted on being held AND being out on the dance floor. She fell asleep in my arms while I danced to lullaby favorites like ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”

DSC_0286

3-Weddings for the ring bearer pillow. My sister Deb used the pillow for her wedding 35 years ago, wih my brother Mike as the ring bearer. Her daughter Nicole used the pillow for her wedding, with my nephew Nathan as the ring bearer. Now her son Mark used the pillow, and my son was the ring bearer.

2-Pint-sized slow dancers. My four-year-old held hands and danced with his three-year-old cousin on several occasions during the night. Two little kids dancing together is precious. It’s just the sort of thing that makes the tantrums and messes all worthwhile.

Two little cousins dancing.

My 4 yr old dancing with his 3 yr old cousin.

1-Happy couple. Wishing you many great years together, Mark and Sheila Manemann!

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Marrying my Husband, Again

Special thanks to Bucket List Publications, an online magazine for also publishing this article.  Thank you so much!  Click here to see it.  

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I’ve always thought it’s a shame that most people only get married once. No, I’m not thinking about trading in my husband for a new model. I mean, really, neither one of us has time to date. We just moved cross country, and we’ve got four kids running around.

What I’m speaking of is weddings. What a shame that if done properly, getting all dolled up and spending a whole day celebrating your love only happens once in a lifetime. Only having one wedding dance to do a few polkas (as required by my Luxembourger/German birthright)? Only one fun party with your friends and family? I do believe that is criminal.

So, in celebration of our tenth anniversary a few weeks ago, Jarred and I got married again.

Ten years ago, on April 20, 2002, we walked down a long, long pier in Indianola, WA, and committed to forever with each other. Our first wedding was a pretty spontaneous affair. We originally planned to have a big, traditional church wedding in June of that year, but after seeing a few friends run off and do the simple, small wedding thing, we decided that sounded more like our style.

Our wedding in 2002 in Indianola, WA.

We gave our family an open invitation but just two weeks notice, and planned an outdoor wedding in April in Western Washington with no backup plan for rain. Our family on both sides amazed us when so many of them rearranged their lives on a moment’s notice and traveled from MT and MN for our wedding. I’m still touched when I think about how much of our family showed up for our wedding and the salmon barbecue and bonfire that followed.

This time around, we got married in our new house, with our kids in the bridal party.

In some ways I feel utterly humbled and unworthy to make any sort of to-do about a 10th anniversary. I see 25th, 50th, even 60th anniversaries in the paper all the time, and I humbly bow down to those couples’ marriage duration. With no question they have far more to say about love and commitment than I do. However, in our defense, we simply haven’t had that much time together yet. The beauty of ten years, though, is that we have had enough time and experience together that we can look back and reflect upon how our life is unfolding together, and of course, celebrate.

I do believe that we need to celebrate the fact that together we lived through six weeks of no running water in a trailer house in Broadview, Montana during the peak of the drought years, and still managed to like each other. We survived an unplanned stay in what turned out to be a pay-by-the-hour hotel in Mexico, four surgeries for our kids, and the challenges and joys of being self-employed.

Together, Jarred and I got through the pain of the first two pregnancies being miscarriages. And knowing what it is like to not simply have a baby because you want one, the birth of each of our four children has been all the more joyful. We fully realize the miracle that each child is, and when they are not beating on each other (and sometimes even when they are), we often take note that we are pretty darn blessed to get these kids that rule our lives. They are definitely reason to celebrate.

And appropriately for our life today, our second wedding was really just an event that we managed to squeeze in between the rest of our busy life. In our original fairy tale plans for this party, we thought we’d be living in our new house for several months already, nicely settled, and it’d be a fun way to have a house warming. As real life turned out, I moved in with our kids just three weeks before this planned event, and Jarred was still in Montana working up until a week before this shindig.

We whirled the moving mess upstairs to make the downstairs presentable, had some help from family with decorations, mowing, and food, and we had ourselves a party. My six-year-old daughter picked out a very fancy flower girl dress for herself and her sister (getting to fulfill every girl’s dream), our two boys were ring bearers, and the three oldest kids worked on helping their baby sister learn to walk in the weeks beforehand so she could walk down the aisle for the wedding.

It was a family affair, where moments before we were supposed to be ready, two of my sisters came to my rescue helping get kids dressed and looking presentable. One of my very favorite moments was getting surprised by Jarred’s parents, who showed up just as we cued the music to walk down the “aisle” of our wraparound porch. They made the long drive all the way from Montana without telling us they were coming, and surprised me enough that I screamed when I saw them, and then started to cry. Fortunately, we were running late as usual, and they made it just in time to see our short little ceremony.

My kids and I walked down the aisle, my niece was the maid of honor/junior bridesmaid, a friend’s daughter was an impromptu flower girl, and our dog, Spot, took the liberty to join in on the occasion, too. My brother acted as the minister, Jarred and his dad sang and played “The Wedding Song” from memory on their guitars, and we renewed our vows with a copy of our original ceremony, standing under the columns between our living room and dining room while our kids fidgeted around us.

After ten years of marriage, a little something usually gets in the way of “you may kiss the bride.” photo by Fresh Click Photography

Afterward, everyone headed to the kitchen to fill up their plates, I had the chance to catch up with some long-time friends, and later we rolled up the rug in our living room so our kids could dance. Seeing our six-year-old girl and five-year-old boy dressed in their fancy clothes and dancing together in the living room of our new home, surrounded by their family, is the best gift I could receive ten years after getting married to their dad.

Some days I get overwhelmed by the long, slow grind of unpacking our new home combined with the full-time job of caring for our kids. When I look around, though, and see I’m living in the farmhouse in the country that I always wanted, see four happy kids outside exploring their new yard, and have a husband who is just as excited about our kids and our new place and our life as me, and I know I’m blessed. Ten years ago, we never could have predicted the path of how we got to where we are today, but we’re awfully happy to be here.

© 2012

Our second wedding in 2012 with our very own flower girls and ring bearers. photo by Fresh Click Photography