I can’t believe it. My littlest brother is 21 years old. Living on campus with his love. Holding down a full time job. Bona fide ADULT.
When I was a young teenager- 13ish?- I got in a fight with my mom and told her I was leaving. I probably told her I was going to live with a friend and I never wanted to come home again. I went up to my room to get something or another that a young teenage girl would need in order to leave home forever (like chapstick or something, duh). In the process I walked past my parents’ bedroom and out of the corner of my eye I spotted little five-year-old J’s tuft of hair on the floor of their walk-in closet. Curious, I decided to investigate. Apparently he had been hiding on the floor among the dirty clothes baskets during my teenage tantrum. He’d heard everything I said and was really upset that I was going to leave home. He looked up at me with his huge sad brown eyes (MY GOD he was absolutely adorable) and held up what looked like a copper ring you’d get from a quarter machine. He said, “Take this ring with you and remember me forever.” And I cried!
Y’all. The BEST cure for defiant, strong-willed children is adorable little brothers!
When Mom was pregnant with him I had wished he was a girl. I was at the hospital with friends while Mom was in labor and when he was born I demanded to know if he was a boy or girl. They told me he was a boy. Frustrated I said, “You mean I waited all this time for a stinkin’ boy!?” But then I crawled into the hospital bed with Mom and saw him for the first time. It was literally love at first sight. 21 years ago J won a soft spot in my heart and he’s had it ever since. Happy birthday, Little Bro J.
Last Sunday Mom set a beautiful table and cooked a delicious meal to celebrate all kinds of events in our lives: Ben and Jessie’s engagement, Hutch and Corey’s wedding, Tay’s birthday, Jamie’s birthday, Dad’s birthday, and whatever else we wanted to celebrate!
…When everyone finished eating Matt played the video that he put together for Mom and Dad.
I had helped him by going through their photo albums and digging up old pictures. I scanned them, emailed them, and left the rest to Matt. I love what he did with it! Unfortunately, I do not have access to the final edited and revised version of the video at this time. Fortunately, I DO have one of the ALMOST final versions of the video that I can share with you now. Matt just made a few more tweaks to this version (You might not even notice them when I show you the final one):
URL of video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m0fzb5moievy3ge/Anniversery.m4v.mp4
While watching the video:
Song at the end of the video: Johnny Cash ‘In My Life’ LYRICS:
There are places I’ll remember All my life Though some have changed Some forever Not for better Some have gone and some remain All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I’ve loved them all But if all these friends and lovers There is no one Compares with you And these memories Lose their meaning When I think of love As something new Though I know I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more Though I know I’ll never lose affection For people and things that went before I know I’ll often stop and think about them In my life I love you more In my life I love you more
Before I move on to the group photos I’d like to mention how proud I am of my parents.
Both of them.
Their life together has not been easy. I could write 10 novels on the hardships they’ve endured as a couple and as individuals. They’ve worked HARD. All on their own. I absolutely could not be more thankful for the PERFECT childhood and growing up experience they provided for me and my brothers. As a mother of only one young boy, I cannot wrap my mind around the work, time, energy, commitment and sacrifices my parents made to raise three children the way they did– My dad used up his hard earned vacation time from work to work even HARDER taking his kids to camp out at music festivals. He used his evenings creating stage sets and scripts so that the church children could put on plays for the congregation. He carved pumpkins through cramping hands, sawed down Christmas trees in the dead of winter, coached soccer on his weekends, and so much more. He was our spiritual leader; our go-to guy when we had questions. He challenged us to open our minds and think critically. (And boy, we do! All three of us willful Sanders kids, haha!) My mother made her career her children. She visited our classrooms, made meals for teachers, took us to every school, home school, and extra-curricular activity, and nursed us when we were sick. She was our encourager, nurturer, and defender. (She was MamaBear. We knew who had our backs. We still do.) My parents raised three kids who are best friends for life, and that just an extremely precious and rare gift. I am eternally grateful for them, their teamwork in raising their family, and their marriage.
Now for group pictures!
Before toooo many people left Mom requested we all gather for one big happy photo.
A few of the ones I liked:
(To not-so-tech-savvy people: You can click on the photos to go to my photobucket account where you can view them BIGGER.)
And a few more fun photos from the end of the night:
Adry had SO much fun running around and playing with all of the children that were there, and he cried and cried when they all went home and he was the last little boy left. (He is far more fearless and social than I am. I don’t know where he came from!)
Anyway, I’m glad my brothers and I had the chance to celebrate my parents that night. They are awesome. Happy 30th Anniversary to them, December 31st! 🙂
Several years ago Matt, J, and I had the idea to throw a surprise bash to celebrate our parents. We decided to do a combo over-the-hill and 30th anniversary party because we figured that’d be a big year for both of them. We chose a date right in between their 50th birthdays.
My dad-in-law was able to reserve the basement of his church for us, and Matt and I invited everyone we thought had loved and cared for my parents over the years and watched them grow from dating teenagers to grandparents. I ordered food and cake and collected a bunch of decorations, and Matt put together music and video for the occasion. On the day of we got to the church to set the place up. After most of our work was done Rebecca drove J back home to mom and dad to “bum a ride” to what my parents thought was Keith’s birthday party… J was in charge of making sure Mom and Dad didn’t get there too late or too early, and kept us informed on their whereabouts. (The three of us make a great team, I must say. High Fives to my awesome brothers.)
So Matt and I gathered the crowd to one side of the basement and when Mom and Dad walked inside (with a birthday present for Keith in tow lol) everyone yelled ‘SURPRISE!’ of course. And they were. Totally surprised. (Or at least they acted like it.)
Matt and I presented Mom with a lovely over-the-hill boa and Dad with an inflatable walking cane, and then everyone dug in to the hundreds of pounds worth of city BBQ Matt and I bought (which we pretty much ran out of by the end of the night. It was yummy) as well as the delicious salad Mom-in-law made.
Mom and her kids
Mother wanted this group hug photo. This is for you, Mom!
T. Matt’s mustache
Jamie got cut off here but she was pulling me away from Keith all SHE’S MINE!
My next (and last) birthday/anniversary bash post will be the video Matt made for Mom and Dad (which I absolutely love. It was perfect) and the group photos!
After family photos we met at Blue Ginger for dinner.
Blue Ginger is an Asian bistro in Dublin and is the restaurant Keith and I went to celebrate our engagement. We thought it was yummy, so why not celebrate our being married there, too!
I love him!
Jamie and John
Keithy got some sushi. I got duck dumplings, the same thing I got on engagement day.
I also tried to eat sushi for the first time in my life, but that story doesn’t end well.
After Blue Ginger we headed to my parents’ house for our Fire Night Party (AKA reception).
Melissa Foley (wife of one of Keith’s bandmates) made our cake!
My mother (and dad) organized, decorated, set up, and put together the entire Fire Night Party. She did an amazing awesome job and I wish I had more photos of everything she did! (I just didn’t think to grab my camera and/or tell the girl who did our pictures what I wanted. =my one and only big wedding regret.) My mom had the yard all in pretty sparkly lights, she had beautiful autumn-like table cloths and centerpieces on the tables, she prepared make-your-own kabob tables with different meats and vegetables and people cooked their kabobs on the grill. Dad prepared sangria and filled his fishing boat with sodas, beers, etc. T.Matt put together my music mix and Ryan let us use his DJ equipment so the party had music! Dad set up a tent with foosball and the skittles game he made by hand, and also made a big bonfire and fire snacks (smores). Everything was super classy, sparkly, pretty, and yummy! My mother is right in her element when it comes to events. She doesn’t do anything halfway.
Keith and I had sort of been doing our own separate mingling as soon as we walked through the door of my parents’ house. So an hour or two into Fire Night I’d had a few +spiked sangrias to keep warm (and it totally worked) and I also had REFUSED to take off my super long heeled shoes because I loved them. I packed sneakers just in case, but… the shoes! They buckled at the ankle and had an adorable bow across the toes and… they just weren’t coming off, even though no one could see them and the heels were super thin so I kept getting stuck in the grass as I walked through the yard… Aanyway. It was about this time that Keith and I crossed paths on the patio as a song started and we took each other and started dancing.
Now, Keith and I never had “a song”. We tried to have a song, but I always told him that the best couple songs were from shared experiences, not picking and choosing. By Wedding Day the closest I’d come to having a song that reminded me of Keith was Jack Johnson’s Better Together because Keith always seemed to sing it to me on late nights when we first started dating. But KEITH said the song that reminded him of ME was Red Hot Chili Peppers Hard To Concentrate… and so we just never pinned down a couple song. So anyway, on Wedding Day when this song played and we started dancing it took me a minute to piece together what it was because I’m really bad with intros… and also: sangria.
Then Keithy started singing it to me. The first song we danced to. The first song he sang to me. And it turns out it was Jason Mraz I’m Yours.
Sidenote: it’s funny that that song ended up being the song because it’s always been one that’s been kind of unofficially off limits for me because it belonged to my old high school friend/ fellow online journaler who is a SUPER SUPER CRAZY-FOR-JASON-MRAZ FAN (who ALSO happened to date the same high school boy as me, happened to get pregnant a little before me, left baby daddy a little before I left mine, fell in love and got engaged a little before me, got a job very similar to the one I got, HAPPENED to get married on the exact same day as me, who I think ALSO danced to that Jason Mraz song with her son on that day!!!) so I’m slightly concerned (but not really) that she will think I am stealing her life! Ha! But I promise- the parallels are a complete coincidence (and a little weird). Also, she’s not catty, so I don’t think this will be an issue. It’s just kind of funny to me.
When Keith and I were first falling in love he’d say, “I love you so much I have that ache behind my sternum.” That’s how I felt dancing with him. That’s how I feel about him every day. (I am so fortunate.)
I completely adore him.
The next post is my LAST wedding post!!! It will be of cake cutting, Keith’s brother, the rest of fire night, and happily ever after.
Aaaaand Take Four! Look how cute he is! I love that smile.
Matt, Alexz, Ash, and Duke
Tay and J
Mom and Dad, the anniversary couple! Celebrating 29 years.
Boys like to ruin photos with funny faces.
Keithy is trying to mimic some face that I make at him.
Mom and The Pope
J and Becca
Tony and Pammy
Back at the house
dessert, drinks, and watching the ball drop
Ash and I and Duke being a photo creeper
Aaw. The Ladies.
Keithy doesn’t like this picture, but I do!
That night Mom and Dad gave me my birthday present early. A new Tiffen 50mm camera lens!
I’ve just been able to steal a few minutes to play around with what it can do and haven’t taken any serious or decent pics with it yet… but I did want to show off my handsome boys.
(I was messing around with how close I could get and focusing on different parts of his face… But I’d love this picture if the composition was different. I love him.)
I watched my brothers grow up immersed in the Harry Potter world of wizards and magic and adventure. (I’m not sure they really remember life before Harry Potter.) In support of them I’ve waited in several midnight release lines for both the books and the movies, and I’ve sat through hours-worth of book discussions. I had to sit verrry quietly in my parents’ home after the last book came out so as not to disturb J who read the book straight through without a break in a fortress of pillows and blankets he had built. (Then I had to watch him mope around in his post-HP depression for weeks afterward, haha.) I appreciate seeing how the series has ignited imagination and a love for reading within my brothers and that whole generation of kids. I’m serious, y’all– I truly think HP shaped that generation and helped instill an appreciation for literature. I’m really not sure where they’d all be or what they’d be into had it not been for the enormous Harry Potter craze.
And so I went to the very last midnight movie release and watched dozens of kids dressing up in anticipation, fidgeting with nerves, then bawling their eyes out when it was all over and they bid a final farewell to their childhood.
Dad and J were the first to get there and camp out for the crew.
They got there around 4ish maybe? And this was the line in front of them… which stretched all the way to the back of the building AFTER they had seated a few theaters.
J only takes good pictures if he has no idea he is getting his picture taken.
I couldn’t tell if Rebecca was more nervous or excited.
Her homemade HP shirt for the occasion.
I MISS THIS KID! I told him so and he goes, “But you just saw me like last week!” Except I used to see him AAAAALL the time… he’d come over and eat junk food and play video games and watch crappy movies on a weekly basis and now I never see the kid.
(All photos taken with my old point-and-shoot camera)
On Sunday Nick had this grand idea to make cupcakes in his butterfly cupcake mold. Actually, come to think of it he had suggested baking brownies but I vetoed that idea because brownies are gross, and then suggested cupcakes. But it was HIS idea to bake, so when it comes down to it it’s HIS fault because EVERYTHING is. Duh.
Anyway, we ruined the entire first box of batter on butterfly-cupcakes-gone-bad. I had taken the time to separate and color and bag homemade icing to decorate the butterfly and I refused to let it all go to waste, so we baked another batch. I recruited Nick’s three-year-old son to help me pipe the icing on.
You know, when I first looked at this plate of cupcakes in person I thought it was OBVIOUS which cupcakes I decorated and which cupcakes Jameson decorated, but now I’m not so sure ;). This is why I don’t work in a bakery.
Pictures of Tay and his band, East 12th Avenue playing their first real show, under the cut!
Mom and I at The Basement waiting for Tay’s band to begin playing. She is entirely drugged here. Severe CONSTANT (no let up) sciatica. She has to see some back doctors.
Mom and Les
Chip was making fun of Mer for something. This is her look of seething hate, but I think it’s adorable. She loves him 🙂
They did a really good job!! East 12th Avenue: Look them up! They are talented kids.
First, in defense of my camera, I must admit that some of these (a lot of these) aren’t the greatest of photos. BUT that’s because I don’t use automatic mode- I use all of the creative modes- because I am trying to LEARN. And I am still finding the right balance between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for the right depth of field for the amount of movement going on in whatever lighting there is. It’s a delicate balance and I am a beginner and I’ve never taken a photography class (which basically means I just learned what that stuff even means). So! I am at fault for whatever flaws there may be in these photos. Not my camera.
New Year’s Eve Pictures!
Me messing around…
Mom and Dad made a really fancy meal for NYE. Asparagus soup, dinner rolls, salad, filet mignon, bakes potatoes, mixed vegetables, and wine. Mom of course made sure the table looked all pretty.
Jacob is something special.
The boys played together all night. Adry adores Jameson and follows him around like a worshipping puppy.
Nick and I
Nick and I… after I made J try to get a “better” one of us.
This is how the cool kids bring in the new year. CANDY LAND.
Nick is attempting to teach my brothers how to play Euchre.
Dad playing harmonica
Whatever Jameson does… that’s exactly what Adry wants to do. I think he watched him play phone games for like an hour.
This was my parents’ 28th Year Anniversary and I failed to get a pic of them together.
Chip and Mer
Chip and Mer candid after pose-for-the-picture time.
Then a few days later I turned 26 years old!
And I went to Jessie and Jamie’s apartment to eat Pei Wei Pad Thai and watch a cute movie with some girls. Jamie surprised me with Coke, a theater gift certificate, and a Reese DQ ice cream cake with ‘2’ and ‘6’ candles on it. Totally sweet of her. It put me in a sugar coma and I promised myself to not eat sugar again until I turned 27. I almost successfully forgot to take my cake home but Jessie made sure I remembered. That Jessie– always lookin’ out.
OMG it is 2011.
OMG I am 26 years old.
OMG I would have been married for SIX years.
I’m not going to lie. The last few weeks of December/ the first week of January have been really incredibly hard. Emotionally draining. I’m glad it’s all over. Sort of. The fact that it’s over also means… it’s over. And that’s still hard to swallow.