Greer Middle College

10 Minute Maximum

Friday, February 3, 2017

To help us better understand the foundational principles of American Government, Mrs. Berg (my U.S. Government teacher) required each of her students to pick a concept which they were to study before presenting in pairs. Since he sat directly in front of me, I teamed up with Joe. He chose the principal of Limited Government and I the Rule of Law.

The morning of, I practiced my half of the 10-minute long presentation for a couple of girls while we waited for Mr. Armstrong (our principal) to blow the five-minute warning whistle. “Now my arms are sore,” I told Becca when I finished, laughing.

“When do you have this?” She asked.

“First,” I replied.

“Shake ‘em out!” Becca exclaimed. “Shake ‘em out!” 😂 😂

I sat down in my usual seat as Joe turned around to face me. “We have a problem.” He said.

“Oh, dear,” I replied. I was afraid this would happen.

“You see, my section is 20 minutes long,” Joe explained.

My jaw dropped. “You’re kidding,” I said. He wasn’t. “20 minutes?! I thought maybe 10, but 20 minutes?! My section is only six!”

“Wait,” Joe said. “So is it 10 minutes for the entire presentation or 10 minutes each?”

“10 minutes for the entire presentation,” I told him.

That was the maximum (which we re-confirmed with Mrs. Berg right then) and, upon realizing that he had less than five minutes to cut off 15, we knew that we (indeed) had a problem. Since my partner and I went second, Joe ended up having to carry out his trimming process while he presented. Despite this, we each received a solid 100. There is a reason my fellow Blazers and I often refer to each other as “Joe-ver-achievers.” 😂 😂

Greer Middle College · Me, Myself, and I

The Mysterious Illness

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I felt fine when I woke up. It was when I stepped into my closet to get dressed that the extensiveness of my sleep deprivation hit me. Although I had not stayed up later than usual the night before, my head suddenly ached, and I wanted nothing more than to collapse onto the pile of clothes on the floor and go back to sleep. Thankfully, the frigid air in my uninsulated closet made me too uncomfortable to doze off where I stood. I got dressed slowly but still got ready because I knew if I didn’t wake up soon I would give into the temptation of the floor and be late for school. It was when I had pulled on the last bit of my uniform that I suddenly felt sick to my stomach like I was about to throw up at any moment.

Ever since I was young, maybe around the age of eight, I’ve had this way of getting rid of that “I’m about to throw up” feeling. I’m not sure how I figured it out, but it always works (unless, of course, I am literally about to vomit). I hurried out of my closet and laid down, on my side, on the corner of my bed. Yes, this was testing my ability to stay awake, but throwing up was a more significant risk I couldn’t take. Please don’t let me throw up. I silently prayed. Please don’t let me throw up. I am probably one of very few teens who would pray for health so that they can go to school. 😅 😅

Although I didn’t throw up, I didn’t feel better. Throughout the entirety of the day, my head was on fire while cold shivers ran up and down my body. I had goosebumps and, despite my sufficient footwear, my feet felt like ice. To my luck, I had a Chemistry test third period which I (understandably) failed. Once home, I managed to finish my SOC 101-G01 homework, but I gave up on Geometry. I needed to sleep.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

By day two of this mysterious illness, I found that I felt better while sitting, so that is what I did while waiting for Mr. Armstrong (our principal) to blow the five-minute warning whistle. However, as first period progressed, my “feeling good” status declined. Though my mental state improved when my Geometry teacher did not assign any homework. 😃

As a GMC Blazer, I can take college classes for free at Greenville Tech. Since my high school is located behind the Benson Campus, early college students just walk up the hill to take their course. During the second semester of my Sophomore year, I was taking Sociology with Professor Chidester. Despite being in the state that I was, I did not find the walk disagreeable, and I thanked God for that.

I was so out of it during second to the point that my friends began to notice. I came incredibly close to falling asleep, but I fought the urge because doing so would be disrespectful to my teacher. Besides, I needed to take notes (which turned out really sloppy).

Even though I had seriously considered sleeping through lunch, the usual buzz of the cafeteria prevented this much-needed activity. Predictably, I only consumed two, small bites of the protein bar I had packed, knowing that I would not feel up for an entire meal. Despite still being sleepy, I did not yield to slumber in English. In fact, I was feeling better. By fourth, I seemed to be ordinary again.

Back home, however, I fell asleep while working on American Government presentation. Once I woke up, I continued working on the project until around 10:30 PM, only breaking for a small dinner of chicken, mustard, and rice. I was slightly hungry for more, but my body wasn’t.

Ready for bed, I stood up and all the hunger that had been suppressed for two days overcame me. I was going to throw up within seconds if I did not eat something. Thankfully I had a stash of protein bars within reach, so I grabbed one and lay down to eat it. Once the snack was consumed, I felt better than I had in days and, the next morning, I woke up famished and wanting to eat. Praise the Lord!


Books & Movies

Friday, January 27, 2017

“Sorry if we were over-pestering you guys about hanging out,” I told Abi on our way to her house.

“Okay…” She said.

“Dad was telling me on the way home [from school] how rude that was, so I wanted to apologize,” I explained.

“I forgive you,” Abi said.

“Okay,” I replied. And so are hang-out began. 😂 😂

Because my best friend and I can sometimes think of nothing to do, I created us a bullet journal like project. This activity (which Noah, Abi’s older brother, later helped us title Write from the Heart) includes us filling the pages of a composition notebook with information that makes our friendship unique. Each page is inspired my one conversation or another, so the content of this book includes everything from a ven diagram of our favorite things to individual pages such as “foods Tristen doesn’t like” and “from the brilliant mind of Abi.” Write from the Heart is definitely a keepsake I will enjoy looking through in 20 years. 😊 😊

After dinner, Mrs. Rawlings took the high schoolers in the house to Senior High (one of our church’s monthly discipleship groups). “Everyone here is sick.” Mr. Ballard said, addressing the physical condition of himself and a couple others around the room. Several minutes of “sick talk” occurred before Mr. Ballard dove into his message about Corinthians, roles, and responsibilities.

After D-Group, Abi wanted to watch a movie so, since she and Noah had been verbally reviewing the book to me all evening, the three of us decided to watch Disney’s recent portrayal of The BFG (which Mrs. Rawlings picked up from a local RedBox on the way home). Thanks to Noah and Abi’s summaries, the movie was much better than I expected. My best friend and her brother informed me that it was exactly like the book. 😂 😂

Since Abi and her younger sister share a room, my best friend and I usually spend sleepovers in the family room. So, after Noah retired to the room he shares with his brothers, Abi and I settled into the sofa-bed. However, being two teenage girls, sleep did not overtake us for many hours. 😅 😅

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The first time I awoke, I rolled over to find Abi reading The Diary of Anne Frank (a school assignment), but I did not stay awake to watch. The second time, however, was different. “Are you awake now?” Abi asked. I nodded. 😂 😂

My best friend and I continued to work on our bullet journal until Mrs. Rawlings appeared in the doorway of the family room. “You need to eat,” she told us, and we were more than happy to do so…after we changed. 😂 😂 Once our tummies were filled, Abi and I returned to our work until my mom arrived to pick me up around noon.

Greer Middle College · Me, Myself, and I

My First Tardy

Thursday, January 26, 2017

I have never received a tardy. Ever. As of Wednesday, January 25, I was confident that I would graduate still able to truthfully repeat that statement, but God had other plans.

Dad and I stood in the garage doorway staring into the almost darkness in disbelief. The car battery was dead, and our neighbors were sound asleep. Even before another vehicle became available for our use, I knew I would be late.

As each minute vaporized during our race to school, I remembered the lesson from Matthew 6:26: since God takes care of the birds, He will take care of me. Even if I arrived late, it’s all apart of His plan. Three minutes after the first bell, Dad pulled up to the Trailer Park. At 8:05, I was in Mrs. Clark’s office getting a late slip.

As luck would have it, the day I turned up behind schedule, Mrs. Meyers decided to arrange my Geometry class into different groups. My hope to slip into my seat and slide the blue slip onto my teacher’s desk unnoticed was eliminated. “You’re with Kaylee.” Mrs. Meyers told me as she finished passing papers out to the class. She was not pleased, but I was not going to promote excuses. I was not going to complain. I was late, and there was nothing I could do about it.

Because I was taking Sociology at Greenville Tech during 2B, I had to leave Geometry 15 minutes early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to make to my college class on time. Unless I was informed about the rest of the content to be covered before stepping out of B14, I usually stopped by Mrs. Meyer’s room after school to acquire what I missed. During my visit on the 26, Mrs. Meyers asked that I leave the cards my group produced during class that morning in our drawer “just in case you’re absent or something.”

“No,” I laughed, retrieving the requested cards. “That was this morning.” Remembering that I had been late, Mrs. Meyers inquired about what had happened, and I shared.

“You should have told me!” Mrs. Meyers exclaimed. “I wouldn’t have marked you absent!” Really?? 😂 😂

Redeeming Grace

Youth Band Jam

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Before this point, my church’s youth worship band was made up of our worship leader and (sometimes) his son. Desiring that more teens get involved, Mr. Childs (our worship leader) scheduled a time for those interested to practice together. Mom dropped me off at the Ballard’s where the Campbell, Morgan, and Childs families had already gathered.

Upon my arrival, Hunter was playing the piano, Liam and Cameron were testing the drums, and Ainsley and Cailin were copying music and lyrics. Mrs. Ballard was in the kitchen with Mr. Childs who was running over the plan for the evening and who was to come, a list which included the Kings (a family that has been visiting our church for a couple weeks). I found it really refreshing that visitors were looking for ways to get involved.

I happened to be strolling by the front door when the Kings walked up, so I let them in. “Welcome, welcome.” I greeted. They returned my smile. After Mr. King and his two girls, Isaac was the last to arrive.

Everyone gathered in the kitchen where we enjoyed some snacks before Mr. Childs shared some thoughts on Biblical worship. When he finished, we each shared what we can do. Outstandingly, the room contained a large variety of talent including piano, singing, soundboards, drums, violin, and those who wanted to learn bass and the guitar.

“You guys sing melody,” Mrs. Ballard told potential singers during practice. “And I’ll sing harmony. Okay.”  She moved her hands over her keyboard as she prepared to begin a song.

“Uh… We don’t-” I began, but Mrs. Ballard did not hear me. “Mrs. Ballard.” Cailin and I jinxed, and she looked up at us. “We don’t know what that means.” 😅 😅

Mrs. Ballard attempted to teach us, but the art of melody and harmony proved too tricky for Cailin and me to comprehend in a couple of minutes. “You should sing harmony.” Mrs. Ballard told Imani who, thankfully, knows how (and is really good, too).

Toward the end of our jam, the Ballards’ son, Zack, arrived home. “I forgot about this.” He explained. “I thought it was next week.” And so Redeeming Grace Church’s (literal) youth band began. 😂 😂

Redeeming Grace

Progressive Dinner 2017

Friday, January 20, 2017

pro·gres·sive din·ner

noun: a social occasion at which the different courses of a meal are eaten at different people’s houses.

Appetizers @ the Ballard’s Home

While reflecting upon my church’s Progressive Dinner last year, I recalled how easy it is for one to unintentionally stuff themselves at one location and so prevent the hearty acquisition of food at following stops. So I decided that I was going to pace myself. I was firmly set on this goal…that is until I discovered that the Ballard’s chicken is delicious. 😅 😅


To put on a Progressive Dinner, you must have (among other items) food. During this event, each family signed up to bring one commodity to one course. My mom volunteered to bring a CrockPot of baked beans to dinner which she placed in our back truck for safe keeping. Well, one sudden stop knocked “safe” right out of the picture. To be specific, the halt turned the CrockPot over. Since I was sitting in the back seat, I reached into the darkness, straightened the bowl, and attempted to hold it in place. All I accomplished was an unfashionable glove made out of bean juice. 😂 😂

Dinner @ the Rawlings’ Home

When we finally reached our destination, my family and I reviewed the damage: no back floor, just a sea of beans. A ladle, bin, and several towels repaired most of the damaged, but the van still smelled like a cookout afterward. 😂 😂 There was only about an inch of beans left in the greatly unloaded CrockPot, but they were set out as initially intended. Anyone passing the otherwise bountiful supply of food would have assumed that the dish had merely been a success. 😂 😂

Thanks to the appetizing chicken, I was too full to have an entire meal where such activity was intended. I was going to pretend to be hungry but, instead, nibbled on edibles here and there. I suppose my lack of appetite was providential since it was my tongue that was required more during this section of the Progressive Dinner. At one point I was so engaged in conversation (which ranged from acquiring beginner’s permit hours to R2D2) that my brother, much to the humor of everyone else at the table, drank my entire cup of tea before I noticed. 😂 😂

Dessert @ the Church Building

Before the desserts were to be consumed, it had been planned that we would sing three worship songs. However, before any strings could be plucked, all those participating in the Progressive Dinner had to arrive. Therefore, I spent several minutes socializing with my friends before Mr. Rawlings called us into the auditorium.

Breaking the norm, I sat with Abi. “One down, two to go.” She whispered in my ear after the entirety of the first song had been played through. “Two down, one to go.” She murmured roughly three minutes later. “Three down.” She said finally.

“Someone really wants dessert,” I replied, laughing. It turns out that the worship band actually had four songs planned. 😂 😂

Still recovering from my earlier consumption of food (which somehow did not affect the amount of dessert I served myself), I split my piece of cake with Patricia. When my first teammate had eaten her fill, I turned to Abi for help. Even after Haydn (again) took advantage of the attention I pay those I’m talking to, the slice of goodness was never finished. You could say eating dessert was not a piece of cake (sorry 😅 😅).

After we did not consume as much dessert as we would have liked, three to 10 kids and the youth proceeded to clean up. It was a time when removing tablecloths and heated rounds of tag were next door neighbors. It was chaos. 😂 😂 At one point, I looked around and realized that there was no adult in the room (that explains everything). In fact, the oldest person in sight was 15. “That’s why I’m doing chairs.” Said person replied when I shared my realization. 😂 😂 Thankfully no one was (seriously) injured. 😅 😅

The end of cleaning up bled into the beginning of a round Blob Tag which I ended up leaving because goodbyes needed to be expressed. Mom and Dad picked up Panera while my siblings and I communed, so us kids left the church building around 11:00 PM. Thankfully sorting bread did not take too long, so we were soon putting our overstuffed tummies to sleep. All good things come at a price. 😂 😂

My Dad

Daddy’s First Braids

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

At small-group one Wednesday night, Joe Mansueto told my brother and I that he’d give us five dollars if we could get a braid in Dad’s hair. Said hair was too short to weave but, finding the prospect humorous, Haydn and I told Dad of Mr. Mansueto’s proposal over dinner a couple days later. To our surprise, Dad took Mr. Mansueto up on his dare and, despite my father’s dislike for the feel of uncut hair, he began to grow it out. Weeks later, Dad’s hair was finally long enough to braid.

Ansa and I took up the task and I, despite having larger fingers, managed to create more braids on Dad’s scalp than my younger sister. Not having any scrunchies small enough for the job, I utilized unused elastics (initially intended for my braces) to hold each braid in place. When the tedious work was called off, Dad adorned a crown of five braids.

Ending it all where it began, Dad sported the braids to small-group where everyone got a real kick out of the scenario. Mr. Mansueto was amazed, but we did not permit his dazed state to allow him to forget to hand over five dollars. As soon as we arrived home, Dad was in his bathroom buzzing his head. 😂 😂


Well Worth the Pain

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Snow, ice, a rescheduled church service, unusually free schedules, and a lack of communication all played a role in the decision that allowed my best friend to go sledding with my family. After the message, her dad took her home to change into clothes appropriate for the intended activity and my family and I left to do the same.

Although I was the second one to exit the van, I was the first one in. To save time, I had decided to adorn my snow gear in the vehicle. This would have gotten us to the determined location much sooner if Haydn and Ansa had done the same and Dad had not made tea. 😂 😂 Mom decided to stay home.

I had a lot of fun sledding with my family while we waited for Abi to arrive, despite my ever-growing hope that my best friend was still coming. When flying off our sled was not my primary concern, I was scanning the road for a familiar car. I did, however, watch my family sled.

One of the last times Dad went, he decided to ride the coaster on his stomach. Haydn, Ansa, and I watched him from the top of the hill. For the first couple of seconds, everything looked great. Dad was sledding really fast on his way to a successful ride, that is until he began to veer right. At the bottom right of the hill (from me and my siblings’ view) was a decent sized ditch filled with rocks and lined with small boulders. Dad was hurtling straight for it. It was one of the oversized stones that finally brought him to a stop. Haydn, Ansa, and I momentarily held our breaths.

Dad let out a loud moan before rolling off the sled and onto the rocks. Suddenly my siblings and I were racing down the hill. “Don’t die!!!” Ansa screamed while I, confident about my father’s well being, imagined how funny it would be if the Rawlings showed up at that moment. Dad was fine. He was able to stand up by himself and chuckled about the chest pain he’d have the next day. 😅 😅

As we hiked back up the hill, Haydn announced, “That’s them!” I looked up to see one of the Rawlings’ vehicles pulling into the parking lot. It turned out that the siblings immediately older and younger than Abi tagged along. The more, the merrier!

After one sled ride with Abi, I began the first of several attempts to sled with Sarah (Abi’s younger sister who is Ansa’s age). It must have been our weight differences that prevented us from reaching the bottom of the hill before veering left. We tried me in the back and her in the front, me in the front and her in back, and finally, I had her sit on top of me. Whoosh!

We soon found ourselves at the bottom of the hill rolling off our suddenly still sled. With the coaster barely under my left side and Sarah caught in my legs, we laughed. I pumped my fist into the air and looked up the hill to proclaim our victorious ride, but no sound escaped my mouth. Barrelling straight for us, at an unstoppable speed, were Haydn and Noah.

I grabbed the sled from under me and held it up milliseconds before the boys crashed into Sarah and me. Haydn bounced off of us and landed in the non-rocky section of the ditch while Noah ended up tangled with Sarah and me. After a moment of silence, laughter filled the air again and everyone stood to brush themselves off.

“That was like an action movie sequence!” I exclaimed, still laughing. I felt sure that I had saved Sarah and me from potential death.

“More like comedy,” Noah replied, but I feel like an argument could be made for either.

The rest of our time sledding christened most of us with a new nickname:

  • Tristen and Abi: the “Rock-N-Roll Queens” because most of our sled rides together ended with us accidentally (or on purposely) bailing and rolling over each other until we came to a stop.
  • Sarah and Ansa: the “speed devils” since their combined weight seemed to be the perfect recipe for high acceleration sledding.
  • Noah: the “Human Wrecking Ball” and “Mr. Determination”. The first because several times throughout the evening he attempted to knock people over by sledding into them. Thankfully, only a few of those attempts were successful. 😂 😂 The second title came from Noah’s resolve to make it to the bottom of the hill each sled ride. If he veered off to a stop, Noah would merely adjust his sled and keep going, rather than re-start. Even in chain link sledding: if we failed to reach the bottom, Noah would keep going whether he was able to pull the rest of us along or not.
  • Haydn was just Haydn. 😂 😂

Chain link sledding was started by Noah and Haydn. That’s what they were doing when they ran into Sarah and me and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a snow-covered hill. What is it? Chain link sledding is when two more sleds/people connect via handles, hands, or feet and descend the mountain together. Stopping a chain more than often involves passengers landing in a large, twisted knot. It was when Abi and I joined in that (of course) the real fun began. 😂 😂

Initially, we lined up horizontally with Abi and me sharing the middle sled while Noah rode on our left and Haydn on our right. To stay together, Noah and Haydn held onto the handles of my and Abi’s sled.

Our first time down was not the best since I nearly slid off the front and Abi somehow fell aside. The second time was better because I held onto the handles of Haydn’s sled. Mr. Determination did not want me connecting him to the group. 😂 😂 The third time we lined up vertically with Haydn in front, Abi then me in the middle, and Noah in the back. This ride would have been a charm had Noah not accidentally disconnected from the rest of us.

We continued to chain link sled, and each ride ended with exclamations of: “Let’s do that again!” At one point, Sarah and Ansa joined in our fun, but I believe it was their added weight that prevented most of the next sled rides from reaching the bottom of the hill. Around this time, everyone began to get worn out, so several minutes after each wreck were spent laying where we landed to catch our breath as we gazed at the heavens.

One of the last rides we did chain link sledding, my friends and I created a square with the four sleds. The latest to do so, I was about to board our contraption when Noah began to slide down the hill from the group. Haydn and I grabbed his hands and started pulling him back to his original position. “Superman!” Noah exclaimed. I laugh upon realizing that, apart from me and my brother’s hands, Noah did resemble Superman. 😂 😂 As Noah reached his original location, I lost my footing but let myself fall. Noah grabbed onto Sarah and Ansa’s sled as I regretted my decision to give into gravity. Reminding me why I tend to be a cautious person, the sudden impact caused pain which traveled from my tailbone to my head where it enhanced a headache that I attained from two different wrecks whose endings included me hitting my noggin against the snow.

It must have been Noah’s added weight that caused the square’s pre-mature launch. The next thing I knew people were screaming at me to get on. I leaped for me and Abi’s sled, but our contraption had picked up speed, so only half of me made it on. I knew that if the rest of me didn’t board soon, the half dragging behind would eventually ruin the ride. I squirmed and wiggled until I finally kicked hard enough that the entirety of me was scrunched up on the back of the sled. I tried to adjust to a sitting position but was interrupted as we began to stop.

“You looked like a little ball!” Abi exclaimed, laughing. I am quite encouraged that I threw caution to the wind and actually jumped in the first place.

Cold limbs made quick goodbyes as each made his or her escape to their car. My fingers were so raw that I honestly believed I would not be able to move them until morning. However, while we were away Mom made us cornbread and hot chocolate that was waiting on the counter when we arrived home, so my recovery was not nearly as long as I predicted but I would gladly endure it for another sled experience like tonights.

Friends · Redeeming Grace

Cold Weather, Warm Hearts

Friday, January 6, 2017

Barely six days into the new year and it was snowing. I know, what?? Here in South Carolina it usually doesn’t snow until the first day of spring, months from now, and I was hoping it would do just that. No snow meant a sleepover, a wedding, and church but, as the snowfall piled higher and higher, everything was getting canceled. Having not been to a wedding in about three years, I hoped I’d be able to make it to Mike and Hope’s (no pun intended). Besides, I was looking forward to a reason to dress up.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The sun (which appeared two hours earlier than forecasted) melted the snow on the roads a great deal. However, the little bit remaining prompted my dad to drive us girls to the wedding. Mom, Ansa, and I arrived at the church building 15 minutes beforehand since, apparently, coming early to a wedding is a way to honor the bride (I did not know that). Mom was escorted to our seats while Ansa and I followed.

I skimmed over my program before twisting my neck this way and that (in search of my best friend) until I spotted Noah (my best friend’s older brother) standing in the back of the lobby. A second scan confirmed his presence and that of Abi, my best friend. When they entered the auditorium with their mom, Abi spotted me and told Mrs. Rawlings (her mom) before their escort seated them across the room from my mom, Ansa, and me. Mr. Rawlings joined them seconds later. Oh, well. 😅 😅

On the way here, Dad jokingly told me, “Tristen, don’t you dare catch the bouquet. Just knock it towards Abi.” However, at the sight of Mike and Hope’s grandparents walking down the aisle, Mom told me to catch the bouquet so that I can marry before Grandpa passes on. I am sensing some contradiction. 😂 😂

All of the bridesmaids were beautiful, but it was Patricia (the bride’s youngest sister and a friend of our’s) who took me and Ansa’s breath away. As soon as the girl’s face was visible, we both exclaimed, “Aww! She’s so pretty!” Hope, of course, looked gorgeous as well. Beauty runs in their family.

The wedding was a lovely but bittersweet occasion. Mrs. Rita (the groom’s mom) was crying from the moment she set foot in the auditorium and Brittney (a bridesmaid) was in tears as Hope approached her groom. During her vows, the bride choked up to the point that her last couple of lines came out in whispers. While Mike and Hope lit candles, a video displaying pictures of the bride and groom from birth to an engaged couple began to play. What a cute idea! Abi later told me that this was a surprise for Mike which explains why it moved him to tears.

When the first notes of the recessional song (“I Do” by Colbie Caillet) reached my ears, I couldn’t help but sing along. I trilled quietly-ish. I hope no one heard me. 😳 😂

The reception was held in the Multi-Purpose Room where Abi and I met up and continued as if we had never been separated. In light of the New Year, we resolved to hang out more and take more pictures together (since our collection only contained about 20 photographs). Mrs. Rawlings took our picture. 😂 😂

After filling our plates with light refreshments, Abi and I moved to an empty table where we were soon joined by Ansa, an elderly couple, McKaela (a friend), and Madi (another friend). Said table was right next to the snack route at which I was gazing while Abi talked to me. Mr. Rawlings happened to be in the section of line I was staring at so, when he noticed me, he exclaimed, “Hi!” We exchanged the usual greetings before he said, “I like your dress.”

“Thanks!” I replied.

Abi must have given her father a weird look because Mr. Rawlings suddenly explained, “Because I know you two were texting back and forth about dresses.” Sometimes I forget that the Rawlings share an email address. 😂 😂

One item my best friend and I had forgotten to get were drinks. There were two punch options, both fruit flavored, but one was colored orange and the other sepia. “Why don’t we each get one?” Abi suggested, sharing my indecisiveness. “Not four. You get one, and I’ll get one.”

“And then we can taste test,” I said, taking the cup she held out for me before fumbling with the dispenser of the sepia drink.

“I’m winning!” Abi exclaimed, acknowledging the fact that her cup was closer to being filled than mine. I argued that a race was unfair since I had encountered a mind blank with the knob. Abi did not revoke her win.

Once our glass was full, we tried the concoction it contained before trading cups and tasting the other liquid. Abi gave me the opportunity to choose but I liked both beverages and honestly couldn’t pick. “Which do you like better?” I asked her.

“Well,” Abi thought. “I like them both but, if I had to decide…” She took the glass I held.

With snacks consumed, Abi, Ansa, and I headed toward the lobby where we found the bridal party exiting the auditorium (where formal pictures were being taken). I made a beeline for Patricia and delivered my compliment. Abi joined us as Patricia was passionately sharing, “When I get home I am going to burn these shoes!”

“No, don’t.” Abi protested. “They’re pretty.” 😂 😂

Patricia went on to explain that she had been in her pair of silver, sparkly heels since 9:00 this morning. Our conversation, however, was cut off by Brittney who told Abi and me that we weren’t allowed to be in the lobby at this time. My best friend and I retreated to the hall.

Later, Abi and I quietly watched Mike and Hope slice into their cake until each newlywed placed their piece neatly in the other’s mouth. My best friend and I agreed that, at our future weddings, we are going to rub the contents of our hands all over our husbands’ faces. You have been warned. 😂 😂

Although we were at the front of the dessert line, Abi graciously gave up our spot so that I could see Mike and Hope’s first dance. By the time we returned the line was long but not terrible since it moved quickly, so Abi and I were soon faced with the task of deciding what goodies to fill our plates with.

“Take some gummy worms!” Mr. Easton exclaimed.

“Braces,” Abi said, pointing to her mouth.

“Throw braces to the wind!” Mr. Easton replied. Abi shrugged and grabbed a handful of the advertised candy.

In the lobby, Abi gave Patricia the cannoli (yum!) the bridesmaid requested and then began to merge the contents of her two plates. Abi ended up putting several items on my dish, although she did ask. My best friend and I claimed seats after which Abi continued to consolidate her desserts.

“Here,” I said, returning Abi’s cannoli to its original home. “Just so you don’t forget that’s yours.”

“You can have it,” Abi said, putting the deliciousness back on my plate.

Mrs. Rawlings and Noah walked up. “He is your date.” Mrs. Rawlings told us, referring to her son. “Don’t leave him.” Noah moved to stand behind Abi and me while Mrs. Rawlings gave them a heads up that they would be leaving soon.

“Do you want this half-eaten donut hole?” I asked Abi, still reviewing what food on my plate was her’s.

“You can have it.” She replied.

“Okay,” I said and popped the treat in my mouth.

Including the Cuban Shuffle, Noah, Abi, and I danced to a few songs. I feel like I did better than usual but all Abi saw was a “dying Panda” (how my brother describes my dancing). To ensure the quality of my first dance, my best friend (aka my dance instructor) is now even more determined to improve my dancing skills before I marry. Patricia got the gist of this conflict and told me that I just need to feel the music and dance like no one’s watching. I do- when I’m alone or with my family. 😅 😅 Oh, well. Maybe one day I’ll get the hang of it.

The Rawlings family left a few minutes later, Abi’s food lay forgotten on her seat. I took care of it. 😂 😂 I feel like, in some weird way, Abi and I bonded over food today. I promise we are not your stereotypical teenage girls. 😂 😂

To conclude the wedding, all in attendance lined the sidewalk out front, lit sparklers in hand. Although everyone was unbelievably cold, we shivered through and managed to cheer when the bride and groom appeared in the doorway. Halfway to the car that would take her away, Hope stopped and reached back to take the hand of her youngest sister: a final goodbye before she left to begin her new life. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Nicosia! I wish you both a life full of happiness.

Family · Holidays

The New Year: 2017

2016 was an astounding year full of new adventures stretching from Alaska to New York, bonding with friends old and new, unpleasant surprises, but also plenty of memories that I will treasure forever. I can’t wait to discover what more amazing adventures God has in store for my family this coming year.

Every New Year’s Eve my siblings and I pull an all-nighter (the ultimate goal being to stay awake until the time you awoke on New Year’s Eve). As long as we don’t make a ruckus, Mom and Dad are content with our wishes, so our habits haven’t been a problem. However, this year Mom requested that we skip our tradition since New Year’s Eve was on a Saturday so staying up all night meant that we would be exhausted during the church service Sunday morning. Despite Mom’s appeals, I held firm to the belief that we can’t forsake unwritten law. Any after effects would be silently suffered. Besides, the consequences will only help create memories we will laugh about later. So the tradition continued.

  • 3:58 AM – Ansa, recognizing the increase of weight in her eyelids, took it upon herself to eat an Extreme Warhead (a candy so sour simply thinking about it will make your mouth tingle). She didn’t fall asleep.
  • 4:00 AM – Not having a phone of my own, I borrowed my mom’s (to take pictures), so it was my siblings and me who were alerted when Mom’s pill alarm went off. Ansa made the journey across the house to repeat the message.
  • 4:13 AM – My siblings and I were playing Minecraft and other electronic games on our devices.
  • 6:06 AM – Growling stomaches prompted a venture downstairs to the kitchen fridge where we fetched leftover cheese pizza.
  • 7:40 AM – My siblings and I went into craft time when we made characters out of toilet paper tubes (a product I hope to one day make a living on).
  • 8:00 AM – Another of Mom’s pill alarms went off and, again, Ansa got up to deliver the message only to find Mom already awake.
  • 8:48 AM – Haydn bid Alexa a good morning, and we discovered that her New Year resolutions include keeping up vocal exercises. Her first work out was different.

Maybe it was all the sparkling grape juice I consumed, but I was never sleepy. I felt the need to snooze under my eyes, but not in my head (thank goodness). Haydn got a bit cozy at times, and Ansa had to dip into our supply of instant waker-uppers, but we pulled through and, at 9:30 AM, we were ready to leave for church. Unsurprisingly, Mom was right: it was during worship when exhaustion punched me in the face. 😅 😅 However, I did not fall asleep. Happy New Year!!! 🎉 🎉 🎉