A wedding weekend whirlwind

So here I am again. Back in good ol’ Gate D52. General Mitchell Airport. Milwaukee.

I’ve spent some time at this gate the last seven months. It’s a nice gate. There’s lots of daylight pouring in from the windows and slylights. Big flat screen TVs, airing the day’s news everywhere you look. Lots of food choices. And a nice desk to plug in and … reflect.

I’m home again. The K-Town one. Although, this time, I was all over the southeast corner of Wisconsin, really.

In terms of rest and relaxation -- I didn’t get much of it this weekend. But that's OK, I'll gladly take the whirlwind with family.

It’s not going to get any easier this week. My days will be spent writing gobs of material for the University and attending strategy meetings. At night, I’ll be moving out my apartment and into the duplex where we’ll be living for the next one, two, three, maybe 12 months. And I still have to find time for grocery shopping, making doctor's appointments and getting a new driver's license.

Our family was reunited again this weekend for Orrin and Kelli’s wedding. They would be Kates’ brother and his longtime girlfriend. Of course, Kelli has been a part of the family for years now, so it was pretty swell to welcome her to the family officially.

* * *

I arrived Thursday evening on a flight from Kansas City to Milwaukee. My flight arrived shortly after 6, but we didn’t pull into our garage in K-Town until well after 10 p.m., compliments of a lot of traffic, road construction, a much-needed supper break at Arby’s, and some dress-shopping with Kates … Those delays left me little time to do some of the chores I’d hoped to do Thursday night around our house. By the time I finished sorting through my mail and some bills, and Kates finished some laundry and packing for our wedding road trip, we headed to bed around 1 a.m.

On Friday morning, the whirlwind started again, with me getting out of bed around 6:30. I finished what I started the night before and let Kates enjoy some much-needed sleep-in time. Then I played with Phoebe while Kates ran some errands, and we were on the road again around noon, making the four-hour trek to Wausau. Phoebe, I should add, never slept.

We rolled into our hotel around 4 p.m. and Kates’ parents were passing through the doors behind us. We had a minor glitch right away when we were mistakenly assigned to a smoking room, but the staff was perfectly apologetic and quick to give us a non-smoking room.

Before we could drop our bags in the room, Phoebe had climbed onto “the big bed” and was sprawled out in the middle of it, pillows propped behind her, hands behind her head. We were in an extended stay hotel, after all, which meant that for the weekend we were practically living in a studio apartment equipped with a full kitchen, king-sized bed, recliner and entertainment center. Not too shabby.

We did the rehearsal thing, and Kates I marveled at the church's late '60s architecture ...

Then we gathered at a brewery for a dinner that was best classified as organized chaos. The reservation had been set well in advance, but the staff was hardly ready for our party of 30 when we started drifting in the doors. We ended up scattered at tables throughout the restaurant, eating a buffet of salads, appetizers and gourmet pizza that appeared specially thrown together for us. Then, around 9:30, Phoebe began her meltdown, giving us the sign that it was time to head for our accommodations.

(I’ve interrupted this post to board my flight to Kansas City. I’m now seated beside a window and traveling somewhere over Illinois I’ll guess … I’m faring more comfortably this time than my flight to Milwaukee on Thursday, when I ended up in a middle seat between two men much older and larger than I ...)

Saturday morning was care-free. While Kates and her mother went for manicures, I spent the morning in our hotel room with Pheebs. We watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, built towers with her blocks, played games and I gave Phoebe a bath. The highlight of the morning, undoubtedly, was brushing her hair and honoring her request to attach every last one of her "hair pretties" to the back of her head (see right) … Having experienced the ramifications of a no-nap day on Friday night, I had Phoebe down for a nap around noon, and that left me plenty of time to start getting ready for the wedding. Kates arrived back at the hotel around 1:30. We downed some Culver’s and we were driving to the wedding by 2:30.

* * *

The wedding day was one to cherish. The weather was wonderful, everything happened without any hint of a hitch, and there was an understated emotion to the entire day that I won’t even begin to try explaining on his blog …

It was refreshing to catch up with family, friends and other familiar faces who have long been a part of the intertwined lives Kates and I have shared. That circle of friends and family also included the wedding photographer, who might as well be dubbed our official family photographer. A longtime friend, he’s shot numerous occasions over the years; Kates and I even give him credit for breaking the shyness between us 12 years ago, which prompted us to admit we 'liked' each other, which led us to begin dating, which led to the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately, all I got to see of the ceremony was the beginning and the end. We took our seats in the second pew behind Kates’ parents, but Orrin and Kelli had barely settled at the alter when Phoebe started -- quite verbally -- passing out offering envelopes to everyone around her. Kates flashed me the look of horror, pointed to the side aisle and whispered, “Get her out!” To which I swiftly turned around and carried Phoebe out of the sanctuary.

I spent the rest of the ceremony pacing around the church atrium with her in my arms and refusing to take her back into the sanctuary, while she feebly pleaded, “I listen, Daddy. I listen.” … I missed Kates reading the scripture passage. I missed the vows. I missed the lighting of the unity candle. I missed the soloist.

But I did see their first kiss as a married couple. And by virtue of being in the atrium, I got to be the first person to greet them as a married couple.

The usual travails of getting to the reception and organizing family pictures came next … We were already running late when we got lost driving back to our hotel because we hadn’t brought the directions to the reception with us.

Once the last family photo was taken, Kates and I finally were able to let go a little … We lost track of Phoebe -- and it was totally fine. It turned out she was inside the bar room, coloring with her aunts. Kates mingled with a glass of white wine. And I nursed a glass of Point beer while catching up at a table with Ruth, Bruce and Allan. … The bar room really started buzzing as the big screen TV started commanding people’s attention and the Brewers put together a ninth-inning comeback on the Minnesota Twins

During dinner, we indulged on savory trout and chicken. We listened to the speeches. Phoebe played with Mr. Potato Head. And we got some fun entertainment as The Couple challenged any guests who dared ding their glasses to show them how they should kiss. We saw everything from sweet pecks on the lips to all-out falling over chairs.

Then we danced the night away, with Phoebe becoming the life of the party …

She danced -- jumped, rather -- like that for more than two hours straight, until finally around a quarter to 11 Kates and I decided it was a good time to leave. With Def Leperd’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” starting up, I whisked Phoebe into my arms and carried her away from the dance floor -- while she burst into cries and reached for the dance floor.

We said our goodbyes, and Phoebe was half asleep in my arms by the time we got to our car … Within minutes she was zonked out in her car seat, and then I got the pleasure of carrying her on my shoulder up the three flights of stairs to our hotel room. That job is one of the things I’ve looked forward to most in fatherhood; as we traveled the staircase I whispered to Kates that it was the best part of my night.

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