Sunday, June 29, 2008

House of Blessing

(Thailand post continued...)

Remember Michael?  The missionary Steve Allen's son?  Here he is helping a local Thai boy with a little yard work.  You know, just a bit of tree trimming.  He looks like he might have done this before, doesn't he?
Hey Michael, how'd you get way up there?  Michael?  Can you hear me?  Michael was actually born in Thailand, and spent most of his life there.  Apparently tree climbing is one of the many skills he has learned while in the country.  (Remember, his dad was on the trip.  Brandon usually doesn't make youth group kids with knives climb really tall trees.  Only when they're making fun of his haircut or extensive t-shirt collection.)
During the second half of the trip, the group traveled to Chang Rai in the northern part of Thailand, where Brandon preached at a church that was affiliated with House of Blessing.  Check out how little the podium looks.  I'm thinking most Thai people are a bit smaller than Brandon.  It looks like he's preaching behind a nightstand.  

Brandon said that shoes are not typically worn indoors in the places that they visited.  

God is bigger than that little part of me that lives in terror of exotic foot fungi.

Brandon was very impressed with this place.  42 kids are cared for by only 3 adults, and the place runs like a well-oiled machine.  Every morning the kids do 30 minutes of chores before breakfast, and every night brings another 30 minutes of chores before bed.  The kids know how to do everything from cleaning their room to helping in the kitchen and even yard work.  Brandon said there was a kid slightly bigger than Dane operating the weedeater one morning.  (Okay, the kid was like 9, just very small for his age.) 

We have instituted a 15 minute chore time before bed here at our house since Brandon got back.  The kiddos have been cleaning up all their toys and picking up their room much better than they had before.  

Now if we could just teach Aidan to use the weedeater...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

God In This House

Brandon arrived home safe and sound yesterday, yet his bag remains in Paris along with all of the cool Thai souvenirs.  He's eaten the Mexican food, he's wrestled with the boys, and he has shown me the pictures.  All 400+ of the pictures.  He is almost over the jet lag after falling asleep in the Mexican restaurant and going to bed at 8:15 last night.  He had a fork in his hand, and almost face planted into his tamale.  Good times.

No worries.  I will only be showing 327 of those pictures on my blog.  Because other people's travel pictures are oh so interesting to look at, no?

This picture was taken the last night the group spent in Bangkok, in some really tall tower (Brandon - "The Biaoke Tower, the world's tallest when it was built.").  The group spent some time praying over the city up here before heading home.  I apologize for showing you a bunch of pictures I know nothing about.  Brandon has adamantly refused to blog about his trip for me.  Some lame excuse about being "tired".
This is the group right before they left on the trip.  Don't they look so rested and clean?  They did not look like this when they got back yesterday, even though they were wearing the same shirts.  The man on the far right side is Steve Allen.  The Allen family served as missionaries in Thailand for 17 years, and recently returned to the US.  He organized the trip and graciously led the group all over the country.  That's his son Michael next to him.  I have a really cool picture of Michael coming up in the next post or two.

Brandon is standing over the city of Pattaya here.  About 50,000 prostitutes call Pattaya home.  Walking Street (Brandon, "The part of the city most famous for debauchery and perversion.") can be found as that illuminated street running along the waterfront.
While in Pattaya, the group served at an AIDS hospice.  They painted the floor in one part of the building and prayed over the house.  One of the Thai people from the local church there wrote this on the floor as they were painting:
Tamar House in Pattaya was started by a group of missionaries to help get women off the street.  Food and housing is provided, and they share the gospel through English lessons.  The women are given job training, and many learn baking, jewelry making, and other trades.  They run a coffee shop and bakery, and others work in a salon run by Tamar House.  Brandon brought home a stack of handmade cards made by the women there.  Here's some of our group with some of the occupants of Tamar House.  So cool.
More pictures to come from Brandon's trip.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Steve Allen said it was almost unheard of for a group to spend 17 days in Thailand without anyone getting sick.  And no one got sick.  Praise God for good health and sturdy digestive systems!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Prayers for Daddy

We have been praying for Brandon every night when the boys go to bed.  While Aidan's prayers remain indecipherable to everyone but God, Dane has had some pretty cute ones.  We have prayed every night, but these are the only ones I have remembered to write down: 

Dear God, please help my Daddy talk about God good in Thailand.  Please help everybody to have enough food and mommies and daddies.  And for them to listen to their mommies and daddies.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Dear God, please help my Daddy to talk good about God and (whispering) not about POOP.  I whispered it so God wouldn't hear it.

Do Over:
Dear God, please help my daddy to talk about God to all the people in Thailand, and to be safe and talk good about God and you Jesus.  That was good.  I said safe.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Dear God.  There is a king in Thailand.  Please help Daddy to listen to the king.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.  (This led to a discussion about how God is King over everyone.  This was very confusing to Dane, he thought that Jesus was the king in Thailand that Brandon was referring to when he called us the other day.)

Dear God.  Help Daddy be good.  And safe.  And have courage in Thailand.  Help him to talk about you God to the people and be good.  Amen.

Dear God.  Please give Daddy patience.  And help him to have courage.  Help Daddy to talk good about you to the people in Thailand.  And help him give food and toys to everyone.  Amen.

Dear God.  Help Daddy be good and safe.  What else?  Oh, and help him to give food to everyone and tell all the people about you, God.  And help Daddy to always chase after you.  Amen.

2 more days till Brandon is here!  The countdown is on!  Thank you to all of you who have been praying for this trip and who have helped out so much with me and the boys over the last several weeks.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am.  Hopefully the next post will have Thailand pictures! 

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Satan Has Taken Up Residence Inside My Commode

Alternate title:  Reason #812 Why I Cannot WAIT For My Husband to get Home

So last Tuesday (yes, 4 days ago), Dane is doing his business in our lone downstairs potty.  All offending objects were successfully flushed from the bowl, but no subsequent flushing was allowed after that.  When you flush, the water rises to near the top, then slowly lowers without actually "flushing".  After minimal interrogation, Dane confessed to "using a lot of toilet paper, Mommy.  A lot.  And I'm so sorry.  Do you forgive me?"

While I have forgiven Dane, the commode apparently has not.  The ancient serpent himself is now living in the bowels of my bowl.  And no amount of flushing, wire coat hanger manipulation, dumping a pot of hot water into it, or Drain-O will flush him out.  (I spent some time on Wikepedia trying to figure out a solution.  Because I am a believer in research-based practice.)  

Nothing is working, people, and the toilet is still clogged.  Josh the Intern even came over last night and watched the children while Stephany and I were shoe shopping and eating Mexican food.  While he was here, he spent some time with my toilet plunger trying to unclog the stubborn potty.  Nada.  Nothing.  Josh even suggested the unthinkable.  That perhaps my children had flushed something other than toilet paper.  

Why, that is unfathomable.  My children are precious and they would just never.  They don't pee in the toy box, so why would they put toys in the potty?  He obviously does not know that Dane and Aidan are simply not capable of such behavior.

Excuse my while I go check the toy box.

So here is my plan.  The exorcism is scheduled for Tuesday.  My friend Handy Matthew will return home from a glamourous week in New York City and dismantle my commode for me.  (I don't think he knows this plan yet.)  He actually knows how to take it out.  Like, out of the floor.  And supposedly, he can put it back in the floor.  All before Hot-But-Considerably-Less-Handy Brandon comes home on Friday.  So hopefully I will have a properly flushing downstairs toilet so my children will stop running to the backyard every time they have to tinkle.  

And not a moment too soon.  Yesterday, Aidan was actually aiming for the soccer ball that had been left in the yard.  


Did I mention the hubby is coming home on FRIDAY?!  

And just in time.  Because I am pooped.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News From the Home Front

So Brandon is officially halfway into his Thailand trip, and things here at home have been hoppin' since he left.  

The boys have one last swimming lesson tomorrow morning.  So far, this may have been the biggest waste of money since my upstairs curtains (another story for another time).  There are 8 lessons, at 30 minutes long each, about 30 minutes away from our house.  The boys spend about 25 of those minutes sitting on the first step of the pool.  Aidan has stuck his head underwater twice in the last 2 weeks.  Is it starting a negative precedent if we skip the last swim lesson?  I kind of have some laundry that needs to be done.  And a garage to clean.  

I have had a "project-a-day" that I have been doing around the house.  (Except for today.  Today's project was a nap).  I have cleaned and organized the pantry, laundry room, all bathrooms, guest room closet, linen closet, a dresser, and a couple of cabinets.  Paulo has been here for several days repairing some grout work, drywall, a broken cabinet, and refinishing our front door.  My mom was here all last weekend while I worked several days and she cleaned and sealed my entire kitchen floor and made about 5 calzones (pronounced cal-zoney) and some cookies.  My mom rocks.

In addition to the swim lessons, the boys have been enjoying Movie Wednesdays and a couple of trips to McDonalds.  Friday night, they are having a slumber party at the house with their friend Wilson.  Friday I am also working again, and Aunt Val and baby Joel will be coming to play for the day.  I have a Girls Night Out planned for that night, and Jib and his brother, Josh the Intern, will be coming over for a big boy party while we eating Mexican food and talking about shoes.

Did I say shoes?  I meant Jesus.  And politics and healthcare.  Because we are very deep people, the girls and I.

Dane (and sometimes Aidan) have been praying for Brandon while he is in Thailand nightly.  They are some pretty cute prayers.  They are missing their daddy.  I hear their mommy is missing him quite a bit, too.  Especially since Dane clogged the potty when he decided that half a roll of toilet paper was obviously necessary and I cannot for the life of me get it unclogged.

Dane has decided that NQUA is his best friend and thus needs a nickname.  So far he has come up with "And" and "NinjaAndy".  This is what Dane has been up to the last 8 days.  

Aidan has had an eventful week, as well.  Yesterday when I told him he could not use the downstairs potty, he opened the backdoor, and, while standing in the kitchen (on my spotless and newly sealed tile floor), peed on my backporch, directly onto the little wrought iron door mat.

For grandparents, and those of you who have forgotten what my children look like from my last picture post, this one is Dane:

And this one is Aidan (freshly shorn):
Have a great week!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

24 Minutes

1830. 30 minutes before my ER shift is over. Just 30 more minutes of a 12 hour shift. I am in a patient room, and I hear "patient coming to room 2". This is my trauma room. I'm getting a critical patient in my trauma room 30 minutes before shift change. I have a lot to do in a short period of time so that the night shift nurse I give report to doesn't get a heap of work dumped on him. I walk in the room and sitting on the stretcher is a 69 year old African American man who appears at first glance very healthy. He is trim, with pressed slacks and a button up shirt with a belt that matches his shoes. He has a small suitcase and a small bag that he has brought sitting on the floor of the room. He has a wide, kind grin on his face with lots of teeth, and he clasps my hand in his. I introduce myself, and he tells me that he knows me. I have taken care of him before. But I think he is mistaken. I would have remembered Mr. A.

Mr. A. arrived via taxi to our ER about 7 minutes before this. He is widowed, with no family in town, and he was afraid to drive becuase he had been passing out frequently over the last several weeks, and twice on this day. He had no one to take him to the emergency room that day.  He also told the triage nurse that his internal defibrillator had been firing and shocking his heart. He had had a cardiac bypass surgery 20 years before, and was on his 6th pacemaker/defibrillator. When the triage nurse hooked him up to our EKG machine, we witnessed a snapshot of his heart in ventricullar tachycardia (or "V Tach" to all of you ER watchers). People do not stay in V Tach for very long. They either are "shocked" out of it, or it eventually "flatlines", killing the person. We saw on the EKG machine as his internal defibrillator fired, converting his cardiac rhythm back into a normal, safe rhythm.

A bit of information for you: An internal defibrillator is similar to an external defibrillator (that's the big thing that shocks your heart when every one yells "clear!" on those TV shows). It only delivers a shock if your heart is in a fatal arrythmia. It is designed to save your life.

Mr. A.'s defibrillator had been firing for the last 2 days. Just moments before I met him, he had been shocked back from a potentially fatal cardiac arrythmia.

And there he was, big smile on his face, telling me in thickly accented English how glad he was that I was taking care of him as he told me about his severe chest pain. I did my thing, putting him on monitors and oxygen, starting IVs, and giving him cardiac medication. All the while, he was thanking me profusely, the smile never leaving his face. I gave report to the night shift nurse, and I stuck my head in room 2 before I left. I told Mr. A. that I was leaving, and another nurse would be taking care of him.

"What? You're leaving me now? I don't want you to leave. Thank you so much for taking care of me today. You'll come visit me tomorrow?" Hand grasped mine firmly, smiling. I think he would have kissed me if he could.

People respond to illnesses in all different ways. Some are depressed. Some blow a minor injury or head cold completely out of proportion and moan and whine about how their weekend is like totally ruined now. Expressing frustration at their nurse, as if it is somehow my fault that they punched a glass window and cut their hand. Um, how did you think that would go? Then there was the transvestite who had a crying panic attack at the thought of recieving a tetanus shot. Some get very fearful and nervous when faced with chest pain and strokes and other really scary stuff.

But Mr. A. was very unique. He was the happiest, most grateful patient I have had in recent memory, and he had experienced a legitimate near death experience just 10 minutes before.  Here was a man having an actual life threatening medical emergency, and he couldn't have been happier to be there.

I didn't get a chance to talk to Mr. A. much that day. I do not know him, I do not know his family or his faith. I do know that he was alone.  All alone, with no family or even a friend or neighbor to drive him to the hospital.  Which could partially explain his joy at just being around other people, even if it was in an emergency room.  But it was a privilege to take care of him when he needed it most, even if it was just for 24 minutes.  

It makes me consider the people I come into contact with, even for a few minutes.  What do they notice about me?  About the way I live?  Do they see joy?  Do they see Christ?  Does my outlook on life impact people positively, even if they don't "know" me?  Do I make a room brighter by being in it, as Mr. A. did, even as his defibrillator was shocking his heart?  Just something I was thinking about...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Summer Favorites

Once upon a time, I used to watch Oprah Winfrey. Not anymore. Another post for another time. But I have been recently inspired by her "Favorite Things" show and also my complete lack of anything interesting to post.

So I said to myself, "Hey Mandy, why don't you post some of your favorite things of the summer, since you have nothing interesting to post?" I think "Favorite Things" are supposed to be objects that inspire other people to run out and buy them. But my favorite things are not necessarily that. They are simply my favorite things at the moment. 

Cinemark Summer Kids Club. Every Wednesdays and Thursdays, the kind people at our local Cinemark hosts Kids movies. They play a several-year old kid flick (we saw Open Season this past week), and charge a dollar a head for admission.Or you could by all 10 weeks worth of movies in advance for 5 dollars.
Or you can go to church with me and get the tickets for free that have kindly been purchased for us by our Children's Ministry. 10 free movies for me and the kids?  Yes, please.

Vera Bradley pocket folders. Does anyone else store their tax information from previous years in cute pocket folders? No? Well, these are the cutest. I never would have paid for them at the WalMart, but I bought them while on vacation, so that sort of justified spending $14 dollars on 4 pocket folders. I was out of town, people. And aren't they cute?

Miguel and Paulo. Miguel is my yard man, and Paulo is the man I have hired to do lots of out-of-my-league home repairs and such around the house, since Brandon is not here to convince me that these are minor repairs that he can do himself. You know, in all that free time he will have in October. I do not think I could survive summer without them.

Gap Outlet favorite Lip Balm. I am a chap stick aficionado of sorts. And this stuff has almost made me forget that Bonne Bell discontinued their peppermint flavored Lip Smacker back in 1998. Almost.

Gap Outlet polo shirts. If you have ever seen a picture of me, or spent more than a day with me, chances are you have seen me in one of my half dozen Gap Outlet polo shirts. They fit perfect and are long enough no one has to worry about catching a glimpse of my wobbly bits when I raise my arms or bend over.  Too much information.  Sorry.

These guys:

Red Box. Has anyone else discovered this? At several of our local McDonalds and WalMarts, these big red boxes sit. They are filled with a selection of new release movies. Just slide your credit card in, and out pops the movie of your choice. The clever people at red box charge you $1 per night for every night that you have their movie. When you are done with the movie, you just return it to any Red Box. It doesn't even have to be the one you rented it from. Genius I tell you, genius. I have watched 3 movies this week and only paid 3 dollars.

As you can see from this list, I am a very deep and insightful person.  Movies and yard men and chap stick and cute folders are very important to me.  And Jesus, of course.  Not "movies and yard men and chap stick and cute folders are very important to Jesus", but rather, Jesus is very important to me as well.  

More than even the chap stick.

I'm sorry if this last paragraph offended any of you.  It was an example of sarcasm.  And also an attempt at self depreciation and a mockery of my apparent shallowness.

So, what are some of your summer favorites?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


This letter was mailed to our family and friends back in March.  Please pray for Brandon and the rest of the group, and also me and the boys for the next several weeks.

Dear Friends and Family,

Every other year, Brandon embarks on an international mission trip with a group of students from his youth group.  For the past several years, they have gone to Juarez, Mexico to build homes with an organization called Amor Missions.

For the past 18 months, Brandon has been preparing to lead a group to Nairobi, Kenya this upcoming June.  This past December, the counrty of Kenya experienced its first political unrest and violence in many years.  Plans for the mission trip were quickly evaluated and changed, and now Brandon, along with Steve Allen, a missionary who our church has supported for many years, will be leading a group to serve in Thailand.

Brandon, Steve, and about 12 teenagers and young adults will be going to Thailand for 16 days in June.  They will have an opportunity to see the work that has been established by our missionaries over the past 17 years.  In Bangkok, the group will visit and serve the Siam Church, which Northside Christian Church has helped to support.  Our students will have an opportunity to teach English and share their faith at a local college, and spend some time ministering to the sick at an AIDS hospice.  The group will be working with established missionaries in a town called Pattaya, doing prayer walks through a town whose largest industry is prostitution.  During the final leg of the trip, Brandon and the other leaders and students will travel through Northern Thailand to Ching Rai, where they will be working with an orphanage, House of Blessing.  (This is the portion of the trip where Brandon will be tempted to bring home half a dozen precious little Thai children home to Houston for me to raise...)  They will be doing a Vacation Bible School at the orphanage, and show the children and staff the love of Jesus through serving them.

We are asking our friends and families to please pray for Brandon, the leaders, and the students who will be making this journey.  Pray for their safety in traveling, wisdom for the leaders, and for the students to understand just a little bit more about God's love for them and how to share that with others.

Brandon and Mandy

Brandon flies out this afternoon.  Please pray for the trip participants and the people of Thailand that they will be coming in contact with.  Pray especially for the time they will be spending at the orphanage over there.  In Thailand, international adoptions are illegal, and it is considered socially unacceptable to adopt children.  So there are countless children in orphanages who have little hope of ever leaving.  I know this will be very very difficult for Brandon and the others to experience, so please pray for them!

Thank you to everyone who has financially contributed to this trip.  Your help has been invaluable.  You'll be getting letters and pictures when he gets back!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Baby

Aidan is almost 3.  I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around that one.  Some days, to me, he's still my baby.  The crotchety baby who screamed seemingly nonstop for the first 2 years of his life.  Every frustration, every disagreement, every objection was met with ear splitting screams, and he screamed until he decided he was done screaming.  No amount of negotiation, bargaining, feeding, meeting his needs, or appeasement would cease the screaming.  He was just done when he was done.  

Aidan screaming 8-24-05:
Aidan screaming Spring 06:
Aidan screaming Spring 07:
Aidan screaming last week:
But he was also my cuddly baby.  When Dane was a baby, he was all smiles and activity.  If he cried it was because he was hungry.  Period.  He crawled early, walked everywhere at 10 months, and had little use for mommy snuggles and silly little things like sitting in my lap or rocking.  But Aidan likes to crawl up on your lap and sit for a spell.  He wants hugs and kisses and is usually eager to reciprocate.  A recent favorite activity is "blowing strawberries" on our faces and calling them kisses.

The nonstop senseless screaming has greatly decreased since Aidan started talking 10 miles a minute a few months ago.  Sometimes he still throws a wall-eyed hissy fit, but we have learned the fine art of patience with him.  I now know the definition of "strong willed child".  

Something that comes to him honestly, I understand.

As his final months as a "terrible two" mercifully start to wind down, I still can't help but think of him as my little baby.  He has always had this baby fine, white blonde hair that curls up at the ends.  When it's humid, we are treated to little ringlets on the sides and back of his head.  "Angel hair" as one of the church ladies calls it (she does not know Aidan well enough, obviously).  It's so sweet to have this snuggly little cutie-pie crawl up in your lap, and play with his precious baby blonde curls.

But the baby is not a baby anymore.  He is a tall, skinny toddler who is potty trained and talks with an inexplicably thick southern accent.  He sleeps in a big boy bed and is getting less and less scared of water everyday.  He slides down the pole on our backyard play set with no fear in sight.  Dane is still hesitant to slide down the big pole, but Aidan shoots down it like a champ.  Literally like a champ.  He pumps both fists in the air when he hits the ground.

And the little blonde curls?  Gone.  Last night during Dane's haircut in a moment of clipper-happy haircut hysteria, we decided that Aidan was not a baby anymore.  And we cut.  And cut.  And cut.  And now he is 18 and going to college.  Okay, maybe not.  But he might as well be.  Because he is definitely a big boy now.  

Sorry, ladies.  He's never getting married.  Or going to kindergarten ever.  Ever.  Because he can't.  He's still just a baby and he has to stay home and snuggle on the couch with his mommy.

And denial is just a river in Egypt.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Pass the Antioxidants and Some Pepto Please

I have never been what some may call a "healthy eater".  My parents did their best to force-feed me vegetables of all sorts, and I have clear memories of sitting at that kitchen table and not getting up until the broccoli is gone young lady.  I devised all kinds of strategies of vegetable avoidance, including but not limited to stuffing them under the cushion of the kitchen chair to rot.  I also stayed at the kitchen table and did not get up until bedtime several nights because I didn't want to eat beans.  Or was it mashed potatoes?  Or maybe it was the broccoli again.  I don't remember.

I have just never been the type of person to crave "good for you" food.  I have friends who drool and get all misty eyed at the thought of a good spinach salad with radishes.  Oh, how I wish that were me.  But it is not.

But I have found nature's perfect food.  

And rumor has it, it comes complete with antioxidants!

I could eat blackberries everyday.  For every meal.  And never, ever get tired of them.  My pick-your-own strawberry place has blackberries for the next couple of months.  

Oh my heavens.  

They are beautiful.  And so many poor little plump blackberries will just fall to the ground in perfect ripeness because not enough Mandys are available to pick them.  Our little family headed out there last Friday and did our part in saving the poor ripe blackberries from devastation.  For an entire weekend I had blackberries for breakfast, with my lunch, as a snack, and as dessert.  Several cups fulfilled their blackberry destiny by becoming my first ever cobbler.  Please heed this advice:  If you eat 4 pounds of blackberries in 4 days, your digestive system WILL REVOLT.  Especially if you top of the weekend with enchiladas.

Moving on.

Dane has inherited his mother's ability to just keep pickin' those blackberries until Daddy tells us we have to stop because what in tarnation are we going to do with 15 pounds of blackberries when we get home.  Brandon taught Dane how to just pick the ripe ones, so I didn't have to pay for a box full of red berries.  I heard this screamed enthusiastically throughout our morning:

B:  What kind are we looking for, Dane?

Are there any places this conversation would be appropriate other than a blackberry patch?  

I think not.
Look at the sheer joy on that face.  He is so my son.

Blueberries are also in season, which, incidentally, are much more fun to pick off the bushes than they are to actually eat.
Aidan's miniature attention span was in attendance last Friday, and he was bored with the whole process about 10 minutes into the trip.  Fortunately, they had plenty of grass to distract him from all of the blackberry goodness.
Have a great weekend!  Just remember, if you pick up a pint or 8 of blackberries at the store today, don't forget the Pepto Bismal!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

June 3, 2000

I have very vague memories of that life-altering day 8 years ago today.  

I remember having my hair done and shellacked with more Aqua Net than I thought humanly possible.  I remember the 80 bobby pins holding my hair in place all day.  

I remember sandwiches.  At the church there was this little room where my bridesmaids and I hung out, and a tray of sandwiches materialized when we were just starting to get hungry.  

I remember my dad looking more nervous than me.  I thought he might just throw up.  But he didn't.  We both made it down the aisle.  There was this hot man at the end of that aisle.  That I remember.  

What I do not remember are any of my vows or anything the preacher said that day.  No recollection at all.  I could have promised a lifetime of frisbee-golf playing or video game tolerance for all I know.  I do not remember most of the other people at my wedding.  

I do remember my sister-in-laws both whining about the shoes I made them wear as bridesmaids.  My 4'11" sister was my maid of honor, and my SILs (at 5'8"ish and 5'10"ish) were also bridesmaids.  They were appalled that I made them wear flats in my wedding so that everyone would fit in the same picture.  Little did they know, I was merely being fashion-forward.  

I also kind of remember my ring bearer.  I had babysat this little boy from the time he was 4 months old until he was almost 5, when I got married.  He was our ring boy.  Kids are always a bit unpredictable in weddings, but Jonathan was in a league of his own.  While the preacher was saying words I don't remember, Jonathan had thrown the cute little ring pillow on the floor and decided it was nap time.  He put his little head on that pillow on the floor and would not get up.  Then he rolled around on the floor, and started chewing on the pillow, just for good measure.  Honestly, short of setting the church on fire, he could have done anything and it wouldn't have bothered me that day.  I WAS GETTING MARRIED!  After 3 years of dating and a year long engagement.

Recognize these people?  
We are cutting the cake that I don't remember eating.  I should explain my appearance in this picture.  At no other time in my life did I look like I did on my wedding day.  Not only was I inhumanly tan (I was a bit nervous about my naturally boo-white skin blending in with the dress), but I was also in nursing school full time, working part time, hitting the gym 5 days a week, and had gotten mononucleosis (incidentally, the Best Diet Ever) a month before my nuptials.  So I was never doing anything like eating or sleeping, and for the first and only time in my life, could not keep the weight on if I tried.  I got so thin right before my wedding, that I had to have my gown re-altered and even had to wear little falsies that looked like chicken cutlets to help me fill out the top of my dress.

Definitely a once in a lifetime experience in my book.  The wedding and the chicken cutlets both.
So how did we celebrate the big 0-8?  In true Brandon and Mandy fashion.  We hit the Chili's after a 12 hour shift at the hospital with both boys in tow.  Ever the romantics.