My Cousin’s Big Fat Lebanese Wedding

October was a busy month. We had a ton of fun but it was crazy exhausting. Starting with my birthday on the 5th we had obligations every single Saturday night through the middle of November. ::yawn:: I’m tired again just thinking about it.

But beyond the birthdays and Halloween celebrations two very exciting things happened in our family. My dear cousin Kelsey got married to her college sweetheart Kyle. I love them both so very much. Kelsey is so warm and smart and thoughtful and Kyle is such a sweet and funny guy. Thanks to the football schedule Michael wasn’t able to go to the wedding with me so Tracey was my date. It was a blast just being with my sisters, mom, grandparents and cousins.

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I got to see this moment with Kelsey and her dad Kit (my Mom’s first cousin and a really great human being) just before she went down the aisle. It brought tears of joy and sadness to my eyes.

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I am so happy for her and Kyle that they get to spend the rest of their lives together. They’re going to have a blast doing so. I know we had a blast celebrating with them!

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And then the following weekend we packed up the car, all piled in and headed to the border for Michael’s cousin Kifah’s wedding in Canada.

After leaving late and stopping 1.1 million times we finally arrived to the rehearsal dinner. Hours late. We were so out of it I took no pictures.

But that night we stayed up late catching up with our cousins Fadi and Diana and my BIL André while the little ladies played with their cousin Mila. Knowing we had to wake up early and be dressed up fancy all day did not deter us from staying up late, drinking Crown Royal and solving the world’s problems. Well, except for D, she’s pregnant with their second baby, and she was the only one smart enough to get some rest.

We woke up at the crack of dawn anyways (thank you tiny human alarm clocks) and got all dressed up for the wedding at noon.

Cedella had been trying to wear her black sequin party dress and matching black patent shoes for weeks before the wedding and I wouldn’t let her. (Of course now that the wedding is over she hasn’t attempted to wear either piece since). She looked so pretty and grown-up. My precocious darling three-nager.

And Isora in her pink fluffy ruffles and white bow. I die from the cutemess.

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Iz and Mila had a very similar style of dress on. It’s so cute to watch two little people navigate all those ruffles.

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Mila and her gorgeous mother Diana. Totally stunning. Beauties inside and out.

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Izzie and Izzat. I love this picture. The girls were all properly obsessed with their older cousin. And he was so sweet and attentive and caring towards them. He is such an incredible young man.

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Cedella and Aunt Jacqueline the Mother of the Groom. This woman has the biggest heart and the biggest smile. So much love for her.

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With her Teta Hilda. My darling and stylish MIL. The girls adore their silly and playful and fun loving Teta. And so do I.

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How beautiful is this picture? I need to frame this one asap. Cedella just loves her grandparents so much.

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And so does Isora. She fussed for Teta during the ceremony and wouldn’t stop until my MIL was holding her.

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The most excited flower girl EVER.

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The beautiful bride Fatene and her father.

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How to keep a three-nager occupied during a boring-old wedding ceremony? Fruit snacks and camera phones. Works every time.

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The four of us in our fancy gear. We fancy up rather well if I do say so myself.

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The Mansour Boys. A seriously good looking crew.

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After all the “I Do’s” we had the chance to grab a cup of Double Doubles from Tim Horton’s and go back to Fadi and D’s house for naps and a rest up for the big night. But soon it was time to put our gowns back on, drop the kids off at the hotel with the babysitter and head over to have some adult wedding fun.

We walked into the reception hall, shots were waiting for us, the bar was open, the room was bathed in purple light and the incredible hors d’oeuvre table was waiting. Time to party.

My Aunt Jihan, MIL Hilda and me, feeling as good as we look.

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My FIL John was in his element. Surrounded by his cousins, brothers, sons and all of the ladies in the family. I’ve never met a person beside myself who truly enjoys a wedding like my FIL.

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The happy parents….Aunt Jacqueline and Uncle Mansour.

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The happy couple. Kifah and Fatene. The were absolutely glowing.

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Fadi delivered a perfectly funny and heartwarming speech to his older brother. Well played Fadi.

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And Uncle Mansour, who recently had a health scare, delivered a speech in Arabic that had everyone in the room crying. I’ve never wished I understood the language more.

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The love of a mother for her son.

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And the second the DJ says GO! the dance party begins. Everyone rushes the floor for their chance to dance with the bride and family.

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My FIL John is a fierce debke dancer. He loves to lead this traditional Arabic dance as often and as wildly as possible.

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John dancing with Fatene for the first time.

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And Michael’s first dance with Fatene.

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My loves, my aunt Sabah and her daughter, my cousin Talia. These two ladies mean so much to me and my girls. Though I think Talia and Michael have some big bro/little sis issues. 😉

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There are no pictures of me dancing because we were so busy enjoying ourselves. We ate and drank and laughed and visited. And then we drank and ate and danced some more. It was SO much fun. At some point we had danced and walked so much I made Michael go get my flat shoes, and normally I hate doing that, but it was that necessary to keep going.

I had not met the lovely bride before the day of the wedding so while I was so excited for the two of them to be getting married I really wanted a chance to talk with her. Her sister gave a heart wrenching speech about how they are physically separated and how guilty she felt for not being there to help her sister plan and prepare for her big day. When that speech was over I really wanted to welcome Fatene to our family and let her know that despite the miles she has many sisters now…all of the Mansour women, to be there for her where her family cannot be. She really opened up and said some lovely and sad things. I know that we will be quick friends when we get the chance to spend more time together. And I can’t wait for all of us cousins to raise our children together.

At around midnight we went back to retrieve the girls from the babysitter in the hotel room. And this is what we found. Three sleeping angels.

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The next day we went visiting at Jacqueline and Mansour’s. And there was food from the second we walked in to the second we left. Meat pies and zataar and labneh and tons of sweets and wedding cake. But more importantly we had more time to spend with our lovely family. And these little cousins got more time to play.

Cedella has such a deep affection for Izzat. They spent so much time together while he visited and she misses him now that he’s returned to Arizona. Thank god for Skype, right?

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Cedella (age 3.5) Mila (age 2) and Isora (age 1.5). They are the perfect age to grow up as the best of friends. God I wish we lived in the same country!!

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Their faces and their love for each other is priceless.

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Being goofy with their Jiddo as usual.

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Isora never met a calendar or photo album she didn’t love.

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Though it was truly a whirlwind weekend we had such a great time. The hospitality of Fadi and Diana and the entire family knows no bounds. It’s so amazing to have cousins that you love but that you get along with so well and enjoy as friends. Our visits are too few and far between. Can’t wait to see them at Thanksgiving!!

Week in My Life 2013: Monday

It’s that time of year again! The time in which the lovely Melissa at Adventuroo and MomComm delivers a torturous yet rewarding weekly meme all about capturing one week in my family’s life.

It’s intimidating and exhausting but looking back each year at how our family worked at that moment. At the things we did, the places we went, the things we ate, what we said, what we looked like. It’s priceless.

So without further ado (and already late at that) here’s Monday…

Adventuroo WIML mon 13

 

Over the weekend we drove to Canada for our cousin Kifah’s wedding (more on that and tons of pictures next week), so we arrived home at around 10pm on Sunday night. Since they had been in the car for about six hours and took late naps, we battled the kids to get them to bed. Izzie finally passed out around 11:30 and Cedella around midnight.

Needless to say we were all exhausted on Monday morning and had done no prep for the next morning. And being a Monday morning it was a school morning. ::forehead slap::

So when I rumbled awake at 8:15 I was in a panic. No one else was awake. And there was only 45 minutes until school started. NOT a great start to the day.

I jostled Cedella out of bed and she picked out some clothes, surprisingly without much issue.

But by the time it came to brushing hair and teeth and washing her hands…melt. down.

In the midst of fighting with her to wash her hands she woke up Izzie who was hysterical with her need for Mama Milk.

No time for that I put Iz in bed with Michael and rushed Ella downstairs to have breakfast. And it was already 8:45.

Yea. That’s not enough time for a picky, distracted eater to eat.

Suddenly I felt a million times sorry to my own mom for all the times she dealt with me being up late on school mornings. And for not being prepared. And for fighting with her about what to wear. And for never eating breakfast.

I made a cup of coffee for the road. Poured a glass of juice in a sippy and a bag of cheerios for Ella. Threw some semi-healthy food into her lunch box and attempted to get out of the house.

Only it was pouring rain.

And someone wouldn’t put on her rain boots.

Cause why on earth wear rain boots when it’s raining?

So pink ballet flats were agreed upon. In which she promptly fell down and got her leggings and socks all wet.

We quickly changed her pants and I picked her up and swept her into the car.

It was 9:01. It takes 15 minutes to get there on a good day. Sigh. We were late. But Ella was happy to be back at school.

After such a crazy morning it was time for a little yummy breakfast. So I grabbed Dunkin Donuts and headed home. We ate sammys and donuts and drank copious amounts of coffee. Well, I drank coffee. Izzie slammed a donut then had some Mama Milk and all was right in the world.

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Izzie got a chance to watch some Sesame Street while I checked emails, Facebook and edited some photos from the weekend. As usual, Kira is never far away from a child that may be eating. She’s the best vacuum dog ever.

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After Sesame Street we got in the car to go pick up this little beauty from my friend Meghan who was kind enough to order for me. I’ve been stalking Scottish-made Oscha wraps for a while. And now it is mine!! ::maniacal laugh::

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And then we headed to the complete opposite side of town to pick up Cedella from school. I tried in vain to keep Isora awake so she could actually play at Play for a change. But of course, even screaming ‘Signing Time’ songs at the top of my lungs, was not enough to keep my over exhausted kid awake. So I put her in the mei tai and headed in to grab Cedella. Could her little sleepy face be any cuter?

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I was pleasantly surprised to see my girls Cindy and Laura and their little ones there playing. And Cindy was kind enough to let me hold her sweet baby boy Atlee for a while. He made my ovaries a bit achey, not gonna lie, I need a baby boy in my home.

While I chatted with the ladies, Izzie woke up and played a bit. It was getting close to 1 and I finally got both girls to the lobby and eventually got both of their shoes on and finally got them both out to the car. And as we drove into downtown East Lansing Ella insisted on going to visit her Daddy at work. So we stopped in for lunch.

Yep. A picnic in a liquor store. Nothing like it!

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Don’t you wish you had beer cases for climbing blocks?

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Once we wrangled them into the car Cedella fell asleep on the ride home. So I popped her into her bed. Izzie was wide awake. So I popped her in my Romeo. Yea, that’s the name of this wrap. Romeo. Isn’t he dreamy?

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Even got some kisses from my little lady before she finally fell asleep.

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Nearly three hours later (I know! Three hour nap?! Oh shit.) Cedella woke up and she was surly. Izzie woke up as soon as she heard her sister whining.

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While the girls played and watched some ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates’ I cleaned up this mess from unpacking the car the night before…

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On the menu? Butternut squash soup and smoked sausage. Can you say fall is here?

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World’s Cutest Kitchen Helpers…

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Izzie even snagged Daddy into her favorite past time. Checking out all the pictures on the fridge. She loves seeing all the faces and saying everyone’s names. It makes Michael nuts, but he does it every time, cause he knows she loves it so.

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Since it had been a long and kind of stressful day we decided a cocktail was in order…Caramel Apple Cider. Ummmm. Yum.

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Finally, and a little late to accommodate for late naps, it was bedtime. We got the girls in jammies, got clothes ready for tomorrow morning, picked out and read four books (one for each year of their ages).

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And that’s when the proverbial wheels came off the train. Cedella was simply not tired. And in my exhaustion I didn’t even remember to get out the melatonin pills. There was a lot of shouting and arguing and punishment and overall it was just a disaster. Everytime I nearly got Isora to sleep Cedella would shout and wake her up.

She actually ended up telling Michael to “go away, I don’t want you in my room” and “I don’t like you Daddy” and “leave me alone”. It was awful. Poor Michael. He was just trying in vain to keep her in her bed and trying to be calm and maintain some order. My heart broke for him hearing those things coming out of her mouth.

After explaining to her that she hurt her Dad’s feelings and that I couldn’t stay awake any more I left her in her room and went to bed. It was 11:30. And guess who squeezed her way onto my bed about five mintues later? Um, yea. No real rest for the weary, right?

Be sure to keep a look out every day this week for more Week in My Life fun!! And check out Adventuroo’s link-up for more WIML goodness.

Wordless Wednesday: End of Summer Blues

This summer has gone by so fast and was so full I want need kindly request a do-over. Or at least one month extension of summer weather and activities with no football season to occupy all my husband’s time.

And no, it’s not a Fantasy Football thing. It’s a liquor store near a college campus thing. No way around it. College kids + football = party. Which is good business for us 😉

I know all this and yet I still find myself wishing we had done a few more things this summer. Gone to the Splash Pad a couple more times. Taken a family camping trip. Actually gone to Sesame Place like we wanted to in May.

But when I just uploaded all the pictures off my camera from this summer…I realized we had done quite a bit.

Let’s recap, shall we?

First off we headed out to Cape Cod to visit with our awesome friends and got to dip our toes in the ocean and eat fresh seafood and send lots of quality time catching up with dear friends.

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We had a Memorial Day BBQ that was freezing and rainy. So it turned into a dress-up party.

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We went to the zoo. Again, freezing and rainy. But we took a picture at our favorite spot outside the polar bears again.

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The girls hung out at the Splash Pad with their besties. I could die from this cuteness.

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Then we took an all-family weekend up to the cottage. And loved every second. And yes, Isora’s not in the picture. She’s so advanced she took this shot ::wink wink::

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Then we stayed at the cottage for an all Sims girls week. And got to do a small hike amongst other less strenuous activities. I mean, something had to balance out all that thrifting/antiquing/shopping/eating.

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And we played on the beach as much as possible. Which was a lot.

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And we found out that not everyone in our family enjoys a warm gooey hot-off-the-fire marshmallow treat. For shame.

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We also played widely inappropriate card games and drank whiskey until the wee hours. And laughed till we cried.

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We watched baseball and fireworks on the 4th with our favorite friends.

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Isora taught herself to climb up to the highest slides with ease.

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We had after-dinner dance parties. And Cedella taught her Daddy to dance like a princess.

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We made crafts at Grandma’s library every week and even made it into the local newspaper.

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Cedella fell in love with an adorable therapy dog named Blue at the Reading with Rover program at the library. But those legs. Stop growing little girl. Just. Stop.

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We finally confirmed that the Johnson family resemblance is a strong one when my Mom reunited with her cousin she hadn’t seen in 30ish years. Mom, Kit and Abbe and my Grandma Rose.

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Then they danced their little booties off at the Deirmimas annual reunion.

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Cedella found her inner Bob the Builder at the Chicago Children’s Museum. The look of concentration on her face is just priceless.

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And Isora found absolute zen in the form of every swing she’s ever touched.

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And I found my joy at a little place called H&M.

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We ate cake. With our hands. A lot.

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And we swam. In the fancy toddler pool at the country club. At swim class. In the pool at our Aunt Sabah’s house.

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And in the tiny pool on our deck. Almost every day.

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And we made Za’taar in our pajamas.

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We had one of the most memorable and fun and exhausting and gorgeous summers ever. And I’m incredibly sad to see it go.

But now it’s time for preschool and sweaters and scarves and football and chili on Sundays and all those birthdays coming up.

Can’t wait to share the latest with you…I officially have a preschooler.