Friday, December 6, 2013

Thanksgiving... and Some Sorrow

In general, we had a good Thanksgiving this year.

Our celebration began the Friday before the actual holiday. For as long as I can remember, the church has held an annual Thanksgiving dinner. A few select people bring the meat while everyone else brings rolls, side dishes, casseroles, stuffing, gravy, desserts, etc... The decorations from Mandy's wedding (namely the table clothes, some of the tea lights, and the LED lights) were used for the decor, and they looked lovely. After the meal, people stand up and say what they are thankful for. It was an enjoyable evening.

Six days later, we had the clan get-together at Uncle Jason's. There was plenty of food to go around, and we enjoyed the conversations and the laughter. We even sat down and watched Ben and Mandy's wedding video, which we enjoyed. Especially the reception part, which was several clips of what happened during the reception (like the cake-cutting and the dancing). We stayed there for several hours before we went home.

However, when we got home, our joy disappeared. Our oldest cat Boo (who had recently turned twelve) was acting strange. She was not moving her back legs, and she was moving very sluggishly. About five minutes later, it was clear that was dying. We gently laid her on a towel and stood around her. Her breathing became very slow, and the only movement we saw was occasional twitching. Mom and I were emotional messes as we stood there, but Mandy was sweet to pray for us (we had texted her and told her what was happening) and Dad helped comfort us. Time passed, and Boo was no longer moving; we couldn't detect any breathing or any heartbeat. Dad and Seth moved her to the garage, and the next morning Seth buried her. We've known that Boo has not been in great health, and we suspected that she might have had a thyroid problem though the vet said she didn't. It was a tear-jerking twenty minutes for us. That night was even sadder when Boo's oldest son Oatmeal, who usually snuggles with her, began crying and yowling, like he knew something was wrong; he seems to have gotten over it, but I don't think the cats yet have figured out that Boo is gone. Still, we are thankful for the time we had with Boo. And we're thankful that she gave us two kittens Oatmeal and Trouble.

So, here's to you, Boo.

On a more light-hearted note, we got our outdoor-only kitten Jayne fixed the other day. It was a quick procedure, and Jayne was given a clean bill of health, and so we brought him home and let him run around the house. The anesthesia must have muddled the poor kitten's brain because he went absolutely crazy. He kept chasing the other cats around (much to their annoyance), and he even snuggled with me, rubbing himself all over me and making me laugh because his whiskers tickled. Thankfully, he has gotten better and is back to his normal self. It was sweet, though. Our other outdoor-only cat Pooky appeared rather sad when he realized Jayne wasn't there; it's been sweet to watch the interaction between the older-cat Pooky and the rambunctious youngster (which reminds us of the relationship between Shadow and Chance in "Homeward Bound"). Otherwise, Jayne is back to playfully wrestling our hands and stalking Pooky when the older cat is walking the yard.

And now, on we go to Christmas. Some of our Christmas shopping is already done, which is unusual for us, but that means a lot less running around the week of. Tonight, we got our Christmas tree, and Ben and Mandy helped us decorate it; we also had our yearly tradition of eating out (Five Guys instead of the usual Zaxby's) and watching "A Christmas Story."

But, before Christmas comes, there is still other things to be done. I've got my history final on Monday, which means the end of the semester for me (I'm sad that it's gone by so fast, as I've enjoyed the class). Then Dad and Mom have their own classes to finish up. I'll actually be substituting for Dad next week, which will be a chance for me to see how I like teaching history; I'm both nervous and excited about it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winter Approacheth...

Cold weather has finally hit us. We had our first major frosts this week (which has been a relief because I think it killed off whatever has been bothering my sinuses for the past month), and now we're pulling out our coats, jeans, long-sleeves, and warmer blankets. And it looks dreary outside. The bad thing about winter in Georgia is that just about every green thing is dead, so everything is brown in color. Hopefully we'll get some snow this winter and brighten things up a bit (as long as it doesn't shut down the state for a week).

October and November have been very busy. You would think that things would quiet down after the wedding, but no, they haven't. Dad and Seth still have work. Dad and Mom are still teaching the Geneva kids one day a week while I am still functioning as a supervisor for the younger group. And I am also still in school. It's so hard to believe that the semester is more than halfway over and that I only have a month left; I have really enjoyed this history class. I am pleased to say, however, that I will be returning to GGC for three classes next semester; between my own funds and HOPE, I can pay for it out of pocket without resorting to student loans. So far, I am planning to take World History Part 2, an upper-level class on Medieval thought and life (I've lately been fascinated by the Medieval time period), and religion (though I would like to switch out religion with another high-level history class that is being taught by my current professor. Hopefully an opening appears so I can switch).

By now, we've adjusted to Mandy being out of the house. Slowly but surely, we are moving her stuff out of my room, and I am re-organizing it. We still Mandy a few times a week. Because of Ben's teaching schedule, on those days she tends to come down and hang out with me and Mom; sometimes we just hang out and do things like help write her thank you cards for her wedding gifts, or sometimes we go grocery shopping. Mandy and Mom have taken up knitting lessons from a lady at church, and so on those nights Ben and Mandy join us for dinner and then Dad and Ben will hang out and talk while the ladies learn how to knit.

The rest of November will continue to be busy for us. Last night, I organized a bunch of people to go see "Thor 2" (and we want to take Dad to see it soon), and today a few of us went to go see our cousins' Christmas ballet performance. Next week, the church is having its annual Thanksgiving dinner, and then the week after that is Thanksgiving proper, which will be celebrated by the extended clan (including Ben, Mandy, and I think Ben's mom). Dad is brewing his annual Christmas beer, and soon Mom will be baking Christmas cookies. Goodness... is Christmas only next month? My, how this year has flown by!

Oh, and keep an eye on Mandy's facebook page. A little something will likely be posted by the end of the month, so look out for it :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Big Day

Well, it has come and gone. Mandy is now a married woman, and we are all adjusting to life on the other side of the wedding.

Rehearsal took place on Thursday at the church. We did a run-through of the ceremony, which went well, and then headed over to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. Everyone was given options of what they could order, and we enjoyed the meal and some dessert samplers. Then came the speeches. A few people, including myself, gave speeches, and Ben then gave gifts to his groomsmen. After that, everyone scattered. Bethany G. spent the night with us, and we did a little "Just Dance 4" on the wii.

The next morning, we woke up and began the last preparations. One of the girls who volunteered to do the bridesmaids' hair came over and did prep on our hair to make sure it wouldn't be frizzy. Then I went off to college (I had originally intended to skip class that day, but unfortunately jury duty summons prevented that from happening). After class, I joined Mandy and Bethany G., and we drove up to the church. Here, for the next several hours, the bride, her bridesmaids, the ring bearer, the flower girls, and the bell ringers prepped themselves. We had two makeup artists and two girls doing hair, and I was happy with the way mine turned out. Everyone looked beautiful, especially the bride. Then the photographer and her sister/assistant took pictures of the bridal party and, when the groom's party was ready, of them too.

Mandy and Ben had decided months ago that Ben would not see her before the wedding. So, an hour or so before the ceremony, Ben was blindfolded and was led in to talk to Mandy. They talked for a few minutes before they returned to the rooms. Then began the waiting period. Everyone was ready, but we all wished that the ceremony would start soon, especially when we still had two hours to go until it happened. It seemed like forever before we were finally told to leave the room and get into position. The church happened to have a screen that we hid behind in the hall, and we hid behind it until everyone had been seated.

Then the processional began. Everything went well. Our youngest flower girl grew fussy and did not go down, but our shy ringbearer made it down with his father's help, which was a great relief. Then the room went quiet. The music began to play, and everyone stood up as Mandy entered the room on Dad's arm. I turned to see Ben's response at his first look, but my emotions got the better of me so I didn't look again.

The ceremony went well. Bethany G. and I divided up maid of honor duties so that she held the ring and I held Mandy's bouquet (which was quite heavy... or at least it seemed that way to me). I grew teary-eyed at several points during the ceremony, but Mandy was calm and collected, speaking loudly and clearly (and in one instance, in a strong Southern accent) so that everyone could hear her. The two took their vows, exchanged rings, kissed, and then were pronounced "Mr. and Mrs" before walking back up the aisle. As soon as I had returned up the aisle and was in the narthex, the tears that I had been holding back all throughout the ceremony were unleashed; thankfully, the best man and Brittny B. were there to let me cry on their shoulders. Once I had collected myself and touched up on my makeup, then the party returned to the sanctuary for pictures. Family ones were taken first, and then the party, bride, and groom went. The photographer was very quick and made everything look and feel natural, especially from what I've seen of the few pictures she's released so far, and I look forward to seeing the rest.

After pictures, the party headed over to the reception area. As Seth and I came down the hill, I gasped at the sight. The place was covered with Christmas lights, all of which were on. The pavilion was well-lit, and jazz and swing music was playing. It was beautiful. Simply beautiful. Dinner was beef brisket and ham (some of which was on rolls), a hashbrown dish, pasta salad, fruit, and cheese, and then Dad served homemade beer while several people contributed to the dessert table, which was several cakes.

Then the bride and groom arrived. They had their first dance together, and then there was the father-daughter dance and mother-son dance. Then it was time for the cake cutting. For months, Ben had been threatened that he would shove the cake in Mandy's face, so when the time came, Mandy hesitated with this look of "Ben, don't you even think about it" and Ben was like "what?" Of course, Ben shoved it on her face, but he was sweet and cleaned her up afterwards. He didn't do the same with the groom's cake (red velvet cupcake), as Mom warned him beforehand not to get that red dye on her wedding dress. Then the rest of the fun began. The music came on, and people began dancing. There were big crowds for Cupid Shuffle, Macarena, and for Haddaway's "What Is Love?"

Then it was time to toss the bouquet. Mandy threw it, but it flew over the crowd and landed on the ground. The girl who did some of the bridesmaids' hair eagerly grabbed it first. Then Bethany and I helped Mandy change out of her wedding dress and into her going-away dress. The groomsmen, meanwhile, had gotten their hands on Ben's yellow truck and pretty much destroyed it, using seran wrap to cover the doors and putting shaving cream all over, and then there was toilet paper and stuff hanging out the back; inside, they hung Hello Kitty dice from the mirror and put a Barry Manilow CD in his CD player. Everyone got into position, and the bride and groom left the reception under the light of sparklers. Then, they were gone.

After that, people started leaving. Seth and I went home and got there around midnight. The next day, we returned to the reception area to help clean up and organize the place.

In the end, it was a beautiful event, and we are overjoyed to have Ben as a member of our family. The two got back from their honeymoon to Florida on Saturday, and both had a good time and are now settling into married life. Mandy is still moving her stuff out of our bedroom, but soon it will be reorganized with her stuff gone. I think we're all getting used to the idea that Mandy is no longer living with us, and reality has definitely sunk in.

A few pictures from the photographer have been released, but we are eagerly waiting for the rest. We also had a few guys filming the ceremony and the reception, and we're also waiting for that.

At this point, I would like to join the rest of the family in thanking the many individuals, both male and female, for their contributions to making this wedding happen. To our coordinator D, who was so sweet to help us organize things and to host certain wedding-related events. To the flower lady T, who did a beautiful job on the flowers for everyone. To the reception decor ladies R and B, who did an amazing job at organizing and planning everything and for creating a beautiful reception area. To M, who built the floating lantern thingy on the pond, which only made the place look more beautiful. To the food ladies E and J, who helped us create a menu that would be easy on the ladies so that they could enjoy the wedding and not be stuck in the kitchen all the time. And to the numerous other people who helped with decorating, being parking valets, shuttling people back and forth between the reception and the parking area, the men who served the beer to the crowd, the men who managed the music, the musicians who performed, and so many others. It has been a testimony of love to us, and we have been deeply touched by the love and friendship they have shown to us over the years.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last Week!

And now we are in single digits. Today was day three until the wedding! It is definitely approaching.

This last week means that things have definitely picked up wedding-wise. Mom is constantly calling or e-mailing the leading ladies who are working on the wedding, and Mandy's been talking quite a bit with her bridesmaids and other important people.

On Friday (day seven), we had Mandy's last shower at one of the bridesmaid's house. We had a fun time giving her a few gifts and hearing/sharing wedding stories (some weren't wedding-related, but they were hilarious). On Saturday, we had the bridesmaids' luncheon, which was a decent-sized crowd. Our wedding coordinator, who threw/hosted the event, got a nice, southern-style restaurant to open for only us, and we had a yummy menu to choose from (Mom, Mandy, and I all had delicious shrimp and grits with peppers and onions). After that, a few of us went over to where the guys (and a few women) were sitting up at the reception location. That day happened to be pouring rain (and this isn't a mere drizzle. This is like a steady, constant, heavy rain that lasted for several hours), but the guys were real troopers, hanging up Christmas lights and wire, setting up pallets, and arranging hay bales in the rain.

Monday (day four) happened to be a rather hectic day. On Saturday evening, to make sure that we got everything done, I came up with the idea of writing down a list and marking off items when they completed. Part of our list required us to drive over to Athens (which is over an hour away from our house) to visit a few stores. It was a long ride, and we got a bit of cultural education in the process. On our way back from Athens, we stopped by the reception area, where the lights and electricity were being tested. Seeing the lights come on in the dark was stunning, and it made us very excited. We were concerned that there wouldn't be enough light, but last night convinced us otherwise. It was a good time for us to test things out, but we had to leave because it was getting late.

Today (day three) was also busy. We had to do quite a bit of shopping (I can't recall leaving Costco with two full carts), and there's still more to be done tomorrow. Again, we have our trusty list to help us. Hopefully things will slow down a bit by Thursday before the storm hits on Friday.

We've been keeping an eagle eye on the weather. So far, it looks like Friday will be just perfect: no rain and good temperatures. Which is a relief.

And so, onwards we go!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Twelve Days

And the day is getting closer. Today marks twelve days until the wedding, and we're all keenly sensing this.

Most of the big preparations have been made, and now our big focus is hammering out details, namely that of the schedule. This week, some of the food was prepared and put into the freezer (some stuff will be put together the day of, but this stuff can be made beforehand). Mandy met with her photographer this week, and now there's a definite schedule for the bridesmaids and for what pictures will be taken before the wedding and which ones will be taken afterwards. Mom has made a "rough draft" of the wedding bulletin, and she, Mandy, and our coordinator Deanna have also been working on bridesmaid/groomsman pairings and the order of events. We've found a nice place for the rehearsal dinner, and today we finalized some of those details with Ben's mom. Ben has officially moved into the apartment, and I spent an afternoon with Mandy organizing and cleaning her kitchen.

Then, on Friday, we had the bachelor and bachelorette parties. I was only present for Mandy's party, and I don't know many details of what the guys were doing (other than eating, shooting, smoking, and drinking). Mandy's party involved her and a few of her bridesmaids spending the night at the married bridesmaid's house. She took us out for a scavenger hunt at the mall (it was late when we got there, and most of the stores were closed or were in the process of being closed), which we couldn't finish. Then we went out to P.F. Chang's for a late snack/dinner. The place is a more expensive Chinese restaurant, but it was so worth it. It's the only Chinese place I know of that actually has a gluten-free menu (since soy sauce isn't safe for gluten-free people, which sadly means I don't eat Asian food that much, but I digress). And the waiter and chef were very considerate for one of the bridesmaids who has numerous food allergies, which enabled her to enjoy something off the menu. The gluten-free fried rice (which I got) was amazing, and we all had a good time sitting there, talking with each other and with the waiters, and enjoying the yummy food. Then it was back to the house. It was around midnight, but we did a few things like sit and talk outside, and do some Just Dance 4 on the Wii (even I did it). I went off to bed around 3 AM because I couldn't stay awake any further, but most of the others went to bed closer to 5 AM. After breakfast the next morning, the party ended because everyone had to leave to do other stuff. It was a fun evening/night.

And life continues on. Mom and Dad are still teaching, Seth is still working long hours at his job, and I'm still attending college. This year, I decided to make the insane decision to take part in Campus Movie Fest, which is basically a large student film festival done all over the country at various college campuses. I say "insane" because I didn't realize how much work would need to be done. I'm basically in the role of director, writer, editor, and actor, and I'm narrowly escaping also being soundtrack composer and performer (I'm just going to suck it up and go with the limited amount of music that I can use). This meant I spent about ten hours over a period of two days on campus (and a bit off-campus) filming four other people. It was fun to use the equipment the festival loans to students (which includes a laptop with fancy editing software, a microphone, a camcorder, and a tripod), but it was a bit exhausting to spend a lot of time shooting and re-shooting scenes and then going back through them all to figure out which ones work. Oh, and did I mention that everything needs to be filmed, recorded, edited, and finished within a week? So, yeah, I need to make sure the film is done by Tuesday, when I turn in the equipment and the film. Then next week, the top sixteen films on campus (chosen by a judge panel) will be revealed, and prizes will be given to students for best picture, best actor, etc... Hence why I was insane to think about doing this, especially so close to the wedding (my brain and other people convinced me "oh, you can do it"). I'll post a link when the movie shows up on the website this week.

And... that's all I can think of at the moment.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


August has also been a busy month. As of Tuesday, we are officially one month away from the wedding, and the reality is beginning to hit us.

Ben and Mandy have found their first home. It's about twenty minutes away from us but in the area of other church families, so they won't be alone. It's a cute little duplex that reminds us of the place that we were living in when Mandy was born. Last weekend, Dad helped Ben put in some new fans in the place, and Mom and I helped Mandy wash and unpack her dishes and other stuff that she got from her wedding shower (we finally have a hallway again). This weekend, we're planning on moving Ben into the place, and then over the rest of the month, we'll slowly be moving Mandy's stuff into the rental. Ben and Mandy have also bought their first car: a pretty blue minivan. Mandy has always had a fondness for minivans (a combination of it being the car she first learned to drive and her own desire to have children), and she's excited about it.

Earlier this month, we had a musical night at the church, and all of us participated to some extent. All three of us sang two songs in choir (Mandy's an alto, I'm a soprano, and Seth's a tenor), but alas, no one seemingly recorded the choir singing, so there's no video or sound of it. I did, however, record the two pieces that Mandy performed with some friends: the James Bond theme and Boccherini's "Night on the Streets of Madrid." Both videos are up on facebook, so check my wall for them. It was an enjoyable evening.

The day after the musical night, we had our first wedding work day at the reception area. The guys painted, put wood posts in concrete, made wood cake stands, etc... while the girls focused on the mason jars and lanterns, which are looking very pretty. We got quite a bit done. Things took an interesting turn when towards the end of the work day a storm decided to blow in. Everyone began running around in a panic, trying to get the electric tools indoors and cover up the freshly-painted pallets. We were successful, but afterwards we all looked like drowned rats. That same day, we joined Ben's mom for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, as we're experimenting with places for the rehearsal dinner. The place had excellent food, but the acoustics were poor, so we're still looking around.

College has also officially started back for me. It's a bit strange only going in to school for an hour every other day for one class, but I'm happy to be back in the classroom and have some semblance of a schedule. I'm taking World History Part 1, and so far I can't complain (except for the class sessions about human evolution).

School has also started back up for Mom and Dad. Mom is teaching science and music appreciation, and Dad ended up with the history class (there was only enough interest for one, so I'm not teaching this year). However, I have got myself sort of a part-time job for the "school." Because there's a lot of younger students under the age of ten this year, I've been called upon to be a babysitter and lunch supervisor, and it's a paying job. Today is my first day, so I'll have to let you know how it goes.

On a side note, Jayne the kitten is doing well. He has overcome his shyness and has turned into the sweetest, cutest thing ever. He is very playful, and it's entertaining to watch him chase dead leaves or even poor Pooky in play. He's also getting fatter and not looking like the scrawny little thing that he used to. Watching him play or have "evening crazies" is definitely a sign that he's doing well.

That's all I can think of for the moment, though I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I'll post again if I forgot anything.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Coming of Jayne

The Cunningham house is a big magnet. One, in particular, that seems to attract animals. Hence why we've had so many over the years and why sometimes our neighbors' animals like to hang around. All of us were reminded of it this last Sunday.

Sunday morning started off like any other. Dad woke us up, and we had our usual breakfast of eggs, sausage, and smoothie. Then we all began getting ready for church. I was doing my hair when someone (I believe it was Seth) suddenly announced that a little kitten was on our porch. Curious, I went outside. Indeed, it was a kitten. A rather tiny one. At minimum I guessed it was about six weeks old. It was skittish and rather vocal, going round and round the porch crying. However, we had to go, and we figured that it would probably wander off by the time we got home.

We were wrong.

We came home, and the kitten was sleeping on the porch. It saw that we had arrived and resumed its crying. We figured that the kitten smelled Pooky's food (we keep his food on the table to keep other critters from getting into it) and that was why it hadn't left. Taking pity on it, we put it on the table. The kitten immediately began to chow down like it hadn't eaten in several days. Afterwards, it checked us out, sniffing us and becoming less skittish. I noticed that the kitten felt awfully thin, a sign of recent malnourishment, and there was a debate over the kitten's gender.

On Monday, we bought some kitten food for the kitten, and it seems to be doing rather well. It doesn't feel as thin anymore, and he's becoming more active, moving around and being less vocal (unless he's hungry). Dad has forbidden us from making it into an inside cat, so the kitten stays on the porch, where we feed it and give it water. And we gave it a bath and some treatment for both fleas and worms; it seems otherwise healthy. The kitten is also quite the purring machine. He loves to be picked up and held, and he is definitely a people cat. Whenever we go outside, he likes to come up to us and get some attention.

Mandy has fallen quite in love with the kitten. Despite her own dislikes of some of our own beasts, she is completely enamored. At first, she and Ben were going to adopt it, but circumstances have changed and so that won't happen. Still, Mandy loves him, and it's cute to see her holding him.

Throughout the week, we debated the kitten's name. Most of the problem stemmed from the fact that we weren't sure about a gender. To solve that problem, we picked a gender-neutral name: Jayne (named after Jayne from the TV show "Firefly"). We now think Jayne is a boy, but we're not absolutely positive. We probably won't be for a few more weeks.

So now we're back up to six cats.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Sorry for the lack of posts. We've been busy, and our internet has been rather spotty. Hopefully, we're switching our service providers tomorrow, so maybe it will be more consistent in that area :P


Things have really been picking up for everyone, especially the past month. The wedding preparation is also speeding up. Earlier this month, most of the ladies of the church got together to look at the plans that the coordinators so far have done. The ladies are beginning to buy and gather up mason jars, Christmas lights, burlap ribbon, flowers, etc... for the decorations. We've also taken Mandy's wedding dress in for alterations and visited a flower wholesale shop to figure out flowers for the wedding party (the flower lady has also made a "rough draft" of Mandy's wedding bouquet). We finally also ordered invitations and finished the website. We sent out the invitations this week, and the first RSVPs are coming back, which is exciting. We're now just under sixty days to the wedding, and reality is starting to hit in. Mandy and Ben are starting to look for a place to live.

And, almost a week ago, Mandy had her wedding shower. The other maid-of-honor Bethany, a bridesmaid Caroline, the wedding coordinator, and myself put on the shower at the coordinator's home. We had a tea bar, all kinds of food, flowers, and presents stacked all over the stairs. Over sixty people (a mixture of family and friends) attended. Mandy was real excited to open all her gifts, and most of them are now either lining our hallway or filling up Ben's living room until they find a place. Pictures from the shower have been uploaded by Bethany on facebook, and both Mom and I shared the link to it on facebook. We've got a few more showers for Mandy happening in August and September, though I won't have as much involvement in those.

In late July, the guys (Dad, Seth, and Ben) took a trip with Jake B. and Uncle Josh and his older two boys to northern Minnesota, close to the border of Canada. They left on a late Thursday afternoon and drove for twenty-four hours, stopping for gas and food and to switch drivers. Then on Saturday, they paddled out into the Boundary Waters, which involved them walking a mile with the canoes and packs on their backs, and then rowed across various lakes to their campsite. And so for the next six days, the guys did serious primitive camping (no running water, no toilets, no showers, etc...). They went fishing and cooked their own fish on three different nights. They took exploring trips (and on one excursion Ben and Jake nearly got lost) and had all sorts of adventures. However, Friday proved to be their most challenging day. It started raining the night before and was still storming when they woke up the next morning. That meant they had to pack up everything in the pouring rain and hop into the canoes for a several-hour trip across the lake. At one point, it got extremely difficult with the strong winds and large waves, leaving the guys absolutely soaked in 48 degree weather. But, God be praised, the guys safely got out and back to the car. They then met up a group of boys from church who visited the area this week, went to a local restaurant for the best beer, burgers, and fries that they'd ever had, and then began the 24-hour trip back to Atlanta. They also safely made it home, despite the car threatening problems, the threat of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere, and accidentally ending up on the wrong side of town because of bad highway traffic. We ladies met our men at the church and then they came home for a shower, clean clothes, and a delicious meal. They all had a great time, and we've enjoyed hearing about their many adventures.

Other preparations that have been going on is for school. I start up GGC again in a few weeks, and I'm ready to get back into a regular schedule. Mom also starts teaching science and music around the end of the month. Dad and I are also on a list of potential history teachers for the Geneva at Home program; nothing's been decided yet, as it depends on how many history classes are needed, but hopefully we'll know for.

So, yeah, we've been busy. I'll try to do better at posting updates.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Craziness Continues...

Things have not slowed down for us Cunninghams. Back in May, we predicted a busy schedule throughout the summer, and so far that has been the case, especially with the planning for the wedding.

New stuff has happened wedding-wise. The different coordinators for flowers, food, decorations, etc... have gotten together and are starting to brainstorm. The ladies are getting excited, dealing with an outdoor wedding at night (which means plenty of experimentation with lights), and I look forward to seeing what they come up with. The bridesmaids dresses have finally been found, and some of the girls (including myself) have already got them. They are very flattering on all figures and cost less than $100, which is what Mandy was shooting for. Some girls are already buying their shoes, which will be lace Toms; Mandy did not want her bridesmaids to pick out and wear shoes that they would never wear again, so she opted for Toms, which have no heel and which will definitely be worn after the wedding. The save-the-dates have mostly all been sent out, and invitations will be following shortly. It's been a challenge to find good invitations for a good price, but we found a good deal and some pretty invitations at David's Bridal (and they've got a sale going on) so hopefully we'll get them taken care of next week... if Mandy would be home for longer than a few hours.

Mandy's life has become quite hectic. Even though she is no longer employed, she has still had plenty to do. Between jazzercise (an exercise program she's been attending for the past few months) and various social gatherings with friends (which includes spend-the-nights... after all, those things are going to be ending in September, so she's enjoying them as long as she can), there's rarely a day where she's home all day. Last week, she spent half the week in North Carolina with friends (her last visit there) and came home, only for the next day to spend most of the day away from home and then spend the night with friends and then the next morning drive up to Virginia for the annual family conference this week. So, yeah, her life's been rather crazy.

Life for the rest of us is largely normal... except for wedding planning. There's still some weeks where we're rushing around to get stuff done and then other weeks where it's very laid back. This week was fairly busy, as Mom and I had to do various shopping, clean the church, and then help out at a rehearsal dinner for some friends of ours; today we're going to said friend's wedding.

It looks like I will be going back to college in the fall, Lord willing to finish my major (I'm considered a junior, which is rather exciting). GGC is still the closest and cheapest option, but I will only be going part-time and taking one class; if I find a job (which I've been looking for the past few weeks with no success yet), then I may take more in future semesters. I went to orientation, which I found boring since it never really introduced me to anything new at the school, but walking around on the campus did make me a bit excited and ready to go back to school. Right now I'm messing around with financial aid, but I'm happy to report that I may be able to pay everything out of pocket; hopefully financial aid will lessen the burden and enable me to save for the winter semester.

Another thing that's going on is that I'm also considering publishing my novel "The Changelings' War." I started it last year and have been working on it ever since then. This is the first novel that I have felt genuinely happy with (i.e. doesn't need a gazillion rewrites to fix the story; the current drafts are more polishing than anything else), and I've been looking for feedback for it; so far it's been positive from folks. I'm thinking of publishing it via amazon's self-publishing program, namely their kindle one; I think it would be easier for me to get the word out through a cheap electronic book than a more expensive hard copy. And there's still plenty of potential for sequels, prequels, or stories set in the same universe, so this more than likely wouldn't be a one-time thing. But, we'll see. I'm still waiting on feedback from a few people. I'm hoping to publish it before the end of the year, but I'll keep you updated on whether or not I do.

Monday, May 13, 2013

May Showers

May has been a rather hectic month for us so far. And complete with plenty of rain showers and brightly blooming flowers to go with it.

Two weeks ago, Mom and Dad drove up to Chicago and spent the week there for their anniversary. They had a good time touring the city with its various museums and sightseeing locations. On Friday, Mandy, Sunny, and Grandma Linda flew up there, and on Saturday they all went to Dad's cousin's wedding before driving back on Sunday. That was an odd week for us kids as we managed the house by ourselves. God was merciful and protected us during that time. It was also a good time for Mandy and me to learn about managing the house without either of our parents directing us. Saturday, in particular, was my big day. I prepared two casseroles and then scrounged around for a yummy dinner, and then on Sunday I was more or less in charge of prepping breakfast and the casserole for potluck and getting Seth and me to church on time. The other odd part about it was that it was the first time I had had a birthday with most of the family not there. I saw "Iron Man 3" with Seth and a friend on Friday night, and then last week we had my birthday dinner (I chose steak and grilled veggies. My attempt to create gluten-free churros was not successful unfortunately).

Last week was also busy. On Wednesday, we got up early and went to Tallulah Gorge (north Georgia) with some of Mom's science students and a few others. The day proved to be cloudy and cool, but the worst part was the rocks. In the past, the group has gone in drought conditions, which meant that the rocks were completely dry; this year, however, we have had a very wet spring (hence why Lake Lanier looks full again) and so several of the rocks were slippery. This required delicate maneuvering and plenty of sliding around on our rears. Things went fine until we were about halfway down the Gorge at a rock face called Oceana Falls. This rock face was wet and slippery, and we were told that if you fell into the water below you would have to either swim downstream to get out or have some friends pull you out. Two people slipped and fell in (both were unharmed), but another person fell in while trying to help someone else and unfortunately destroyed his cell phone in the process. Mom, who was at the back, heard about the first person falling in and tried to hurry up, but she ended up sliding and hurting herself (a cut hand, scratched arm, and bruises elsewhere). After our little adventure there, we reached the end of the Gorge and stopped for lunch. By then, the sun came out, and some of the braver kids decided to use the sliding rock but all of them came out freezing. Some people lay down in the sun to dry/ warm themselves, and it was a rather pleasant hour. Finally, it was time to make the trek back. Oceana Falls, again, proved to be interesting because we had to slide upwards and across to get across the rock face. Mom and I were the last ones to get across. Our fears of sliding in were not helped by the fact that two hikers trying to cross slipped and fell in. However, thanks to God and to two gentlemen in our party, we safely made it across. After that, we returned to the stairs, but by this time several of us were exhausted from scrambling over the rocks all morning and part of the afternoon. Mom and I again took the rear and slowly made our way up the stairs, but two of the boys were kind enough to bring us some water and to accompany us up the stairs. Despite an eventful trip, no one was seriously hurt, and most of us have recovered from our ordeal.

Then on Friday and Saturday Seth went camping and caving with some friends from church. While he was on his way home, he was in a bit of an accident. He was getting off the highway when his tires lost grip on the wet road (it had been raining like crazy earlier that day), and he slid into someone else. No one in either car was hurt, which we are very thankful for, though there was a bit of damage done to Seth's truck (nothing insanely serious. He just needs the dent fixed and some touch-ups on the paint).

And then, this morning we received word that Cunningham grandkid #15 was born (no other news at the moment). This makes 12 cousins for me, Seth, and Mandy.

So, yeah, it's been rather crazy around here. And it's only going to continue. Mandy's recital is Saturday, then we've got the big wedding meeting with several of the ladies, an upcoming formal dance at the church, and then the family conference (only Mandy is going this year). Then I've got a college graduation to attend (for some friends) and then orientation for college (I failed to get out of it. I'm pretty certain they're forcing me to do it because they want my money and not because they want me to understand the campus... even though I've been on the campus several times before and am no stranger to how it works).

Well, gotta run. Babysitting cousins is calling me.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Craziness of It All

Lately, in particular this past week, things have been rather crazy, and quite a bit has been happening.

Last week was very busy for us. On Monday, Mom and Mandy were busy running errands and meeting with one of the musicians who will be playing for the wedding, and then we had company over that night again. On Tuesday, Mandy went to work while Mom and I cleaned the church and then went to my eye appointment (my eyes are healthy though they have slightly declined since my last appointment two years ago), where I got to pick out some new frames (I really like them, and they have Mandy's approval). After the appointment, we picked up Mandy from work and then drove almost two hours to rural northeast Georgia to see a friend perform in an opera (he's a classically trained vocalist who's currently going to college to major in singing). It was our first experience at the opera, and our friend did well (despite having a cold). Then we drove back home in the dark, which was quite an adventure of its own; we got a bit lost and ended up on gravel roads in the woods and passing by some weird place that looked like a Chinese cult (at least that's been the running joke). We managed to get home safely. On Wednesday, we three spent the majority of the day in Cumming and the surrounding area (it's north-west of us by about thirty or forty minutes, depending on traffic). I had a tutoring session, and Mom and Mandy met with the wedding coordinator. Then we went shopping at a local outlet mall, as Mandy was looking for clothes for her engagement pictures. We met Ben up there and then had dinner at Steak n' Shake before going to the Bowmans' for prayer meeting. We spent quite a few hours with the Bowmans (much like we used to last year), and we thoroughly enjoyed it, even though we left closer to eleven thirty and Mandy had to get up early for work the next day. On Thursday, Mom and I cleaned and cooked in preparation for Seth's birthday dinner that evening. On Friday, we three met up with three of the Bowman girls for lunch and went shopping for potential bridesmaids dresses before going to a birthday party. Then on Saturday, Mom and I finished up the church, and then Mandy and Ben had their engagement photo shoot with the photographer. So, yeah, it was a whirlwind week for us.

There are a few updates on the wedding though not too much at the moment. Mandy has been working on the music with our vocalist friend (who will be singing for the wedding and who may be accompanied by some of his singer friends), and she has found several pieces that she likes. Mom and the other ladies (those who are coordinating different parts of the wedding) are currently working on a date for them to go see the church and the reception property so they can get some ideas and figure out how to best organize things. The search for dresses for the bridesmaids is still going on. Mandy found one dress on Friday that she thought was only ok and wasn't overly fond of, and our two on-line attempts have not been successful either. The job is complicated because we have bridesmaids of varying shapes and sizes, and it is tricky trying to find something that will look good on everyone. As I said, Mandy and Ben had their engagement pictures taken on Saturday by the photographer Angelina (she's a friend of a friend, and she will be doing the wedding). A few pictures have been posted on the girl's photography page, and I may share one of them for those who haven't seen it yet. From what I understand, Mandy was very happy with the photo shoot, as Angelina was good at making their poses look natural and capturing the two without making them look wooden or too posed. Also, the honeymoon location has been picked and the place (I believe) reserved. Because the location is well-known to many people in our family and in the church, there have been jokes going around about people vacationing down there at the same time as the honeymoon taking place.

Also, before I forget, Mandy's job situation has changed. Instead of going in for two full days a week, she will be going in for a few hours everyday, which is giving her an extra hour or so total.

A final thing that's been going on around here is the weather. After weeks of cold rain and dreary clouds, I think spring has finally arrived. We are having much warmer weather, which means breaking out the summer clothes and finally being able to thaw out. Flowers are blooming, and the leaves are coming in. The birds are back and are singing their merry songs. However, this good weather has been accompanied by the arrival of Georgians' most dreaded enemy: pollen. Everything is coated with a thin layer of yellow dust, and on certain days even the air looks yellow. And now we have people we know who are reaching for allergy medicine and will be for the next month or so. I think even the pollen is impacting us five this year, though it generally hasn't in the past; last week, Mandy kept sneezing, and I've had a sore throat too (don't think it's related a cold I had recently). So now we're eagerly awaiting for the air to clear up so we can wash the cars and windows because frankly doing it now would be a waste of time.

So that has been a summary of what's been going on around here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Update on the Wedding

Some of the big pieces of the wedding are starting to come together. So far, we have the following:

- A date. September 27th.

- Locations for the wedding and for the reception. We found an affordable, pretty church that is big enough for our guests for the ceremony, and it also has enough space for the reception if it is rained out. The reception will be on the same farm that has hosted the church's Memorial Day picnics, 4th of July parties, and informal dances. We are coming up with ideas for how to upgrade the reception from Memorial Day fare. Dad has come up with some good ideas, and he has also made suggestions that would remove a lot of burden from the church ladies, as we have participated in enough weddings over the years to see how they work.

- A photographer. Mandy knows a girl who is a photographer, and she likes her pictures so she asked her to do the wedding.

- A dress. Mandy picked out her dress on Friday, and today she bought it. It is very beautiful. Dad has not been allowed to see it, as Mandy's "first look" will be with him and not with Ben (she doesn't want Ben to see her before the ceremony).

- We know when the engagement pictures are being done. When they have been taken and edited, we will be sending out "save the dates."

- We are making music playlists for the reception. We've got music to play before the dinner and then dance music. The dance music is rather varied, and I think the dance floor is not going to be empty or full of stiff dancers. We've got disco, oldies, some swing, etc..., and it is sounding great so far.

We also are getting ideas for the menu for the reception, and it will be heavy hor d'ourves with some appetizers beforehand. Mandy is also figuring out what music she wants the musicians and the singers to perform, and she is also deciding on which dress her bridesmaids will wear. I am the guinea pig for the dress one, which is admittedly frightening because I don't like buying clothes without trying them on first and this dress will come from on-line.

So, it is rather coming together, and it is rather exciting.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Possum and New Cello

A few interesting things have happened in the past week.

Over the past year (probably closer to two), we have banished our cat Pooky from the house because he kept spraying inside (despite being neutered). So, on a table on the front porch we have two beds (one is covered and is used more in cold weather), a bowl of water, and a bowl of food set out for him. Sometimes intruders have proceeded to steal Pooky's food, and last week we had a nighttime visitor do it. Mom and I were watching something on netflix when, for some reason, we looked out on the front porch. Pooky was sitting in his bed, and a nasty-looking possum was eating from his food bowl. The possum really seemed to be enjoying the food, and Mom and I watched with interest (and laughter) as we saw him picking up food with his paws and eating it almost like a human would. And the whole time, Pooky was sitting there with a look of "what is this thing doing on my table? Owners, get him out of here." The possum licked the bowl clean and then proceeded to walk around the table in an attempt to find a way down (which caused Pooky to hiss at him, so the beast did not move his way again). The possum eventually found his way down, and we cleaned out Pooky's bowls and filled them for him again. It was a rather humorous incident.

Today, Mandy got a new cello. She discovered that her current one (sometimes known as "Jasper") was not of very good quality and went to her music store for an upgrade. With her cello teacher's approval, Mandy now has a performance cello. It was a beautiful instrument, and it is very loud and has a good sound in comparison to "Jasper." Mandy has been completely stoked (maybe ecstatic is a better word) all day, and she spent over an hour playing various hymns on her new instrument, which sounds amazing.

Preparations for the wedding are still going on. All of the bridesmaids and groomsmen have agreed to be part of the party, and all of the little cousins have been asked to join us. We have visited a potential location for the wedding and reception, but we are also formulating plans for other locations, one of which will require quite a bit of logistical planning but may be worth it than choosing another location. At the moment, a bridesmaid dress has been picked out, but we are waiting on one of the maids of honor (Bethany G) to order it so Mandy can decide if she likes the color or not and to figure out what the groomsmen will wear. We have decided that the wedding will be on a Friday night (for various factors), and at the moment it looks like the wedding will be towards the end of September (because of the availability of two of the musicians). Slowly but surely, we are getting a better idea of what this wedding will look like.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Big, big news on the Cunningham front. Lord willing, we will be having a wedding coming up later this year! Ben took Mandy out to dinner last week for her birthday, and he proposed. She said "yes," and so now we have the first Cunningham grandchild who is engaged.

For now, we are aiming for the wedding to take place sometime in September (though it could be earlier, depending on several different factors). At the moment, we are getting advice about planning and deciding on a few details. Like the colors; Mandy is deciding what her bridesmaids and the groomsmen will wear. Or the location of the wedding and the reception afterwards (we're aiming for two different locations, but it depends on other factors that will hopefully be solidified sometime next week). Mandy is also trying to get all her cousins to play some part in the wedding (except for the baby coming in June), and we will soon know for certain how many will be involved.

It is a very exciting time for us, especially for Mandy and Ben. We have enjoyed watching their relationship blossom, and they have been an encouragement to me as I watch their various interactions. We look forward to this next upcoming stage of their relationship, and we pray that it would be pleasing to the Lord.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Of Music

A few notes on the musical front (pun not intended) and a glimpse into crazy Georgia weather.

First, Seth's double bass is on its way to becoming a permanent addition to the church musicians' section. A few Sundays ago, Seth had his audition to see if he could join the musicians on Sunday night (Sunday nights are usually when some of the newer, younger musicians play so they can get used to playing with the more experienced musicians and in front of a crowd). He passed, and so last week he joined the musicians on Sunday night. He and Mandy played bass together, and, my, it sounded beautiful. That double bass is a loud, deep instrument, and we could hear Seth very clearly on the songs that he was able to play (he can't do songs with a lot of sharps or flats yet, and Mandy herself is learning to do that). Seth got many compliments afterwards, and we are very proud of him.

Second, Mandy is now something of a cello teacher. A few weeks ago, she began teaching a boy from our church who has been interested in the instrument. Mandy is enjoying teaching him, and her pupil is enjoying the lessons; apparently, he plays his cello all the time, which reminds us of Mandy when she first started out.

Georgia weather is rather bizarre, especially in the wintertime. This winter has been colder than last year, which will be good for the bugs, but we still have a few days where we don't need jackets and where we can wear sandals. Yesterday, we had our first big storm of the year. There was concern that we would get tornadoes and strong, damaging winds, but most of that was further north; God was good to our friends and acquaintances who were in the direct path of the storm. Thankfully, we only got some large downpours and some strong winds, and now today is bright and sunny, like it wasn't storming yesterday.