Sunday, October 16, 2011

Friends are Family

When people get married, the spouse knows that he/ she inherits a new family. Yet, the newlywed does not always realize that friends are family. To many people, the term family seems synonymous only with terms such as mom, dad, grandmother, but not with friend.

I do have a wonderful family unit with awesome parents, aunts, and cousins. Yet, I also have a huge extended family; my friends from college are family. My husband had the chance to meet both of my families, who fell in love with him immediately. I, however, never had the chance to meet one of the closest members of Trae's friend family until our wedding day.

With Facebook and texting, I had met Niki in a cyber-sense, but never face to face. Wedding days are not a good day to meet and bond with new family members. Yet, Niki and her husband Paul found a lovely way to let me know that despite never really meeting and not having said my vows yet, I was family. The gesture was small in the big picture of life: but really, aren't the small things what matters most?

Niki and Paul bought my two bridesmaids and myself a delightful Chick-fila lunch. Sitting there, with fried chicken sandwiches, hugging a girl I knew by name and photos only is truly a special wedding memory. I loved being able to meet someone who was a huge part of Trae's life since high school. Niki was and is one of Trae's best friends, and before walking down the isle to my future, I loved seeing some of his past.

Niki and Meredith enjoying a wedding day feast! 

After the wedding, I did not get to see Niki and Paul again until yesterday. After a year of being Mrs. M, I got to finally bond with Trae's friend family. I won't lie; I was scared. I knew that both Niki and Paul were great and kind people, but i wanted to impress them. I wanted to show this family that their boy was taken care of. Those fears left the moment Niki hugged me.

Not even thirty minutes later, the four of us were laughing. Several hours after that, we entered Zombie-land, better know as the Burke County fair. The rides looked sad while spinning their bright colors, hopelessly longing for riders. Framed by over-sized stuff animals, unpopped balloons lazily waited for dart throwers. We ate carnival food of corn dogs and cheese fries as we took in the surreal scene. Horses bobbed on a carousel without riders; funnel cake friers didn't sizzle. The only sound was our laughter as we analyzed the site. Afterwards, we got to feed goats as well as pet cows and horses. I can safely say that the goats outnumbered the humans.

A few hours later, we were relaxing at the apartment before Clemson kick off. We strolled over to Harris Teeter and bought a deli cheese pizza that we made snazzier with Canadian bacon. The pizza was eaten between shouts and hollers as well as jumping and happy dancing. (After a heart pounding game, the Tigers won! GO TIGERS!) Two a.m. rolled around before these old married folks decided to go to bed. Stories were shared, memories were made, and new family members were bonded. 

This morning was lazy as we woke up early and make a hearty breakfast of bacon, toast and eggs. Sadly goodbyes were being exchanged too soon with promises of visiting them soon.

Not once over the weekend did we go to a restaurant and sit in comfy booths, or get tasty take-out. My whole relationship with Niki has never been based off comfy boothes; we are paper bag girls/ princesses who do not need fancy dresses and gussied up outfits*. We are ourselves and do not put on airs. Instead we have the comfort of family.

When you visit family, especially your parents' home, you are familiar with them and do not expect fancy meals. You are comfortable in their home and do not ask if you can get a soda out of the fridge. Since they are family, you are in essence at home. This comfort can extend to close family members as well, and this comfort was embraced by Niki and Paul. They did not ask where things were, but opened cabinets, and put dishes in the dishwasher. Our home was their home, and will be anytime they come to visit, because they are family.

*I wrote the paper bag line with "The Paper Bag Princess" book by Robert Munsch.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Disney Fun Review

I want to quickly share my Disney vacation photos from almost two months ago, before I launch into a new post. So please, enjoy the photos and quick commentary!

On August second, Trae and I literally spent the whole day at the Disney Hollywood Studios. I got to see Trae in true childhood form as we rode the Star Wars ride three times. (It started to rain and we got to ride the attraction two times back to line! And I was the rebel spy! Trae sure was jealous!!)

We ate lunch with the awesome Disney Dining Plan at the 50s Prime Time Cafe. We loved it! It looked like a TV set from an I Love Lucy Show or The Dick Van Dyke Show. It was so much fun with waiters and waitresses telling you to eat your veggies and keep your elbows off the table!

 We got a snack of R2-D2 popcorn. Trae saws it feel wrong eating R2's inter-workings, but as this picture shows you, he didn't feel too wrong digging in!

 The back-lot tour provided nerdom heaven for Trae with lots of movie props!

On August third, we did a double feature of the Animal Kingdom and Epcot.

We ate at the Tusker House and it was honestly one of the top ten meals I have had in my life. The buffet was extensive and delicious, with the staff willing to answer any question you had about the food. I went to great lengths to find the Mango Chutney recipe that was available for the flat breads.We ate soo much and it was amazing. I honestly have been craving a return trip and have been plotting our next Disney vacation around the Tusker House.

 Epcot was wonderful a well.. We enjoyed the mulch-cultured food, but more importantly the friendship! I met up with my old Clemson buddy Beth and my old Clemson roomie Melissa and her hubby Thomas.

The funniest thing happened on the Imagination Ride with Figment; we got stuck!!We got stuck at this odd part with a giant butterfly in cage, and the lights went down for ten minutes. All we could hear was the rusty squeak of the butterfly. Beth sent us oddly encouraging text messages about being rescued by Disney cast members. We weren't. And we got off the ride just in tme to watch Captian E-O, Trae's most fond memory of his last trip to Disney.

Well, the old gang wondered around the countries, including the Troll ride in Norway, which Beth hates. We also enjoyed Mexico and had fun singing along with the Three Caballeros. We finished the night at a German restaurant were Thomas and Trae heard a multitude of old Clemson "tails."

The next day, August the fourth, was a day of the Magic Kingdom, and it started off with a character breakfast at the Crystal Palace. During the whole vacation planning, Trae kept telling me that he was humoring my desire for a character breakfast; yet, when Eeyore came to our table, he almost knocked over the table to hug the ol' gray donkey!! We had a wonderful time eating breakfast with Winnie the Pooh and friends! We also got an anniversary card from the gang!!

I felt like I was cheating on my dad a bit here; he was the only other person I had ever ridden the Dumbo ride with!

 Good bye Snow White ride! With the new expansion coming in 2012, the Snow White ride will be torn down. I was truly sad knowing this was my last time around on the Snow White ride! Bye Bye Doopey!

 Beth doesn't like to share the piano in the Haunted Mansion line!

 I survived Splash Mountain! It was mine and Trae's first time on the ride!! I also got to be the guest conductor on the real steam train and say "All abroad!" At one point, I even got to wear the conductor's hat!

We ended the night was a fireworks dessert party. We enjoyed our glasses of milk and platefuls of dessert!!

On August 5th, we were suppose to head home, but we had left over Disney dining points and met Beth back at Epcot! We ate at Morocco, and said Hello to some of our favorite Disney characters.

Just remember that fez are cool!

Belle is confused because my shirt says "I'm with the Beast!" and according to her, he isn't hairy enough to be the Beast!

Hope you enjoyed our mini-photo gallery!!! Disney better watch out in 2013, because the Murray family is coming back to the Kingdom then!!