Thursday, April 30, 2015

Grammy Tribute

Grammy died on April 16th 2015 at 7:50am.  She had just been released from the hospital.  It was suspected that she had internal bleeding, but the tests that were ran were inconclusive.  She was released from the hospital and died within 12 hours.  She was getting ready for the day as normal, and as she was standing up to get dressed she died in my mom's arms.  I woke up earlier than normal that day and saw my mom's message that said "Call, it's urgent."  I called and found out that grandma had passed away.  I was able to make it down to my mom's house before the funeral home came to take her away.

 This was the first funeral that I was actively apart of making arraignments for.  Everything moved incredibly quickly.  Grandma died around 8am, and by 2pm we were sitting at Monreal Funeral Home and making decisions.  The girl that we worked with, Kristina, was incredibly kind to us and she was very patient.  She made the experience a lot easier.  She was the niece of the owners of Monreal Funeral home, and she and her husband are eventually going to take it over.  She had only been doing it for a year, but she was very professional, patient, and helpful.  This was the memorial cards that we picked out for grandma.

The funeral home had a whole list of verses that could be picked out to be put on the other side of the memorial card.  My mom, Aunt Karen, and I were looking through them all and when I came across God's Garden we all knew that it was the right one for grammy.  It says, "God looked around His garden and He found an empty place. He then looked down upon this earth, and saw your tired face.  He put His arms around you and lifted you to rest.  God's garden must be beautiful, He always takes the best.  He knew that you were suffering, He knew you were in pain.  He knew that you would never get well on earth again. He saw the road was getting rough and the hills were hard to climb.  So He closed your weary eyes, and whispered, "Please be thine."  It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn't go alone, For part of us went with you the day God called you home."

It was relatively easy for us to pick out the casket.  It was a light violet color with a lace under lay.  The hardest part for us was writing grandma's obituary.  We debated over and over what should go into the obituary, and we tried to make sure to include everyone.  I think that were literally went over this for an hour.

  The next day mom and I went to the mall and tried to find an outfit for grandma to be buried in.  We needed to find a long sleeve outfit, because of how grandma's arms looked.  In the middle of April this was very difficult, especially because the style of dresses only comes down to the elbow.

I spent several hours putting together grandma's memory board.  It was nice looking through all of the old pictures and remembering things.  I made one board that was with older pictures of her life, and then another board with more recent pictures.  I think it took me almost 4 hours to complete.

Here is the other board.  I think the only thing that I could have changed was to just bring old photo albums along with the boards.  Everyone was looking at the photos on the boards a whole lot, but I had SO many more pictures.  I wish that I would have brought all of them.

Grandma's mass was at her favorite church, St. Vitus in Cleveland which is a block away from her house.  It was wonderful because the nun still came and gave grandma her commune every week.  So she was still an active member of the church and the preacher and nun were able to talk about her and tell stories about her.  I've always thought that St. Vitus was the most beautiful church that I have ever been to.  The priest did a fantastic job talking during the service that I was a little bit worried for my turn to speak.  I normally try to memorize my speeches and give them, but I knew that I would be chocked up on this occasion and decided to read off of a piece of paper to not put unneeded stress on myself.  I felt that it was really important that someone who loved grandma should stand up to tell about her life.  Here is a copy of the speech that I gave:

Hi Everyone. I'd like to share a few memories that I have of my grandma. When I think of my grandma, the first thing that comes to mind is back when I was younger and she used to watch me all the time.  I remember us watching our soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live.  Then we would play Crazy 8’s, Go Fish, and Rummy and somehow I would always win.  I remember her house being full of ba-bushkas or her reglious firgurines that were on her wall and around the house.  We used to walk into the back and slide and scoot our way into her blue truck and go off for the day getting ice cream or going swimming.  Or we would order Shrimp Fried Rice from our favorite Chinese place from down the street and have lunch with my mom on her lunch hour.

I think that everyone that thinks of grandma thinks of all of the dogs that she has had throughout the years.  She always had poodles in the house and german shepards in the back yard.  The one dog that I think she loved the most, was the last dog that she had, Katie.  Katie was the sweetest little dog you’ve ever met and every time she sat with grandma, grandma would have to tell her “No kisses Kate.”  Because Katie was always trying to cuddle and give kisses.  Katie was grandma’s companion for years and years as grandma got older.  And until her dying day grandma would ask mom if she had fed Katie even though Katie had died years before.
Grandma was also an avid shopper.  Boy did she love to shop and find a good deal.  As she got older and had a harder time walking she was in her glory when she went to stores like Walmart that had the motorized scooters that she could hop into and take off on.

Everytime that I called my grandma I’d ask her how she was doing, and she’d always say, “Oh I’m hanging in there.”  For as long as I can remember grandma was hanging in there.  

As she got older she started liking less and less things to eat, but she always loved her mashed potatoes.  I think that she lived on them.  That is, unless of course, there were sweets around.  Grandma was the most picky eater you’d find, but place something sweet in front of her and she’d gobble it up.

I'd also like to take this time to recognize how good my mom took care of my grandma, and what a wonderful care taker she was. My mother has visited or talked to my grandma on the phone almost every single day that I can remember for the last 30 years.  She always kept my grandma company, and showed love and dedication to her mother that isn’t very common.  Especially as my grandma got sick, my mom did an amazing job taking care of grandma.  My grandma had dementia and had limited mobility which made being her caretaker especially difficult. Mom sacrificed and worked extremely hard to keep grandma from going into a nursing home.  Mom used her vacation days to take grandma to her doctors appointments, and used her lunch hours to make sure that she was able to go to the bathroom and that her sitters were taking good care of her.  Mom missed countless events and gave up trying to get some of her deals to ensure that grandma wasn’t home alone and that she was ok.  I know that grandma is thankful and proud of my mom for all of the hard work that she did to help take care of her.  Fittingly, my mom was there with my grandma as she took her last breath and then spent countless hours with my Aunt Karen and myself trying to arrange her funeral service. My mom has given a large part of her life to my grandma over the last 30 years and she should feel good for all of the effort that she put in to help make sure that my grandma had a good quality life even though she was losing her memories and mobility.  

I can only hope that as I grow older that I can show and be showed the same levels of love, devotion, and sacrifice that I learned from my mother and grandmother.  Thank you.

Grandma was buried next to my grandfather at Lafayette Memorial Park in Brier Hill, PA.  It was quite a long trip out on Monday.  It took us about 4 and 1/2 hours to get there and about 3 hours to get home.  We think that the hearse got lost because he drove through downtown Pittsburgh which really wasn't necessary, but it was ok.  Grandma is buried in the Rose section near the chapel in lot 71 grave 5.  There were a group of about 5 cars that went out to the grave site and we all placed a rose on her casket and had a short prayer service.

My grandfather, Aunt Karen and a bunch of dogs.  Grandma always loved animals, especially dogs. She always had poodles on the inside of the house, and german shepards in the backyard.


At 5615 Carry Ave.

My mom and grandma

My grandma and her sister, Aunt Clara.  Even until the end they still practically talked everyday.

My uncle Sunny, Colleen, Tammy, Christine, Cathy and grandma.

Grandma with her 3 children at her oldest granddaughter's wedding.

Grandma and her two girls

Grandma holding me when I was born.

My 5th birthday party.  We matched!

3 generations.  I love how grandma's smile is the exact same in every photo throughout all of the years.

The last wedding that grandma attended.  She missed making it to my wedding by just one month.

I like this picture of grandma. She looks really alert.

Grandma's last Christmas

This was grandma sitting at the pool she used to take me to when I was 6.

Grandma's last birthday.

Grandma with all of her granddaughters.

Mom, Uncle Sunny, Grandma, and Anthony

This was Katie's first birthday and the first time that grandma got to hold her great granddaughter.

Grandma loved animals.  Every time she came over to my house she loved getting to see my boys.

A typical Christmas from the past... with a lottery tree and a bunch of presents.

One of my mom's birthday parties.

Mrs. Kelly and grandma at a cookout at Aunt Karen's house.

I love how grandma looks in this picture.

This is the last picture that I'm posting because this is how I want to remember grandma.  With her favorite dog, Katie and young and vibrant.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Wedding Shower 3/29/15

On Sunday, March 29th 2015,  Hannah Johnson threw Cody and I our Bridal Shower!  We were so excited to share this day with our friends and family.

Cody and I registered at Bed Bath & Beyond and Target.  Our experience at Bed Bath & Beyond was fabulous.  We had a wedding registry representative that spent FOUR hours with us!!  He walked us all around the store and gave us a lot of great recommendations.  He was very knowledgeable about all of the products in the store and he answered all of the questions that we had.  We were absolutely thrilled with the process and there were SO many choices there!!  It was also so easy to add things to our registry... we walked around with a scanner gun and just scanned things onto our registry.  If you are looking for a place to get registered I would highly recommend Bed Bath & Beyond.  Cody and I were a little less thrilled about Target.  They gave us a scanner and we walked around on our own... which was fine, but then our registry never really worked online.  We were never able to manage our registry and we weren't too happy about that.  I'm not sure that we would want to register at Target for anything else again.

But now back to the Big Day!  I got to Hannah's house a few hours early to have Sam help do my hair and makeup.  I can't get over how much Sam's grown up in the last few years!  She went from this sweet little girl... to this beautiful woman... who can legit do hair and make up better than I can!!  You can see Hannah and Sam working on getting my bump just right. 

Final Product!  Thanks to my stylists!  My dress was even inspired from the dress that Hannah wore at her bridal shower.  I loved how it look so much that I looked for something similar to wear at mine.

I was so happy with how everything turned out!  The girls really did such a good job.  We had a Vegas theme because that is Cody and my favorite place.

Here is a close up of the center pieces on the table. 

Even further of a close up.  Sam took this picture.  Isn't it neat?  I love the little dice beads that were on the table.  So pretty!

Here is a view of the whole room.  You can see that Cody and my chairs were specially marked. 

This was my chair.  I ended up wearing the pin for the whole day.  And I'm excited to eventually put it into my scrap book too. 

Here is Cody's pin.  I was happy that he was included in having a pin too.  A lot of wedding stuff is very bride focused and not really groom focused.  So I know on a few occasions he's felt left out of stuff, but I'm glad in this case he wasn't.

Here are my bridesmaids that were able to attend the shower.  Aren't we lovely ladies?!?!   Krista wasn't able to make it due to a vacation freeze at her work, but I'm glad she'll be able to come to the wedding.


Here is the mandatory pose of the three of us.  I swear, we've taken so many pictures just like this!  I have to get one just like it on the wedding day!

Now as we are posing, Sam, our photographer, tells us she wants us to be more natural and more photo journalist... so she tells us to just start laughing so that we don't look posed!  Too funny!! 

My maid of honor and I!  :)

I can't believe how adorable Sam is!  Isn't this a super cute picture?  Gosh... this is the pose the three of us should have done!!  But Sam's such a natural... I probably wouldn't have been able to pull off that look haha.

Bride and Groom to be!

Here we are with our moms.

The Debs!

Aunt Renae and Aunt Mary

Aunt Karen and Mrs. Kelly

Cody and his aunt

Aunt Becky and I.

Cody and his mom

Aunt Mary and Deb

Some of my favorite ladies!

Mmmmm these pretzel treats are so good!  I swear I probably ate almost all of these.  It is just such a yummy combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy!  Sam made these from Hannah's shower and I requested that they make an appearance at my shower as well.

Here is the beautiful cake that my mom had ordered for us.  I love how she had our wedding colors added into the cake!  It was very sweet and delicious! 

Here are some of the drinks that we had.  The Sangria was a crowd pleaser. 

Hannah was worried about having enough food at the shower, but from what I saw she shouldn't have worried at all.  There was MORE than enough food for everyone, and everything was really yummy.

Here we are cutting the cake.  I told Cody that it was practice for the wedding day.

Here he goes...

We just each got our own piece and we didn't feed it to each other this time... we'll save that for the wedding day.

Here is everyone from dad's family eating.

Sam and Cody's family all together.

Mom's family.

The Douglas family

Then it was game time!  These girls really did a ton of planning because they had 5 games that we played during the shower!!! And they had all kinds of wrapped presents that they gave away and everything.  They all did a really good job.

The first game was a cool game where you use the letters in Cody and my name to make different words. The person with the most word combinations won.  Cody and I worked on it together, and I think that the winner had like 10 or 20 more words than we did!

Here was the container with all of the presents.  A whole bunch of these presents were used during the Right and Left game.  I think that this is one of the most fun games that I've ever played at a wedding shower.  I really enjoyed writing Hannah's and I really loved listening to the story she wrote about us.  Here it is below:


Melanie and Cody first met in 2011, which provide to be the right year for them.  Melanie was in the right place at the right time when she was interning at Bendix in Elyria.  Cody happened to be living right nearby and fate intervened.

Their first date certainly made the right impression.  Cody took Melanie to the zoo and then to Chili's.  Once they left Chili's, Cody went to Melanie's house where they played the right game of Back Alley together with Melanie's parents.  Cody must have had the right skills to impress Melanie's dad at Back Ally.  When he left that night, Melanie knew Cody was something special.

Things didn't slow down for Melanie and Cody.  They next weekend was a Memorial Day party where Cody got to meet the entire family.  Once again, things went the right way and Cody fit in perfectly with her family.

Melanie and Cody realized how much they both loved traveling.  They took every opportunity they could to find the right flight at the right price and they jetted off as often as they could.  They left the country on a cruise, where they shared an amazing week of adventure together.  This proved they were the right traveling partners for one another.

Melanie knew Cody was the right one.  They moved in together, renting a house in North Olmsted on the left side of Wellesley Ave.  They spent a year in the house, now knowing what kind of home would be right for them.  It was time to build one of their own.  There were home building sites left and right, so many places to look.  They knew they wold have to search for the right location.  North Royalton proved to be the right place for them, and so the home building process began.  It went by quickly and before they knew it, they had built their dream home together, the right way.

Building a house didn't stop Melanie and Cody from traveling.  One trip led to another and soon they fond the right destination for them.  Las Vegas was their place.  Although they had been to Vegas many times before, when they left for this trip, something else was on Cody's mind.  This trip they stayed at the Cosmopolitan.  When they left the airport and arrived at the Cosmopolitan, Melanie had no idea that they would be upgraded to a 40th story warp around balcony suite for their stay.  This was the right thing to say, as an upgrade to their suite was done the right way.  They left the lobby and made their way to the suite, much to Melanie's excitement and surprise.

Melanie's favorite place in Vegas had always been the fountains at the Bellagio.  Cody knew this was the right place.  They left the hotel room that night and headed to a fancy dinner with a view of the fountains.  A balcony overlooking the fountains seemed to be the right place for Cody to ask Melanie an important question, "will you marry me?"  Melanie knew the right answer was "yes!"  And knowing Melanie, Cody made sure the moment was captured the right way.  He made sure plenty of pictures were taken capturing the moment before they left.

Once home, it was time to fill their big house with some furry kids.  They went to the APL, where they found the right kittens for them.  They left the APL and waited to bring the boys home.  They decided that the right name of one of their boys was "Cosmo" in honor of the Cosmopolitan, the place they were staying when they got engaged!

So here we are now, not many days left until their wedding day!  The big day is right around the corner.  Having known Melanie since 3rd grade, I am happy to say that she has found the right man for her and I can't wait to be a part of Melanie and Cody's special day!

The next game was the Newly Wed game, where everyone had to guess how many questions I would get right.  As you can see... I only got 11/25.  :(  I later answered all the questions and asked them to Cody and he got 15/25 right so I didn't feel too bad.  It's really hard to come up with the answers on the spot with everyone watching you...  and I do think that some of the answers that I gave weren't far off from being correct, but at the time that Cody answered them he thought of something else.  I guess that's why it was a game show for so many years...

Next we played a game where you match the candy type to a description.  It's actually a much harder game than what it looks like!

Here are some action shots of everyone trying to fill in the game.

Mom is trying so hard...

So are the guys...

Haha!  Looks like Aunt Becky was having some trouble.

Everyone else in the other room.

After that we played a different game, where you use toilet paper to make a wedding dress.  The bride and groom get to decide who has the best wedding dress and that team wins.  I can't believe how much everyone got into it!!  You can see mom and aunt Karen working on Mrs. Kelly!

Hannah's grandma actually went to Hannah's flower vase and ripped her flowers apart to give them to Mrs. Kelly to hold onto as props!!  Haha!!!

Here is Cody's family dressing Steph up.

Her finished look.

My aunts and Katelynn were in it, to win it!  They had an elaborate design and matched the Vegas Theme... with cards and flowers in strategic places!  Haha!!

Hilariously dad was the Douglas team's model.

He had toliet paper tucked into this belt and all three women said that they did not do any of the tucking and that it was all Arianna.  Dad kept joking that they all had a hand in it and liked doing it..  Hrmm... here is the picture with the proof!

Here is Dad and Aunt Becky.  You can barely tell in the picture but they used balls on Hannah's table to make dad's bosom area stand out.  It was pretty funny!

Here are all of the toilet paper brides.  I can't believe how much effort and work everyone put into making these dresses!  So awesome!

Here are the two judges deliberating on who the winner was.  We were really going back and forth on it.  We ended up rock, paper, and scissoring to figure out who the winner was.  I won't say who it was between though!  Because everyone worked so hard...

The judges with all the models...

The winning team!  Dad's dress just ended up being too funny in the end.  When he won he started to give a speech thanking all the little people that made it possible... 

Next was present time!  Everyone was so generous and I think we were opening presents for probably over an hour!  We went to Bed Bath and Beyond today and with the money and gift cards we got we were able to buy almost everything on our registry that we really wanted to get.

Here we are with the full paparazzi taking pictures haha.  I swear everyone single woman had their camera on us, but it's ok... I like pictures being taken.

Cody and I worked as a team opening up the presents.  I read all of the cards.  Also my team of bridesmaids also stepped in to help us.  My cousin Hannah kept track of who bought us what.  Maid of Honor, Hannah, helped make my bow bouquet.  Steph helped slide the presents to us and keep up with the trash.  :) 

Scrub Daddy!!!  I saw this on Shark Tank a few years ago and I've been wanting one ever since!  I was hoping that we would get these.  Once I opened it I gave everyone a little commercial on how awesome they are haha.  I heard people saying "Well... If I knew that, that's what I would have gotten her..."  lol

The hands down funniest gift was from Aunt Karen.  Of course, she would get me lingerie!  And of course my dad had to act scandalized by it...  I think everyone was laughing by his reaction. 

You can tell by my bow bouquet that I was registered at Bed Bath & Beyond and that everyone took advantage of the free gift wrapping service that they provide.  Hannah did a really good job at making the bouquet look really pretty though despite it being almost all purple ribbons.  She also kept encouraging me to break some ribbons... which I broke 2 of by the way.

Here she is presenting me with the bouquet.  I love how easy she made the handle to hold!!

Overall, Cody and I couldn't have asked for a better Wedding Shower.  We were both so happy by how everything turned out.  The girls really did a great job, and everything was very beautiful.  Cody and I both want to sincerely thank everyone who was able to make it and share the day with us.  Also to those who weren't able to make it but sent us well wishes.  We are so excited to go through the whole wedding process, and this was definitely a highlight for us.