Unexpected Retreats, Family Reunions, Baby Showers & Hilarious Family Photos? Take Two…

I’m still laughing about my youngest grandniece, Madyson last Christmas in the most hilarious photo we’ve had yet. The truth is that young Maddy is a model for numerous brands and an Instagram cutie. 

No one knows how many photos my niece had to take to get that “perfect shot.” Maddy’s mom, Leigh Ann only posts the perfect photos but, the imperfect photos have Cindy and I laughing our heads off. 

This afternoon, Leigh Ann called Cindy and I upset that Madyson “keeps turning her head or screaming in the photos at the Botanic Garden.” Cindy and I said “text the funniest ones.” 

With all three of my grandnieces together, finding the perfect shot was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The twins have died their hair for summer and although Cindy and I don’t understand this mermaid hair trend, we are hoping they tire of it in the next month and return to their natural hair color.

Here’s a few of my favorites. First, Maddy is picture perfect but, her mood quickly changed.Trying to get family photos of everyone perfectly posed is so trying around here that I suggested Cindy use our favorite Christmas Photo of Maddy for a Christmas in July #Cindyism Quote. Here’s the pic. We busted out laughing when I finally found it on my Instagram page. While Leigh Ann wants perfect, we prefer perfectly honest. 

Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex was home on leave for Christmas and we can see where Maddy gets her hilarious looks from the photo taken with him, his wife, his daughter and my twin grandnieces.Checking my email at Trinity Park, I had another request for TDCJ Bridgeport Unit. On my last visit there, it was a bit of a hurdle as Bridgeport Unit is privately owned and they hadn’t had a wedding on site and had no idea how to verify my credentials with the Courts in Huntsville. I walked them through the process and see no issues with next months Bridgeport Bride.

Cindy left the reunion to go visit our father who was funny and entertaining yesterday at the Senior Center. Today, he wants out. We can’t control his “unexpected holiday” duration at Wellbridge and although he’s unhappy about the situation, we both try to keep his spirits up. 

Thanks to visits to my niece in a mental ward, I’ve learned a few words that I didn’t know existed and their meanings. 

Cindy said dad looked like he had a dose of “Booty Juice.” What this means is the patient is sedated. A Code Ten means someone is trying to escape. How I know these things and their meanings disturbs even me. 

For six months now, my niece has been in and out of mental wards. She’s Bipolar One and refuses to stay on her medication. 

Perhaps because of our visits to see Stephaney, Cindy and I expect other patients to be unpredictable because they are. The screaming and crying from other patients while trying to appear undisturbed by people wandering around during a visit with dad are what you’d expect at a mental hospital. 

Though our dads not crazy or senile, his demands to get out most likely resulted in a dose of the Booty Juice. Dad kept falling asleep during Cindy’s visit while other patients wandered over to talk to her thinking she had come to visit them. It’s not unusual for these types of medical centers to overmedicate patients. 

As the days roll on for my father and we wait for him to assigned an attorney for his hearing, my dads been unable to shave and is becoming haggard and exhausted. For seniors in Wellbridge who have numerous issues including addiction, my dad doesn’t fit in. His only addiction is cigarettes and an occasional whiskey sour. 

Mandatory group meetings are an eye opener for dad because he had no idea there were so many people addicted to meth including seniors. Sadly, my niece struggles with a meth addiction herself and bounces from doing well on her medication to self medicating. 

If only we could switch Stephaney to inpatient care and take dad home from Wellbridge. The switch would benefit them both. Dad wants to go home and Stephaney needs to detox. It’s a helpless situation for my sister and I because we can’t fix it for dad and need Stephaney to agree to allowing us to find her help. 

While dad would love for us to save him, we can’t. While Stephaney refuses to allow us to help her, we helplessly watch her lose more weight and wander around unemployed and off her medication acting crazy again.

Cindy and I went shopping at Walmart for “Psych Ward Friendly” clothing options for dad that included slippers and sleep pants. No drawstrings or suspenders to try and strangle yourself with. We have a list of what he can’t have which makes the list of what he can have quite small.

This morning, dad called with someone yelling in the background “Smoke Time!” Asking what the lady was saying, my dad said “you get smoke breaks here and I need some cigarettes.” 

My dad hasn’t had a real cigarette in years. He uses a vape but since vapes contain glass, he can’t have one in the nut house. 

Just when we thought the burden of paying for all this stuff couldn’t get any worse, we are NOW buying smokes for dad AND Stephaney.

Shopping for cigarettes and clothing for my dad along with food, drinks, gas and cigarettes for my niece, Cindy and I are amazed at the expenses involved. 

I had a strong discussion with my niece regarding “her brand of cigarettes and a Bic lighter” today that as usual, didn’t go well. 

Since Stephaney is squatting in an abandoned home without a refrigerator, it’s amazing that non perishable items are just as expensive as traditional groceries. 

Stephaney must be demanding even when she’s locked up at a mental facility because one of her counselors at Wichita Falls actually called Cindy to ask “is she always this demanding?” The answer is yes because at thirty two years old without ever having any real responsibilities, this going off the rails and losing her job before becoming a homeless squatter stuff, when working she bought whatever she wanted. 

Telling my sister or I brands that Stephaney wants us to pick up at our own expense, Cindy and I are now bucking Stephaney’s  demands or desires and buying whatever we want. If she doesn’t like it, she can go back to the Psych Ward or sit out her tickets in jail. We are done paying her car insurance, done buying “her brands” done paying her surcharges and probation fees and done begging her to go to work and get back on her meds. 

Stephaney needs to get a grip and stop feeling sorry for herself but, she won’t. We are at our wits end with her. After advising her that she can use a Dollar Tree lighter, she sent a group text to both Cindy and I that read “everyone go blind!” 

Shocked while wandering through Walmart with our loaded arms carrying everything for everyone except ourselves (as usual), I told Cindy Stephaney had just sent me a go blind cursed text message. 

At least when dad gets out he won’t continue to expect us to foot the bills but, Stephaney is another story altogether. We have no idea what to do about Stephaney. No one does.

I can’t believe the rampant stupidity of messages my niece sends me. Neither can Cindy. It’s no wonder my other niece, Leigh Ann won’t even speak to her sister. I wish we didn’t have to! From Stephaney saying she’s dying to demanding this or that and refusing to work for it, my niece is a lot of work ya all. 

Stephaney has never paid her own phone bill. Cindy pays it so she can find Stephaney whenever she’s off the rails again. Although she rarely bothers to answer the phone when Cindy calls to see what she’s doing and can go from nice to mean in minutes when Cindy suggests hospitalization. 

Stephaney changes the phone number constantly because “the FBI and CIA are tapping it.” The fees for the weekly or daily phone number changes continue to add up on Cindy’s phone bill but, Stephaney never considers the financial burden she throws our way. Never mind the fact that for fourteen years Cindy and I have shouldered  all of the expenses for Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna. 

Stephaney has never paid child support and the twins father might pay $20 here or there but between the parents, over $80k in arrears are owed to Cindy that will most likely never be paid by either of the twins parents to my sister.

At Stephaney’s age, she should be paying for her own phone, paying for her own insurance and being a responsible adult but, my niece is a self absorbed narcissistic Bipolar One basket case that we just can’t seem to shake. She has no desire to look for work and change her situation. 

My dad will have many stories of the last four days and probably ten more by the time he’s finally released. In the meantime, Cindy and Steve have set up traps for the raccoons that drove my father to believe squatters had moved into his attic which resulted in him finally shooting the ceiling to make the noise stop. 

Of course, dad can’t pay for the traps or cigarettes or even clothing he needs because he’s in the Psych Ward. Cindy and Steve spent several hundred dollars to try and catch the raccoons and possums while dad is staying at Wellbridge.

Our sister in law called Cindy and asked if we had paid to install a security system? It’s often amazing how frequently folks sitting on their butts doing nothing to help resolve a situation can find time to call and give us tips on what we should be doing or how we should be handling it. Seriously. 

I’m guessing since my sister in law called Cindy yesterday asking why we hadn’t went to go see dad yet that Michelle fails to realize that visiting hours are seven days a week from 4PM-5PM? 

Cindy drives sixty miles round trip for these visits into the Cuckoo’s Nest while I juggle my schedule to go with her which isn’t always possible. While we are dancing around picking up this or buying that, my sister in law finds time to call and attempt to make us feel guilty asking why we haven’t went to visit yet? Jeez. She’s not running around or spending hundreds of dollars but questions whether we are spending enough time with dad? My patience with trying to explain to my brothers wife why we are helpless to get dad released seem to fall on deaf ears. Suggestions of spending more money on this or that including attorneys infuriate me. No one is sending us money to help save our dad or cover expenses but everyone wants to give us advice on what we should be doing. Some folks need a Reality slap. 

I once had a Production Assistant tell me “keep everything positive. Don’t ever blog or post about problems.” Of course, she was in her twenties and had never faced real problems in life or in business. Raising children and grandchildren isn’t a worry free life for anyone who has already raised their children. 

Dealing with a demanding client or a demanding family member or even a combination of both and you aren’t riding a rainbow my friend. I’m honest about the pitfalls and successes of juggling business and family. 

Ask someone raising someone else’s children because the parents or on drugs or in jail or prison how easy their life is or how they struggle to spread their budget thin enough to cover additional children that they didn’t expect to be raising in their 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and I promise it won’t be candy coated sunshine day. Trust me. These grandparents and other family members must sacrifice to save children and give them a stable life.

You can’t choose your family. In many cases, you can’t choose your clients. It isn’t all wine and roses in the events business and it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns in my family either. 

Sure, it would be great to live a problem free life but, it’s a luxury my sister and I have never had since we’ve always fixed everyone elses problems and never asked for help with our own. 

Had we known of this raccoon infestation sooner, my dad could’ve called an exterminator and would still be at home but, my dad kept insisting “people were up there” and, even we became concerned about dad and his wild theories. We never heard any noise on visits to his house until yesterday.

Running over to get my dads clothes and medication, Cindy and I heard stomping from the attic that scared us so badly that we ran out of the house. Cindy’s husband discovered the stomping was from loose boards over the rafters that a raccoon family was using to get around. Three raccoons later, trapping the rest of the raccoons and having dads air vents cleaned will most likely bring peace to DadsDen again. 

Dad laughed yesterday and told Cindy and I that the only gift that our brother was going to get for his birthday today was a call from dad in the nut house wishing him a Happy Birthday. When he said this, we both died laughing. Why? We never expected to be visiting our dad in a mental ward and we never expected our dad to be funny or have a sense of humor about the situation either.

Family reunions are a mixed bag of nuts too. You have the happy go lucky folks and the “don’t want to be there but feel obligated” folks. 

Not everyone loves spending the day or the weekend with all of their relatives but, as a child I loved spending a weekend in July in a rented cabin on Lake Texoma where Uncle Bob taught my twin and I to waterski.

For some reason, many Texans and Oklahomans plan family reunions in July one of the hottest months of the year.Traditionally, these events take place at a park or a lake and are spent mostly outdoors. Because of the weather and many family members being very old or very young, I suggested using buckets for cold bottles of water, juice and colas.

Buffet style dining works best for serving large groups of people. Barbecue or even hot dogs and hamburgers work well either cooked ahead of time or cooking on site. 

Paper plates and plastic cups with plastic utensils are my go to favorite for casual events including family reunions.From customized tshirts to caps or even name tags, identifying new members that have “married into the family” keeps guests from having to introduce themselves over and over. Name tags might seem silly unless you are the “newbie” at a family renunion.

Having plenty of activities on hand keeps children entertained. From kites to checkers or other activities, having a wide range of games that will appeal to young children and teens is always suggested.Bring your own chair? Yes. If your event is at a park or lake, suggest everyone bring their own chair to ensure there are no shortage of places to sit.

Keeping your Event handicap accessible when you have a relative in a wheelchair may have not occurred to you but, I address this in client meetings. 

If you are renting tables for your event, lower tables accommodate wheelchairs and make your handicap guests far more comfortable. 

Many parks are also handicap accessible with walkways and ramps that accommodate handicapped guests.

Accidents and injuries away from home aren’t ever expected. Bring first aid kits to ensure you are accident prepared. Safety first.

All of your family together in one place can be fun if you plan wisely and use your time together catching up. Bring photo albums to your family reunions to reminisce about the good ole days. 

Be sure to take photos of your family reunion or hire a photographer to have permanent memories of the day or weekend you spent getting to know your family again. 

I’ve missed the last several family reunions with my Aunt Shirley in Gordon due to our schedules but I now remember how years ago, there were at least 100 relatives at the cook out styled get togethers.

Over the years, that number has dwindled the last thirty some odd years to less than thirty family members. It’s a very sad statistic that all of my older relatives are no longer here but, family photo albums bring the joy of family reunions from the “Past to the Present.”

It’s never too late to plan your family reunion and whether you get along with so and so or not, make the best of it like Clark Griswald. The Norman Rockwell photo might have imagined portraying may be further off than you assumed but, families are families regardless of how well or not well you get along together.

My brother had a large event at his home today to celebrate his birthday and the Fourth Of July. For years as a child, my baby brother thought the fireworks were solely to celebrate his birthday. 

On a phone call with our dad, my brother told him to enjoy the fireworks and know that dad would be visiting my brother soon. I certainly hope my brother is right. This “Mental Health Hold” incident has been pretty hard on my dad.

Having my father at Wellbridge ruined my plans of taking him to the movies today as I often do after finishing up with my holiday bookings and watching the fireworks on the balcony of the Seventh Street Theater together.

Hopefully, next year the surprises of the last few months will be a distant memory and my father will be leaning over that banister with the joy of a child enjoying the fireworks display in Fort Worth.

My most memorable fireworks shows were in Acapulco on New Years and Hawaiia on July Fourth. My son, Robbie was with me on both trips and noticed how the water created a mirror to the sky. 

As a child, my son always wanted to light fireworks but, even sparklers are dangerous. I’m against children and fire but, if you opt to allow children to hold sparklers– you must be careful. 

I’m hoping my father has many more moments to share as he loves fireworks almost as much as my brother and that he stays calm throughout a process that can’t be sped up in order to bring him home again as soon as he would like…