Memorial Day Weekend Brings A Few Surprises To My Usually Perfectly Executed Orchestrated Agenda…

Gearing up for the holiday weekend, my husband made his usual run to Lowe’s for new flags and our weekend chore list. Flags need to be in perfect condition at our home and since my husband was a bit dissatisfied with our neighbor, Adam’s flag that had been up the past five years and it showed, gifted Adam with a new flag to replace his. 

My husband carefully orchestrated the exterior decorations at our home. It’s not unusual for him to “tinker” with the Christmas lights and make numerous trips to Lowe’s to “find the perfect balance.” 

This year, Matthew decided to buy two flags for the front of our home since he couldn’t center one flag. My husbands knowledge of “Flag Etiquette” is surprising to me. 

While explaining that Adam’s flag wasn’t lit at night, my husband went on to give me the low down on how he knew so much about the American Flag. His father served in the military some twenty plus years and never left a flag up at night without special lighting. 

At my husbands suggestion, I googled American Flag Etiquette– American Flag Etiquette. Since I didn’t see anything regarding lighting a flag left up at night, I searched further and found this article– Flying An American Flag Overnight Lighting Etiquette. 

Honoring Veterans and America on Memorial Day is something everyone in my family has done for as long as I can remember. 

Reading up on Flag Etiquette was enlightening as I had no idea of the many protocols involved. My husband always handles the flag at our home. The folding of the Flag is so complex that I wrote a blog about it– Flag Folding Ceremony At A Military Funeral. My brother and many members of my family are current and previous veterans. 

My husband isn’t the only person in my family that can and does go on and on regarding a flag incorrectly hung or in less than stellar “shape.” 

Matthew also pays close attention to the condition of the American Flag and prides himself on perfect execution when putting up our flags.

I’ve had so much going on this season that moving my team around or “splitting them up” was necessary on most of our events this season. 

I had “bumped” a short notice request to my daughter in law, Anne Alexander after learning my niece, Leigh Ann needed emergency gallbladder surgery Friday. 

Holidays are incredibly popular for Weddings because venues are usually discounted by up to 30% off their usual price points. 

Secondly, many of the guests are off work on July 4th as well as Memorial Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas and New Years. 

I’ve worked holidays most of my life and therefore, bump short notice requests on holidays to other staff members on my team these days and spend the day with my husband whenever possible since our time together is often so hard to find between his schedule and my own. 

It’s so rare to find a day to spend together that when we do, it’s spent cooking together or trying a new restaurant for a “date day.” Unlike venues, Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners don’t discount fees on holidays. In fact, we have an upcharge regarding Holiday Event Services. 

Whether you need Officiants, Celebrants, Floral Design, Coordination or Photography- Holiday Event Services take us away from our families which is why there is an upcharge involved. 

Leigh Ann needed me to babysit her daughter, Madyson while my twin sister stayed on hand at the hospital for Leigh Ann. I hated to leave Cindy alone in the surgery waiting room but, with three kids really had no choice. 

Madyson kept me really busy all day Friday as my other two grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna were both far more interested in relaxing and watching television than chasing Maddy around my home. 

My husband watched Maddy and wished he had a handful of her energy. While I waited for a call from Cindy about how  Leigh Ann was coming along in surgery, I called Leigh Ann’s Husband, Alex to see if he had heard any news? He hadn’t either and a surgery that was expected to last 1 1/2-2 hours slowly became 5 hours. The entire family was on pins and needles wondering what could possibly be taking so long to remove a gallbladder? 

The twins and young Madyson along with my feisty dog, Mr Foxy Wortham were having dinner by the time Leigh Ann finally made it to recovery. 

Foxy was running around to grab food out of Maddy’s hand when Cindy called to let me know that complications of infection had made the surgery far more complicated.

Madyson has far more energy than the twins did at two years old and reminds me of the Energizer Bunny commercials.Last weekend, while heading to our first wedding, my niece admitted that she in pain and struggling with nausea while I drove to our first event. 

Due to Texas heat, it was going to be a really long day with half of our bookings last weekend scheduled outdoors. Working outside at events in Texas is and can be hard on not only me but also my team. 

Leigh Ann was handling photography with me last weekend at several events and the heat was especially intense on Saturday with a light cool front arriving Sunday while we were at Bell Tower Chapel. 

What makes the job of photographers so difficult is often the guests shouting “take a picture of this” or “you didn’t get that photo” when in fact, the photographer almost never has an opportunity to sit down and much less, get something to eat or drink at an event. 

Because of this “being on” at location events, I never book photographers for more than 4 hours unless a client has hired a team of two photographers for 4-6 hours at an outdoor event. The last thing I need is one of my photographers struggling with heat exhaustion. 

Indoor Event Photography is far easier on not only the camera equipment but also the photographers. If you are outside shooting photos at 2-3PM in the Texas heat, it’s not too difficult to quickly overheat when you are walking through or around tents and guests to capture photos.

I turned down a recent request for a photographer needed for 8 hours last week. My reason? Short notice booking and it was outdoors. Eight hours is too much for one photographer. 

Eight hours in July on location at an outdoor event is too much for two photographers too. I suggested 4 hours but the client was Hellbent on 8 hours in order to “capture every moment.” Wishing them good luck, I moved on. 

My staff and I handle 3-5 events a day and if someone needs a photographer on location for 8 hours in Texas isn’t something any of my photographers are interested in because they get a break leaving one location and driving to the next. Eight hours on location without a break in the summer sun is just too much. Seriously. 

Since we split up team members in season, the opportunity to get a break comes while leaving location A to head to location B or even C. We each have time to grab a snack or a drink and have the opportunity to sit down while driving. It’s not glamorous but, a break is a break regardless of whether you spend it going to your next gig.

I’ve coordinated, officiated and even handled floral designs at a 14 hour event day and if I never do it again with my team, I will be relieved. We were all exhausted that Saturday with 3 events the following Sunday. 8-14 hours on location is a really long day and I’m very selective about bidding all day events to ensure there is a building or tent for my staff to get out of the heat for a few moments and relax under air conditioning. 

My team members are my family members and we aren’t desperate enough to book a gig to put our health at risk on location. 

My entire team also realize that it’s essential for them to be early on location and prepared to work. I.E. there are no sick days in the Event Business. I knew my niece wasn’t feeling well but, my son and his wife were busy at another Event which put us in a really tight position of “grinning and bearing it” through Leigh Ann’s pain for a jam packed weekend of events. 

Leigh Ann could only sip water last weekend and was unable to eat or keep anything down. The pain and nausea were getting to her by late Sunday. Things were about to get much worse for my niece.

On Monday though, Leigh Ann’s pain was so intense that she booked an appointment with our family doctor, Todd Richwine. 

Our entire family use Dr Richwine so it’s not unusual to run into my father, my son, my sister or even my niece, daughter in law of grandnieces in the lobby. 

Everyone in my family also use the same dentist because when you find someone you trust- you stick with them! 

Leigh Ann’s complications of gallstones and subsequent infection stem from her gastric bypass surgery last December. Apparently, this problem is so common that her gastric doctor suggested removing the gallstone when performing the gastric bypass. It’s actually a good idea as far as I’m concerned.

Scheduling an emergency surgery during wedding season is and always will be a disaster for my team. Robbie and Stephanie Hafele will be covering Leigh Ann’s bookings until she heals from the surgery. 

My daughter in law, Stephanie Hafele also works part time at Seaquest as a mermaid with my son Robbie organizing his weekend bookings around his part time job, advertising for McBee Homes. 

Not surprisingly, Leigh Ann didn’t “have time for emergency surgery. I’m still editing photos from three of our last events and looking forward to family day at Hurricane Harbor.” 

Every year, I make the plans for my friends and cousins along with our families for a day at Hurricane Harbor. It’s a juggling act that changes dates year to year to accommodate holiday bookings. Leigh Ann isn’t going to make it this year but my twin sister plans on bringing young Maddy with us to the water park.

Photo edits would have to wait though because the infection from her gallbladder had quickly spread to her liver and Leigh Ann was quickly facing sepsis.No one at the Michael’s Wedding had any clue that my niece was in incredible pain. Climbing over and around people and chairs to capture memorable moments as my photographer, Leigh Ann “pushed through the pain” and with a smile on her face.

Several months ago, I officiated not one but three wedding ceremonies at TDCJ Estes Unit and “pushed through the pain” myself.

I stack Prison Weddings whenever possible but what made that day “different” was that I was in writhing pain and urinating blood two hours before being on site at the Prison. Thank goodness it wasn’t my appendix because I simply didn’t have time for an emergency room visit when I had to be at the Prison.

Kidney stones. They are painful  and the direct result of weight loss. Both kidney stones and gallstones are complications of weight loss surgery but, I didn’t have surgery. 

My twin sister and I went on a weight loss journey together last year. My twin didn’t get gallstones or kidney stones but, my niece and I did. Why? I have no idea. 

My husband had told me to reschedule my Estes Unit Weddings and “go straight to the hospital!” I can’t reschedule an event and chose to limp through my scheduled events and pain by wearing a smile until I could get back to Fort Worth and more importantly, an emergency room at Harris Methodist Hospital. 

I’ve never called in sick in my life and I’m far too old to start now. I’m never late and I never reschedule. My Clients count on me because they can.

Getting through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday last week was a bit of a struggle for Cindy and I juggling clients and all three of her grandchildren while Leigh Ann went to pre op Appointments. 

From picking up Maryssa at school to preparing Maryssa and Makenna for end of the year school testing and keeping Maddy entertained in her car seat traveling to clients homes to search for buried treasure to barter their event, we were busy, busy, busy! 

By the time Saturday rolled around, I was off on my walk with Foxy when a hornet flew right into my eyelid and stung me. I’m deathly allergic to bee stings and if you could see my face while writing this, you wouldn’t recognize me. I have two black eyes and a swollen lip from the sting that landed me in the hospital yesterday.

My husband was lounging at home watching the Race Channel (as usual) and gearing up for a full day of NASCAR and relaxation. Walking into the house with Foxy less than five minutes after leaving with one eye already swollen shut, my husbands jumped out of his beloved Lazy Boy recliner and ran towards me. Yep. I was quite a sight with my eye swollen shut and unbeknownst to me, a bloody nose.

Matthew quickly grabbed the nearest Epiphen. We have more than 10 spread through our home and cars for these types of emergencies and “hit me” with it in my upper thigh before running off to get the Benadryl. After taking a Benadryl and trying to keep myself from panicking, we headed off to Harris Hospital yet again less than 24 hours after leaving my niece, Leigh Ann in surgery. 

Good ole Harris Hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a patient or a guest of a patient who happened to be a member of my family over the years because there have been so many times. 

In fact, at my Aunt Shirley’s surgery a few years ago, my father and his sister finally mended their disagreements after recognizing that life is short. Here’s the link– The Surgery Waiting Room-Harris Hospital.

From my dads quadruple bypass to my aunts heart surgery to my sons car accident or an allergic reaction for one of the twins, my numerous surgeries for complications of endometriosis and bee stings by far outnumber other members of my family in the ER. 

Being allergic to bee stings and big bites, my friend, Tammi Leggett was so precautionary at my visit to her lake house a few years ago that we deep cleaned her body in the event there might be bees or spiders hiding somewhere on the boat. 

Tammi knows all too well that a bee sting could kill me or the twins. Planning an outing requires putting safety first. Here’s the Lake Whitney blog link–Boats, Floats, Batteries & Surprises On Lake Whitney With My Best Friend Tammi.

My son has watched me stop breathing and had to think on his feet. Robbie is now a “bee watcher” when we are at outdoor events working together. 

A few years ago at his wedding, my son saved me from a hornet sting while decorating the tables. I didn’t hear the hornet buzzing around me with everyone arriving at the venue. There was so much talking and moving tables going on that I missed the hornet attracted to my silk centerpieces.At my own wedding, fresh flowers caused my grandniece, Makenna to have an allergic reaction at the Botanic Gardens and we left the ceremony to head to Harris Hospital again when Makenna’s face began to swell.

Everyone in my family and including my friends are “Epiphen Ready” for a bee sting. Fire ants also cause me to have difficulty breathing. 

In Ohio last year at the largest Twin Festival in the United States, my brother in law, Steve Daniel was the holder of the ever present Epiphen. 

My grandnieces Maryssa and Makenna are also highly allergic to a number of things including mosquito bites and bee stings as is my twin sister. Being outdoors can be dangerous when you are allergic to bee stings. I never wear perfume to Officiate or orchestrate an event or even at casual events where I’m not working or on the job.

I’m outside all of the time on gigs and keep my eyes open for both bees and fire ants.

Recreation requires safety measures. A few years ago, my sister was stung when a bee flew into my Cadillac. I quickly pulled over and opened my glove box to grab an Epiphen. 

In my haste to give her a shot, I somehow held the pen upside down and shot myself through my right thumbnail spraying blood across the inside windshield. 

Arriving at Harris with blood pouring out of my hand and my sisters swollen face beside me, medics didn’t know who to treat first. We were a mess!Being careful to skip the perfume or sweet smelling hair products or deodorant might sound overboard but, after a lifetime of hospital visits, I’ve learned to plan ahead because it’s better to be safe than sorry…