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I promised to share more pictures from J and N's wedding this past weekend. And here they are. A sampling of the oodles I took. This first one? It is a close-up of my bridesmaid's bouquet. The colors were stunning and vibrant. Symbolic of the event itself.

The drive there was decent. There were tears of course, but we made it the whole way without catching vomit in Tupperware. (The ride back? Another story entirely. Both big girls threw up and the tiny one screamed as if she has an ear infection. Wait, she does have an ear infection. It all makes sense now.) We stopped at a highway rest stop for potty trips and gas. The girls of course wanted everything at the little convenient store.

They begged us to play that silly game with the mechanical arm and stuffed animals. You know, that game that is utterly impossible to win and almost invariably ends in tears? Anyway. We obliged. And, get this? It was three dollars per game but you got to play until you successfully grabbed an animal. Genius. Husband did his fatherly duties, capturing the desired bumble bee for Big Girl and the pink ant-thing for Middle Girl. Little Girl is not old enough to request an animal so she did not get one. Sorry, little one. (For the record: Best $6 we have ever spent.)

After a successful rehearsal at the church and a lovely rehearsal dinner hosted by N's parents, we all got some sleep (oh, wait, we didn't. Middle Girl decided that sleep was so 2010 and stayed up all night running between her bed and ours). The girls and I met my Mom, Grammy, J, bridesmaids and female family for a yummy wedding day breakfast hosted by Aunt L. And then we were off to the bridal suite where we hung around doing wonderful girly things like get our hair and makeup done and help J step into her exquisite dress.

We indulged in a little wedding party toast.

We accompanied J downstairs where she saw her dad, and then soon-to-be hubby N for the first time. An auspicious, tear-jerking moment. The air was thick with emotion.

Husband and I joined the rest of the bridal party to take pictures in gorgeous spots around DC. If my silly iPhone photos look this good, I can't even imagine how glorious the professional ones will be.

The cozy couple. I adore this picture.

The bridesmaid dresses were a deep navy/plum and beautiful and J gifted us with wraps - ethereal and twiggy and just perfect.

I snapped a picture of Husband on a hill. One of my favorite shots ever. There is something about that little red house that gets me.

At the church, we were ready to go. The littlest flower girl was feverish and flushed, sporting doll-like rosy cheeks. She was a trooper, scooting around on the carpet, gathering tiny petal pieces her big sisters had dropped. She and her big sisters were champs, making their way down that fabled aisle, smiling, scattering flowers, or just clinging to my hip and trying to grab my lush bouquet. There were no tears. Score!

Little Girl went home to bed, but we told the big girls they could come and dance and eat wedding cake. Both had taken a nap in the afternoon in preparation for this treat. Here, they study the cake. The bride laughed as she caught Big Girl taking a swipe of frosting with her little finger. Uh oh. Perfect behavior is a tad boring anyway, huh?

The setting was a waterfront restaurant. And utterly amazing. Grammy planned this whole wedding and it was phenomenal. The details were warm and wonderful and unique. The food was delicious.

But the best part of the night as far as I am concerned? The dancing. While the adults tucked into their entrees, my little girls rendezvoused with their cousins on the dance floor. And they danced. And danced. Like really danced. Who taught my girls how to dance? I certainly didn't.

They shimmied and twirled, smiling big. They ran in circles. They had the time of their life.

They did this until 10pm. My kids have never ever stayed up past eight. But on this night, we made an exception and so did they. There was no way we were going to pluck these tiny dancers from that floor.

They stayed long enough to watch J dance with Dad-Dad. And, of course, I couldn't help but think: These little girls will do this one day. They will don a white dress and dance with Daddy. And I will stand back, misty-eyed, and watch.

Finally, the time came. I whisked the girls back to the hotel. They skipped through the hotel lobby, smiles fixed, still clutching those little white baskets, now empty. I let them press the buttons in the elevator like I always do and then I followed them down the long hallway toward our suite. Inside, I stripped them down, out of their white puffy clouds, and we picked PJs. When I kissed them goodnight, they were still smiling.

This weekend was something I will always remember. For many reasons. Mainly, I think, because it was a real family affair. Because it was stuffed with moments and meaning. Because my little girls did their duties and danced so beautifully, with such purpose and freedom. Because I have a new brother-in-law. Because this is really what it is all about. Family. Fun. Love.

Speaking of family and fun and love, we are packing up again and heading to Philly to spend Thanksgiving with the newlyweds and Grammy and Dad-Dad. The plan is to leave tomorrow after the kids' school celebrations. And so, in the spirit of slowing down and savoring family and food and all of life's goodies, I will not be posting for the rest of the week. Instead, I will be cuddling up with family old and new, looking at wedding pictures and telling wedding stories. Instead, I will be saying and living one word, one important word: Thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving, All! See you next week!

The Leaf Party

A Tease