Sunday, July 8, 2012

When my girls were little, I lived to make them dresses.  The joy of my life was to get a Storybook Heirlooms catalog in the mail and drool over the beautiful dresses they sold.  Then there would be a prompt planning meeting between my sister Colleen and I, and several follow up phone calls between our trips to the fabric stores.  We were determined.  Our girls would have the prettiest dresses on the planet.  And we would accomplish this with as many hours at it took to make it happen.

By mid year of Jessica's kindergarden year of school, she came home with a frown on her face one day.  When I asked her what was wrong she said, "No more pretty dresses Mom!"  I said, "Honey, why not?  You look beautiful when you wear them to school?"  She replied quite descriptively.  "My teacher puts her hands on my shoulders and walks me around to the other teacher's to show them my dresses, and tells them that you make them.  I don't like it!"

So as you can imagine, it was the icing on the cake to dream of making my daughters their wedding dresses one day.  When Frankie proposed to Jessica last August, we got right to work on the planning.  In September I flew into Detroit and Jessica and I went immediately out dress shopping.  It was a mother's dream to see her daughter's smile while trying on dress after dress.  Many were very pretty but we just kept our idea pad filling up while we tried them on.  Then the sales lady brought out the most expensive dress the shop sold. (we both felt bad for wasting her time, but hoped to at least send the bridesmaids in to purchase from her)

And there it was. Jessica's face lit up with a beautiful smile, and we both saw rhinestone heaven on this dress.

I kept snapping photos with my eye on the details of this dress.  Lots and lots and lots
of details.  And a price tag to go along with it.

Shortly after this trip home was my neck surgery.  I HAD to feel better to even attempt this dress.
In November Jessica flew out to New York with her girlfriend, Tatianna.  It was a week before my surgery.  Our sweet Daughter in law Mandy even met us in the city for the day.  

Sorry you are not in the picture Tat, you must have been taking the only picture I have of this day.
Before Jessica headed back home to Michigan in November, I made her bodice out of cotton so that I would know I had a good fit on patterning.  I guess I forgot to mention to Jess that she should not lose any more weight!

As soon as my neck was healed enough to get started, I dug out the fabric, it was Dec 10.  I printed out the photos of the store bought dress, and got my plan of action started.

First I spent an entire Saturday designing the embroidery that would go on the bodice.  I got the embroidery started and realized on Saturday night, (late) that I did not like the way the embroidery turned out.  On Sunday I started all over again.  This time I got it straight.  

After the embroidery was done I cut out each piece of the bodice and began to rhinestone it

This is all of the bodice pieces layed flat 

A Close up of the embroidery in silver thread and some of the beginning rhinestoning.

From here I sewed the bodice together and made a lining of the same pattern.  I put boning down each seam.

Next I spent a couple of afternoons hand beading the embroidery of the dress
But wait, we need a skirt.  Oh the skirt.  This took on a life of it's own.  I knew it needed to be two things, very long for billowing, and flat and embroidered perfectly in the front.  Ugh.  How to do all of that? I had no idea. 

I was a weee bit overwhelmed at this point.  

After a few days, here is what I had come up with:

When I started to try to recreate the picture of Jessica's concept skirt, Mark spoke up.  We didn't like it
Jessica was a young enough bride, we didnt' want  her skirt to look like "Miss Muffit!" 

In February we had Jessica come out for one more last round of fittings.   Jessica, Julie and I also made a very fun day trip into New York city on the train.  We were set out to find just the right rhinstone trim that would make the belt of Jessica's dress and trim the top.  It was freezing cold, but there was no stopping us.  On that day we also found Julie's prom dress and my dress to wear at Jessica and Frankie's wedding.  

We set aside one of the last days of Jessi's trip to have our photographer Sarah McCoy of  do a photo shoot of our fittings.  She is an amazing photographer and I was so excited that she could do this for us.

So now you all get to know the big huge secret I had to keep for the past several months. 
While I was working hard,( and so was Jessica and Mandy) on your orders with A Great Impression, this mommy had some major sewing to do for her bride to be.  I was excited to show people what we had come up with, but that had to wait until she walked down the aisle last weekend and became Mrs. Frankie Aldrich.  

We could not love Frankie more.  He is just the man we prayed for all of those years when we prayed for our daughter.  He is kind, caring, gentle, and smart.  He loves our daughter just like we dreamed he would.

Here are some of the professional pics from Jessica and Frankie's wedding.  Thank you to Sarah McCoy Photography.

I used the train of my wedding dress to make the flowers in this bouquet on Jessica's train.

Happily Ever After begins now.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It has been quite a week for the Zimmer family.

Last weekend we made a very long trek to Michigan to go to my niece Maggie's wedding.  It was so worth the drive.  (14 hours each way)  Mark and I left on Thursday night and drove to Jeff and Mandy's in Pennsylvania.
Then we all went the rest of the way the next morning.  First we went to the Detroit Suburbs where we are from and had dinner with 5 or 6 couples from our old church on Friday night.  It was fun.  Then Saturday morning we got to go help Jessica and Frankie move all of their furniture and wedding gifts into the apartment that will be their new house.  That was such a joy.  Here are a few pics from Saturday morning and afternoon:

Jess unpacking in the kitchen

Frankie, our soon to be son in law putting some shelves together.

The guys building a table and chairs

Then after lunch we headed up to Grand Rapids to the hotel.  The wedding would be Sunday.  It was fun to see my mom and sisters and visit.  We had our traditional morning coffee routine, and I think I had 3 starbucks by the time I was done.  (I LOVE Starbucks!)   I headed up to the brides hotel room and enjoyed watching my nieces and their friends get ready for the big day.  
Here are the most precious photos ever of my sister Colleen and niece Maggie while they were getting hair and make up done.  

Cue the scene from Mamma Mia

The wedding ceremony was beautiful and filled with touches of who Brandon and Maggie are.  I love when you can see the traces of the bride and groom in the wedding.  That means more to me than anything.  

Mr. and Mrs. Brandon Haines

The reception was wonderful and we all danced all night long.  Our family enjoys celebrating together.

Early Monday morning, (and I mean really early) Mark had the 4 of us back on the road at 5:00 am.  It was a good drive.  Lots of naps, snacks, and talking.  Just the way I like to travel.  

Mark and I pulled up to home in Connecticut in a record 13.5 hour and we were exhausted.

Tuesday morning was right back at it, the girls and I working our jobs for A Great Impression at our own homes and getting life back in order.  

Thursday we had our big appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon for Julie's feet.  Starting back more years ago than I can honesty remember, Julie was a gymnast and had pain in her heels.  I think she was 9 when it started.  Many years later, (she is 16) and 3 surgeries, endless tests, 13 casts, and ignoring it for the past two years, we made our way back to a specialist at Yale University for some answers.  She had had an MRI on each foot and an EMG on each foot in the past few weeks, so we were excited to hear if this Dr. could help or not.

Unfortunately it was not.  He told us that her nerves in her feet had been compressed by a muscle mass for too long before we ever figured out what was wrong, back at age 9 and 10 and that the reason that they surgeries to repair it had been unsuccessful was because the nerves were damaged on the insides.  There is basically nothing that can be done for permanent nerve damage.

As you can imagine, that was a terrible blow to Julie.  She was hoping he would have some magic answers.  
That was our Thursday.

Our two older kids are a huge support.  Jeff and Jessica check in with Julie on a regular basis, and we all talk very often about these family matters.  So on Thursday we had all been texting and talking all day in support of Jewels.

But Jeff never mentioned to me that he had been bit by some kind of a spider or bug on Wednesday night while he slept.  He probably didn't want to add to my stress.  

Yesterday morning Mark called from work to see how things were and to see if Jeff had sent me the pictures of his horrible bug bites.  I texted Jeff and told him to send them to me.  Jeff is 23 and invincible..... right?  

The pictures were disgusting but Jeff told me he had gone to the dr. that morning and was on antibiotics.  I left him alone and went on with work for the day.

At 3:30 I was wrapping up my work day and this very strong mother instinct thing came over me.  I just knew something was very wrong and I texted Jeff to see how he was.  The answer was not well.  I started to encourage him to go to the hospital.  By 5:30 he and Mandy were at the ER.  They didn't mess around at the hospital.  They confirmed that Jeff had been bitten by a Brown Recluse and had him on an IV bag and Morphine very quickly.  

Last night was crazy.  I had one foot out the door wanting to go to my son, but I knew at the same time that there was nothing I could do for him.  Mandy was keeping us updated.  His fever got up to 104 last night.  I was  nervous Mommy, but I knew so many people were praying all over the country.

By 4:00 am I heard it was down to 101.  By this morning the fever had broken.  Jeff will be in the hospital for a few days while they watch him and make sure he is ok.   I know he is on the mend, and that God heard our prayers.  

Oh, I know this post is very long but there is one more thing.  My dad has been not doing well at all.  He is in the ICU in Florida right now as I type this.  He is severely dehydrated and his blood pressure was ony 70/40 yesterday.  He has COPD and congestive heart failure.  So please, if you possibly get this far in reading, say a prayer for my dad too.  His name is Bill.