Visiting The Queen City

Here we are, with another month traveling between me and my last blog. I’m not sure if my post-concert depression was just so bad that I couldn’t even stomach the thought of writing about my One Direction concert, but something swept me away into thinking I could go another month without writing, even though I swore I wouldn’t.

Stassi - Wtf

(And yes, Molly, I promise I will upload the One Direction post soon. I swear. Ok? I will.)

Anyway, apparently I’m turning into a travel blog or something, but this past weekend, my entire family and I made our way up to Cincinnati, Ohio, for my cousin’s wedding. Now, my mom and I are kicking ourselves for not researching the city and what’s fun to do before heading up because it was very cool.

We flew to Nashville Thursday night from our separate locations in Austin and Lubbock and luckily all made it in around the same times, although my mom and I’s flights got delayed. I took the CUTEST Snapchat of my sister running to me when she saw me waiting at their gate, which you can find on my Facebook. Pat Pat and Lelan have a house in Franklin, so we took a taxi to them with a slightly confused taxi driver, and all quickly went to sleep in preparation for our drive to Cincinnati the next day.

The trip was about as long as it takes me to drive from Lubbock to Austin, which is crazy to think of since we went through Tennessee, Kentucky and into Ohio in the amount of time it takes me to drive halfway across Texas. Keith got the honor of driving with me, Patric, and Faith while my mom rode with my grandparents. We spent almost the entire journey listening to One Direction, listening to Faith sing One Direction, and teaching her most of the songs on this playlist. We drove straight to the rehearsal, where I am apparently THE WORST EVER because I did not get the telepathic clue from Ginnie to change my sister out of her sweatsuit and into a cute dress and matching coat. You should’ve seen the horror on her face after she took a taxi to the church, as she was really concerned with missing the rehearsal, where my aunt Jaime and I were giggling over the priest who had no patience for any foolishness with Jess, my cousin Conor’s wife.

Payten and Cole learning how to be flower girls and ring bearers

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Payten and Cole learning how to be top notch flower girls and ring bearers

The fun really started when I got my mom to text my Aunt Cathy and Lelan, asking if they were going to go to the bar Aunt Cathy had mentioned in her e-mail months prior. As a newly 21 year old, I consider it my right of passage to not only go to real bars (not the Lubbock kind that consist of plastic cups, cigarette smoke, and water moccasins) every time I go somewhere and since I like to hang out with my mom, I pressure her into going with me. Luckily Aunt Cathy and Lelan were all excited about this, so my mom quickly got onboard. I could see Jaime’s gears turning as we talked about and after a few minutes, I knew she was going as soon as she asked, “So…y’all are going to go to the bar?”

They ditched their husbands and kids so fast my head spun as we basically ran away from Keith and Mikey, presumably before either could change their mind or let their husbands change their minds. Luckily, Patric is only 19 and can’t go to the bars, so he offered to help Mikey with his kids. If he actually did, I’m not sure, but he offered. We walked a few blocks around where Igby’s is, the bar we all met up at, taking in the sites and some of the really cool buildings!

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Igby's - Photo used from: http://igbysbar.com
Igby’s – Photo used from: http://igbysbar.com

Had I known we were going to the bar straight from dinner, I probably would have worn something other than my Sam Edelman boots, sweater and jeans, but oh well. I’m usually “too tall heels” girl at the bar (except I can actually walk in mine) and I especially would have fit in at Igby’s, where everyone was wearing black or grey when we walked in, but oh, well. Lesson learned. We met up with Pat Pat and Lelan and a family friend, Cilla, who was cracking me up and helped find other wedding guests, with all of us ending up in the back pool room. Cincinnati reminded me a lot of Austin, which I dearly miss, and I am definitely more of a city girl than small-town Lubbockite, which I’m constantly being reminded of.

Igby's "The Bradshaw" But with Tito's instead of tequila because I'm smart
Igby’s “The Bradshaw”
But with Tito’s instead of tequila because I’m smart

This bar was great and one of the best parts was that they use Tito’s Vodka!!!! It’s a little bit of home, wherever we go. My mom and Jaime had a Tito’s Austin Blossom, which basically tasted like pineapples – I gave Ginnie a strict “no you are not getting wine at a bar” talk – and I ordered “The Bradshaw,” a passion fruit drink that usually comes with tequila, but I don’t hate myself, so I switched that out for Tito’s. I had, like, 3. My mom being my mom likes to tell me I’ve had “too much” and that I “won’t wake up tomorrow” but I like to remind her that I’m 21 and therefore am allowed to be embarrassingly drunk around my family. Jaime was a little tipsy too, as she told me she had to slow down on drinking because she was “about to start dancing in a minute.” That’s her tell – dancing. Kirk asked if I was 21 and when I said yes, he said “Is it bad if I think you’re still a freshman in my head?” which I told him was yes, very bad, and that I’m old now. In my opinion, we all had a great time, until my mother BETRAYED MY TRUST and took a shot that had no alcohol in it, but she had pretended like it did – it was her birthday and no one would take shots with me, especially her, so this was done to make me stop asking – and she told Kirk RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME and ugh, I’m still so offended and the trust is gone.

I felt great the next morning, which I feel like should be mentioned, as my mom was quite positive I’d be very hungover and I wasn’t. The hotel had a nice buffet breakfast that we helped ourselves to and then the five of us snuck off to buy my mom cupcakes for her 45th birthday (I have to put down her age in writing, so she can refer to this post when she forgets how old she is, which is often) from the little cupcake shop in the hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, which was cool for multiple reasons – mall underneath/connected to the hotel, old-school concierge that helps you navigate the city, skybridge to the Saks Fifth Avenue right across the street. It’s been open since 1931 and is a huge, French Art Deco hotel with mezzanines and ballrooms and that old timey feel because everyone waits on you hand and foot and says hi and is very polite and you kind of feel like you get thrown back in time a little bit. It was cool.

birthday cupcakes
birthday cupcakes!

Faith and I got our nails done after awkwardly surprising Ginnie and singing happy birthday to her in the middle of the elevators. We have a lot of flair. That day seemed to go pretty quickly and soon enough, we were on the bus headed to the wedding.

Tucker ready for a wedding
Tucker ready for a wedding

I sat with Jess and saved space for the Little Bits, who would come sit with us after they walked down the aisle, which means I got to play with Tucker (!!!) before the ceremony. The girls did an excellent job walking down the aisle, followed by Miles, but Cole got a little freaked out as soon as he walked in and was winding up to throw the biggest fit in the middle, even though everyone was “aww”-ing and giggling over him. Luckily Miles’s big brother instincts kicked in and he turned around and ran back for his little brother, which was one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. The ceremony was short and sweet and, since Kirk is in the Air Force, it was neat getting a (literally) front-row seat to the Sabre Arch, a military tradition in which the groom has to kiss the bride before they can pass through the last saber with a “Welcome to the Air Force, Mrs. Bingaman!”. It was so funny, because some of the guys on the bus had the swords and Jess was very curious as to why they had them, so it was cool to get to see them right up close.

On the bus, we had talked about how we expected the wedding to be really fun – if not because we’d all seen Top Gun (yes, I know Top Gun is Naval pilots) a few too many times and were expecting some wild dancing at the reception, which we weren’t wrong about. There’s something about weddings mixed with traveling a long distance that really gets people feeling loose, so everyone – and I mean, everyone – brought it upon themselves to really have a great time. Which I think is what you want people to do. The reception was beautiful, with pretty gold and white and pink place settings and an open bar, where I made my mom uncomfortable again by drinking a lot of champagne and more Tito’s. Yay! Dani’s mom catered the wedding (which I think made Jaime feel better, because they made sure to get her family the gluten-free options) and the food was really yummy, thank God, because I feel like sometimes at weddings the food can be so bad and you’re like “going to force myself to eat this so I’m not rude.”

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The best part of the reception had to be when the groomsmen and the dads took off their jackets to reveal…drum roll, please…PARTY SLEEVES! Conor had given me a sneak peek of his, but party sleeves are an Air Force tradition in which the groomsmen and the groom, and I guess anyone else they may want to include, wear special shirts, which look like plain white dress shirts when the jacket is on, but actually have crazy fabric for the back and sleeves, personalized for each member. They were super cool and super fun when they did the big reveal, with burnt orange, Texas flags, American flags, Cincinnati Bengals logos, and glitter being just a few of the patterns used. And the Little Bits were loving this, as we happened to be standing just off the dance floor when this happened.

But then again, the Little Bits were loving every moment of the reception, as they stole the show and wasted no time running right up to the front to get Conor and Jess to dance with them. They love Conor, Jess and Kirk and end up following them around half the time we see them, or at least trying to follow them around if we can’t distract them from doing so. Faith does not mind having the spotlight on her, so she was extra excited when her break dancing caught the attention of some of the other guys there, whose wives also thought they were super cute. Aunt Cathy was joking with me about finding a husband and I said if anyone was going to find a man, it’d be Payten and Faith, who spent the night walking up to any of the guys there and getting them to dance with them and asking me if I’m “an adult or a kid,” to which my answer was, “A kid, but with adult drinks.” This answer seemed to confuse them more. I think that Payten, Faith, and Keith could have stayed there all night, seeing as they were all really enjoying the band and dancing, but we eventually headed back to the hotel, seeing as we had a long day of heading back to Austin the next day. 😦

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If you had asked me a week ago if Cincinnati was a place on my “to travel” list, I would’ve said no. But now, I’m wishing I’d had more time! I love old cities, which if you didn’t know, Cincinnati was actually the first major American city founded after the American Revolution and is sometimes thought of as the first purely American city. It boomed and prospered and has been around for centuries, which is evident by the city set-up and the architecture, and if I had bothered to Google something useful other than “Harry Styles pictures with cats” for once, I maybe would have been able to find more stuff to discover or at least given myself more time to see the city. Patric told me he walked around the night we went to the bar and he really enjoyed it, saying there was lots of cool stuff going on. I’m very much aware now that if I ever get the chance to go to Cincinnati again, I better take more advantage of my time there.

I’ve done more traveling this past year than I have in as long as I can remember and I’ve really enjoyed it! I think seeing new places and eating and just walking around new cities is always good for the soul, and helps remind you just how many people are out in the world living similar but different lives than you. And it’s always fun to go somewhere where no one knows you and you can take a bit of a break from the world. But I discovered it’s lots of fun to go somewhere with your family, extended family, and a whole slew of wedding guests, because weddings really make everyone happy and to have so many people in one city, doing a lot of the same things, who were so excited to witness a loved one’s marriage start, is a really beautiful thing, especially when each person is taking it upon themselves to celebrate to their fullest extent. We had fun! For me, it was a much-needed break from Lubbock that couldn’t come soon enough and now has me excited all over to go home for Thanksgiving and see all my Little Bits together again! Congratulations Dani & Kirk!

“For I know the plans I have for you, ‘Declare The Lord,’ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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