Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Love on top.

Honey, honey
I can see the stars all the way from here
Can't you see the glow on the window pane?
I can feel the sun whenever you're near
Every time you touch me I just melt away

Now everybody ask me why I'm smiling out from ear to ear 
(they say love hurts)
But I know 
(it's gonna take the real work)

Nothing's perfect but it's worth it 

after fighting through my tears
And finally you put me first

Baby it's you
You're the one I love
You're the one I need
You're the only one I see

Come on baby it's you
You're the one that gives your all
You're the one I can always call
When I need to make everything stop
Finally you put my love on top

~ from "Love on Top" as sung by Mrs. Beyonce Knowles Carter


Let me tell you. . . .

Cinderella? Baby, she ain't got nothing on me. I mean, first of all, she had those hatin' ass stepsisters and that crazy stepmama to fight against before finally getting to her prince. My sisters are awesome, my girlfriends are rock solid, and I don't have to fool with any talking vermin.


I'm just sayin'.

So. . . .yeah. It has taken me a full week of recovery and reflection to gather my thoughts from our 10th anniversary celebration last weekend enough to actually write something. It exceeded my vision on so many levels that it's been hard to put into words. But since so many of you have been supporting us--either in real life, virtually, or both--I knew I had to get it together so that you could be a part of it all, too.


Let me first start by telling you about how this party came together. Although the BHE always fronts like he's all low key about everything, that is SO a facade, man. He's secretly super-duper festive when it comes to any celebration. I'm not even kidding. The only thing is that he has to agree to do something--but once he does? Chile please. A little food becomes a lot of food. "Just a few people" becomes everybody and their mama. Because once Mr. Manning signs off on it? You might as well get ready to TURN UP.

Case in point:

We generally don't have birthday parties for our kids each year. We made this decision early on that we'd have a party in years divisible by 5, with the exception of something at 16 instead of 15. Or maybe nothing at 15 or 16. Ha.

Okay, so the first time we planned one of those parties? Maaaaaan, please. The B.H.E. did it B.I.G., do you hear me? A crap ton of food. Two jumpy castles. Oh, and my favorite part--lots of adult beverages and foods so that the parents would stay and hang out. Never in my life had I ever been to a birthday party for a five year-old that started at 2PM and ended at 2AM.

Okay, maybe not 2AM, but real talk, it was like 11 or 12 at night. For reals.

So waaaaay back when, I told the B.H.E. that I wanted to have a party for our 10th wedding anniversary. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure I started saying this not even one year into our marriage. See, I'd always had this idea of repurposing my wedding dress into a cocktail dress--mostly because the thought of never, ever getting to rewear a dress that cost me nearly two grand just seemed wrong, man. So very early on, I declared that I was going to wear that dress again on our tenth anniversary.


Harry had heard me say it so much that he couldn't even shut me down when I brought it back up last year. (Plus ten is a year divisible by five so it fit the house rule.)

"We should have a WHITE party!" I squealed all giddy like a middle-schooler. "And I'll wear my dress!"

"A WHITE party?" Harry groaned at me when he said that.

"Yeah! Plus it'll be after Easter so white would be officially okay to wear. That'll be fly!"

"Naaah man. Having to wear all white to a party is a pain in the ass. Especially if you're a dude. What about . . .I don't know. . .like a black and white joint or something. Just not all white."

"Bwwwaaaaah ha haaaa!!!"
My eyes got those crazy cartoon bulls eyes in them and my hands started rubbing together. I loved the idea immediately. A black and white party it would be.

Oh yeah, baby.

Around Christmas time Harry said all nonchalant-like, "Hey babe, you might want to shoot out some kind of save the date joint so people have a heads up about the anniversary joint." ("Joint" gets a lot of use in the B.H.E.'s vernacular.)

I smiled super big because this suggestion was SO very on par with my closet-festive husband's M.O. Wait. Did this dude just ask me to send a save the date? Dude. This meant that it was about to be a REAL party. And that the B.H.E. was on board for a real party, too. Like the kind that folks take planes, trains and automobiles to reach. Maaaaan, please. I had those save the date joints printed and ready before he could even finish that sentence. Dropped 'em right inside the Christmas cards ('cause y'all know I don't have NO problems with double-stuffing an envelope.) #dontjudgeme

Mmmm hmmmm.

And so. Much to our delight, many, many of our friends from far and near made plans to celebrate our decade with us. They were great sports about wearing black and white and even better sports about just coming with positive and festive attitudes. We wanted the weekend to be filled with love--just like it was when we got married ten years before.

Okay, so a few funny things that I must tell you:

First, the dress. I personally think that the whole "dress preservation" business is a major racket. Okay, maybe it's not a racket but I'm cheap so my dress was "preserved" in a closet at my mom's house since May 2, 2004. She brought it over one night in March and we crossed our fingers hoping it wouldn't be fifty shades of grey (or brownish yellow) when we pulled it out of that plastic.

Preservation-smeservation. Chile please. How 'bout that dress was JUST FINE.

Mmmmm hmmmm.

So my mom helps me into it and . . .woo hoo. . . it slides right over my now post partum hips and. . . .oh yeah. . . .zips easily up my back right until . . .  .rut roh. . . . the last inch at the top. Yikes.

"Not gonna happen," my mom said.

"Now that's weird. I totally thought the problem area would be below the waist."

"Babies." That's all my mom said. And honestly, she was spot on. Everyone knows that even after you get the baby weight off, your body is like a sausage casing and the meat might be the same amount but it just gets pushed all into different places.


I took my dress to the awesome seamstress sisters at M&K Alterations on North Decatur and Clairmont and they were amazing. Truly amazing. They took off appliques and broke down lining and all that. In preparation for the party, I was watching my carbs and . . . well. . .turns out that I may have lost a few pounds inadvertently. I kept trying it on and wanting to love it but I couldn't. I even broke down and showed Harry, which is something I rarely do before any big event. He said I looked "fine" which, to me, was the wrong answer. Then I tortured JoLai with facetime and a myriad of selfies, hoping she'd nudge me into feeling more fierce than just, well, fine.

"Why don't you take it back up there and see if they'll take it back in some." Simple enough suggestion, right? But these women had done SO much work. And this alteration had taken over a month. This was literally two days before the party so things were looking pretty damn rocky. "Hell, all they can say is no," JoLai said. "You have nothing to lose by asking." And I decided that she was right.

I walked into the shop holding the dress that I'd just picked up the day before which, of course, was very puzzling to them. I told Mary, the older sister, "Mary? Um. . .so this fits. . .but it's kind of. . .I don't know. . .  big-ish now. And I love how you cut it and altered the bottom, I do. But. . .I want to love the whole thing. Like. . . . I want to love it."

And I braced myself for her to tell me that I was S.O.L.  Because she was in the midst of steaming out a prom dress and there were twelve trillion other prom gowns hanging all over the store. I crossed my fingers and counted in my head. . . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . . .

Mary put down the steamer and looked over at me. Then she shrugged and said, "I want you to love it, too. It's big party. I want you to love it. Go put on dress."

And I did. She smiled and told me that she would be taking it in even a little more than the original place it was. "You lose weight, Keem," she said. "You must be excited?" And I laughed and told her yes. Because I was. But mostly I was excited that she didn't kick me square in the butt and throw my dress at my head for thinking she would do all that work again.


So they turned that dress around to me that same day. And when I put it back on, I officially felt fierce instead of . . fine. Yeah, so shout out to M&K Alterations--go there if you live anywhere near Emory or intown.

So the next funny part was also tied to my quest for fierceness. I was in clinic the Thursday before our party and decided that I wanted to spice up look with some eyelash extensions. And by "eyelash extensions" I mean just some fancy lashes that would last a few days instead of a few hours like the strip ones. Fortunately, clinic was the perfect place to have such an epiphany because for whatever reason there seems to be this subset of Grady nurses and techs who believe in rocking the fab lashes for no occasion at all.

I hunted down Ms. Moss (one of my favorites) to get the scoop on where I could get my Liza Minelli on for a reasonable price. So Moss starts naming off some places but then--dig this--she looks from side to side and leans in like she's about to tell me something illegal.

"On the low-low. . .you know where you can get the BEST individual eyelashes put on? I'm talking natural looking and super fierce?"

My eyes widened. "Tell me. Where?"

"Quietly, Shantia is a beast when it comes to putting on lashes. She only really does her own but every now and then she'll put some on for someone else."

Now. This? This I immediately knew I just HAD to do for the story. Just HAD to. See, Shantia works at Grady and I know her quite well. And let's just be fully clear--her job has ZERO to do with me and my desire to get glammed out with eyelashes. But, after a cryptic message from me and a heads up from Moss, she agreed to come out of retirement to hook a sista up during her lunch hour the following day.

Post-lash application at GRADY, baby!

Seriously? Seriously.

So now--how can this party be anything but awesome? I mean, I got my wedding dress to a point where I loved it even more than the first time I wore it and got the world's fiercest eyelashes on a lunch break at GRADY HOSPITAL. It does not get any better than that. No, ma'am, no sir, it does not.

So in came our friends and family from all over the place. From Los Angeles and Washington D.C. From Philly and Denver. From Chicago and Dallas. From Cleveland and New York City. All with big smiles and full intentions to shake what their mamas gave them.

Oh yeah, baby.

That Friday a bunch of us hung out at Mardi Gras Cafe to eat good food and listen to live music. The band was amazing and we sang along with so many of his covers that we all deserved tips. One woman even jumped up and sang a full on version of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" -- and tore the house down, do you hear me? Yeah. So that was super fun and a great way to get us primed for the festivities ahead. Plus it was way cool for our friends to get to see and feel Harry's restaurant. I was proud of that part.

So the party. Okay, so what I will say is that our friend, Kat, who happens to be an AMAZING INTERIOR DESIGNER helped decorate and added the loving touches that I was too frazzled to come up with on my own. Random Sidebar:  Kat (of Benenate Design) also designed our home, Harry's restaurant and office, and many of our friends' homes. She even did an amazing job with the Burn Unit and Neuro ICU at GRADY HOSPITAL--turning the family areas into cozy havens for those families.

So yeah. Shout out to Kat. Check her out if your living space or business needs a decor facelift -- she can do moderate and lavish depending on your druther. Please peep her website -- it's nothing short of amazing. Plus she's good people.

Kat in the polka dots--she's the BEST.

Mmmm hmmmm.

Harry went to the party a bit early (read: on time) while I hung out with my best friend, Lisa--who also was the "best woman" in our wedding. (We both decided that "best woman" sounded better than "maid of honor.") So Lisa helped me dress while we acted all giddy and sipped prosecco. She laughed out loud at me as I followed "How to do a smokey eye with a muted lip" look line by line out of the Kevyn Aucoin make-up book. She's known me long enough understand how cheap thrifty I am when it comes to such things and just shook her head and said, "Only my friend."

That said, she had to admit that my smokey eye-nude lip was indeed FIERCE.

We called an UBER car to get us, and it came for us in two shakes of a lambs tail. We threw some makeup into a bag--and grabbed my other dress--and we were off.

Oh yeah:

I have a few friends who are known for doing the mid-party wardrobe change at their big gigs. It's always been hilarious to me and I'm usually the one poking fun at them. But. Since I was trying to channel my inner Beyonce AND I was going to be wearing this super-corseted dress that I hadn't worn since ten years and two babies ago. . .I thought, Let's DO THIS. Yes. Let's do a doggone mid-party WARDROBE CHANGE.

Bev, one of my "wardrobe changing" friends

Besides once you've started sipping prosecco with your BFF and you managed to create your own homegrown smokey eye-nude lip look, all you can hear in your ear is this:

Mmmm hmmmm. 

*feel free to eyeroll*

Oh, where was I? Lisa was an even AWESOMER wing-woman than she was in 2004. And, trust me, that's is saying a WHOLE LOT. I swear we were like twenty-something year-old med students all over again on that car ride over. We kept taking all of these ridiculous selfies after Lisa said she'd read in a magazine that squinting makes you look sultry and hides the crow's feet.

I kept messing up but eventually I got the hang of it.


We came into that party with a big bang. Laughing, dancing, singing--all that. I found my man who said, "You look GOOD. Did you do something to the dress?" And I struck my fiercest pose which let him know the answer to that question.

Good Lord, this post has already gotten so ridiculously long that I'll just show some pictures which can tell it best.

Our travel agent extraordinaire, Jamal, came with his friend who was a REAL makeup artist.
Me telling him about my paint by numbers face after he complimented my makeup. Ha!

How can I forget the wardrobe change? Ha! 

I asked my friend Jan (a true outfit-changing-at-her-party veteran)--"How will I know when to change outfits?" To which she replied, "Baby, you'll know." 

With Jada, Lisa and Tracey--all my med school classmates, Meharry '96
If this looks like we were having ridiculous amounts of fun, it's because we were.
Ha. She was right. Us silly girls worked me out of that wedding dress and into my super comfy little black shift with white accent on the back. I even recounted another page of the Kevyn Aucoin book on "How to do a bold lip and sultry eye" look. 

Quick change artist--bold lip and all!

Oh, I MUST tell you that the dress change turned me into SASHA FIERCE for real. I had already instructed my friends to ALL bring their inner Beyonces and to leave their Kellys and Michelles (those other Destiny's Children) at home. Surely did. And please believe that we did two FULL ON Beyonce sequences where no less than fifty grown ass women left it all on the dance floor.

I called on all of my Ruths and they did not disappoint.

And then we just continued to have fun, feel the love, and be present in the moment.We paid attention to the people and the smiles and the music and the all of it. And I'm so, so very glad we did.


One beautiful thing was the other loving couples there. Many of them have been married longer than us.  Some not married yet but very much in love. It was positive, man. And super inspiring for those of us in relationships and those still waiting. And nobody was in that "smug married" state either. We all danced with each other and created a space for everybody to feel the love. 

But I did notice those other couples there. And I appreciate having them in my life as both an example and as motivation, man. Especially since many of them did that for me long before I ever even met Harry. They showed me that it was possible.


Do you see what I mean? Imagine being surrounded by this kind of positive love and energy. Just look at all of these smiling faces. I mean seriously. This is what we saw everywhere we turned, all night long. Surrounding us like a fortress of support, belief and love.

Now picture that in the literal sense.

 Here were our friends and loved ones. Literally encircling us in their love and support as our other dear friend, Wayne (also Harry's frat brother and the pastor who did Zachary's baby dedication) spoke a word of prayer over us and our marriage. What a powerful moment! The energy was so. . .palpable, man.  I will never, ever forget that. I won't.

And, of course. I thought of Deanna often because everybody knows that Deanna LOVED a good party. She would have been completely hoarse and would have been the very last person to leave. But trust me, I felt her presence. We all did.

Which reminds me. Two days before the party when I was fretting about my dress, I found an old letter from Deanna mailed in October of 2011. Randomly she'd put this picture in it and, hand over heart, I found it right at the moment that I was thinking about just scrapping the whole "wear my wedding dress again" idea since I didn't like the fit.

How random is it that seven years after my wedding, she'd send me this magazine clipping? And even more random that I would find that letter at that time?

See that? That gave me peace. It let me know that Deanna was in the midst and it also gave me confidence about that whole dress re-alteration situation. It was her way of saying, "You've got to wear the dress, Pookie!"  

 That comforted JoLai and me.

Isn't that just awesome?

What can I say?

It was a magical night. It truly was.

But most of all? It's been a magical ten years, man. Why? Because I still love my husband. Beyond that, I still like my husband. And, more than ever, I am so, so proud to be his wife.

Because this dude? He puts my love on top.

And that? That's something to celebrate, y'all. And you know what? If I don't know anything else, I know for sure that life is short and nothing is promised. So sometimes you have to clear your schedule and make a plan to really and truly celebrate the important things.

Especially if they can be divided by five.

Ha. But seriously--I debated not even sharing this much, you know? Thinking about students reading this blog and such, but then I remembered something: It's good for our students and learners to see that we have lives that go beyond the hospital. And, of course, how people decide to share that is up to them. For me, this community is a part of my life. . . and so. . .I guess it feels weird to not include you. Does that even make sense? Maybe. Maybe not.

 And sure, I may have lost an eyelash or two, but nobody had to hunt me down to match a slipper to my foot nor did anything turn into pumpkin at the stroke of midnight after the big ball. Nope. Matter of fact, we went to Waffle House at 3AM and had pecan waffles and hashed brown potatoes that were scattered, smothered, covered, chunked and all that.

Surely did.

And after all of that? I went home with that same prince of a man that I've been kissing good night for the last ten years.

Surely did.

Like I said-- that chick Cinderella?


She ain't got nothing on me.


Happy Everyday.

See? Now you were there! 'Preciate you and hope somebody, somewhere is putting your love on top.

Here's to the one that always puts my love on top. Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .

. . . .and also this video which I'm sure is what inspired the former. . . New Edition singing "If it isn't love." Which I may or may not know EVERY SINGLE MOVE to and may or may not have just performed in my kitchen for my kids.


Angus snapping our Christmas pics.

The majority of these photos (less the fuzzy selfies) were taken by our family historian, friend and photographer extraordinaire, Angus W. of Nile Images. He has taken every formal picture of our family since our pregnancy photos with Isaiah and every image after. We always wish we'd known him back when we got married. He is never intrusive and is always, always efficient with the entire process.

Live in Atlanta and want your moment or family captured? Call Angus. He is THAT DUDE.



Shout out to my AWESOME ADVISEE Leah M. from Small Group Gamma for holding down the rowdy Manning ninos at the Manning casa while Mommy and Daddy celebrated. I am so grateful to Leah for allowing us to have a relaxed time completely free of worries or concerns. Our kids know her so it was win-win.

 and LAST:

One more plug for Katina B. of Benenate Design, LLC. She is a really a remarkable designer. You want to breathe life into your digs or even just a part of your home? Please check her out.



  1. Oh my Lord. You guys- uh? If you ever decide to give up being a doctor, you have a real calling to be a party planner. And can I just say that about 9/10's of the glamor, style, beauty, love, and just general gorgiousity of the planet was in that room that night?
    Dang. My head is spinning. Lovely and full of love.

  2. Oh my. THANK YOU for sharing Dr Manning. May God bless Team Manning to celebrate more of such, which means more stories for us where we can LOL and happy cry. "You better work" BWAHAHAHA

  3. You did that! The BHE too! I feel like I was there! Thank you for sharing Kimberly! Continued Blessings to you and your family!

  4. Thanks for sharing! The best couple of the night (other than you and the BHE obviously) is Jolai and her new man! I'm so thrilled that she found a good man! It gives me hope that maybe there's someone out there for me. :)

  5. It is no surprise that you and the BHE really know how to Par-Tay! Such a great celebration of your first ten years of love. Thanks for putting it all together here. x0x0 N2

  6. Y'all still look just as beautiful and in love as the pics from the wedding! -Renee


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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