Monday, September 24, 2012

2012 in Atlanta with the Kids

As a P.S. to the Michigan trip, because it makes a good segue, here's what my post is today at Vision and Verb:  Dance Like No One is watching!

Thanks to Michelle, the official wedding photographer, for these close-ups!

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That was Saturday night at Pumpkin Creek.  HA!  On Sunday, we flew from Michigan to Georgia to spend the rest of our vacation in the Atlanta area.  We had 5 days with friends Bob and Peggy south of the city (next post), while Dennis and Amy worked and Nicholas was in school, but the rest of the time, before and after, we were with "the kids."

So on that first Sunday, NICHOLAS.  Can you believe he's now 12 years old (7th grade)!  Here's the segue from those Dancing Queens above:

"C'mon, G'ma," he said.  Let's dance!"  And we did, 2 different times.  
Dance Like No one is Watching, indeed!

And while Amy was preparing supper that first night, we were all over each other!

Pure Tom-Foolery.  Pure Love.
We each other.  We YOU.

This is our Atlanta family:  son Mark, daughter Amy, SIL Dennis,
g'son Nicholas, Oscar the White and CC the Chocolate Chip.

And Astrid, too, of course!
In fact, half of all the photos you see in this post are taken by her!
Nicholas off to school, in the neighborhood pool, putting puzzles together
(yup, we brought with us two 150-pc Jan van Haasteren puzzles),
watching movies....

...while the rest of us kids played our on-going battle of Spades.
Mark and me against Amy and Dennis, every year.
(click any collage to enlarge)

After our week with Bob and Peggy (next post), we came back for the Labor Day holiday weekend, with Saturday football in the wings for all.  Nicholas made Astrid promise her she'd wake him bright and early to get ready for all the games.  He had a plan:

Here's the scoop:  Uof Michigan is for moi! 
USC (Southern California) is for Dennis.
GA (UofGeorgia) is for Mark.

After all the school signs were made (Oregon included for Nicholas?!?!),
banner flags were also made and strung up.
This was serious stuff.

And if that wasn't serious enough, Nicholas dressed up as a USC Trojan.
I stood my ground, of course, hailing Michigan as the Valiant Heroes.

The next day, Sunday, we had planned to Shoot the Hooch for Labor Day weekend fun,
but because thunderstorms were predicted, we decided to go bowling instead.
That's when we all remembered how much we enjoy doing that as a family!
It was Astrid's first time to bowl in 21 years.  She LOVED it!

In between, Amy cooked and I cooked.
No one ever went hungry!

And once everything calmed down again for the week, Astrid and I went off to meet friends:

Bob and Marc, forever friends, sharing ups and downs.
And Glenna, my first ex after my divorce from Bill...meeting Astrid for the first time.
Next we hope we can meet her wife from England...who's in the same boat as Astrid,
not able to move to the States till America allows marriage equality.
Guess how we're voting come November?!

The day we flew back (late) to Amsterdam, there were cleaners at the house, so Astrid and I went to the movies (if Amy weren't sick, ready to travel for work the next week, she would have joined us):

They don't have theaters like this in the Netherlands, so Astrid took lots of pictures
before we saw the delightful "Hope Springs" with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.
She even took pictures of me at the drive-thru ATM!  
We're not in Holland, you realize.

Now, see that Thank-You stand above?

Next time I'll be more careful with what I say.  HA.
But this is the first time Astrid took a video that I uploaded...
from the little point-n-shoot camera we took for this entire American trip.
Just to say we did it!

Shortly after the movie it was time to say Good-Bye to The Kids...until next year!  As Mark drove us to the airport, we passed through Atlanta's Mid- and Downtown areas:

 Pay attention!
Next week I plan to finish our American trip with the 5 days we spent at Bob and Peggy's...
who visited us here in the Netherlands last year.  Remember? 
One fun thing we did with them was walk around Downtown Atlanta midst those skyscrapers!

In the meantime, don't forget the Dancing Queens at Vision and Verb, today!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 2012 Michigan Trip and the Farm Wedding

So, continuing on from my last post, where we were in pre-wedding prep, here's how the Farm Wedding played itself out once the guests started arriving.

They parked in the lot adjacent to the farm, thanks to the neighbors.
See sister Ruth's surprise when her best friend Inge arrived wearing the same color dress.
Ruth is the mother of the groom.  Nelson, our brother (lower left), is the oldest of our tribe.
And that's Astrid on the right talking with Inge, whose country of origin is Germany.
I call this The Blue Dress Symphony!

From the parking lot on the way to the ceremony meadow or reception tent was the Guest Bench.
Can you imagine "having and holding" such a remembrance!

 For those early enough, there was a Happy Hour at the reception tent area...

...while The Purple Carrot caterers were setting up the reception.
Did I mention Andrea the Bride works for them!
Look how fun their Purple Carrot Truck Facebook page is!
Smithsonian Magazine named them one of the top 20 food trucks in the United States.  WOWSER!

Someone had to nudge us to head on over to the meadow for The Wedding!
It was a warm day but the chairs had been set up to catch as much of the shade as possible at 5:30p.
Inge's son Piet, one of Peter's former guitar students, set the musical stage for us.
At one point Brian, the officiator and Peter's band partner, told us we needed to wait a bit longer
for some very important guests:  Peter's g'ma and g'pa!  DUH!
While waiting, we got re-acquainted with my family members, both in front and behind us.

THEN the ceremony began!
Is that not one happy groom or what!
And Ruth, mother of the groom, gave her moving Blessing from the Meadow.
The Blue Dress Symphony...again.

After the ceremony, the recession from the meadow to reception tent
was a magical meandering on the winding path through the woods,
reminding me of the walk taken by the Wood Elves in the Lord of the Rings.

Before the reception began, the two fathers planted the Peach Tree.
Three years previously a Plum Tree had been planted for Lesley and Brian's wedding.
And it's still going strong!

Time to eat!

Time to hob-nob!
(click any collage to enlarge)

Time for the First Dance...
which was momentarily stolen and then given back.

Time for everyone to dance....
Did you notice Ruth's Blue Dress Symphony again?
(from beginning to end)

Time for Astrid and me to dance (thanks for Paul's photos!).

And here's a god-honest story about that:
unbeknownst to Astrid, her watch stopped at 9:12p,
so when she looked at it at almost 11p, she thought the night was still young!
It was...and we danced like no one was watching!

What a fabulous wedding!  What a happy couple!
Few couples I know were so made for each other, from everything we heard.
Astrid and I are not the only ones!  :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 2012 Michigan Trip and Pre-Wedding Prep

So, yes, we did it!  We flew to Michigan for my nephew's wedding, then to the Atlanta area for the duration of our vacation, visiting Bob and Peggy for a week and then my kids.  Easily compartmentalized parts for posts!

First things first, let's start with what happened within the first hour of landing in Detroit, MI, on none less than sister Ruth's 56th birthday!  BIL Don picked us up at the airport and suggested, en route to the restaurant where we were to meet Ruth later, that we stop off in Ann Arbor for Astrid to see where I went to school at the University of Michigan.

OMG!  Bless the ground Don walks on because the thought never even entered my mind!  Astrid got to see my stomping grounds from 1963-67 as we drove around campus.  We even stopped at the Martha Cook Building where I lived my last 2 years:

You can imagine all the emotions that swept over me as I walked onto that beautiful piece of property
from 1915, one of UM's oldest women's residence halls.  
The statue of the woman in the back yard was unveiled while I lived there.
WOW.  Talk about memories!

Lucky for us, the student council group of women for this coming fall semester was eating inside 
and the president let us in to walk through the ground floor.
Astrid is the one who took ALL these outside and inside pics...while I went into a zone of elation.
Do you know what residents who live there are called?  Yup, Cookies.  :)

Thank you, Don, for a Gift I never expected...before we even got to the Farm!

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The whole point of arriving at the Farm 3 days before the wedding was so Astrid and I could be put to work, helping out wherever necessary.  I had done the same thing 3 years earlier when Lesley got married there, 4 months before I moved to the Netherlands to get married myself.  Now her "baby" brother was going to experience his own wedding there.

 In case you need reminding, this is the Farm!
It's one of those places on earth where you feel you've been "therapied!"

 So many nooks and crannies.  So much to see and feel.
See what I mean?  Things that are now familiar to us but not "old hat."

By noon the next day came JAMES, the newest addition to the Mowry Family,
Lesley and Brian's firstborn, making Don and Ruth g'parents:

 G'ma got him first, of course.  Talk about a 7-month cutie!
(click any collage to enlarge)

Then G'pa....

...and Peter, the groom-to-be...

...and then, finally, moi!
And yes, you do see a tinge of red hair in the right light!  HA!

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Now that all the acquantainces were made with the "main attraction," it was time to get down to brass tacks and work on the wedding!

   My main assignment before the wedding day was to do the weeding around the area of the tent reception.
Astrid did odd jobs related to cutting wood and painting letters on the Bride and Groom discs.

Once the actual wedding day came, Saturday, 25 August, other tasks awaited.

The flowers arrived bright and early and were put into the air-conditioned atelier.
The wedding ceremony was at 5:30 in the afternoon and it was a hot day!

Ruth, mother of the groom, and Kate, mother of the bride, hung the nametags.
Andrea, the bride, had made pistachio-nut shortbread cookies in the shape of Michigan,
both upper and lower peninsulas, with table assignments on each nametag.

Inside the house, bride Andrea was frosting her own wedding cake!
As she put on the ruffles, she told me she had never done that before.
She also made the cupcakes and some blueberry-pastry lollipops.
Did I tell you she's a chef?!!!!  (She's also a hair stylist.)

Outside, the huge reception tent had been set up on Thursday.
Now it was time to set everything up in and around it. 
Kate, mother of the bride, helped Don, father of the groom (upper left).
Lesley, sister of the groom, helped Aaron, brother of the bride (bottom right).
It was a huge family affair!

Peter, the groom, set up the speaker system.

Astrid and I helped set up the tables for 130 guests.
I was remembering the proper set-up from Martha Cookie days.  HA!

 Shortly after lunch the hair stylists arrived and started their thing.
First all the bridesmaids, then the mothers, then the bride herself.
This was getting serious!

Meanwhile, Lesley, sister of the groom, was painting the parking signs
for the field next to the farm.  The guests would be arriving soon.

 Then, as a teaser, was the pre-wedding photo shoot.
Lesley's best friend Michelle, from Idaho, was the official photographer.

To be continued....

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ADDENDUM:  Guess what, I found some more pics I forgot I had taken and will just add them here at the end of this post from yesterday:

Astrid and Ruth had their 58th and 56th birthdays, respectively, 2 days apart while we were there.  
The Dutch custom is to give dessert to your guests on your birthday.
Don made the cupcakes and Astrid frosted them as a compromise!
(Cupcakes are American and not Dutch.  Did you know that?!)

 Astrid did the calligraphy on the yellow squash for the wedding-cards basket.
Andrea painstakingly frosted all the cupcakes she had made.
And in between duties, Ruth attended to her darling g'son!

 In the meantime, sister Nancy altered Lesley's Best Lady dress.
Yes, Lesley was Peter's Best of the Best, as his 18-month-older sister.

 All this while the sweet birds came and watched, just feet away from the sewing machine!

To be continued....