Zeb and Bri get Married

Arriving in Utah to see snowy slopes in July

Chris and I have a new daughter 🙂 In a recent post I wrote about how our son and now-daughter-in-law were eloping, and what a celebration it was! Sunday, July 14, 2019, found Chris having one last Ponderosa luncheon with Mom while I finished work then we hit the road for Utah, planning to make it from northern NY to Utah by Wednesday. But that was not to be.

Since I missed the meal at the steakhouse, Chris BBQ-d some steak for me the day before traveling, and I think that is what gave us the energy to drive all night and half the next day. We stopped at a hotel for one solid night of sleep and arrived at our new Utah residence mid-day on Tuesday. Thank goodness! There was a bunch of fun work to do!

We greeted our kiddos and gran-nagerie then started packing, prepping and picking up family members from airports. Thursday the 17th found us packed into the car on our way to Moab for the festivities. Unknown to Zeb and Bri, we had a certain Hudi in the car.

Heading to Moab.

The wedding was so sudden our chef son Hudi was told he couldn’t get off because it was a super busy weekend at the country club where he works. It would have been the first time all eight of us (Chris and me, our sons and the women in their lives) had gotten together since CJ and Lauren’s wedding almost three years ago.

That was the last Zeb had heard, and it was sad, but he understood. But unbeknownst to Zeb, Hudi’s boss and colleagues awesomely made it possible for him to travel. When we got to the campsite, we left Hudi off at the washroom before we greeted Zeb and Bri, who were already there. Then Hudi appeared as if he were a stranger asking for directions 🙂

One thing we did know. The weather was going to be hot!!

We set up tents and hung out and relaxed a bunch. Then we headed up the rocks to catch the sunset. Breathtaking!!! If you click on an image in this mosaic, it will let you scroll through the images individually if you prefer that.

A view of our campsite from the rocks

We were all a bit tired so we talked a while after sunset then went to our tents.

Friday morning we woke up early, but one can’t complain when you wake up to a view like this:

On Friday, others started to arrive. Bri, Mollie, and I headed out for the three-hour drive to to nearest airport to pick up Bri’s mom and sister. We stopped for a nice brunch before heading back to the campsite.

When we got to the campsite again, we saw Chris had gotten creative with his artistic tendencies as he found a heart rock and created a rock lizard.

Bri was smart and brought along some aloe in case anyone got scratched up. How thoughtful is that?

We relaxed, talked and played games in the heat of the day.

As the sun started dipping, we separated males and females for bridal shower time. The women did facials and gave each other manicures while the guys yakked. For the record, the men were invited to do facials and/or have their nails done, too, but none took us up on the offer.

During this shower time, Bri’s mom set up the gift cake she had created. Isn’t it amazing? She is so talented with creativity!

The sun set, and those who were staying at the closest hotels (over an hour away) hit the road. Poor Lauren and CJ missed the time as they dealt with work deadlines, flat tires and other details. They pulled in right after the hotel people left. Ah well. Some climbed the rocks to see the next sunset while more guests arrived. Lauren was right up there, climbing the rocks. That girl is seriously hard core, doing that while eight months pregnant after a five-hour drive at the end of a workday! Amazing and inspirational.

The solar lights kicked on and looked like stars leading a path to the fire and hangout area.

I don’t have pictures, but we had a s’mores bar by the fire.

While we were eating the chocolate and marshmallow treats, we saw shooting stars. Some noticed Hudi and Mollie disappear up the rocks toward the celestial display, but most did not know at the time that they were off to spend time together, and when they came back to us, they emerged as a newly engaged couple 🙂 Talk about celebration!!!

Fun fact – Bri and Zeb got engaged at CJ and Lauren’s wedding. This tradition was actually a bit of an accident. Hudi was proposing since it was a dating anniversary. He didn’t realize he was extending the tradition initially, but it was kinda awesome.

Finally it was time for the big day. I don’t think Bri slept at all. I know she was up and about with makeup on when I got up around 5 am on Saturday July 20, 2019. Mollie, Lauren and I helped Bri get dressed so they could go up on the rocks for sunrise pictures.

Here are the bride and groom pre-sunrise.

Coming back from taking sunrise images

While they were taking pictures, we were finalizing details and relaxing.

There were so many little details that made it feel super special. The cloth napkins, the little jars of rock with name tags for seating, the rock candy (since we were camping among the rocks) and the monkey bread made by the bride herself and brought on the trip so people would have a treat.

Then it was time for the less-than-four-minute ceremony. The invitation was really funny. We were all told to dress in desert formal or basically whatever we wanted to wear to not die of heat stroke. Haha. It was awesome.

Although they wrote vows for each other, they shared those privately and chose different ones for the actual ceremony. The officiate was Zeb’s roommate from college, and the music was played off a phone so we wouldn’t disturb surrounding campers. It was short, sweet, and full of love. Beautiful. Their dog was the ring bearer 🙂

After the vows, the photographer took group pictures. Back at CJ and Lauren’s wedding, I allowed myself to relax and let the photographer do the job, catching the good images. It was a friend of theirs who gave them a good deal as a wedding gift. I regret my decision there. The person hired never gave them the images (just a couple of photos). (Side note – if you have pics of CJ and Lauren’s wedding that you have not shared with us yet and are willing to share, can you please let me know?)

So this time I took a few of my own even though this photographer seems a lot more professional. Here are a couple of the images.

We all sat down to eat at the pretty tables. The meal consisted of a Bagel Bar, a Bloody Mary Bar (Bri’s dad makes a beautiful and tasty drink), a Trail Mix Bar, yogurt and monkey bread. The cake was decorated with fondant succulents that Bri and I made. It was all so perfect. Although Ophelia (the dog) did party a bit too hard (just kidding. She was smart enough to sleep all day in the 100+F degree heat then perked up at night).

I also grabbed a picture of Bri’s shoes. Mollie got them for her, and I think they are so pretty.

After the brunch, some travelers left to go home while everyone else aside from Chris and myself took off to go Paddle Boarding. We also shared a slideshow highlighting Zeb and Bri’s growing-up years and life together.

Although the wedding was deep in the heart of Moab, an hour’s drive off the main road and deep into no-cell-service-land, we still managed to have a few wedding crashers. One was a lovely woman from New Jersey who asked if she could camp by us since she wasn’t comfortable camping in a more isolated area. She only stayed one night, though.

Another was a bold squirrel who later brought out a companion. Needless to say, we didn’t really partake of the trail mix bar after seeing that 🙂

Look carefully at these images (you might want to click them to see them larger), and you will see a squirrel going: on the wooden tie, on the bench, peeking over the table, on the table, nearing the bowl, in the bowl, eating from the bowl, tipping the bowl, playing in the bowl then acting totally busted.

While the others were gone, and Chris and I were cleaning up camp, we also had a snake come to visit. It didn’t look poisonous or anything, but it was definitely a long one.

We also had a spider almost the size of my fist in our tent. Chris released it into the sand, and it camouflaged so well that the image I took of it didn’t really work. I couldn’t find it in the image when I went to add it to this post. All I saw was sand.

Finally, we were literally swarmed with bees. If you click the video, you can hear them buzzing. They were friendly bees, not really out to sting, but were a bit annoying. Fortunately they were only out for an hour or so at the beginning and end of the days.

Chris and I were amazed as we sat and watched the sunset. Suddenly the bees started to leave in groups of three or four, heading off to the northwest. So fascinating. It was as if they received a call. I wonder if they sensed the bats were coming out and decided to vacate? I don’t know.

Everyone was pretty exhausted that evening, and we went to bed early. We left at 6:30 the next morning to take Hudi back to the airport while Zeb, Bri and her family stayed on for another day of camping and exploring before going home to get their wedding ring tattoos and settling back into reality.

It was an amazing elopement and beautiful in so many ways. We are very thankful to now have a wonderful new daughter as well. Love you, Bri, and blessings on your marriage, Zeb and Bri. May your life be as radiant as the wedding memories.

If you want to hear “their song” check out:

Our Son Zeb is Eloping

Chris and I are invited to an elopement! (YAY!!!) And yes, you read that correctly. Our son Zebulon is tying the knot with the beautiful Bri in a couple of weeks. They are eloping. And we couldn’t be happier.

Zeb and Bri laughing under a tree.
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

I am throwing random images from the engagement photo sessions in this post because I love them.

In fact, I had narrowed it down to a mere 18 of my favorites, but sliced it to six for the post. That was brutal on my end. Please appreciate that 🙂

Zeb kissing a happy Bri.
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

Apparently an elopement today is not what it used to be. Chris and I were discussing it with friends, and of course I had to Google it. According to Merriam-Webster we now have a “Changing Meaning of ‘Elopement.’ “

Our kids are so current.

More kisses from Zeb to Bri.
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

That entire article is an engaging read, but I particularly liked the quote:

The earliest sense of elope was “escape” or “flee,” and one might argue that this is somehow connected to the way people are now sometimes using it in the context of weddings. Except that this definition does not mean “escape” as in “let’s escape from it all,” but rather “let’s grab the keys from the orderly and make a break for it!”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/read-this-before-you-elope

I’m super proud of these delightful young people. Bri went to college in the town we lived so we’ve known her for a bunch of years now. She and Zeb have had many grand adventures together. It’s been a real gift to see them both grow so much through it all.

Zeb and Bri get engaged.
Zeb and Bri are engaged 🙂

Many of you know that they got engaged right after CJ and Lauren’s wedding.

They were supposed to get married last summer, then after the invitations were out, they realized they weren’t ready and canceled the wedding.

I have serious respect for that.

Zeb and Bri goofing around.
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

Marriage is an amazing thing that should be taken seriously. The breakup wasn’t pretty. Because life is like that sometimes. However, after a few months apart they decided that they don’t ever want to be apart again. How beautiful is that? They also realized that going forward, they should attack life together in their own style. Hence the small wedding in one of their favorite places.

We will be camping out with close family and friends the night before the wedding, and they will have the ceremony in the morning before it gets too hot. The afternoon will be spent hiking and paddle-boarding.

Zeb  and Bri and their dog Ophelia (Opie).
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

Unlike CJ’s and Lauren’s wedding, we won’t be live-streaming the occasion. There will be no Internet. How freeing that is in a way!!! Both options have benefits.

But I’m sure I will collect images to share after.

We head out in a little under two weeks for the occasion. I am seriously looking forward to it.

Zeb, Bri and Opie on the sand.
Photo by: Photography by Tasha Rose (www.photographybytasharose.com)

PS. I get another daughter 🙂 🙂 🙂 and she is totally awesome!

A June Wedding

Ashley and Spencer's wedding ceremony on June 8.

No matter how stressful life currently is, a wedding flashes me back to my own vows, and suddenly I feel the magic of starting a life journey with another soul again. This is what I witnessed yesterday when Chris and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of our eldest niece, Ashley. I love weddings, especially those of people close to my heart. They come with the happiness, the smiles, and the reminders of how blessed I am.

The month of June derives its name from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. It was thought that couples who married in June would be blessed with prosperity and happiness. Did you know that? I didn’t until I found it on a library website.

I am more reminded of the quote from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers:

Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life,

and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweet-heart for a wife.

We’ll have to wait a few years on that bride all your life bit, but I know that Spencer already has a sweetheart for a wife 🙂

Last week, after meeting with my team in Atlanta (I’ll write about that another time), I flew into Syracuse where Chris picked me up on his way back from Massachusetts. We spent a day with Mom in NY before hitting the road to Ohio. The weather was great, the traffic relatively light, and it was doughnut day so we each got an unexpectedly free doughnut with our coffee for our travels. That’s how perfectly the trip started.

The wedding was on a farm, and everything was beautiful. It was cloudy and warm (but not hot), and it did not rain. It felt unusual wearing flat sandals with my fancy dress, but I was happy for the warning that it would be an outdoor ceremony on grass. No balancing on my toes to keep heels from digging in 🙂

We wondered what familiar faces we might see and had the normal doubts of where it was proper to sit. Even that worked perfectly. Tim (the bride’s father) and his mom were there greeting people and told us to go sit with family anywhere in the first two or three rows. No bride or groom designated sides. Love that. Let all family and friends interweave.

Surrounded by trees, guests mingled and chatted. There was a beautiful flower-strewn arch in front, and the bride was supported by her three sisters and some friends. Those girls are as close as any sisters I know, and their love for each other just radiated.

Couple agreeing to go through with the ceremony and vows.
You sure you are ready to go through with this?

The officiating pastor was the groom’s dad. I wish I recorded the part where they agreed they wanted to continue with the ceremony even knowing they were pledging to stick together even if they get sick or get old. “Still in?” — “Yes!!!”

Marriage isn’t easy, and that was not hidden in the main message. But it is a beautiful thing. One of the greatest gifts ever. After the ceremony we went in to eat some delicious food and enjoy a lot of dancing. We got to talk with the girls and family, and the evening went by super fast.

The thing about marriage and love is something I also find about having children. You love until your heart is completely full, and feel like you couldn’t possibly love more. But somehow you do. Each day, it just grows.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

—Mignon McLaughlin

I truly hope someday Ashley and Spencer are at the point I am now. Attending weddings 27+ years after their own “I do’s” and knowing that it was one of the best decisions ever.

Celebrating 26 Years of Married Life

Our Wedding on December 28, 1991

The 26-year-old tree from our wedding homily.
The 26-year-old tree from our wedding homily.

F.I.R. – Flexibility, Initiative and Responsibility. According to the pastor at our wedding 26 years ago today, focusing on these areas would help make a marriage strong. We even got a little tree to remind us, and we bring it out every year. He was pretty right-on.

And I still couldn’t ask for a better match. I am truly blessed to have my husband by my side in this life journey.

For our 24th anniversary, I touched on some other points that I have found helpful over the years. They still hold true, in my opinion.

Last year was our big 25th. As I mentioned in a post last April, we had decided to celebrate by taking 25 trips over the year. And we did 🙂 (Although the plans didn’t always go exactly as we had hoped all the time.) At the way bottom of this post I’ll show the list for those who might be interested. The links in that list are to posts from those trips.

An unexpected boon from this idea was the way it affects our day-to-day interactions by changing our habits and by enhancing current experiences (Ex: after living out of a suitcase for a month, we realize we have waaaaay to much stuff, so we are downsizing. And now when I go to a global buffet and see the Italian offerings, I know which delectable meats and cheeses to grab as my first course.)

Criteria?

    1. It counted any time we stayed at a hotel or went to visit friends and family and spent a night.
    2. Sometimes we went to places more than once for different reasons, and we counted those as separate trips.
    3. We were together (trips taken without each other did not make it on the list).

 

We tried to keep a list going in a spreadsheet, but I know a few of the trips were not documented (a few other camping trips or brief overnights on the way to other places). And we are heading out to Utah again in two days. Does that count?

We are celebrating the day by going to a West Coast Swing Dance club this evening. I’m pretty excited since we’ve been taking dance lessons.

Here is a collage of some of our happy memories from the past year. I hope you enjoy them. And thanks to all our family and friends who took time out of their schedules to celebrate with us and share these experiences.

 

And here is a list of most of our destinations:

Philadelphia  – WordCamp US (We officially started our list last December since that was our anniversary month
Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada – celebrating my birthday with a getaway on 2016
Connecticut – visiting family and friends
Saratoga Springs – company Christmas dinner and visiting family
Utah – vising CJ and Lauren
Greek Peak – snowboard overnight
Toronto – visiting friends on our way to Italy
Perugia – work trip
Lisbon – work trip that we extended so we could live there for a month
Missouri – visiting friends
Utah – visiting CJ and Lauren again
Kearney, Nebraska – A stop on the Utah trip
Iowa – A stop on the Utah trip
Wyoming – A stop on the Utah trip
West Virginia – visiting our kids at camp
Connecticut – visiting a friend and getting our new car
Connecticut – visiting friends
Western NY – final stay at our old house before officially letting it go
West Virginia – pick up our son from his summer job
Connecticut – nephew’s wedding
Cranberry Lake – camping with friends in the Adirondacks
Southwick – local overnight camping
Saratoga Springs – visiting relatives
Brockport Rochester Wordcamp
Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada – celebrating my birthday with a getaway on 2017

Feelin’ the Love at CJ and Lauren’s Wedding

It's official. Chris and I have a daughter.

It's official. Chris and I have a daughter.
It’s official. Chris and I have a daughter.

It’s been a pretty busy week, and it was magical. We now officially have a daughter (in law), and she is amazing! If you like watching weddings, you can see the Facebook Live recording from the event by clicking this wedding video link. Please ignore the less-than-professional filming. Things were a bit confusing. I have pics from the weekend at the end of this post. For those of you who want to be/are part of this exciting time with us, as promised, here is a summary. Enjoy 🙂

Ten Things I Learned From our Wedding Weekend Experience:

  1. When doing Facebook Live from the groom’s Facebook account, make sure the device you plan to set up early so you can start the recording is not in his pocket when he is off doing pre-wedding pictures 🙂
  2. Keep undershirts on hand for the guys. Even the non-sweaters might sweat in this sort of situation.
  3. Have more than one person write out name tags for table placement so you don’t get stuck having one person writing everything out for consistency’s sake.
  4. Keep as many vehicles on hand as possible for the bridal party/family/friends. Great for last-minute errands and carpooling to events.
  5. Make sure you have extra cash on hand for things like extra waters. That way others can help you run errands, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting who has your credit card.
  6. Find out about allergies in advance and plan food accordingly (that’s obvious for actual eating, but I had never thought of allergies that actually kept people out of rooms we were hanging out in).
  7. Have a backup suit for the groomsmen and dress for the bridesmaids in case of disasters.
  8. Practice curling hair on a day that is NOT the day of the wedding.
  9. If you are going to rent a conference room in the hotel for your guests, find out when quiet hours are (and get ready to placate managers with coffee the next morning).
  10. Request rehearsal luncheon deliveries for an hour ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about late deliveries.

As those of you who have been following my blog know, Lauren went to college in the town in which we lived, which gave us the really unique gift of getting to know her as she turned from young college student to a business-woman who is taking on the world. We witnessed our son becoming more and more attached to this friend he brought to the house to hang out with, and saw him put his own life on delay a bit so they could spend more time together.

She knew of his passion for snowboarding and the west so she learned to ski and got a job near him in Utah. From Utah, the two worked to plan this wedding where we all got to celebrate their love for each other.

Last Monday we drove to our old house to get our haircuts and to vote the next day. On Tuesday, Chris and I drove the 90 minutes to Rochester to pick up the suits from the rental place and to drop a car off with the kids. We made a date of it, hitting my favorite Indian cuisine restaurant and watching Finding Dory at a $3 theater. As a bonus we discovered it was half price night so our tickets were only $1.50 each. Score! Funny thing was that CJ was up in the air watching the same flick 🙂 Gotta love those family bonding moments. Lol

Chris and I sat in the cell lot waiting for the plane to come in. Chris wondered which direction they would approach from as a plane came in on what seemed to be about 100 feet over our heads. I saw the Delta tail and commented that it might be their flight right there. Two minutes later we got the text that they were on the tarmac 🙂 And so began an amazing week with the young adults.

We talked, laughed, baked and decorated as we planned for CJ and Lauren’s wedding. I have pics from the weekend below. And my aunt did some nice writeups on:

Gathering for a Wedding
and
A Tractor Greeting
and
Wedding of Lauren and CJ

On Friday night we gathered in Rochester to watch Here, There and Everywhere — kicking off the ski/snowboard season in style. 19 family members and friends from Kentucky, Pennsylvania, western NY, northern NY, Texas and Utah all gathered into two rows to enjoy the night together. Such fun! The next day we had a great rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, bridal shower and family gathering before we congregated on Sunday for the main event.

As the guests poured in, we were humbled by the dedication they showed. Many traveled 2-4 hrs each way — just for the day! All went well, and the reception went great. Hudi had a fun toast for his brother and his bride. 🙂

Then we were off to a final after party. On Monday everyone scattered then on Tuesday they were back on a plane for Utah. A true, amazing whirlwind. Better pics will be coming once the professional images are in. If you click on the pics, the descriptions will show. Here’s what I have for now:

Virtually Yours

My son is getting married on Sunday, and this week is filled with exciting events :). So how does a game-maker propose to the love of his life? Watch and find out how he did it last spring.
Lauren is a great alpha-tester so she’s used to checking out CJ’s latest updates. Since he’s working on motion in his VR games, it stands to reason that her reactions would be video recorded. She just didn’t realize this update had a little something extra special…
(short version)


(long version)

And this is what she saw:
13313564_10154272116775719_341362542_o (1)
* Spoiler – She said “yes.”