Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Nutcracker, birthdays, anniversaries, and a college graduation

(Above:  LoraDell Baker raising her champagne flute in a toast to her 95th birthday.)

I've got plenty of wonderful family news to share in this post!  December 2013 will most assuredly prove to be memorable!

(Above:  Natasha Oughtred, Mathias Lenz Dingman, and Miki Mizutani as the Sugar Plum Fairy, The Prince, and Clara in The Nutcracker.)

Steve and I flew to England for a wonderful week of Birmingham Royal Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.  In different casts, our elder son Mathias danced the role of "the prince" and his girlfriend Laura-Jane was Clara.  We were thrilled, of course ... and flew back to the States in time to immediately travel north to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.  It was a BIG, BIG weekend!  

(Above:  Linda Lenz and Gloria Baker on Friday, December 13th ... Linda's 75th birthday!)

It started on Friday the Thirteenth ... my Mom's 75th birthday.  We had a great time at Lenzelhof, her lakeside log cabin home.  Aunt Gloria (who turned 80 last September) and Uncle Larry came out.  My sister Sonya and husband Vipin were there too.  We talked about the coming day ...

(Above:  Tony's graduation from Slippery Rock University ... beside my mom and Dad, professor emeritus.)

... my nephew Tony Papley's graduation from Slippery Rock University.  Dad donned his gown and The Ohio State University hood to walk with the faculty as a professor emeritus.

(Above:  My sister Sonya after Greystone Manor's committee room had been transformed into a beautiful birthday setting.)

Bright and early on Sunday morning the committee room at Greystone Manor was transformed into a a beautiful birthday setting.  My sister Sonya went out of her way to make every detail special.  The place mats were reproductions of a foxy photo of Grandma in c. 1965 on the Atlantic City boardwalk.  This image was used on Grandma's 95th birthday cake too.  Sonya found Grandma's cloth napkins and punch cups too.  She also made little gnome-like party favors for all 30 seats and brought bags of recycled and natural materials to decorate the table.  Feather boas, twinkle lights, spray-painted twigs and pine-cones and an assortment of tablecloths and lace were used.  It looked FANTASTIC! 

(Above:  Grandma's photo collages.)

From Grandma's storage area, collages of family photos were retrieved and displayed.  Everyone was in at least one picture!  Grandma was brought to tears and it was so much fun to remember former occasions for other grand celebrations.

 (Above:  JPC Event Group catering.)

With so many people coming, it only made sense to hire a caterer.  Jen was great!  Not only was everything hot, delicious, and perfectly served ... but she put up with Sonya, Joann, Emily, Steve and I as we moved around the furniture and worked on the party decorations.  We were often in her way but she "went with the flow".  She had no problem working with the fact that we were doing the tables ... including the tablecloths and napkins ... and deducted some of this normal expense from the final bill.  Jen even cut and served the cakes that we brought.  Not many caterers are so easy-going, friendly, fast, and flexible!  Thank you Jen and JPC Event Group!  

(Above:  Birthday dinner for 30!)

The meal was great!  The conversations were hilarious, and Grandma was definitely "Queen Bee".

(Above:  The "cake table" ... featuring carrot, marble, and decadent chocolate on three different cakes ... one for Tony's graduation with his football photo, one for the 55th anniversaries with a photo taken less than a month ago of Mom and Dad with Uncle Larry and Aunt Gloria celebrating their years together, and one of Grandma ... obviously the decadent chocolate one.)

We had a special table for the cakes but also another special table for punch and champagne.  We all toasted the big occasions before the meal began.  (See first photo on this blog post of Grandma!)

(Above:  Residents of Greystone Manor at Grandma's 95th birthday reception.)

The brunch when from 11 until 1:30.  From 1:30 until 2:00, the table settings and food were cleared and the room was transformed once again ... this time into Grandma's 95th birthday reception with all the residents of Greystone Manor.  Everyone had a great time.

(Above:  The party's over!)

The last visitor left about ten minutes before 4:00 PM but Grandma insisted on staying until the very last minute.  It was her day ... and she left with a basket of cards and candy and covered in balloons.  (All the other presents were already transported to her fifth floor apartment.

The photos here are only a sampling of those I snapped.  To see the entire set on Flickr!, CLICK HERE.
Yet, I also took eight videos.  Why?  Well, my sister Wanda wasn't able to attend.  I know she missed being with everyone and really wanted to feel the joy, love, and Grandma's excitement ... so I shot videos.  Unfortunately, my camera doesn't take videos that coordinate with Windows Movie Maker (despite attempts to add software to alter that fact).  Thus, I can't create something with titles, credits, transitions, and other editing ... but I was quite capable of uploading all eight to You Tube!  (If I'd watched them before uploading ... I'd have realized that # 7 and # 9 are only three seconds long and the result of forgetting that my camera was set to "video" mode instead of "photo" mode! LOL!)

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4
Video 5
Video 6
Video 7
Video 8