Ali's departure from Portland!!
This past week was the one I have been anticipating and so excited for!! There were several reasons I knew I would have a great time over the previous week; I got to photograph Katie and Stephen's wedding and we moved Ali back home to Lincoln! By the time we got home yesterday, we'd traveled about 1,500 miles.
I'll warn you in advance, this is a long post. We did a lot in the last week and I wanted to share some of the funny stories. I actually wanted to really chronicle this trip because my mom says she loves to read all my posts; so I thought it was a great way for her to find out all that went on :) Cassie and I left last Tuesday and began our long journey to P-town (as our family has affectionately come to call Portland, Oregon). The trip was a business one with lots of pleasure thrown in.
We left early in the morning and it wasn't too awful of a drive. Cassie watched her DVDs and listed to the Jonas Brothers on her ipod while I got to listen to the XM radio we have in Louie's truck! We also made sure we took lots of opportunities to stop along the way. One of our stops was up by Shasta. We had just made a pit stop to put some gas in the car. I think before we even left the gas station Cassie was engrosed in one of her movies. As we passed an exit or two I saw a large white rock nestled inside the trees about 75 feet off the road. As I got closer I noticed there was a lot of graffiti on it. Just as I passed it I said "CASS, YOU MISSED IT!!" Someone (probably a teenage girl) had painted what you see on the rock in the photo (click on it, or any of the other photos, to enlarge them). I asked her if she wanted me to turn around (dumb question, I know), so I went back a couple of miles and we pulled off on the side of the freeway to get the shot! It was actually really cool to see that and with how much she loves the "JoBros", I knew I needed to be a good mom and back track a little...I'm sure glad I did!!
We arrived early evening on Tuesday (much earlier than we anticipated) and got to spend a couple of hours with Ali as she finished up nannying Sam and Abby for the day. Over the course of the last few weeks Ali had said she wanted to spend her last week in Portland visiting some of her favorite places she has come to love over the last five years. Some of these spots were places she frequented with her friends and other places were ones that became our "regular spots" when we came to visit her. During the last few days before the wedding we went to Stanfords, Ole-Ole (the best mexican food I've EVER had!!), Elephant's Deli (a very European type deli that is Ali's favorite place in Portland to eat lunch), Rose's and OF COURSE Papa Haydn's!!
I had met Sam and Abby on my last couple of trips, but I really got to know the kids this time. Abby really got attached to Cassie and I had a great time watching them :) ...the water park was A LOT of fun-minus the parking ticket! The most important thing I came away from last week was that this family loves my daughter very much. It was wonderful to see that she's been working for people who really care so much about her. The parents, Susan and Jerry, took us all to dinner on Thursday evening and it was very touching to see how emotional they were at saying goodbye to Ali. Because she was teaching during the school year and nannying those afternoons I know Ali's had a really crazy year this past year in Portland. However, after really getting to know this family I know it's been a very rewarding year for her. I had a great opportunity to get to talk to Susan and Jerry and I know they are really wonderful people who will be in Ali's life for a very long time. I had met Susan on my last trip up north, but this was the first time I'd met Jerry. He really made us all laugh when, upon seeing Cassie and me standing with Ali, he exclaimed "Wow, there sure are a lot of people walking around who look like Ali!". Still makes me smile :)
Friday morning began with a whirlwind when I ran over to the airport to pick up Louie, Katie and Rachel. Rachel is Ali's best friend from home (actually the first friend that Ali made when we moved to Lincoln) and she's been wanting to visit P-Town for the last five years. With moving Ali back home, I knew we could use the extra help, so Rachel decided to fly up as well. This is one great young lady!! I honestly and truly look at her as one of my other daughters and am so happy she's going to be around so much more now that Ali's back home. Over the last couple of days Rachel has kept us laughing nearly every waking moment. Ali and I were talking tonight about Rachel and how carefree she is. I told Rachel the other night that she's like a four year old (in a good way :) She's one of those people who marvel at everything around her and has no inhibitions. She's not afraid to act silly and have a good time! Ali had some bridesmaid stuff to do for the wedding, so we decided to meet her at Papa Haydn's for lunch and dessert. WOW, it was INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!!!!! I don't know when we had so much fun at this restaurant. We had a great server named Colin who made our visit there a lot of fun. Actually, I think he had as much fun as we did, because he said we were the most fun he'd had all day! :) Afterwards, we roamed around NW Portland for a little while before we made the long drive out to Forest Grove where Ali and I needed to attend the rehearsal and dinner. I managed to book a six person suite at the Best Western (if you're ever in Forest Grove, Or. THIS is the place to stay!!!). It was a great hotel and extremely close to the Grand Lodge. Because there was no coordinator for the wedding I offered to be the wedding coordinator for the day and run the rehearsal. I figure I see enough weddings, so I was happy to offer my experience.
I'm going to fast foward to Sunday before I get back to the wedding...After we left the hotel, we visited a place called Stepping Stone Cafe for breakfast!! It's a little hole in the wall that has great food. The girls chuckle when they see the sandwich board outside the cafe that says, "You eat here, because we let you" :) After we had full tummies, I took Louie to the airport while the girls all went back to Ali's house to begin the arduous task of packing up all her belongings. I'm smiling as I write this, because when I arrived back from the airport I found things in Ali's car, things in the bed of the truck and things ALL OVER the sidewalk :) I said to Ali "I hope we can fit all this in here!" After a little panic set in, I got into organizational mode and we did quite nicely. That's not to say the five of us weren't cramped all the way home...at one point, I think Ali's 19 inch tv fell on Cassie in the backseat of the car. After enjoying a nice brunch at Katie's parent's home, we began the long drive home.
We wanted Ali's departure from Portland to be something she could associate with good memories, as well as whatever other emotions she may have been feeling this week. I knew that I wanted to spend some quality time with Ali, Katie, Cassie and Rachel in Ashland. Ali has a lot of fond memories of this town and I thought this would be the perfect place to spend a girl's day/evening. We got in about 7:00 on Sunday evening and decided to go out for mexican food. We had a great time at a nearby restaurant, which by the way had a forty-something year old waiter, blatantly hitting on Rachel. She is a very friendly girl who strikes up a conversation with anyone who will listen :), and I guess this guy thought she was flirting. He really made a fool of himself :) After a quick swim in the indoor pool back at the hotel, we all decided a good night's sleep was in order.
After we checked out of the hotel yesterday, we spent a few hours in Ashland having lunch and doing some shopping. Oh, I also had the girls "sample" the mineral water in the middle of the town square. If you've ever been to Ashland, you probably know what I'm talking about. If you've never been, then my advice for you if you're thirsty, is to drink from the dark gray/black water fountains, and avoid the white fountains...trust me on this :)
Ali wanted to be able to share her adventures of the last week in Portland, so she wanted me to post a slideshow for all her friends to see. ENJOY...and be forewarned, there are some very silly pics :) She asked me to use this song because everytime she hears it, it makes her remember that wherever you're happy and there are people who care about you-you are home.
KATIE AND STEPHEN'S WEDDING!!!!
Saturday was the day everyone had been waiting for! Ali hurried off to have her makeup done and made it back in time to get over to the lodge with Rachel, Katie and me. Rachel is a hair stylist (and a very good one I might add!!), and did Ali's, Katie's, Cass' and my hair for the wedding. She even offered up her services to touch up the wedding party's hair that day (and were they ever glad she was there--her talents came in very handy). I volunteered Cassie and Katie to help the bride's mom with things and they definitely were put to work. From what I hear the reception would not have taken place if it weren't for my little busy bee daughters-I heard these two skinny girls actually moved tables! :) In addition to being the photographer, I also wore my florist hat :) We had a few issues with boutonnieres, so I remade a few of them and everyone looked picture perfect!
One of the reasons I was so excited about the wedding is that Katie (as well as her entire family) has become a very important part of our family. Katie was one of Ali's first friends at the University of Portland. During their four years at the college both daughters became a part of each other's families. We have gotten to be good friends with the Klena's, so I felt like we were at a family wedding. I was so honored that Katie and Stephen asked me to photograph their wedding. It was especially wonderful because Ali was one of the bridesmaids. The huge fringe benefit to this wedding was Stephen and his family. Ali has actually known Stephen longer than Katie because they were in secondary ed together. I haven't known Stephen too long, but he is such a sweetheart and a perfect match for Katie...and his family? Simply EXTRAORDINARY!!
The wedding was a beautiful shade of green and brown. The guys looked so handsome in their brown tuxes and the girls were beautiful in their green dresses. Katie had four girls in the wedding; her sister Traci, her best friend from elementary school (Laura), her best friend from high school (Caiti), and her best friend from college (Ali). This wedding party was a kick to work with!! As were were standing around doing photos Tyler and Erik showed off some of their talents. Tyler can juggle a golf ball with a golf club, and Eric can juggle!! We had a lot of fun watching them! The group was open to all sorts of things and had fun with whatever I threw at them. All the guys like to golf, so I knew some golf clubs shots were in order. The girls especially had a great time with one of the golf club shots (be sure to look for it in the slideshow). The weather during the day was gorgeous, although it got really windy and cold at the outdoor tent during the reception. The cold wheather, however, did not dampen the amount of fun that everyone had. This couple served the best wedding cake and desserts that I have ever eaten...Papa Haydn's everything!! Mmmmmm-banana cake, marion berry cheesecake, raspberry guteau, chocolate cake and poppyseed cake!!!
One of the things I love so much about these two people is how playful they are. Katie's not afraid to be her wacky, goofy self :) and Stephen just looks at Katie with such adoring and loving eyes. Stephen has only one brother, so Katie is a welcome addition into Stephen's family. In fact, Stephen's mom had a set of pearls she gave Katie. The pearls were hand selected by Stephen's grandfather and given to his grandmother when they got married. When Stephen's parents were married, his mom received them. And Tracy was generous enough to gift them to Katie. In addition, Katie's engagement ring is full of diamonds that were once Stephen's grandmother's. Now those are what I call family heirlooms!!! I guess you could say the officiant, Father Neil was a family heirloom of sorts as well :) Father Neil was the officiant for Stephen's parents at their wedding, he baptized Stephen and also baptized Katie and her sister Traci. I thought that was a really neat story!
They're headed off on their honeymoon later in the week (have a great time on the Scandinavian Cruise), but I hope they can enjoy a sneak peek of the photos before they leave. Enjoy the two week cruise you two, because you'll have classrooms full of kids waiting for you shortly after you get home :) (Yes, for those of you keeping track, add two more teachers to my nearly one dozen "teacher weddings" I've photographed this year!)
Enjoy the slideshow, and as always, leave the bride and groom some well wishes!!