Journey 221: Happy Birthday Elissa

Today is my older daughter’s birthday. The extended family will gather later in the week for a birthday dinner, when everyone can be present. However, I enjoyed spending time with Elissa this evening as she shared a quiet night at home with her family. I love that she set aside time for herself late this afternoon and had a birthday nap, and that she allowed me to bring her a special treat. When I asked this morning what I could bring her this evening, she replied that she wouldn’t say no to a chocolate chip double doozie, from Great American Cookie Company!

Elissas birthday double doozie

Greg and I arrived with FOUR chocolate chip double doozies, one for Elissa, one for Josh and one for each of the boys, and a gallon of cold milk. One cannot eat a double doozie without a tall glass of milk to wash it down with! Sitting and visiting with her, it was hard to believe another year has flown by. It has been a busy year for my girl!

Elissas birthday wedding with Josh

Elissa and Josh got married last November, joining their hearts, their families and their lives. It was such a special time, as Dayan and Jonathan stood with their parents while they expressed their love and devotion to each other. They have combined households and I am so thrilled for them, so proud of them, watching them juggle careers and the boys’ busy schedules with competence and love. They carve out time to do things together, take family trips, hang out together at home.

Elissas birthday Dayan

Elissas birthday Jonathan

Elissa is a wonderful mother to Dayan and to Jonathan, encouraging them to follow their hearts and do what they enjoy. She cheers Dayan on in the many school and extracurricular activities that he participates in, always present in the audience as a witness to his life. When Jonathan performed in the school talent show, she was there clapping wildly, nervous for him, and proud of him, at the same time. And present as well when he had a lead part in a play, after a week of drama camp this summer. I love how connected she is to those boys.

Elissas birthday Adriel and Nathanael

She is connected to her brother and sister as well. Although they are all adults with families of their own, these siblings stay in touch and have fun together when they can. Elissa, being the eldest, challenges her younger brother and sister, in everything from board games and ping pong, to dressing fashionably and winning at life. As a child, she was the bossy one, sure that she knew what was best for Nathanael and Adriel, and not afraid to tell them so! She is not so bossy now, but she does not hesitate to step in and offer help and encouragement and advice when it is needed. There is mutual love and respect among those three, and their significant others. The six have a great time when they are together, and I love watching them interact.

Elissas birthday having fun

Elissas birthday group pic

I am so proud of Elissa. As her mom, it brings joy to my heart to watch her journey, to see the growth that is evident in her life, and watch her engage others. She has such an amazing sense of humor. She doesn’t use it to wound, or to deflect, but rather allows her wit to brighten the lives of those around her. She especially enjoys teasing her dad, who wouldn’t know what to do if his eldest child didn’t kid him whenever they are together. Elissa is settling into who she is, discovering what she has to offer to the world, learning to seek within rather than without. She shines brilliantly. Elissa is not only my daughter, but one of my favorite people to hang out with. Happy birthday, beautiful girl. May the next year be full of love and light, adventures and joys. I love you so much!

Elissas birthday Josh

Journey 194: Italian Dinner

What to do when the restaurant I intended to try, and write about in my blog, happens to be closed? Daughter Elissa and her husband Josh, and Greg and I arranged to meet at a new restaurant in town, Joe’s Italian Grill. We discovered when we pulled into the parking lot that Monday is the only day Joe’s is closed.

What to do? We took the party to Olive Garden, since our appetites were whetted for chicken parmigiana and fresh, crusty bread. Last year I learned to go with the flow. If a planned first failed to come together, another first always appeared and it was always the perfect activity.  

My journeys this year have been the same. I don’t sweat it. I just open to other possibilities. In the spirit of adventure, I tried something new at Olive Garden, rather than dining on my usual Seafood Alfredo. 

I’ve never created my own Tour of Italy platter before. I chose eggplant parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo and cheese ravioli for my “tour”. Josh and Elissa created a Tour of Italy also that  they shared, leaving room, as Elissa mused, for dessert! Greg had chicken parmigiana. We shared a big bowl of salad and a basket of fresh breadsticks. 

We will all gather at Joe’s another time for a meal. Tonight we dined well. Primarily , we talked and listened and laughed. It was good to catch up on news and tell stories. That’s the real joy in sharing a meal. And the dessert did turn out to be pretty awesome! 


Journey 105: Start the Day with Music

dont die with your music still in you

What a wonderful way to begin my day, seated in the darkened auditorium at the Webb City High School Performing Arts Building, watching as the Carl Junction High School Wind Ensemble took the stage. Today was the Southwest State Band Competition.

This ensemble, sharply dressed in black, came to attention as their teacher and director, Mr. Scott Schneider, stood poised on the platform, arms raised. My grandson, Dayan, seated at the end of the row, sat straight and tall, his tuba ready. Two pieces were performed today, for the judges. Parents, grandparents, and students dotted the auditorium, observing as well.

The first number was called Chant and Jubilo, composed by W. Francis McBeth. It began slowly, reminiscent of a Gregorian chant, the wind instruments in unison. Then came the dramatic “jubilo” part with an explosion of brass and percussion. I enjoyed listening and watching, amazed as always, at the level of skill these high schoolers have. As the musical piece concluded, to audience applause, I heard a man behind me whisper his approval with one word….”outstanding”.

The second, and final, piece was Africa: Ceremony, Song and Ritual, by Robert W. Smith. What a wonderful selection for a competition. Mysterious and intriguing, the music stirred my heart and soul. Driven by the percussion section, this work was multicultural and earthy, fascinating to listen to. I wanted to whoop at the end, however, I observed decorum and applauded, with fervor. It was a wonderful performance, and such an invigorating way to really wake up, and enter into my day.

Band Competition Dayan

I love music. I am more of a listener and an appreciator of music, rather than possessing any musical abilities. My grandson amazes me, with his talent and his courage to perform. Music enlarges me, broadens my perceptions, raises my awareness. Listening today, enchanted, I was reminded again how representative of life an orchestra or band is, as each person plays particular notes on his or her instrument. Each brings his or her gift of music to the whole, creating a much greater, richer sound than can be shared alone. Each note, each beautiful sound, contributes.

Oh, if I can remember to play my own “notes”, contribute my own unique sound, rather than be concerned with what anyone else is contributing…or  even not contributing. I can’t give my best, if I am looking over someone else’s shoulder, trying to see if they are playing correctly. What a wonderful reminder this morning to offer, and allow others to offer. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Don’t die with your music still in you” which to me means, to allow my gifts and talents to shine, contribute from my heart without holding back, give of myself to the world, joining in with the sweet notes of others, without worrying about what others are offering. Tuba, flute, piano, drum, cow bell, kazoo…we all have a part to play, a sound to contribute.

Thank you, Carl Junction Wind Ensemble, for starting my day so beautifully and for reminding me of these deeper truths. And congratulations for scoring all 1’s, in all categories, the highest ranking possible. I’m not surprised!

Band Competition

Journey 101: Vintage Market Days of NW Arkansas

vintage market booth 3

Today I attended a wonderful event in Arkansas, for the first time, the Vintage Market Days of NW Arkansas. Accompanied by Greg, and daughters Elissa and Adriel, we ventured into the fairgrounds in Bentonville to try out this open air market. Actually, the vintage market was located in the livestock building at the fairgrounds, with additional booths set up in a large tent outside. Even more booths were clustered near the entrance to the building. We had the pleasure of meeting Greg’s cousin Pam there, along with her daughter Charity and grandson Braeden.

vintage market Pam and Braeden

Pam and Braeden

vintage market booth 2

In my family, we enjoy hunting for treasures at flea markets, junk stores and vintage shows. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being our first visit to the Vintage Market. We loved it! The livestock building was transformed into a bustling market with many, many booths filled with all kinds of wonderful vintage items, painted furniture, metal pieces, fabric, artwork and jewelry. We spent a leisurely morning and early afternoon browsing and exclaiming over finds and deciding what to buy and what to leave behind.

vintage market booth 4

All the lovely booth photos from Vintage Market’s Facebook page

…because my photos were full of people and looked like this:

vintage market crowd

Outside there were marvelous food vendors, selling everything from cinnamon roasted nuts to stir fry vegetables with rice or noodles and chicken to beans and cornbread to ribs. For kids there were corndogs and sandwiches as well. We took a much deserved break to rest for a bit and have lunch. Well, two of us ate healthy lunches. Two in our party ate giant shortbread cookies with icing on them! I won’t name any names. Pam, Charity and Braeden finished their meals before we got started, so I can’t vouch for the healthiness of what they consumed!

vintage market cookie

Beautiful and tasty cookies…or so I was told 🙂

vintage market booth 1

I saw so many unique items, different from some of the shows I’ve attended in the Joplin area. That’s the benefit of attending different shows in different areas. I did run into Joplin friends at the market and recognized several businesses from here as well, set up in booths. We had a wonderful time. The girls each made purchases and I found a large metal tray or box. I’m not sure if I’ll use it indoors to hold collectibles or plant flowers in it out in the garden.

vintage market Elissa and Adriel

Adriel and Elissa

vintage market pig

The girls found a baby pig…fortunately, she was NOT for sale.

Surprisingly, the booth we spent the most time in sold canvas prints and bookmarks with whimsical artwork on them and inspirational sayings. We spied a canvas that seemed ideal for a nursery or child’s room and then saw an amazing assortment of sayings and artwork. We started in the first bin and sorted through every piece. I bought a stretched canvas print and two loose canvas prints and a variety of oversized bookmarks.

vintage market purchases

vintage market my soul

I love the larger piece that says, “Blessed are the gypsies, the makers of music, the artists, writers, dreamers of dreams, wanderers and vagabonds, children and misfits: for they teach us to see the world through beautiful eyes.” That one will hang in my creative space, near my writing table. The booth was Bless This Earth, owned by Jason and Natalia Ramsey, out of Texas. Their booth was an oasis in the midst of vintage items and collectibles and we smiled, laughed and even teared up over many of the works of art.

vintage market blessed are the gypsies

We decided we will definitely attend the Vintage Market Days of NW Arkansas again next year….and bring a truck instead of a car. This is a three day event, and I can see the advantage of attending on multiple days. The booths restock overnight, with fresh items. There was so much to see, and so many people filling the building, that I am sure we did not see it all. Still, I enjoyed chatting and looking, spending time with Pam, Charity and Braeden, and tossing around creative ideas with Greg, Elissa and Adriel. Great show, Vintage Market of NW Arkansas. See you next year!

vintage market exterior

Journey 59: 2 Friends & Junk Show – Joplin

2 friends and junk 3

After a day of resting and recovering from a stomach virus, I felt better this morning, and ready to enjoy the 2 Friends & Junk show in Joplin. Elissa, Adriel, Nate Pugh and Greg braved the falling snow and cold temps to walk the aisles too, looking for treasures.

In fact, MANY people showed up today at the John Q Hammons convention center, in spite of the wintry weather. This is the 4th time in Joplin for this fun event and a little snow wasn’t going to stop any of us from browsing and shopping. After we all gathered near the front, my daughters took the lead and off we went. Booths were filled with an eclectic and interesting mix of vintage products, antiques, recycled and repurposed items, crafts and well….junk.

2 friends and junk 2

The girls and I each had a mental list of things we were looking for. I originally wanted a hutch for my kitchen and because of the weather, decided to hit up flea markets later on. It wasn’t appropriate weather for transporting big pieces of furniture in the back of Greg’s truck. However, smaller items on my wish list, such as metal containers for my garden, were easily toted home in the car.

It was fun to look at everything and chat as we browsed. There were so many things to see, great repurposed items that inspired, and unexpected treasures to uncover. We all ran into people we knew and it was great to visit with friends. I also enjoyed seeing vendors from previous shows and meeting new ones, and seeing some favorite local shops represented as well.

2 friends and junk

The girls selected some great items to purchase. I found lots of items that I liked and yet passed up. And several items that I couldn’t leave without. I picked up a couple of metal buckets to add to my metal collection in the backyard. And thanks to Elissa’s sharp eyes, I walked out with a wonderful old metal box, with chippy red paint. I am envisioning this great container in the backyard with the lid propped open, planted with cheerful impatiens spilling over the edges. It will be so cute!

2 friends and junk 4

I also found a surprise, a ceramic acorn. It was tucked away in a box of miscellaneous goodies. I love how this sub-symbol of my year keeps showing up in unexpected places and in unexpected ways. And from Studio Bliss I found an antique looking bracelet chain for my door charm. My sister Debbie and niece Ashley gave it to me. I can’t wait to wear it. I’m looking now for a small charm with the word JOURNEY on it to add to the bracelet. I know I’ll find it, at exactly the right time.

The girls and I left the show, happy with our finds. The guys carried our treasures. We decided to visit local flea markets soon, as we are inspired now to see what else we can uncover and create with. We all made it safely home where we can wait out the wintry precipitation in cozy comfort. Let it snow!

2 friends and junk acorn

2 friends and junk chain for door charm

Journey 42: Jupiter Ascending

jupiter ascending

I had quite a journey today, to Neosho and then Arkansas, back to Joplin to complete work and then a wonderful hour spent with friends. However, it was an invitation from my grandson Dayan that took me on the farthest journey of all today…into the galaxy and the far reaches of space! I joined daughter Elissa and Dayan at the movie theater to watch Jupiter Ascending.

This action/sci-fi/adventure stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton. It was directed, and written by, The Wachowskis. Jupiter Ascending is rated PG-13 for intense scenes, violence, and brief partial nudity and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.

Jupiter Jones (Kunis), was supposed to have a great life. Her father, who died before his daughter was born, said so. He loved the stars and he believed his daughter, who was named after his favorite planet, had an amazing destiny before her. However, after Jupiter and her mother move to Chicago to live with family, she finds herself cleaning toilets in expensive mansions, and hating her life. It isn’t just the low paying cleaning job and the crowded family home. Her dislike of her life is driven by her boredom and her lack of desire, except for the deep desire for a telescope, like her dad owned.

Jupiter’s life changes when she meets Caine Wise (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, who is not of earth. He is a Splice, a human with wolf DNA spliced in. He has come to Earth to protect Jupiter from the treacherous Abrasax family, who rules this corner of the universe. The three Abrasax siblings. Balem (Redmayne), Kalique (Middleton) and Titus (Booth), are jostling for control of planet Earth. In fact, Jupiter’s world and her awareness expands as she discovers that there are many species populating the galaxy and earth is actually a farm. Once the population grows to the point of non-sustainability on Earth, the inhabitants will be harvested to create a youth serum that keeps the Abrasax family regenerated and able to live for tens of thousands of years. Their wealth has been accumulated through the sale of this much sought after elixir.

As if this new perspective is not shocking enough, Jupiter also discovers that the Abrasax family believes she is a genetic incarnation of their mother, who was murdered. According to the law, because of her genetic coding, Jupiter is the rightful owner of Earth. Each sibling tries to manipulate Jupiter, so as to gain control of Earth and its future harvest, and when manipulation fails, they attempt to take her life. She is rescued again, and again, by the warrior like Caine and his colleague Stinger (Bean), who is a Splice between a human and a bee and is also an ex-military man. At the heart of all the struggles over who not only controls Earth but is the rightful heir, is the planet itself and her inhabitants, who are at risk of being destroyed for profit.

This was a fun, fast paced, visually compelling film. I like sci-fi. I like having my imagination stretched by the possibility of worlds and species beyond what I can see here. Part of the appeal of the movie for me is that there is a whole universe that exists that the inhabitants of Earth are totally unaware of. It is like the Hobbits of the Shire, blind to what goes on in the larger world, or Alice in Wonderland who falls down a rabbit hole to discover a place and creatures she could  not have imagined.

Jupiter herself is a Cinderella type character, who is more than she sees herself to be. It was time for her to raise her head and her awareness out of the toilet and see the stars and beyond. She discovers who she is, as she journeys through this larger than she could have believed space. While everyone else calls Jupiter “your majesty”, I like that this gutsy girl doesn’t just buy into what other people think of her. She emphatically states, as she comes into her own, “I am not your mother.” When she returns to Earth and the role she played there before, life is sweeter, more vibrant. She is truly alive and grateful to be.

I always enjoy actors Channing Tatum and Sean Bean. Both have fun in their roles. And the Abrasax siblings are chillingly beautiful and although long lived, dead inside. The eldest can barely speak above a whisper, unless rage seizes him. Their world has narrowed down to how they look, who they control and what profits can be made from harvesting planets. For all their beauty on the outside, frailty and a stench of decay surrounds them.

At one point, Dayan leaned over, after a particularly intense brawl through Chicago and whispered with a grin, “Epic chase scene!” I agreed. That scene contained the longest sequence in the film and had the most difficult stunts. It left me a bit breathless! This was a big, busy film, with several deeper messages to ponder. I appreciate Dayan and Elissa inviting me to see Jupiter Ascending.

Journey 16: Family Friday

family dinner quote

If I described today’s journey in one word, it would be FAMILY. A week ago today, I had a birthday. I got to see a few family members throughout that day and Greg and I enjoyed Keltic Knot at the Woodshed in Carthage, a real treat for me. With the varied schedules among my adult children and their kids, it was a whole week before we could gather for a meal. Today was a Family Friday.

I spent a portion of the day with two family members who are very dear to me. Harry and I accomplished so much today and enjoyed chatting in between our many errands. Those interesting talks in the car as we drove to various appointments were priceless. Such an amazing young man. I got to love on Jeff too, giving him a hug and sharing lunch together. Jeff is a sweetheart. A grown man with a boy’s heart and enthusiasm, his way of looking at life and enjoying the moment teaches me to do the same. When Harry and I returned late this afternoon from our last appointment, Jeff greeted us and wanted to know where we had been. I loved how he studied us, determining whether we had been off having fun without him, even after Harry assured him we had NOT been having fun. Harry is so compassionate and so very good with his uncle. Watching them together warms my heart.

family dinner Jeff, Mindy and Harry

Because I failed to snap a pic this afternoon, “borrowing” one of Mindy’s fb pics.           
Harry, Jeff, Mindy

This evening I joined all of my children and all of my grandchildren for dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. This is a rare enough occurrence, having everyone present, that it qualifies as a high celebration! Greg, my mom and stepdad, and my sister Linda made us a lively party of 16. That created a bit of a dilemma for the staff at my favorite Mexican food restaurant as they sought to seat us. They found two oversized booths close together and we divided up. Greg joined the adult children and their spouses and significant other, and I gathered the grandchildren to me, along with Linda, Mom and Walter. We declared our table the fun table, and indeed, it was! (Although hearing laughter ringing out from table 2, I did peek over and they appeared to be having a grand time as well!)

family dinner side one

family dinner side two

Table One: Jonathan, Joey, Cindy, Aubrey, Linda

Walter, Mom, Dayan, Oliver

I have five grandchildren, ages 15, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, who is the youngest, and the only girl. They are each unique and gifted and precious in their own ways and I enjoyed talking to all of them and listening to their stories. Dayan could easily have joined the adult table, but I’m so glad he sat with us. The conversation was animated, and not just because of the kids. Linda and Mom joined right in. Poor Walter rarely got a word in, but he smiled and he won the cool hat award.  And I learned a new tech tip. Dayan taught me how to use the pano button in my iPhone for taking wide angle pictures.

I am so grateful for my family. Grateful for Harry and Jeff. Grateful for Elissa, Josh, Dayan and Jonathan….Nathanael, Megan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…Adriel and Nate. Grateful for Greg, Mom, Walter and Linda. Each juggled their schedule around or made some effort to be present with me today and this evening. I couldn’t ask for a better family. I couldn’t feel more loved!

family dinner table two side one e

family dinner table two side two

Table Two: Greg, Elissa, Adriel, Nate

Josh, Megan, Nathanael

Day 359: Christmas 2014

christmas 2014 logo

I love Christmas time….the magic of the season, the deeply spiritual meanings, the time spent with family…all bring joy and peace to my heart. This year, in keeping with the theme of new experiences, we had a different type of Christmas.

Oh, we gathered together as a family, and as always, we had a wonderful, cheerful time. For the first time ever, one of my children was not present. She had the opportunity to spend Christmas in Georgia, with her dear friend Nate and his family. And I’m so glad Adriel, who loves tradition, stepped out of her comfort zone, and accepted their invitation. We gathered at her house anyway, Nathanael and Megan, Elissa and Josh with sons Dayan and Jonathan, and my sister Linda. I’m pet sitting for my daughter while she is away and she gave us permission to celebrate in her home, as we have the last couple of years. We had a non-traditional Christmas dinner. Greg picked up a variety of smoked meats from Rib Crib and we had appropriate sides such as baked beans, mustard potato salad, rolls, a veggie tray with ranch dressing, deviled eggs (thanks Megan!) and a relish tray. The meal was finished off with Dutch Apple pie and pecan pie.

christmas 2014 adriel and nate

Nate and Adriel in Georgia

Just as I was missing Adriel, Elissa had the brilliant idea to Facetime her and Nate. We spent a hilarious 10 minutes talking to Adriel and Nate as they peered into the phone. We all waved and chattered and the phone got passed around so we could wish our absent family members a Merry Christmas! I love that technology can keep us closer and I’m so grateful for the ability to see people as we talk, who are miles and miles away. We missed Aubrey, Joey and Oliver, who were spending the evening with their other parents. I’m so glad I got to see them last night and spend a few minutes with them.

christmas 2014 elissa talking to adriel

Elissa on Facetime call with Adriel

After opening presents, which I won’t speak of, since Adriel and Nate have not received theirs yet, we chatted for a while, laughing over stories. Dayan’s recent hilarity at his high school musical is probably the family’s top funny story for the year. Nate shared a recent tale about Aubrey, complete with a picture to illustrate it. I love that our family laughs so much together. I love that we can be so easy and relaxed with each other. Love flows as richly as conversation and storytelling and laughter. I am deeply blessed.

christmas 2014 megan and linda christmas 2014 the guys

Megan and Linda                              Josh, Nathanael, and Dayan

Greg surprised me with special gifts that relate to my word for next year. He gave me a box of chocolate covered cherries, which I have always loved, and have nothing to do with next year. And he gave me a hand lettered sign with the word “journee” on it. He was concerned that I would think he didn’t know how to spell “journey”. I knew immediately the significance of the word. Journee is the Old French word from which we derive our word journey. It literally means “a day’s travel”. This word is from the Latin diumum meaning “daily portion”. I love that. More about my word, theme and symbol for next year on January 1, however, I am thrilled with the sign. He also gave me a gift card to Books A Million with the Dr. Seuss quote, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”  Again, an acknowledgement of my path for next year. I am grateful!

christmas 2014 jonathan e


(forgive the poor quality of my iPhone pic!)

When I was a child, the day after Christmas was the saddest day of the year for me. A whole year to wait until Christmas rolled around again. I no longer feel sad after the holidays. I keep the spirit of Christmas alive in my heart all year. Each day brings its own gifts and blessings, mine to receive. I am content with the journey, and Christmas will arrive again, at the perfect time.

christmas 2014 gifts

Oh, the places I will go, indeed!

Day 332: Elissa and Josh Get Married

Elissa and Josh wedding Dayan and Jonathan

What a beautiful day for a wedding, and for a first. How lovely that the two were combined as my elder daughter, Elissa, married her beau, Josh. In a charming little chapel, with family present, these two long time friends and more recent sweethearts, pledged to love and cherish each other.

The story of Elissa and Josh goes way back. Back, even, before they were born. Elissa’s dad Greg, and Josh’s dad Mike, were friends as young boys in a tiny town in southwest Missouri. I met Josh’s parents shortly after Mike married Debi. After Greg and I married and moved to Joplin, we discovered Mike and Debi lived in nearby Pittsburg, KS. We met frequently, as our families grew, and the kids played together. Josh was their eldest and Elissa ours. They have known each other all their lives. Both grew up and married someone else, each having a wonderful son as a result of their first marriages, and they stayed in touch over the years.

Elissa and Josh wedding Dayan

It seemed a natural pairing when they reconnected after their first marriages ended. Neither was in a hurry to marry again and they spent time being friends first and then so much more. Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed watching Elissa and Josh grow, as individuals and as a couple, encouraging each other, supporting each other, loving each other. They recently spoke of getting married next October. But, as Harry says to Sally, in the delightful movie When Harry Met Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of the life to start as soon as possible.” With the upcoming holidays and the threat of bad weather making travel between Joplin MO and Pittsburg KS more treacherous, Josh wondered, why wait? And Elissa agreed!

Today was such a joyous occasion. The ceremony was simple, classy, family oriented. Elissa’s 15 year old son Dayan walked her down the aisle and gave her away. He stood tall by her side, while Josh’s 9 year old son Jonathan stood proudly by his dad. What a sweet symbol of unity, seeing the four of them together at the front of the church, a beautiful blending of two families. There was no rehearsal, just life unfolding. We smiled when Elissa handed her flower bouquet to a slightly startled Dayan, as she and Josh exchanged rings. And laughed when Jonathan peered around his dad to watch him kiss his gorgeous bride. The ceremony concluded and Jonathan threw both arms upward in an excited expression of victory!

Elissa and Josh wedding

The wedding party and guests moved to the beautiful old Stillwell Hotel in downtown Pittsburg. Tables were arranged around the ballroom, their tops covered with cream tablecloths. Bud vases filled with fresh baby’s breath, white votive candles and hearts cut from vintage looking newspaper made attractive centerpieces for each table. There was a delicious dessert bar with two small wedding cakes, one with chocolate cake, one with vanilla. Family members contributed home-made desserts such as chocolate meringue pie, cupcakes, snickerdoodle cookies and fresh peach cobbler. The table was so cute, with burlap covered vases filled with more baby’s breath, hand lettered signs for each treat, a burlap covered letter A, and a lace cloth. I enjoyed the reception so, and forgot to get a picture of the table! We all watched, with teary eyes as Elissa and Josh slowly moved through their first dance together as husband and wife. And cheered and clapped for the children in the room who danced with uninhibited joy. Josh’s sister, sisters-in-law, mom and grandmother made the reception very special and one of Josh’s brothers snapped pictures, capturing moments and turning them into memories.

Elissa and Josh wedding dance

What a heart-warming afternoon of firsts, seeing my girl marry her man, officially welcoming a new son and a new grandson, and joining with the Adam family after almost a lifetime of knowing Mike and Debi. Someone once told me that when two people marry, it isn’t just a man joining with a woman, it is two families that join. I am thrilled to be so aligned with the Adam family. May we all live happily ever after!

Elissa and Josh wedding Nate and Adriel

Elissa and Josh wedding I do

Day 324: Return to the Forbidden Planet Musical

Return to the Forbidden Planet Cast 2

This evening was quite the adventure! The first began with Elissa, Dayan, Linda and me attending the Carl Junction High School musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. I had never heard of this production, so what a treat to attend with my sister, daughter and grandson. I was promised a fun musical, and fun and quirky it was.

Return to the Forbidden Planet, written by Bob Carlton, is a Jukebox musical based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the 1950’s sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet. I had to look up the term, Jukebox musical. It refers to a stage or film musical that uses previously released popular songs as its musical score. This musical does, indeed, do that. Billed as Shakespeare’s forgotten rock and roll masterpiece, image a play with Shakespearian language, and dialogue adapted from well known passages from Shakespeare, plus an occasional Tolkien or Star Trek line thrown in for fun. Add energetic rock and roll classics, and a campy sci-fi set with lots of colorful costumes and silver shoes, and you’ve got this musical!

The story is told in two acts. The plot follows the crew of a survey flight under the command of Captain Tempest (Derek Meyer). When the ship encounters a meteor shower, the mysterious female Science Officer (Kathryn Martinez) abandons the ship in a space shuttle, leaving the larger spaceship to be drawn to the planet D’Illyria, where the crew meets the mad scientist, Dr. Prospero (Kevin Loar). The doctor is marooned on the planet with his daughter, Miranda (MacKenzie Covvey) and his robot Ariel (Scott Hardy), after being jettisoned into space years ago by his wife Gloria, who turns out to be the spaceship’s missing Science Officer.

Return to the Forbidden Planet cast

Love and mayhem, secret formulas and space monsters follow. Miranda falls in love with the Captain. Cookie, the ship’s cook (played by Jacob Lietz) falls in love with Miranda. First Officer Bosun (Kayli Conrad) has a secret crush on Cookie. In the end we find out Gloria isn’t so bad after all. Dr. Prospero dies and the planet disintegrates with him, for the two are connected. And those who are in love find someone who reciprocates their feelings.

The musical score included Wipe Out, Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations, Monster Mash and Only the Lonely. It’s great fun when you can recognize and sing along with such well known classics. There was a small live band on stage, as part of the set, and they gave a marvelous performance as well.

This was a very well done production. I was amazed by the talent these high school kids have, singing, dancing, speaking Shakespeare, no less. While the whole cast was phenomenal, there were several stand out performances. Kevin, who so brilliantly played Dr. Prospero, has a powerful voice and perfect line delivery. From his white shaggy hair to his silver platform shoes, he had presence, and he commanded my attention when he was on the stage. Cookie, played by Jacob, had such range of voice in his musical numbers and an easy, graceful style. He smiled during most of his songs and as he delivered his lines and I found myself smiling back. Kathryn played dual roles and her voice was smooth and rich. When she sang out the first time, the audience gasped. I found it difficult to remember she is a high schooler. And lastly, Scott performed the role of Ariel, the robot. The tall, lanky actor, dressed head to toe in silver, sang, acted and danced wearing roller skates the whole time.

Return to the Forbidden Planet Cast 3

Our little group enjoyed the performance immensely, laughing and applauding often. I look forward to Carl Junction’s spring show. After a run through Sonic and goodbyes to Elissa and Dayan, Linda and I headed back to Joplin in her car. Our adventure wasn’t over yet! Just as we pulled onto Highway 171, a very busy road, even late at night, we had a flat tire. Another first! As many times as my sister and I have traveled together, we have never experienced car trouble. She pulled onto the shoulder and we discussed what to do. We were rescued. Carl Junction Police Officer Eimer came to our aid and with lights flashing on his police cruiser, directed traffic around us. And Greg drove from Joplin to change the tire after the tools that Linda had in the trunk were useless. We appreciated both men so much!

It was a great evening. The play was charming and fun. My grandson Dayan entertained us with pre-musical funnies of his own. (I promised not to blog about the content….but let me just say, I’m still laughing when I think about my grandson’s wit.) Elissa bought us treats at Sonic after the play. And two knights in shining armor rode in to rescue us distressed damsels who needed help. Laughter and a sense of adventure carried us wonderfully through the night. And I like that. All ended well.

Return to the Forbidden Planet Curtain Call