Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Family With Lots to Celebrate

My mom's side of the family always makes the effort to get together for a family reunion every year. Most years we gather in Cleveland (as we did last year), unless there is some big family event elsewhere that we can schedule our reunion around, such as my wedding in 2007. This summer, however, our cup runneth over with big family events! Our family had so much to celebrate: my cousin Adam graduated from high school (congrats, Adam!); my new cousin Jackson was born (welcome, Jackson!); Jacob and Zita got married in Hungary (so, SO much fun); my cousin Molly and her boyfriend Arturo got engaged in Barcelona (congrats, you two!); and Jacob and Zita had a second wedding reception in the United States. Can you believe all that happened to our family in one summer?!

So, this year, we ended up centering our family reunion around Jacob and Zita's U.S. reception in Illinois this past weekend. With the exceptions of Eric (for work reasons) and my Uncle Nathan and his family from Idaho (the proud parents of new baby Jackson), everyone was able to make it to Illinois. Naturally, it was a wonderful time and it was so great to see everyone.

I flew into Indianapolis on Friday, arriving around 4:00 p.m. My mom, Gary and Heather were also flying into Indy from Tampa, scheduled to arrive around 4:30. They actually ended up being a bit early, which was nice! I guess after the disaster we had when we tried to meet up in New York before flying to Budapest, we were due for a smooth travel day this time around. We picked up a rental car (free upgrade, YES!) then made the two-hour drive through corn fields to my Uncle Peter's house in Charleston, Illinois.

Uncle Peter's house! Isn't it pretty? I've always loved this house.

We arrived at Uncle Peter's at 6:00 p.m. The rest of the family was already there waiting for us. They had ordered pizzas for all of us for dinner, and I went along with my Gramps and cousin Molly to pick them up. Then we all ate our pizza outside under a tent in Uncle Peter's back yard, despite the drizzly rain! It was just so nice to see everyone and catch up.

That's a lot of pizza!

After dinner, a few of us grandkids (me, Heather, Molly & Arturo, and Jacob & Zita) went to have a quick visit with my Aunt Debbie so that we could toast Molly and Arturo and celebrate their engagement! Aunt Debbie gave them some beautiful toasting flutes as an engagement gift, and they had a cake with a picture of Molly and Arturo in Italy a few days after the proposal. It was nice to celebrate these two - I'm so excited for them! They seem so happy.

Arturo and Molly with their cake

Cheers to the soon-to-be-weds!

After the celebration with Aunt Debbie, we returned to Uncle Peter's house where we drank some beer and chatted some more. Molly gave Heather and me souvenirs she brought us from Italy - she brought us great little purses and gorgeous necklaces! I also gave her a small engagement gift: three nail polish colors ("Diamond Ring," "Chapel of Love," and "Honeymoon Red") and some other nail-doing things so that her ring can be shown off on fancy fingers! Oh, but the ring was kind of a circus. I guess Molly had sent it off to be resized right away so she could have it back before the reunion, but the Post Office royally screwed up and sent it to the wrong place, then wouldn't do anything about it, etc., etc. So at this point she still did not have it back, but it was scheduled to arrive the next day. Poor Molly not only discovered but also embraced her inner bridezilla to get this ring back. I can't say that I blame her! Those Post Office employees are probably still wondering what hit 'em.

Anyway, after about a beer a piece all of us were exhausted, so we headed to bed. We had a busy day coming up!

On Saturday we got up and going by 10:00. Heather went to hang out with the rest of the family, while I went with Molly back to Aunt Debbie's to assemble to flowers for the reception that evening. The flowers were gorgeous - the biggest yellow roses you've ever seen, and pretty purple daisies. We worked hard and actually got the arrangements all put together pretty quickly! Then we went over to the reception hall at the Worthington Inn to drop things off and set up what we could.

Molly also discovered her inner florist this weekend! She did a great job with the flower-arranging.

Flowers all ready to go

Jacob setting up the placecards while Zita checks out the photo guestbook Molly surprised them with!

Molly and the photo table, which included albums/scrapbooks of Jacob and Zita's previous wedding ceremonies. Very nice!

Around 12:30 p.m. we returned to Uncle Peter's house for lunch. He had cooked out brats (that's bratwurst, not rude children) and hot dogs with German potato salad, watermelon, homemade pickles and chips, etc. Yum! We all ate outside again, which was very nice. And the weather was much better!

The family at lunch

Chowing down

It also MUST be mentioned that while we were setting up the reception room, Molly's ring arrived! HOORAY! Of course, since she was not at home when it showed up, everyone had to have a little fun with her when she got back - handing her empty boxes, etc. As you might expect, Arturo had the actual ring and he recreated his proposal to Molly for all of us. Then she was finally reunited with her absolutely GORGEOUS ring! Nice work, Arturo!

Arturo and Molly admiring the resized ring

This girl is happy to be reunited with her rock!

After lunch, Molly/Arturo and Jacob/Zita returned to the reception room to finish setting up while the rest of us went for a little pool time at the Worthington Inn. I remember playing at that pool many times at past reunions when I was a kid. Nowadays there is much less splashing about, but it was still very nice!

Relaxing poolside

At 3:00 Heather and I went up to our room at the Worthington Inn to start getting ready (we stayed there Saturday night, but stayed with Uncle Peter's girlfriend Rosemary the rest of the time). Molly ended up joining us (yay!), and then we were eventually also joined by Zita so that Molly and Heather could do her hair! It was so nice to all get ready together. Ah, girl time.

Molly and Heather hard at work on Zita's hair - it turned out great!

The reception started at 5:00 p.m., so we headed down there as soon as we were ready. Everything looked so nice! The flowers were gorgeous, and I loved the colorful polka dot theme they had chosen. The favors were even colorful personalized M&Ms to match! My bird-lover cousin Jacob also put his touch on things with the table names: each table was named after a bird, but only the picture of the bird was on the table. Then our placecards had the bird name, and you had to look in a bird book to determine what your bird would look like to find your table. I was pretty psyched that our table bird, the Eastern Bluebird, was orange and blue!

Congratulations, Jacob and Zita! Well, sort of.

Placecards and guest book

Go Gators! I do love that orange and blue bird.

Adorable cake!

We all mingled around a bit when we first arrived, just drinking and chatting, before moving to our tables for toasts and dinner. Jacob gave a nice toast first (I especially liked the part about improving U.S.-Hungarian relations), then Molly said a little something before we moved on to the buffet for dinner. Dinner was very tasty - the chefs even cooked up a Hungarian dish at Zita's request that was very good! After dinner Zita's brother Laszlo also said a little something, which was very nice!

Zita and Jacob mingling with their guests before dinner

My mom, Heather and me having a pre-dinner glass of wine

Our table: me, Rosemary, Uncle Peter, Gramps, Mom and Heather

Jacob giving his toast

Not long after dinner, it was time for Jacob and Zita to cut the cake. We made sure they knew to feed it to each other - in Hungary, they feed each other soup at the reception, if you recall! Here, we feed cake. Mmm, cake. And that was some good wedding cake, I'll tell you what.

Cutting the cake


After cake, it was time to dance! Jacob and Zita got things started, then we all joined in and that's pretty much where we stayed all night. Instead of a DJ, Molly put together a playlist on her iPod and played DJ herself all night long. She did a great job! I enjoyed hearing lots of old songs that took me back to my high school/college days. Ah, memories. The dancing (and drinking) continued on into the night!

Jacob and Zita getting the party started (loved Zita's purple shoes!)

Heather and I are ready to party.

Having a great time! (Me, Zita, Molly, Mom, Heather & Aunt Rachel)

The girls

Molly and Gramps doing the chicken dance! Love it.

On the dance floor with my mom

DJ Molly and Arturo

Me, Molly, Heather, Zita and Laszlo

In case the pictures above do not effectively convey how much fun we were having, I should mention that around midnight (I think) the bar announced that it was last call and Molly played "Closing Time," which was intended as the last song of the night. However, the party was not yet ready to stop, so they ended up keeping the reception hall for another two hours! The bar stayed open after all, the music continued on, and somebody even had the totally genius idea to essentially adopt the Hungarian tradition of a "midnight meal" - they ordered pizza! That pizza was glorious, too. And so the party continued until about 2:30 a.m.

Heather, Zita and me

Love this one of Molly and Heather!

The most delicious pizza there ever was. At 1:00 a.m., anyway.

Molly and Jacob

What a fun night!

Sunday morning we got up and got checked out of the hotel. Unfortunately, some of my family (my Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark, cousins Adam and Sarah, and Gramps) had to leave early, so we had to say our good-byes to them at the reception the night before. But, those of us who remained plus some of Jacob's friends went out to breakfast at What's Cookin' (they have excellent strawberry bread). Nothing like a good ol' diner breakfast after a night of drinking and dancing! We were also treated to views of beautiful downtown Charleston as we walked there. I must say, it was a little different than downtown New York!

What's Cookin'

After breakfast, Molly/Arturo and Jacob/Zita left to say good-bye to Aunt Debbie before she left town. Meanwhile, Uncle Peter took the rest of us of a tour of the Eastern Illinois University campus, where he is a professor. He took us to the new Fine Arts building, which was very cool. We even got to see his office!

Uncle Peter, Rosemary, me, Mom and Heather at EIU

Inside the Fine Arts Building

By the time we got back to Uncle Peter's house, Jacob/Zita and Molly/Arturo had returned. We then all made a trip back to the Worthington Inn for some more pool time. Oh! But not before first stopping down in Uncle Peter's basement, to the headquarters of the Cousins Club - a very, very large part of our childhood. Somehow, the club space seems to have shrunk a bit, but it's still nice to relive memories!

In the Cousins Club, making the official Cousins Club hand gestures. Obviously.

Back to the pool

At 6:30 we all met back at Uncle Peter's for another delicious dinner. We had burgers (with your choice of three cheeses), potato salad, macaroni salad, broccoli salad, more homemade pickles, more watermelon, chips, beer and wine. Gourmet!

Delicious burgers!

Condiments, etc.

After dinner we all just sort of hung around the house, watching football, drinking, chatting, relaxing. Molly and Arturo eventually had to leave to drive back to Bloomington, and shortly after they left, Mom, Gary, Heather and I left to go to bed. We said our good-byes to everyone and that was the end of our reunion!

We left to drive back to Indianapolis the next morning at 6:00 a.m. Mom/Gary/Heather had a 10:30 a.m. flight back to Tampa, and my flight was scheduled for 11:00 (although it was delayed a half hour). We had breakfast together at the airport then went our separate ways. Farewell, family!

So, another great reunion in our family history. It's so nice that we all make such an effort to get together. Looking forward to seeing everyone again at Christmas!

If you're interested, I'll be posting more pictures of the reunion and reception on my Photo Site. Not sure if anyone that isn't related to me will be interested in seeing more pictures from the weekend, but they're there if you'd like to check them out!

And one last time - CONGRATULATIONS, JACOB AND ZITA! Now it's your turn, Molly and Arturo!

1 comment:

Molly said...

You are such a good summarizer, and you are always so complimentary to everyone! It was such a fun time!