Molly and Joshua become ONE!

Molly and Joshua’s wedding was even more amazing and wonderful than I had dreamed. You have no control over who your children marry, and yet that decision impacts your own life forever. When your daughter chooses someone who is as much of a blessing as Joshua is, it impacts the whole family in new and wonderful ways. In what I would consider an almost impossible miracle, Joshua fits in with the seven diverse personalities that already made up our family, and adds a new richness. Joshua and Molly love each other, but more than that, they make each other, (and us), better , with their love. He’s witty, kind, and a true servant. He loves and follows Jesus. And he brews craft beer, and plays cribbage, so win win win.

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The wedding was at my family’s avocado and lemon ranch in Santa Paula, California. Brenna and my grandmother were married there and the setting has a lot of history and good memories for me. And have you heard about the price of wedding venues?!!! (I hadn’t until recently because we haven’t had to pay. Yes, I AM counting my blessings.)

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Jim, Marsh, Molly, Joshua, Jean and Fred (Josh’s parents.)

My grandparents ordered this Craftsman house out of the Sears catalogue in 1868.

My grandparents chose and ordered this Craftsman house out of the Sears catalogue in 1898. It was delivered in horse-drawn carriages and put together without power tools.

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A wedding is an incredible amount of work, but Molly and Joshua pulled it off without any meltdowns or serious disasters that I know of. Partly this is because Molly is organized and brilliant, and part of this was due to the people in their wedding party, many of whom are professional project managers or teachers. (And they are also brilliant.) Molly made list after list after list and just kept delegating duties to Josh accomplishing the tasks. I was particularly impressed with the bridesmaids, who wrote on chalkboards, spray-painted, set up chairs, washed dishes, ran errands, organized snack dishes, prayed, unloaded cars, made hot chai, kept track of Molly’s iPhone and passport, planted succulents, and did everything without complaining or (seemingly) getting tired.

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Of course the flower girl was a big help, too.

The flower girl loved driving the tractor.

Lydia loved driving the tractor.

My friend, Kris, lovingly arranged the flowers.

Kris' refrigerator the day before the wedding.

Kris’ refrigerator the day before the wedding.

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The boutonnières were hops. (Like you make beer with.)

The venue is so small, that only our closest friends and relatives were invited and many of those who came mentioned that they felt special to be included. I felt I had a good visit with my dear aunts, cousins, friends and other extended family, but it’s never enough. I particularly loved having my own children and grandchild together for such an extended time. Kelly and Brenna made the first toast–a hilarious letter of apology to Molly for the mean things they did to her growing up. Somehow Molly was always cast as the slave, or the dog in their make-believe dramas. I never had sisters, so it warms my heart to see their close relationships. They gave Joshua good recommendations. (Don’t volunteer to play make believe games with Molly.)

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Lydia and Kelly

Lydia and Kelly

Molly and Lydia

Molly and Lydia

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The band Men on the Moon, who are friends of ours, played hits from the 70s and everyone danced–babies to older people were having fun. The father-daughter dance was to James Taylor’s Copperline. This may seem like a weird choice, but one day when Molly was little we were listening to the song and one of the older girls said “I like the part where “a boy wakes up and the dog barks and the birds sings and the sap rises and the angels sigh.” Molly wanted to join the conversation and said “I like the part where the duck goes “Quack, quack quack.” We’ve never let her forget it. (Ironic that I got no pictures of the Daddy-daughter dance, and hundreds of Jim and Lydia dancing. Too cute.)

Jim and Lydia

Jim and Lydia

A local butcher barbecued tri-tip, chicken and home made sausage. Yum! IMG_5744

They are now on their honeymoon in Cancun. I am so very proud of them and thankful for them, and I expect them to live happily ever after.

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Day 12: The long Journey Home

I can’t express to you how much I detest flying Delta. I was offered another airlines, but the routing was HORRIBLE. We would be taking three flights and the last one had a layover of eight hours in New York starting at 11pm. I laugh now, because that’s exactly what ended up happening on the trip home, except that we were blindsided instead of planning for it. We were delayed in Amsterdam after our first flight. I know all airlines have delays. The problem I have with this delay was that we waited in a tiny boarding area with no toilets and no information or access to food or drink for three hours. Their answer to every question was “I don’t know.” Yes, you DO know, Delta. Or  you know SOMETHING. Share with us the part you know!!!) I think what really happened was that they were WAITING for us to leave security to use the restroom or buy a stale croissant so they could hurry up and load the plane and send HALF my group home while we were outside of security. Finally, they saw their evil plan wasn’t going to work and they gave up and let us board. We did miss our next flight, which meant we were in NYC overnight. They did have to give us hotel rooms that we were in for about four hours (From after midnight to 4:30 am when we left for our  7 am flight.)

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Day 11: Santorini, Greece

Today we celebrated our second Easter (Greek Orthodox) on the beautiful island of Santorini (named for St. Irene.) We were mostly in the picturesque town of Oia which, for me, was the quintessential Greece with its bright white homes with blue roofs clinging to the tops of the cliffs like snow. This is where Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was filmed. Oia is tiny, with cute shops, a bookstore built into a cave, and unique coffee shops mixed in with the beautiful homes. We had an amazing day here.

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Day Ten: Ephesus, Turkey and Patmos, Greece

Saturday

We spent the morning in the ancient city of Ephesus. I had been before and it was just as magical the second time. The reconstructed buildings are beautiful and to think that Paul spent time here, preached here, and had to make a hasty exit makes the Bible come alive. My students really enjoyed it. 

   

     In the afternoon we explored the island of Patmos where John wrote Revelations, the last book of the New Testament. If this island is prison, sign me up!!! It’s gorgeous! I loved the classic white houses, beautiful views, and ancient windmills. I know his exile wasn’t his choice, but he could have done worse. We saw the cave where John lived and dictated the scripture and slept. Again, the kids talked about how touched they were at seeing the place where John actually was. We celebrated one Easter weekend in Rome, and now we are celebrating a second Easter, the Orthodox one. I can’t think of a better way to mark this important holiday than being in these sites of Christian martyrs where believers have made pilgrimages for thousands of years.  (We couldn’t take pictures inside the cave where John lived because it’s holy, but this mosaic is above the entrance.)

          

 

We also visited a school/factory/store where the owner is trying to keep alive the tradition of Turkish carpet weaving. It takes one person six months to make a small, less-intricate carpet. It’s so labor intensive!!!! The weavers get frequent breaks and are paid well, but this makes the carpets very pricey. Jim built the salesperson’s hopes, but also disappointed him. 

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Day Nine: Greek Island Cruise

It’s not a secret that I’m not in love with the idea of cruises, but this is the first time I’ve actually taken one. I guess it just confirmed my suspicions. My biggest objection to huge cruise ships is that it is so harmful to the local culture. All traveling breaks down culture and makes the local population cater more toward tourists, but I believe cruise ships do this more efficiently. In Estonia, they had all the trappings of a cruise-tainted country (streets composed solely of souvenir shops, little train running through the town, prevalence of English instead of the local language), and the locals almost couldn’t enjoy their own city between the hours of ten and four because so many tourists clogged the little streets. In some places the towns have become a Disneyland version of themselves to the point where they now can’t survive without the cruise ships. When I travel I like authentic experiences, and I feel that the cruise industry is harming the authenticity of the local culture. 

I sound like a spoiled brat bogged down with first world problems, but I’m not quite done complaining yet. I don’t know if this cruise is typical, but I really don’t like all the wasted time. The embarkation process took over an hour. Then we waited for our cabin to be ready. Then there was a lifeboat drill (another hour almost.) Then there was a meeting about procedures and activities on the ship. Every time we leave the ship or get back on there are huge lines to wait in. It’s too many people for me in one small space. So, I’ve tried it, and I see why others like it, but it’s not my cup of tea. The cruise was the most stressful part of the trip for me with the students because they were all over the ship, and if they didn’t show up, it was hard to find them. My greatest fear was that I would be on the ship with one of them left on a small island after the “all aboard.”

Also, if it’s stormy on land, and you are in a hotel, you can still go to a museum or a local cafe, but on a boat in bad weather you are stuck. This is what happened to us today. We were supposed to see Mykonos this afternoon, but the sea was very rough and we were unable to land. This was extremely sad for the people who had booked this cruise specifically to see the Good Friday procession on the island. 

The kids loved the ship: the karaoke, the tea and cookies time, the entertainment in the different lounges, and the great views. I discovered that many of the ways I relax are based on having internet (for which you have to be the likes of an owner of a successful Silicon Valley startup to afford on board): studying French, talking with Baby Lydia via FaceTime, reading blogs, watching Netflix, listening to podcasts or news. I wished I had planned ahead better and downloaded a book. I finished the book I was reading and then my two favorite ways to relax became sleeping and eating.  

That’s our ship in the picture below. 

 

 Cruises have fancy food in great quantities.  

 

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Day Eight: Athens

Thursday

I felt like I was herding penguins all day at the Acropolis because it was so cold, and some of my students didn’t bring proper jackets and shoes. The ancient monuments are so beautiful. The Parthenon is an optical illusion–the pillars are not evenly spaced as it appears, but rather are spaced to appear square. If you extended the lines of the Parthenon two and half miles, the lines would join at the top to form a pyramid. It’s so ironic that the Greeks were the most advanced civilization in the world, and now they are in extremely dire economic straights. 

I was surprised when I went to the pharmacy and the grocery store at the low prices–less than a dollar for 24 Advil and a whole bag of fruits and vegetables for under three dollars. They are a society that as a whole puts family and faith first. 

 

At the Acropolis museum one thing stood outthey really want the Elgin Marbles that were once part of the Parthenon back from the British museum. Greeks believe they were stolen from the country, and are part  of the history and culture of Greece. Period. It does seem fair that iconic artwork where there is no dispute where it cam from should be returned to the country of origin.  


  

      

   

             

 

We spent the afternoon at the Plaka- the Athenian marketplace. The vendors were not high pressure, had cute things to sell, and there were darling side streets with beautiful views of the city. 

  

    

We also saw the changing of the guard at the palace. 

   

   

 

   

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Day Seven: Delphi

Today we toured the archeological site of Delphi. Because it’s a newer site the excavation has just barely started. It was a place where people came to seek wisdom from the Oracle of Delphi, because Heaven and Earth were the closest there. The Greeks believed that Delphi was the center of the world, and they came to worship Apollo and gain wisdom from his spirit.  It was a steep climb, but worth the view. They should call them something else besides ruins because they don’t seem ruined to me, but rather evidence of something very beautiful. 

   

          

 

We stopped at Monastery of Hosios Loukas where St. Luke (the gospel writer) is buried. The old brick buildings were so beautiful and the grounds were thankfully devoid of tourists and  peaceful. We even saw the monks preparing for Good Friday services. This may end up being my favorite part of the whole trip.

 

                                

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