Random photo spread

18 07 2008

I’m so very glad that my camera is back in my possession… and that my sweet Dad bought me a few batteries to make it work again! So in the spirit of its homecoming, this will be for the most part a photo-and-caption sort of story.

Now, that being said, most of the photos below weren’t even taken with my camera! Somehow in my vast base of computer knowledge, I discovered a way to pirate some (well, ALL, if I had the time and patience to do so!) photos from Paula’s official wedding photographer’s website. Tee-hee-hee. The quality is admittedly sub-par, but they’re at least good enough for emailing and blog-posting. In other words, you’ll get the gist.

That’s Paula and Jayson just a few minutes after their “I Do’s.” We were all pre-func-ing at the Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres portion of the event while they were on their little boat ride!

The Girls. This photo doesn’t really do justice to the hilarity of height discrepancy that I continually encountered that weekend. But this one does…

And we all have the exact same shoes (except for Paula whose heels weren’t quite as high as ours) so there’s no skew-age going on in this photo. Funny, huh? Seems like the photographer might have wanted to use those stairs to a better advantage, don’t you think?!

And there’s my little wedding-day surprise for Jayson. Despite the horrible SCARS from where my finger tips BURNED as I created this F-usky garter, I’d have to say that it turned out pretty cute. *shudder* But the look on his face was absolutely priceless – and one of my favorite memories from the wedding. (I think if you scroll back a few stories, there’s a photo of The Moment… you can’t miss it!)

And shifting gears back to the Southeast…

Laura brought Lily to Mimi and Grand-dad’s house for the 4th of July weekend, so I went out to Conyers, GA (just about a 25-minute trip from home) to spend a fun Saturday with them.

She’s 8 months old, and SO much fun! It’s amazing to see her come into her own little personality, and I’m proud to say that she’s absolutely hilarious! She was reaching to grab my hair (in its crazy, uncontrollable mess of curls as usual) so I shook my head to get most of it behind my back instead of in my face and within Lily-arm reach. She kind of looked at me, then this sort of impish grin spread over her face and she laughed out loud and shook her head back and forth several times. She looked right at me when she stopped, with that same devilish little face (I KNEW she was my niece!!!) so I shook my head back at her, and she again just laughed her little head off! For the rest of the day, whenever she looked at me, even if it was across the room, she’d grin and laugh and shake her head back and forth, then just stop and wait for me to do it back to her. It’s like our own little version of “the wave” at college football games. What a smart little cookie!

She can’t quite pull herself up to stand at her Baby Einstein floor station by herself, but she’ll definitely stay put if you stand her up there! Oh, there is one place that she CAN pull herself up to standing… shopping carts… I may or may not have had anything to do with teaching her how to stand up in shopping carts. Oops.

Sweet Caroline just had a recent photo shoot up in The N.C. She’s newer than Lily, just 4 months old. And she’s as dark-complected as Lily is fair. I hope these little girls will be good friends!

I’ve got to get up there to Hickory to cuddle this darling little one soon!

Doesn’t this photo look like it should be on one of those “Is it Friday yet?” posters, or a book with a title like “Everyone Has Sad Days Sometimes.” And the caption under this one would say something like “Sometimes you just wish you were invisible” and the next page would have a full-color photo with sunshine and happiness and an uplifting sentiment like “Sometimes you need someone to hug.”

What an adorable little girl!!! So very true to her Sweet Caroline moniker!


Word Salad*

8 07 2008

Today I came across this fantastic website called Wordle. This computer genius-type person wrote a fabulous computer program to help all of we not-so-graphically-inclined people. It’s easy to create works of word-art, whether it is your favorite poem or an excerpt from a book, a list of words that describe a person or maybe a place… or perhaps just list of names…

This is the Don and Dorothea Zarosinski family “word cloud” I created. (akin, I suppose, to a Family Tree, except this is more like Family Kudzu)

I simply typed all of our names into the box and clicked “Go” – I’m very much into one-step, instant-gratification art projects! Watch how a java-led word cloud arranges itself artfully before your eyes! Once it is created, you have some control over the randomly-placed words: you can change the word layout (all horizontal, all vertical, half-and-half, etc), the font (I used “Scheherazade”) the color scheme, and even whether you prefer a rounded edge or a more squared-off border.

These word clouds end up looking incredible! The deal is the more a word is repeated in the text provided, the larger the font. In my example above, I had typed Zarosinski twice, thus it is the largest word in my Z-family wordle. I also learned that in order to accommodate multi-word phrases, you separate the two (or more) words with a tilde (~) in your text box so the magical wordle wizard knows to keep them together in your word cloud. There’s a searchable gallery, too, but they warn you that there is no way to “un-save” your word cloud, so be sure you want any and everyone to view your creation.

It takes some thinking (and ingenuity, if you ask me!) to figure out how to save your new artwork. I had to use “print screen” function to capture the screen-shot of the internet page. Then open the Paint program on my computer (which, by the way I couldn’t physically locate, so I had to get there through the “Help” menu, which I had opened to figure out the print screen option in the first place!) and crop the image to reveal only the word cloud itself. Then I think I had to right-click the newly-cropped portion of the image and “copy to” some file name I created in my Pictures folder. Perhaps there is a simpler way. If so, I don’t really want to hear it.

I’m currently planning a Kristen-themed word cloud. So far I’ve compiled a list including the cities I’ve lived in and the streets I’ve lived on, the schools I’ve attended and their mascots, and the places I’ve worked. I sort of have this image of using the Kristen-word-salad graphic as my book cover… whenever that book actually comes about! Feel free to submit your own “Kristen” words to add to my word cloud!

*Word Salad – a string of words that resembles language, and may or may not be grammatically correct, but is utterly meaningless. For example: “Tramway flogging into my question, are you why is thirty letters down under peanut butter, what table twelve.” This is observed most often (at least in my world) as fluent aphasia in people who have had a stroke affecting Wernicke’s area, the portion of the brain that controls language comprehension and the production of appropriate speech.*

Just try inputting your favorite poem or quote or song lyrics into Wordle and tell me you don’t think that looks like word-salad!

My First Friend’s Wedding

6 07 2008

It may surprise some of you, but I have never actually thought about or pretend-planned or even day-dreamed about what my wedding might be like. No magazine clippings of cakes or flowers, no little notes-to-self about dress colors or centerpieces. And in all honesty, I don’t even have the first idea of what The Dress might look like. But after attending the wedding of my very first friend in my whole life, I now know with absolute certainty what I want my own wedding to FEEL like. I mentioned this to my Dad as were were leaving, being quick to add that I did not necessarily need it to LOOK like this wedding, but simply to feel like it – I think he was relieved!

Mom and Dad and Jill and I all descended upon LAX on that Thursday night within about 90 minutes of each other. Interestingly enough, all three of our flights (from Atlanta, from Portland, and from Eureka, CA by way of San Francisco) happened to sustain delays of what I would consider significant amounts of time. We arrived at our hotel sometime after 1 o’clock in the morning… and Dad had to be on a commuter-jet to Las Vegas at 7:30 a.m. Ouch.

With Dad temporarily out-of-state (he ended up catching an earlier flight back, so he didn’t even miss Friday night’s festivities!) Mom and Jill and I got to spend a fabulous day together. We drove out to try to see Sister John-Ellen, Mom’s first principal at St Callistus (which we also drove past!) and also the first person besides my parents to ever meet and hold me! *Side note, but it’s too great of a story to skip – Sr John-Ellen came to the hospital the day I was born (New Year’s Day 1980) but visitors were being restricted. When the nurse told her that only family would be allowed to see Mom or Baby Me, she simply said, “well, I’m her Sister.” What a great lady! I would never  have enough time to recount all the other trillions of reasons why she’s so amazing.* Oh, p.s. we didn’t get to see her, but we did have a wonderful time recounting some favorite stories and memories during the drive. Jill forgot her swimsuit – which, coincidentally was the FIRST thing I packed in my suitcase, seeing as how we were going to Southern California! So naturally our next stop was Target. Jill found a suit, I got a cute, fun dress, and Mom got a suit AND a cute, fun dress! We then turned west-ward, cruising through our old grocery store (Vons) for sandwiches and water – and a couple reusable shopping totes that say “Vons” for old times sake! Next was a quick drive-by past the house formerly known as the “abandoned beach giant” on Kiowa Lane. And would you believe it, the people who bought the house from us in 1986 still live there! (like any sane person would have ever left… oh wait, that was us!) She even let us come in for awhile, which was so fun! Then it was finally time to hit the beach. Instead of paying the $10 user fee, we parked the car outside our old neighborhood and walked the 0.4 miles to the ocean. (yes, I used to live 0.4 miles from OCEAN… *sigh*) We just laid in the sand and ate our Vons-sandwiches and enjoyed the day and each other. Plus, Jill spotted a SHARK – well, for at least 10 minutes it was a shark. Then it turned into a pod of dolphins, or porpoises (porp-eye?) instead. Whew!

The wedding itself was a multi-day event in Southern California. Thursday night was Rehearsal Dinner – a small affair with only parents and members of the wedding party with their respective significant others, which totaled approximately 52 people! (to get some idea of the type of people involved in this wedding, take a peek at Carie and Steve’s wedding website– definitely check out the “Wedding Party” section – it’s sure make you smile, if not laugh out loud!) Friday brought a barbecue on the grandest scale I’ve ever seen! I believe I heard that there had been upwards of 200 invitations sent out to attend this pre-wedding bash… I’m pretty sure there weren’t many “regrets” RSVP’ed. The wedding was Saturday afternoon at a gorgeous church atop a hill overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Like they did for brother-Danny’s wedding last year, there was a several-hour break between the ceremony and reception. Originally we had planned to head back toward the hotel and catch a quick snooze, in preparation for the debauchery that was sure to come (and surely DID come, I’ll have you know!) later at the reception. Instead we joined a group of our favorite old crew at Javier’s where we had a lovely little private “cabana” to enjoy margaritas and various Mexican dishes. We talked and laughed and reminisced for hours, and got caught up on each others’ lives… it ended up being one of  my favorite highlights of the weekend. When the time came, we made our way over to the reception, to be held on the grounds at the Centennial Heritage Museum.

The building itself was merely a backdrop for the gorgeous scenery. Meticulously groomed tiers of lawn and beautiful rose gardens, wine-grape vines twisting along a pergola-covered walkway leading back to the little gazebo. The grounds accommodated dozens of tables, some adorned with incredible centerpieces: tall, cylinder vases with water, river rocks and large lilies inside and topped with a beautiful flower arrangement, all designed by Carie’s mom.

It was just the perfect setting to celebrate this perfect day!

The food was great – how do you go wrong with a side of macaroni-and-cheese?!?! And of course the beer and wine were served in bottomless glasses. Which may begin to explain the groomsmen breaking into a rousing 20-minute topless calisthenics routine, their shirts and ties slung over the lanterns above the dance floor. Yes that happened. No, I don’t expect you to believe me – which is why I will be posting a photo of proof as soon as Dad emails it to me! For now, here’s the non-groomsmen-shirt-slung dance floor.

The whole evening was just spectacular.  From the meal to the Father-Daughter dance to the toasts (especially Alison’s, which was so beautiful) to Carie and Steve’s first dance choreographed wonderfully to “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” I caught it on video, but of course I have yet to figure out how to upload moving-pictures on this website. Suffice it to say, if you weren’t there to see The Dance first-hand, you missed out. I suppose the same could be said for the grooms-men’s Chippendale-esque showcase, but I think that goes without saying!

Carie was absolutely stunning. There’s just not a word big enough to describe how beautiful and happy she looked all weekend.

She wore her mother’s dress, which is so incredible! They had the top re-made from the 1970’s lace-and-long-sleeves to the gorgeous modern and very “Carie” deep-V neckline, mimicked on the back of the dress as well. She also wore her Mom’s long mantilla-style veil. As my sister said, “I just love tasteful lace!” She was just beautiful. And Steve wasn’t so bad himself!

I’m running out of demonstrative descriptive words. Amazing… Wonderful… Beautiful… Gorgeous… Lovely… none of them seem to capture the day’s feel, or that of the entire weekend for that matter. I guess that’s just it, it’s a FEELING. There was so much love and joy and craziness and fun and adoration… And these are things that I pray will accompany my friends and family every day, not just at a wedding. Unless we’re talking about mine, of course!