Sunday, May 2, 2010

Party weekend! Celebrating a 21-year-old and a labyrinth christening

Sam's 21st birthday celebration

Yesterday I took the Amtrak train up to Tacoma--for the first time in about 23 years. Of course, unlike when I was a broke college student, this time I went business class! It was a fun adventure. My brother-in-law picked me up at the train station and we drove to Puyallup, where my nephews nearly knocked me to the ground in their excitement to see me (usually they pounce on my kids instead of me!) and frenzied preparations were taking place for the big party.

Last night we had a cocktail party in honor of Sam's 21st birthday. Sam is Nadine and David's niece, soon to graduate from PLU with a B.A. in art. She was born 2 weeks after Nadine and David started dating, and Nadine described last night how David came to announce that he was about to become an uncle...so Sam's life has always measured Nadine & David's relationship.

She was such a sweet little girl--this first photo was taken at an outing where six of us--Nadine and David, her parents Dennis and Judy, and Mike and I--took her to a now-defunct children's discovery area at Point Defiance Park. All six of us trailing around after this little two-year-old...she was the complete center of attention! The second photo was when David earned his master's degree at PLU--again the only child amidst the extended-family gathering.

And here she is on her bike, by now a big sister to her brother David:


Today Sam is an accomplished and talented young woman, as well as being bright, beautiful, and kind. In high school, she worked and took college-level classes while dancing and being a cheerleader. At PLU she has continued her dancing as well as working at a latte stand. After she graduates she's going to continue working at the latte stand as well as caring for Nadine and David's kids, her cousins, part-time. I think this is especially cool, because that's exactly what I did after I graduated--I was a nanny to my cousins Anne and Elena in Seattle before I went off to Japan.

So last night we gathered in Dennis and Judy's amazing log cabin home to honor Sam and celebrate her 21 years on this earth. This is the second such gathering I've been honored to attend in the past year (the other for a very-special 16-year-old), and I'm struck yet again by how wonderful it would be for every young woman to be honored in such a way by the wise women in her life.

Sam and two of her friends from PLU, Olivia and Cathy Patt
Nadine, Sam, and Sam's cousin Becky
Chatting over cocktails in the kitchen--Sam, her friends, and Herrera (Nadine's dear friend and her kids' nanny)
Mom and Judy
The partiers with the birthday girl
Sam began opening her gifts, and among the many alcohol-related presents (including some gorgeous hand-painted glasses) and jewelry and artwork was a weird game that has the sole object of shocking one or two of the players. I can't imagine why anyone would want to play it unless there was alcohol involved. At any rate, Sam's mom Judy and her friends and relatives (including the person who gave Sam the gift) tried out the game. Each person grabs a handle of the game--and then it suddenly shocks someone. When this actually happened, the women jumped up and screamed, sending the rest of us into hysterics. Apparently it was set on "high"!
Lovely Sam with some of her lovely gifts:
And with her cute friends:
Many of us had each brought photos of ourselves at 21 and a sheet of paper for Sam, on which we answered four questions: (1) What were we like at 21, (2) What had we learned since 21, (3) What did we admire about Sam, and (4) What advice did we have for her?

I was most struck by how expressive Sam's friends were about her--she is very blessed to have formed such close relationships with other young women. I thought they were very sweet!

Sam thanking her friends for what they said about her

Nadine, Mom, and I recalling life at 21 and memories of Sam

It was a very fun celebration, and I know that life has many amazing things in store for Sam!

The blessing of the labyrinth

This morning I caught a ride back home to Portland with my parents, just in time for the labyrinth blessing at our church. (The community recently built a beautiful labyrinth on our church grounds.)

A nun from Mt. Angel was there to talk briefly about labyrinths, and both Bishop David Brauer-Rieke (the Oregon ELCA bishop) and Bishop Ken Steiner (representing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese) offered blessings.
Then our band, Consorting with Papists, played while people ate lunch. I'm going to have to fire my photographer and find another one: he took photos of the labyrinth blessing, and after the blessing, but none of band performing. (Sorry honey--you're an amazing husband but a bit lacking in the photographer category--I remind him of when he traveled to Australia for his brother's wedding under strict directions to take lots of photos and video, and came back with hardly anything.)

These are the scintillating photos of after-the-blessing--Chris with his nose in a book:

And Kieran, friends Sam and Kate, and church dog Oliver, on the labyrinth:
Where is my shutterbug sister when I need her? I had to laugh last night when Nadine's husband, David, was asked to take a photo and he wasn't too sure about how the camera worked!

At any rate, it was a fun weekend, and tiring--but no time to rest. "Grease" opens on Thursday night, and the dress rehearsal is on Wednesday...and then it's Mother's Day. It's going to be a wild week!

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