Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Letter for 2014 and 2015

   Last Christmas, I couldn't seem to write a letter even after a full year of adjusting to Dale’s job loss and heart condition. We did drive back to Kansas/Missouri and visited all our family, which was a blessing. But on the return trip, our car was broken into overnight, and we lost thousands of dollars of possessions that we were taking back to Delaware. God wasn’t trying to ruin us completely... We were glad our family was unharmed, and the insurance money helped our budgeting. AirBnB also helped with a dozen different people renting our "basement apartment” in St. Joseph (whilst Angie was the “pool boy”). Finally, God surprised us in June by sending a family who wanted to rent our house. We moved (meaning the twins did all the work) to a rental house in north Wilmington with a dishwasher (!) and separate bedrooms (!) for the first time in Ben and David’s lives. Please excuse the USPS who doesn’t forward so well!
     Dale still has physical limitations which make him unable to accept the flying offer$ that come every month, but he was happy to find a new medication in September that decreased the negative side effects he has been battling. He helped me say goodbye to the 1996 Previa after 231,000 miles (LOL it lasted almost the whole 25 years of our marriage). He also handled multiple car repairs/trades/sales for Reid and twins and Father Benjamin. He has become killer at “Words with Friends” in between teaching simulator sessions at Flight Safety.
     I am still hosting international students as my part-time job. Both Johnson and Terry came back from last school year (sophomore and junior at Tatnall). While they were gone over the summer, we rotated through five other Chinese boys attending junior high camps or college (I've learned a great deal about the Communist Party in China). Basically, I cook and clean and chauffeur -- Love that dishwasher! We also welcomed five pilgrims for the Papal Visit to Philly (“Like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures.” -Pope Francis) and renewed our admiration for Catholic missionaries (like Jimmy Mitchell and Father Anthony). I increased my tutoring contracts now that I am not working for the Chinese placement office. During my busiest times, I have 70+ hours (7 days a week) and my slowest weeks have 25 hours (and only 5 days). I still like ACT better than SAT (given the upcoming changes).
     Reid served as Vice President at his fraternity, was Homecoming Chair (again), and attended all the good (and bad) sporting events at K-State. He is an executive officer for Sigma Alpha Pi and has a work-study job with the Professional Advantage Program at the College of Business. High hopes for another summer internship (thanks, Uncle Carey). We took him to Wall Street, Ground Zero, Times Square & Rockefeller Plaza this week.
     Ben and David continue online/homeschooling plus they took Sociology at community college. Next semester is World History (less liberal, I’m sure). They are having an amazing hockey season (beating the #10 and #12 teams in the country). They recently accepted a tender from the Janesville (Wisc) Jets, which is one of the best teams in the NAHL. This contract was a huge honor since each team has a limited number of offers they are allowed to extend. We are all holding our breath for the USHL draft in early May (that is the premier junior's league with the most college scholarships).
     Last, but certainly not least, is our joyful news of Megan Augusta and her wedding with Spencer Thomas Rusch in November. I have photos on Facebook and my WarmlyCandise blogspot, which pale in comparison to “the" perfectly grand affair. Sorry we couldn’t invite all our friends, but our hearts are still overwhelmed by the prayers, good wishes, lovely setting, extraordinary food, fun music, and all manner of blessings brought to us by this small but important extension of our family. Their charming house and prosperous jobs with Rubin/Brown and Mr. and Mrs. Wedding Events are sure to make their way into future Christmas letters. 
     We all do well to keep a sense of humor in this world, and in this Year of Mercy, I pray you best wishes for a   
     Merry Christmas!  and a  Happy New Year!

Chesterton said: “I have little doubt that when St. George had killed the dragon he was heartily afraid of the princess.”   and  “What life and death may be to a turkey is not my business; but the soul of Scrooge and the body of Cratchit are my business.” 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Professional Photos of Wedding

We have a glimpse of the photography skills of Laura Ann... Awaiting all the photographs.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Wedding Dance (Part 4 of 4)

The party truly began with the wedding dance. Megan let her hair down and added a Kate Spade necklace for the celebration. I can't tell you which song was played during their first dance, because I was too distracted watching their fancy footwork (dance lessons paid off), and I was thinking of all the happy times that lay ahead. I smiled as Dale did a great job with "My Girl" during the Father-Daughter Dance.

The Spectrum Band was amazing with a wide repertoire of oldies and classic rock-and-roll hits. The 9-piece ensemble filled the stage with sax, trombone, trumpet, bass, keyboard, drums, percussion, plus male and female vocalists. We were impressed, and the crowd was obviously pleased as the dance floor stayed full all evening (even Melanie danced from her wheelchair).

Guests could linger by the full bar in the lounge by the fireplace or watch from the loft, which also had an open bar. The hot drinks table was also getting a lot of attention with hot cocoa, cider, coffee, marshmallows, chocolate stirring sticks, gold straws, and six flavors of creamer. Not to mention the monogrammed coffee sleeves. I told you that Megan thought of everything.
The photo booth was busy all night, too. Its gold backdrop added glitz to the crazy props.

About 10 pm, a doughnut truck arrived. This was a nod to the AGD doughnut tradition, but with a twist, because the man makes gourmet-flavored frostings for his glazed doughnuts. A foodie's dream!
About 11 pm, there was a delivery of Imo's Pizza (Spencer's favorite local shop). Hot and tasty "midnight snack" to end the perfect evening.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Wedding Dinner (Part 3 of 4)

Megan made sure all the reception details were charming. The "Boo Cat Club" at the renovated Artists Guild Building has Art Deco features, a loft, two fireplaces, and glass ceilings. First, the cocktail hour began in the lower level, where jazz music from an instrumental duo gave it an even cozier feeling. 
Butlered hors d'oeuvres made their way around: brie cheese and cranberries in phyllo triangles, petite grilled asiago cheese and pear sandwiches, and mini lamb chops with panko coating. The guest book was a signable album of engagement photos. On display were three wedding gowns (Gr Judy's, Gr. Elizabeth's, and mine) as well as a dozen wedding photos from both family's ancestors.
Next, guests found their table assignments from a tall mirror in the foyer. The plated dinner was served in three courses: spinach salad with bleu cheese and walnuts, beef tenderloin with bacon-wrapped shrimp on a "MRS" skewer alongside roasted asparagus and potatoes, and of course, the red velvet cake with blush ruffled frosting.
I sat by Alison, who was Megan's confirmation sponsor. She did the second reading at mass and her two boys were altar servers. Megan began babysitting for the Schiebers when Edmund was born, and he always promised to marry Megan, so it was cute that he was here that day. Dale sat by Kenny, who was best man at our wedding just 25 years ago.

Dale gave a welcome speech and advised the newlyweds to remember that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we should listen more than we talk. Reid gave a bridal toast saying how he was close to Megan since the twins had each other, and how she always set a fine example for him and everyone around her. Spencer's older brother and best man Jason gave a salute to his boyhood buddy. The prayer was led by Father Chuck, who reiterated the earlier homily and emphasized the strong bonds of family life.

With three years in the wedding business, Megan knew the right vendors who would go above and beyond. We adored the place cards hand-lettered in gold ink, black hemstitched napkins on gold-edged china, gold chargers on burgundy tablecloths, and gold-embossed bottles of Coppola wine next to the table numbers in gold vintage frames. But we were utterly amazed at the flowers: dark-wine peonies plus red and blush roses topped each and every candle stick with an overflowing cascade of soft greenery. The head table featured an enormous eucalyptus garland dotted with gold mercury glass votives. Sweet elegance filled the room!

Sweet elegance filled the room!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Wedding Ceremony (Part 2 of 4)

The morning rain turned into snow as we watched through the window from the Seven Gables Inn, where all the bridesmaids had their hair and make-up done. When the veil was finally added to Megan’s updo, we both got a little teary eyed! The first look was for Dale—meeting her at the bottom of the stairway. 

Then Spencer got his “First Look” on the patio, with all the bridal party peeking through the windows to see them exchange gifts (a hockey jersey is sentimental?! she wanted a Kate Spade "Mrs." bracelet?!).
The wedding began inside the chapel of Sts. Mary and Joseph with beautiful prelude music by a violin and cello duo. The four bridesmaids (AGD sisters) wore long black gowns, and the ushers (her brothers) and groomsmen (Spencer’s childhood buddies) didn’t miss a cue. The interns from "Mr. and Mrs. Wedding Events" brought programs with velvet ribbons, gold pew bows, and a basket of vintage handkerchiefs for tears of joy.

Here comes the Bride! Her dress by Vera Wang was complimented perfectly by a custom-made lace top and cathedral length veil. The readings and homily seemed especially meaningful for the couple, given the challenges of the past year. Their vows were sealed with a kiss and confirmed in the Eucharist with many Catholic relatives and friends.

Instead of rice or confetti, the exit was an exhilarating send-off with “Team Rusch” rally towels.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Wedding Rehearsal (Part 1 of 4)

From last year's engagement on Nov. 21 until this year's wedding on Nov. 21, we have watched Megan's excitement and Pinterest boards expand. Her vision was classically styled and sophisticated in every detail. 
She designed a vintage-looking monogram, which ironically spells "MRS". The monogram appeared prominently on her cream-colored invitation suite, which was tied up with a black velvet ribbon. 
We regret that we couldn't invite all our friends, nor could they all travel to St. Louis (Rusch's home parish), but we cherish the prayers and email messages which arrived from far and near.
Megan came to the rehearsal on Thursday in a stylish cocktail dress--its sparkles picked up the happiness in Spencer's eyes! Father Benjamin arrived to "run the show," but infected all of us with his holy sense of humor. Both grandmothers from the bride's side were guests of honor at the delicious dinner at LoRusso's on the Hill.
Joe Rusch gave a moving toast and Michelle Rusch read a poem that touched our hearts. A slide show of family memories reminded us of the blessings since 1990 & 1992.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Easter Traditions

I am happy to continue the Easter tradition of a family photo and a big meal after mass. Our family has been extremely fortunate to find a humble priest in our new city. We all admire Fr. Anthony for his excellent homilies, and we "understand" his love of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey club. He is well respected by all my boys, including our two exchange students: Yichen "Johnson" on the left by Sniper Ben, and Tianqi "Terry" on the right by Playmaker David.
Captain and I are trying to look on the bright side