Posts tagged family
This weekend, Adam and I made the 4 1/2 hour trip from Long Island into Pennsylvania for the Penn State 2010 Homecoming. No, neither of us are alumni, but one of my sisters and my dad are and as a perk for being in the Alumni Blue Band Association, they have the option of buying 2 tickets to the homecoming game. Adam and I took up the offer and the other two tickets went to my godfather and his son visiting from North Carolina. It’s always nice to see him because my dad and him have been friends since the second grade and I am bound to hear silly and embarrassing stories about my dad’s childhood.
The past few weeks/weekends have been quite busy for Adam and I due to work, planning for the wedding and our impending move to Park Slope – it wasn’t really an ideal weekend for traveling to Penn State but since we already bought the tickets, it would be wasteful not to go! To begin with, Adam had a crisis going on at work and we left Manhattan quite late and then we got home and tried to have some semblance of a dinner while Adam continued to work. I then suggested to him that we might as well buy a MiFi (I admit, it’s because I’ve been lusting for one since I heard those existed) so he could work through the evening in the car while I drove. The MiFi is pretty cool, you can buy it at full cost without a contract for $150 and then pay $40 a month for unlimited service. It worked pretty well along Route 80 going through Pennsylvania but there were obviously some pretty big gaping holes in service in a few areas. Unfortunately, our car isn’t outfitted with an AC power converter and he failed to charge his laptop before getting in the car so he only got to do some real work for a few hours of the trip. This meant I did most of the driving and he stayed up until 6am that morning working on bug fixes once we got to State College.
We left Long Island around 10pm Friday and only made it to State College around 3am which meant we missed the free pizza and booze with my dad and his college friends. I went right to bed and, as I mentioned earlier, Adam stayed up to work and then we woke around 10am to try and navigate ourselves to Beaver Stadium for the game while still half asleep. I have to mention that I do not miss living in a dorm at all. We were very lucky to have the opportunity to stay with Jennifer’s boyfriend, Hitesh, who lives on campus because our alternative was sleeping in the RV my dad’s friends rented for the weekend. Both meant uncomfortable sleeping situations and questionable restroom facilities, but at least there was enough room to move around in the apartment.
The game was a huge disappointment and the Nittany Lions lost to Illinois but we still sat there in the boiling sun until the conclusion of the game. The Blue Band, as always, was enjoyable, but I think I was experiencing mild heatstroke because I can’t really remember what they played and only that I took a few snap-shots for Jennifer’s scrapbook of the weekend. Afterwards, my dad did his traditional tailgate, albeit on the smaller side, and we attempted to play an awful game of ring toss interrupted by a few curses and the occasional “I hate this stupid game! Why are we playing this again?” We also visited Hitesh’s tailgate and munched on paneer and chicken marinated in yogurt sauce. We were also treated to the drunken antics of his tailgate neighbors who also reminded me why I chose not to live in Pennsylvania anymore.
We wrapped up the night hanging out with the “Hedgehogs” at the RV made up of my dad’s friends from college. Please don’t ask me where that name comes from because I don’t know, and I’m quite certain they don’t remember either. They held their yearly homecoming meeting, inducted new members into the sacred order of the hedgehog and I think I was assigned the task of creating a web site for everyone and coming up with members only t-shirts. Sunday morning we hopped on over to the RV again for brunch and said our good-byes before heading off back north (but not before we stopped at a RadioShack and purchased an AC converter which promptly blew out our car’s cigarette lighter’s fuse whenever Adam attempted to charge his MacBook!)
It was nice to see everyone but I think I would have also enjoyed staying home instead of spending the time driving just because of everything that’s going on. I know we’ll be attempting to recoup our lost sleeping hours this week!
Yes, it’s true, we’ve been engaged since May and we originally had the party planned for August but it had to be moved. We finally were able to celebrate it with many friends and family this weekend in Island Park, NY at The Coyote restaurant down by the waterfront.
Luckily for me, Adam’s mom did the majority of the planning and logistical decisions. Since she was paying for it, mostly my job was just to show up. A couple of the tasks I had to do was invite any friends I wanted to attend, come up with a music playlist (the restaurant had an iPod hookup) and come up with a scrapbook for people to sign while they were there.
I was conflicted about my guest list since Adam’s mother’s family is absolutely huge and she has many, many close friends that she already invited. After the invites were all sent out, our guest list was well past 80 invitees. I was so overjoyed at the amount of people and just general love that we got this weekend. All but two of my friends from high school and college from Boston were able to make the long trip from Massachusetts to Long Island, many of them driving in that day!
I must admit, where I’m from, we’ve never heard of engagement parties and my parents and siblings were confused as to the purpose. After Ventz & Erica were engaged last fall they had a small one in Boston but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a Long Island, NY engagement party!
When I was tasked with coming up with a music playlist for the party, I wasn’t sure what to pick. Though my favorite music, I’m sure the older attendees wouldn’t appreciate hard rock, alternative and metal. I also couldn’t fit an entire playlist of Lady Gaga. After looking through my library of music, I realized that I’ve been sitting on a couple great Mashup albums organized by BootieMashup.com that I was saving just for the day I’d have a house party. After listening to the playlist for a few weeks and removed anything that would make Grandma blush, I had a pretty good set list prepared! I ended up getting a lot of compliments from my friends who said they really enjoyed the new twist on music. Of course, a few of them were pretty surprised I didn’t throw in some Nine Inch Nails for good measure.
My final task was to prepare a sign in book for the guests. I subscribe to the OffBeatBride newsfeed and was very impressed with some bride’s take on the photo booth idea (I will also admit that I originally thought of this in the winter when Trent Reznor married his wife and they had an old time-y photo booth at their wedding and had people put it on paper.)
I’m also quite into scrapbooking and Adam’s mom picked up a white beaded album a couple months ago for me to use as I wish. I put together a packet of wedding themed stickers, brought my photo-friendly pens and a little Polaroid instant printer that I picked up the day before at the RadioShack. I was a little anxious wondering if people would be able to figure out how to print from my digital camera, but after demonstrating it to enough people, I think the rest were able to catch on. If I could do one thing over, it would be to get a different album. Unfortunately, all the pages were in plastic which meant people had to pull the paper out of the plastic wrapping before sticking their picture on and signing the paper. Some people didn’t take pictures and instead signed the plastic. The markers weren’t meant for plastic so the ink wiped away as soon as the page rubbed up against something else (usually the page right next to it.) I think I’ll try to do something like this again for the wedding reception in Pittsburgh next June but try to make it much more streamlined and maybe even get props!
One of my least favorite tasks was opening all of the wonderful gifts we got from our attendees. By the end of the day I was absolutely beat from running around meeting people and being generally sociable that I just wanted to pass out. Adam’s sister Stacey and the rest of our family prodded us to open the gifts we received and write down everyone’s names so we could get thank yous out by the end of the week. I had been watching our wedding registry for the past few weeks so I had a good idea about what we would potentially be getting but I was delightfully surprised by some of the off-the-cuff gifts we got. I hadn’t yet decided on when/if I’d change my name and one of the reasons I gave was that everything about me online is “Rachel Ober.” Ventz managed to bid on new domains for Adam and me! We are now the owners of RachelAKaplan.com, RachelAKaplan.net, and AdamJKaplan.net, hah! With a very Jewish name like “Rachel Kaplan” and “Adam Kaplan,” it is damn near impossible to get a domain! Another gift we are really excited about getting is from my high school friends Scott and Pat. Scott usually brews his own beer in his basement and they gave us Cabernet and we are looking forward to opening it once we get all moved into our new house!
Last week we got back from a five-day trip down to Aruba to relax and, more importantly, scout out possible wedding sites! When I say “we” I mean me, Adam, my sister Jennifer, my mother, and Adam’s mom and dad. It was a whole family affair! After all the walking around and scouting, at the end of the week I swore that if my dad had come along on this trip too I would have seriously been tempted to just elope right then and there!
We stayed at the Occidental that is an all-inclusive hotel. That gave us all our meals for free as well as access to a bunch of water sports. We were able to finally get some kayaking that I’ve been dying to do since I first did it on a river up in New Hampshire a few years ago on a camping trip the first summer I met Adam. He wasn’t able to do it with me that time because his Grandfather passed away right before we were scheduled to make the trip, so it was really nice to finally be able to kayak with him.
Jennifer also snagged us a couple of hours of dedicated boat time Sunday morning at 9am which had to have been the perfect time to do it. It was still quite cool before the sun began to soak the beach and because it was Sunday morning, the boats and water skiers weren’t in the port yet to cause wakes.
We rode on the boat from Palm Beach to the light house and passed the bed and breakfast we stayed at last February. I definitely prefer the calmer, non-touristy side of the island. The beach sand isn’t as “nice” and curated but I think that is what makes it special.
After breakfast, Adam and I ran away and rented a Jeep for a day to off-road to visit some of the places on the island that we missed the last time we were in Aruba. Our main objectives were the Natural Bridge (or what’s left of it,) the Arikok National Park, and Baby Beach. It would have been nice to go to the Natural Pools but you would have had to really go off-road in that part of the park and our vehicle wasn’t up to the challenge.
We spent most of the afternoon going down to the Natural Bridge and snapping pictures too close to the edge of the cliffs. We then took the Jeep to maximum potential and rode around off-road to visit a few places in the park. One of them was a beach with a deadly rip-tide. We got our feet wet and were entranced by the almost translucent crabs that were desperately trying to shovel sand out of their hole-homes. (Very cute by the way!)
We stopped by the caverns just before exiting the park and were able to walk all the way in due to the holes open to the outside to let sunlight in. It was deathly stuffy in there due to no air flow which had been keeping me relatively comfortable while walking around outside in the blazing sun.
To finish off the trip, we managed to twist around and find our way down to Baby Beach. The thing about Baby Beach is that it is incredibly still, and has an extremely gradual slope so you are able to walk all the way out to the edge of the cove and still have your head above water. It was here were we took our second try at snorkeling. Last year I had a less than desirable experience snorkeling at the bed and breakfast due to the abnormally harsh waves and I basically froze and had a panic attack in the water thinking I was going to drown. Adam had to physically drag me back to shore. Suffice it to say, I was quite anxious about trying to snorkel again!
I’m very glad to report that I was able to get over my phobia of snorkeling and enjoy the colorful aquatic life that swam under the currents. I took it bit by bit and was able to putter around under the water without freaking out and impressed Adam when I was able to catch up with him after telling him to go ahead and enjoy without me while I went at my own pace.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wading in the water and decided that we should head back because our mothers were probably having fits wondering where on the island we were. On our ride back we enjoyed taking the top off the Jeep, listened to some local dance radio, and watched the sun slowly creep towards the horizon.
Of course our main assignment was to find out where we wanted our wedding to take place. During the day we visited the different hotels along the coast at the high-rise hotels and met with the wedding planners and directors to get more information on what they offer. We narrowed it down to the Marriot, Hyatt and Westin. On Saturday and Sunday evenings, my mom and me or Adam’s mom and me scouted the beaches to watch people get married and to check out how their receptions looked. I was pretty set on going with the Marriot until my mom and I caught a ceremony and saw that they had placed the ceremony right next to the water sports equipment hut. Now, maybe it’s just me, but that would be a pretty ridiculous and ugly photo backdrop. We also took note of the beach traffic from onlookers since Aruba’s beaches are all public and the noise from nearby restaurants. After taking everything into consideration, I definitely think the Westin is the way to go. We even had a chance to talk to the mother-of-the-bride the day of her daughter’s wedding and got the low-down on their take on the whole ordeal.
Now I must do the hard part and try to figure out what exactly I want at our wedding. The wedding planner gave me a check list to fill out of my “wishes” but I can’t even begin to think what it is I want! I was never a girl who dreamed from a young age about my wedding and planned everything down to the tiniest detail. I think I would be happy if someone else just decided it for me and just made it classy and to our personalities after talking to us for a bit.
I better figure out soon, otherwise I’m going to keep getting nagged by the respective families and settle on the final date!
This is old news to some people, but on May 21, 2010 Adam asked me to marry him!
He surprised me with a day out at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens for a photo walk (on one of the hottest days of the year that far) but ended up forgetting his camera’s battery. We made do with my puny point-and-click and enjoyed each others company.
After an afternoon of walking and enjoying the flowers, he brought me to the cherry blossom trees and we sat down. If you know Adam, you know he’s a bit of a procrastinator (like me!) We watched a group of people set up for what looked like a wedding and I could tell he was attempting to try to tell me something.
Unfortunately for him, his hesitation was too long and a security guard approached us and asked us to leave the area because the garden was closing (presumably for the event under the cherry blossoms!)
In the scurry of things, he first attempted to sit me down on one of the benches near the trees and as he began to talk a large Hasidic family was making its way across the grass towards us, yelling at their unruly children in the process. Adam rolled his eyes and tried for a third time to find a quiet and appropriate sitting place.
Finally, we walked around for a moment and sat me down on a bench as he stood and reached into his camera bag to pull out a ring box and presented me with my ring. Of course I said yes, we hugged and everything was happy. We then rushed off to the dinner he had scheduled that we were no doubt now late for.
He then surprised me once again when we showed up at the restaurant in New York City, we met up with his father, mother and sister and then shortly the rest of my family all the way from Pittsburgh and my sister from Philadelphia! “Mazel Tovs!” all around. We enjoyed a quiet but talkative evening celebrating our engagement and talked about tentative plans for a wedding next year.
Right now we are in the thick of planning a destination wedding for next summer in Aruba and hope to make a trip with our parents in the next month to scout some places out! We will also be having a reception in Pittsburgh and most likely its counterpart in New York City for our friends and family who won’t be able to join us for our tropical ceremony.