Category Archives: Signatures

Show Me

ashow93The girl’s last summer of shows before she goes off to college has been a mixed bag as far as performance. Sometimes she does really well – and sometimes not so well.

It’s life. But this summer we know exactly why.

She hasn’t been riding much. She’s been forced to choose between the farm and a plethora of other things in her life and sometimes she chooses the other things. Actually a lot of times she chooses other things.

ashow9But Miss Tina is always there to remind her of her priorities.

After her first course Miss Tina said, “That was atrocious.”

The girl has been her student for so long she has stopped crying when criticized.

ashow95But she still pays rapt attention when Miss Tina speaks.

After her second course she asked Miss Tina what she thought.

Miss Tina told her she needs to ride more.

ashow91And she says it with a very pretty pink flower in her hat – and that takes away the sting a little.

ashow995She’s a little disappointed after her performance yesterday but she did have a great fan base that day which I think helped a little. When it comes to horse show, you literally cannot win them all . . .

Life Through My iPhone

Thank goodness I have my iPhone or else I would miss so much that’s going on in my life. Lately though, I find myself photographing less and less. The passing of my friends remind me that it’s not a good practice – I should photograph more! More of life, more of friends, more of people I love.

It’s hard though – I’m fighting a feeling of malaise and almost disinterest. I know why I feel that way – and so do you I’m sure. I’m going to fight through it for I know it’s not good for anyone, particularly for the people around me.

iphone2One of the things I’ve been doing is cycling. I try to go a couple of times a week and on most Tuesdays, I ride with a group of fun people called the Fab Brew Crew. It’s great exercise and one of the best things after a ride is eating dinner together. Here’s a few ladies that I ride with. Aren’t they beautiful? And look at the boats behind them! There are definitely perks to this newest hobby of mine.

iphone15On her first day of her internship, I rode the metro to meet the girls at work to escort them home on the metro so they understand the route. I wanted a photo of course. The girl initially refused saying, “Mom, it’s not the first day of school.”

iphone14But she relented and posed with Sydney-girl and I’m so glad I have this photo. These are two of the cutest interns ever!

iphone3It can be a logistical challenge to get them there and back. Most of the time they ride in with someone and then I pick them up a the metro station and bring them home. It’s quite a commute for them. It’s an hour metro ride and then a half hour drive back home. On one trip home a few weeks ago, I was rear ended by an 18 year old girl. We’re fine, she’s fine, and the people in the car that was sandwiched between us was fine – though that car had to get towed away. There were a lot of first responders who came to our rescue and we were the subject of a bit of a backup on the highway – the kind that annoys everyone, especially people in Washington DC. It didn’t stop us from snapping a silly photo. Can’t take these things too seriously.

iphone4The husband and I went to New Jersey for Barb’s funeral a couple of weeks ago and it was a really wonderful to see all our friends. I know how that sounds – but somehow it makes the loss more tolerable to be together through it. We went to the wake together then ended up at Carol’s for dinner that evening.

iphone5We couldn’t agree on how to take a photo and Carol suggested we turn off the light so we didn’t get a glare from the chandelier. It worked well didn’t it? I don’t have a lot of photos from those two days so I actually cherish these dark and out of focused ones.

iphone9Now here’s a joyous moment. The boy came home for a few days for the July 4th weekend! He had left school to attend Mr Tom’s funeral and then came home to us.

iphone7On the day he came home, we took him to Walter Reed Hospital for the husband’s doctor appointment. I guess we felt he hadn’t traveled enough miles and needed to be in the car for another couple of hours.

iphone8He was so accommodating like he always is and he appreciated all of the service people who were there for their doctor appointments. They were veterans without limbs and with scars that I’m sure we couldn’t see. The comfort dog, and I can’t remember her name, was there to give those people a little bit of love. She’s in the Navy!

iphone12 This is one of the great views along one of our cycling rides. I actually stopped to take a photo – and got way behind everyone but I just can’t help myself sometimes.

iphone10Here’s why I cycle. I can’t resist when it comes to butter and sugar – which is what these are. They are the traditional no bake cookies and I made them for LCAT Daniel and Devyn-girl when they came to visit the boy last week. I busied myself in the kitchen while they recounted their college stories to me. LCAT Daniel is going to a school for philosophy (or something like that) and he showed up with a tie dyed shirt that said, “vagina guardian” on it. His hair was also quite Jesus-like. He told me the story behind his shirt and it really was a very innocent explanation of an unconventional message on a shirt. LCAT Daniel is highly intelligent and a great debater and Devyn-girl said to him, “I feel so stupid around you.”

To which I answered, “This coming from a bio-chemistry major.” She’s studying bio-chemistry and is interning at a police department as a forensics intern this summer. She then went on to tell me how much she loved titration.

These kids crack me up – but then again, they just finished their second year of college so they’re not really kids anymore. Le sigh.

iphone1This is Asher! Among all of the wonderful moments in the last month or so – this is it. This photo was sent to me by his proud grandmother. I can’t wait to have a grandson or two myself. Yup, I did just say that. I have yet to visit his tired parents but I will – soon.

iphone13I’ve been keeping an eye on our church expansion and big machinery fascinate me.

iphone19This young man just finished his studies at our non-profit culinary school and he volunteered to make sandwiches for our Dragon Boat volunteers. People serving people who are serving God. I love it.

iphone11This is comedian Kenn Kington whose act I have apparently seen ten years ago but have no recollection of it because he was with so many other comedians – but I do remember they were all funny. So now I have a photo to prove we met! He is also a really nice man, very gentle and chivalrous in nature. He gave a message at church that makes you laugh and makes you cry and takes you through the gamut of emotions. You should listen - http://chesapeakechurch.org/sermon/current-sermon.

I promise you won’t regret it.

iphone17This is one of my cravings, Vietnamese pho. Every once in a while, I have to have it. Barb complained once that she knew everything I ate because I post photos of food. It’s one of my favorite subjects!

iphone16Lastly, the husband sent me this photo of a magnolia bloom. These are so beautiful and so fragrant and I’m glad God makes them. It’s that simple.

Here’s to life through an iPhone.

Vote For Benedict!

benedict3aThis baby never stops smiling . . . he’s just a doll. When I saw he was nominated for Gap Cutest Baby in July, I voted – and then I asked the husband to vote – and then I asked all my “friends” on facebook to vote.

He belongs to a co-worker and ever since he was born, I couldn’t stop hugging him. He’s the happiest and friendliest child (aside from the boy when he was a baby) I’ve ever met – that smile is a killer!

And now I’m asking you to vote!

Go here – http://www.babyvote.com/jul14/benedict-larson and place your vote! It only takes a second – and you’ll feel that Benedict gave you a big baby hug!

Thank you – from Benedict!

Family Issues

july11bI rented a 17-55 2.8 lens from Len Pro To Go to shoot the Dragon Boat Festival and since I only received it the day before the event, I took it outside to practice shooting. A couple of members of the family followed me.

Ella the dog is full of mischief and love – some would say needy, and they would be right.

july11cBut she’s a happy dog and very, very sweet. You would never know that I almost gave her back to the kennel and for a year, neither the husband nor I got a full night’s sleep. Ella didn’t sleep through the night, she would have to go out several times and sometimes when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed, I would come downstairs to find a “mess” in the kitchen. This went on for a year – a year!

Coupled with the fact that she likes to chew shoes, steals clothing from our open suitcases and eats entire bottles of medicine – I was at my wits end.

The baggage in my life was really starting to show under my eyes. I had given the husband an ultimatum. It was her or me. I can’t take it anymore. I think he actually took a moment to think about it.

Several months ago I took her to the doctor and bemoaned our situation. The doctor suggested we change her food. Change her food? How in the world is that going to help? I was skeptical but we did it and after a couple of days, we noticed a huge change in her bowel movements and her behavior. She is more regular and though she gets up once a night still but I’m alright with that. I can sleep at least six hours straight. It’s amazing!

The dog food brand suggested by the doctor is – Purina Pro Plan.

It’s a miracle.

july11aAnd then there’s the dog. The sweetheart – perfect from the day we brought her home almost 12 years ago.

Well – she does smell and the dog hair is quite out of control but I overlook those things and accept her the way she is.

july11dHere is the family photo.

That veterinarian saved our family. Hats off to vets everywhere!

Passing Of A Mentor

It’s been a challenging summer for us and we’re still trying to recover. It’s fine, we’re fine. It just takes some time.

My friend Barb passed away over night on June 21. That week we drove to New Jersey to spend two days with our friends, celebrate her life, and attend her funeral. It was a wonderful two days, full of laughter, tears and lots and lots of hugging. I don’t mind all the hugging – I’m a sanguine, but even the melancholy temperaments hugged. It was as if we all had to touch each other, to make sure we’re all there.

tom2On our way home from her funeral, the boy called us to tell us of Mr Tom’s passing. It wasn’t unexpected, I told you before that Roommate John was called home six weeks ago from school to be at his dad’s bedside.

I was calm while on the phone with him, encouraging him and working out his schedule so he can attend the funeral. I thought to myself, “God, where is the lesson in this? Teach me, tell me.”

I still don’t know the answer but I know He’s in all of it He’ll tell me one day.

tom3Mr Tom was a pilot and he mentored the boys in many ways. They immediately formed a bond with him. He was one of the most experienced pilots in the country – and he had a leadership role in his company where he touched and cared for thousands of people.

He was also really witty – a laugh a minute and just so wonderfully pleasant to be around.

We just saw him in April when we all made the trip to North Dakota to see the boys for aviation parents weekend. He wasn’t well.

tom11This was the first time we met – parents unite! It was October of 2012 and Tom was healthy and fit and still flying airplanes.

In August 2012, we left the boy in his dorm room and flew 1500 miles home and I broke out in hives. I wrote about it here – seems so long ago. The boy told us that week that Roommate John’s parents took him out to dinner and Mr Tom told us, “He was really happy to see us!”

We went up to parents’ weekend six weeks later and when we met, we had an instant connection, as if we’ve been friends our whole lives.

tom4We all went to dinner together several times while during that weekend – it was a hoot. His wife Diane asked me if I knew the boys were asking to move off campus to an apartment. Mr Tom said incredulously, “They’ve been together six weeks, now they want to move out and get a dog and a maid?”

We laughed so hard.

tom7He loved to take photos and here he is taking one of the boys. This photo was from less than two years ago. You know what? Three of these boys just moved into an apartment together last month.

Next will be the dog and the maid I’m sure. Too funny.

tom5Over the next couple of years, we continued to make the trip up to school and attended hockey games and banquets & had meals together.

tom6 This was last fall at one of the hockey games or maybe it was a winter a couple of years ago. It really doesn’t matter because we had a blast every time we were together and our friendship with Mr Tom and Diane grew. They are just fantastic people.

tom8I can’t tell you who enjoyed these weekends more, the boys or the parents. We loved soaking in the college environment and the boys loved getting free dinners and a chance to eat outside of their cafeteria.

I also like to think they missed their parents – a little bit?

Every time we got together we wore our Sioux wear. The NCAA has since forced the school to stop using the nickname. The contrarian in me now wear it all the time.

The other set of parents belong to Kyle. The boy stayed with them last weekend and they all attended Mr Tom’s funeral together. How in the world could we have known then what we would be doing less than two years later?

tom9We were just having fun with our guys at a hockey game.

Life is short – you have to enjoy every moment when you can, as long as you can.

tom10Tom wanted a photo of the dads who he called “The Bank.” Yes, it takes a lot of money to get our boys through flight school. It’s a good thing we can laugh about it – and we’re laughing all the way to the poorhouse which I guess is better than crying all the way there.

I digress.

tom1We made our way back up to Grand Forks this spring and saw Tom for the last time. He freely showed his affection and his pride for the boy and I loved him for that. It was on this trip that we prayed together, us and our boys. I read from 2 Corinthians. I hope I wasn’t too awkward, I did my best and prayed scripture would take it from there.

I take solace in knowing Tom is in heaven. It makes it so much easier for me to grieve his passing here on earth. I’m also grateful for his short presence in our lives. He was a special man.

If he can hear me, I would say to him, thank you for the example you have set with your life, thank you for being our friend, and thank you for loving our son.

I Really Did Celebrate

july4AI had plans for the 4th but I freely admit, I was less than enthusiastic about the entire thing this year. I am however, grateful for the holiday, it reminds me that life still goes on. It forced me to come to that reality – no matter how unexpected and seemingly surprising, inexplicable and unfair it seems at times. The recent losses of our friends – well – they were still on our minds, and especially on mine. The holiday have a little less bang, a little less enjoyable, and a little less celebratory. I found myself remembering a July 4th spent in New Jersey with my friend Barb. She was hustling around getting all of the details in place, all of the food just right and all of the neighbor into chairs, the latter being the most challenging.

I promise I’m going to snap out of this soon. God is in all of it -

july4hI did cook most of the day, perhaps in an effort to just keep my feet and hands moving. I asked the girl to come down and help me make the cake. The fruit cake that is.

july4iShe and I had a discussion for about 15 minutes about what a cake really means. To me, it’s a cake, whether it’s made of fruit or flour. I’m trying to lose weight, can’t you tell?

julykYou can’t tell with all the food I put out for just the four of us. It’s a sort of a Thai American barbeque of sorts. There were Angus beef hot dogs, corn on the cob, Thai beef jerky, Thai sticky rice and Thai fish sauce and lime.

Oh – and blueberry muffins. We didn’t eat it all, but it felt good to cook.

july4bI asked that we go to downtown Washington DC that evening for the simple fact that we’ve never done it, even though we live 40 minutes away. What is wrong with us? While I knew that’s what I wanted to do, I didn’t do much planning for it and if it’s one thing I know about my family – if there is no plan, there is uncertainty and conjecture and second guessing.

So we ended up at the airport. It wasn’t the plan but oh look! red, white, and blue airplane tails! Some of us get excited about these things.

We actually drove toward Washington DC, hoping to find a place to park and watch – and then beat feet out of there as fast as we can. Of course, if you know anything about getting to the heart of DC while there’s a July 4th celebration going on, you’ll know it doesn’t happen that way.

Why oh why doesn’t Neighbor Sue have her 4th of July party anymore? I’d much rather go there.

The parking garage at the park where we intended to go was full so we turned around and went to Legal Sea Foods at the airport hoping to see the fireworks through the huge windows but they said they closed before the fireworks begin. Hmmm. We had a small bite and then we to the parking garage roof top level to watch the fireworks.

july4c

The girl is so shy and so introverted that it cracks me up when I see photos like this. She’s posing and the boy refused to look. I guess it was backwards day.

july4d

And when I see photos like this and I don’t think anyone believes me when I tell them that she doesn’t like to be photographed.

july4e

The fireworks were actually very nice – although we were quite far away, across the river and further.

julyfNext year we’re going to get access to that control tower and watch them from there.

Or maybe we’ll actually make it to the mall in DC. Or maybe we’ll just stay at home.

july4gHere’s what we decided. We’re going to get a hotel room at the W Hotel across the street from the White House. We’re making our reservations as soon as the W opens its schedule.

Yes, stay tuned for those photos.

I hope you all had a wonderful July 4th celebration. And remember that no matter what is going in your life at the time, joy continues.

Moving Production Forward

ehccboat9I’m so blessed to be a part of a community that cares so much for those who live here. It’s what God wants us to do – care for those who are hurting. That’s a paraphrase of the Bible but I know it’s in there!

ehccboat2Last Saturday, our non-profit, End Hunger in Calvert County, sponsored a Dragon Boat festival to raise awareness and funds for all the local food pantries that serve the community. An event like this takes hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. The husband was looking for a way to volunteer and of course, what better way for him to do so than to include his boat in the festivities somehow.

ehccboat3He was one of volunteers that were under my care for the day and as we talked of the logistics of getting his little fishing boat out on the water with the associated photographers and videographers, I prayed everything would go well. I prayed his wake wouldn’t capsize the dragon boats, I prayed everyone on the water would be safe, and I prayed and no one would say, “Hey, who are those guys out there? Get them out of there!”

ehccboat4The husband’s sole responsibility was to take the photographers and videographers out on the water, next to the boats and capture photos and video of the races from the perspective of looking from water to the land. I on, the other hand, remained on land the entire time – because I was the leader that day and wasn’t going to risk my camera falling in the water – I left that risk to others:)

ehccboat5

The husband was having such a great time, and so were the girl and her prom date who hitched a ride later on that afternoon.

ehccboat1I told both him and everyone under my care that day that we would not be the ones who would be responsible for any mishaps. None. Period. As it turns out, it wasn’t a day free of mishap, and I’ll tell you about that later.

ehccboat6When I heard the news of Barb’s death, I put my phone away and walked out to the boardwalk and looked at the boats on the water – at the husband who was so enjoying himself. I decided that I wouldn’t tell him until that evening. There was no good reason to do so then, there was nothing we could do. Nothing we could change.

ehccboat7When we were safely at home at evening, I shared the news with him. I had no answers to the questions he was asking me. I was exhausted from the day – a day that should have brought me so much joy, but instead, ended with sadness.

ehccboat8I do know one thing – Barb would have LOVED the event. She had a heart as big as Arizona – or Texas – or bigger. She would have enjoyed herself – I know that – and because of it, I’ll continue to share photos from the day. As much of a shock it was to learn of her death on that day, it was still a day that God made. And with every soul He brings home, He feeds another.

June 20, Commuter

The weekend is right around the corner and I’m sure all the commuters in urban areas all over the country are letting out a collective anticipated sigh.

june20

I on the other hand, am gearing up for a long weekend of work. I appreciate what I do, and where I do it even more than ever this week. Why? It’s because the girl, along with her friend Sydney, started an internship this week and they are among the millions who commute to work using public transportation.

june20bSo far it’s going well but I admit, I had a lot of trepidation about this, considering the distance of the commute to her office and her age so we explored a lot of options, including driving, the bus, and the metro.

june20cWe made a test drive last weekend and I realized there is not much more dangerous than an inexperienced driver on the beltway surrounding our nation’s capital at the height of commuter times. We considered the bus but that’s not an option for many reasons. We settled the metro and after a week, I’ve stopped biting my fingernails and have settled into a settled uneasiness. Those two things are a dichotomy but it’s the best description of my feelings of their commute.

june20aI took the trip with them on their first day to help them navigate the system. On our way home, I boarded a train ahead of the girls and they didn’t make it in on time. I turned around and the doors closed, leaving them standing on the platform with nervousness on their faces as my train pulled away. I got off at the next stopped and called them. They insisted they were fine and we eventually made the trip separately but ended up on the same train and at the correct destination, it was a relief.

june20dIt’s a great opportunity and there will be times when the girls will be able catch a hop right to the office, but all other times, they will do it on their own.

I’m sure I’ll get used to this new normal as the summer wears on. For all the commuters out there, TGIF!

FaceTime Photo Shoot

The boy is at school for at least the first part of the summer. His schedule is such that he couldn’t make it home for the girl’s graduation or he would be too far behind in his studies and his flight schedule. We decided that he could still do a photo shoot with the family via FaceTime. It worked really well, like he was right here with us. He saw how we were dressed and he said, “Should I have dressed up?” We thought his Nodak Nation shirt was perfect.

facet1

Here are the grandparents with their grandkids -

My parents made the trip down to the girl’s graduation ceremony and I really appreciated it very much. They’ve had a couple of years of difficulty with their health and I know it was an effort. Because they made the trip, I was able to get this photo of them and the kids. It’s priceless.

facet8

Here they are with the boy. He’s so funny, he had us laughing the entire time.

facet2
The boy wanted to do this Brady Bunch shot, what a goof ball. We passed the iPad around as we shifted people in and out of the shots and while his grandpa was holding it he said, “Is this how you used to hold me when I was a baby?” Crazy boy.

facet5

She’s her daddy’s sweetheart. I love this photo.

facet4

Here’s the family! I wish I there was another person here to take a photo of all of us but that’s alright. I love this shot anyway.

facet3

We couldn’t all get into one photo so we took turns with the camera instead and I was able to jump into a couple of shots. I forgot to put my arm on my hip here -

facet6
The girl so sweetly told him that it was alright that he couldn’t make the trip for graduation, that she understood. They get along now the way they did when they were little.

These two are my world -