Category Archives: Signatures

It Finally Feels Like Hockey Season

capsvducks1A couple of weeks ago my hockey lovin’ husband and I went to another hockey game with some friends. I’m starting to feel like I know these guys personally.

capsvducks3It was fun as usual but the best part of going to a game is hanging out with friends and going to eat before hand. It’s just how I enjoy hockey.

capsvducks4Then there’s the fights –

Actually it’s seems that there is less and less physical altercations during the game and I’m glad. I always feel uncivilized watching one – like I’m in the Roman Coliseum watching Christians slaves get eaten by lions. I’m not kidding, I find it very barbaric.

But yet I still go – and I’m glad there’s less fighting now. The referees break it up early. Whew.

capsvducks5Neighbor Carrie and her son sat across the stadium from us and I spent a little bit of time looking for them through my long lens. I finally found them! Can you see them?

Why this post on hockey? Well it’s because it’s been frigid cold. And it snowed last night. Though this game was almost two weeks ago, I finally feel like it’s hockey season. I’m obviously a situational fan.

On a cooking/restaurant note, we met at Jaleo in Washington DC for dinner before the game. It’s a very popular restaurant owned by the renowned chef, Jose Andres. I’ve been there before – but I couldn’t remember what we ordered so we asked the waitress to bring out whatever she wanted. It’s a tapas place and it’s a great way to sample all the different dishes. The waitress brought us a steak tapas, a chicken tapas, cheese and seafood. Everything – everything was delicious.

hockey1This was the scene at the beach today – brrr – but beautiful.

Stay warm out there!

Valentine’s Day Week

The week between postings was full of crazy life “stuff” but it’s all good. I was perhaps feeling a little under the weather and not really motivated to do much except get through the week as best I can. You’ve had those weeks haven’t you?

The thing that occupied my mind the most last week? The girl was sick again at school and I’m wondering if she is allergic to school. Anyway, we spoke at 2:30 am midweek and it’s amazing what that does to a person’s ability to function the next day. I couldn’t do anything about it but somewhere inside of me, I worried that it was more than what it was – probably a bad stomach flu. She had a horse show last weekend and my plans were to drive to school on Valentine’s Day to watch my first collegiate show and spend the day with her.

Best laid plans.

The nurse suggested that she not do the show in her weakened state and I agreed. I’m not sure how her coach felt about it though. The girl missed three days of school last week and drove home. When she got home she felt better – then immediately felt that she should be at the show. We tend to second guess ourselves to the detriment of our mental health. She drove back to school on Sunday and when she got there, she promptly told us she had a sore throat. To which I told her to go to the nurse – again. It’s a dance this is – a jumbled mess of a jig.

I had plans myself you know – ones that didn’t involve the girl. It doesn’t matter I suppose, we take care of what is immediately in front of us.

vday1It was love week, and I focused on the loving and the lovely. What a shame that it would pass by without a acknowledging the sentiment.

Since the husband was leaving for training to the much warmer Texas on love day (the 14th) we decided to not go out to dinner but rather to our church’s Date Night. You may think it’s old fashioned, boring and unromantic.

To the contrary.vday2It was a lovely setting with all the trappings of a great night out.

vday3I had to show you the cute Cupid cookies. What a romantic alliteration!

vday4We were there with almost 200 hundred other people and our table mates were great conversationalists.

vday5And these two are my absolute favorite entertainers of all time. Here’s a little trivia – Jeremy once whistled Back Home in Indiana at the request of the husband during a gig at our favorite winery. He’s an amazing musician.

After dinner all the guests moved into the auditorium where we saw the movie God’s Not Dead together. Aside from making a casserole dish to share, we didn’t spend any money on that evening and it was one of the most enjoyable dates we’ve ever had.

On another note – the casserole I made was this Beef Moussaka on foodnetwork.com. It was cheap to make and really, really delicious. I’m going to make it again this week for a family of nine. Yes, a family of nine. Much more on that later.

Aside from the girl being home, the husband leaving to go to training and Valentine’s Day, it was a full week – but oh, it wasn’t over. We had a wind storm last Saturday which knocked out the electricity for most of last weekend. On top of that, the temperature is in the single digits, a record set back in the 1960’s for this area. I will recount to you my experience with all of that, but suffice for you to know that I am wholly unprepared for the zombie apocalypse.

I haven’t had much opportunity to think of photography but that will change tonight and tomorrow because – it’s finally going to snow, at least according to my favorite meteorologist Doug Hill. He also happens to be a friend but I’d trust his predictions even if he wasn’t:) I hope to photograph some beauty – it’s good for my soul.

Here’s to feeding your soul in this winter season!

She’s Making It

The month and a half that the girl was home was not all rest and relaxation. It was a time of reflection and a re-evaluation of where her future lies. At times it was rocky. At times we cried.

The husband and I knew that she wasn’t totally happy at school but we didn’t realize the depth of that unhappiness. I fully take responsibility for not knowing but on the other hand, the decision to stay at school or come home is not up to me or the husband. It’s up to her.

We did however, want to be a source of support and comfort and provide some guidance along the way. We had to walk a balance between not intruding at all and perhaps helping too much.

After all, she’s our girl and we want nothing more than for her to be happy and to realize how much she has to offer the world.

team1Early one morning a few weeks ago, I woke the girl up so that she could go to the beach with the dogs and I.  It was a gorgeous morning and when we got to the beach we found a low tide phenomena.

team2The tide was way out to the bay and the frozen snow and ice made it possible for us to walk for almost a 100 yards out on the water.

team4There was a flock of Canadian geese out resting where the water was not frozen and I walked out as far as I could to them.

team3I urged the other three to come with me and Ella the dog was a little nervous about the entire thing but there was no reason to be scared. The water was frozen and well, it was only an inch to the bottom.

team5When the girl urged her to go and started walking with her, Ella decided that it was alright to leave the safety of the beach after all.

team6We all need the encouragement to step out of our comfort zone and, in spite of our fear, face the unknown and scary.

team7When she got out to the ice, she realized that she wasn’t going to fall through.

team8And she began to well – party it up. It was hilarious.

team94We video taped the entire thing.

team9Look at the beauty of the water! There was about two inches of ice and barely an inch of water and we can see the sand right through all the layers. I was far out from the beach looking back to shore.

team91And Ella was too. Do you see our other dog back on the beach? Sometimes we are too set in our ways to try something new. Someone has to stay on the beach.

team92Ella was having so much fun that she went our further and further.

team93Then she turned around and saw how far out she was and was so scared that she literally – froze. Once again we laughed at her. It wasn’t very nice but it was so funny.

team95The girl walked out to get her and urged to “come.”

team96It wasn’t happening. Sometimes we can encourage someone as much as we can but the unknown is still too scary.

team97. . . so we have walk out and get them.

team99It’s only then do they realize they need rescuing and they gladly accept the comfort that brings.

team98Ella was so relieved and grateful but you know what? There was nothing to be afraid of. The water was an inch deep.

team991She stayed close to the beach for a while but then decided to venture out again when she felt safe.

team992You probably realize by now that is more about the girl’s scary adventure than it is about Ella. It sums up last semester pretty well, minus the partying. The girl never made friends and spent most of her time in her room. She claims the school was too small, that it was hard to meet people like her so as a result, she came home almost every weekend – and the school is three hours away. It hurts a mom’s heart.

When we were searching for colleges we all thought a small school, in the middle of a rural part of an adjoining state would be perfect. As it turns out – not so much. The college is about as big as her high school and though the girl is introverted, she’s still very worldly and loves to experience different adventures. A small quiet school in the middle of nowhere doesn’t offer those things.

So what do we do? She decided to go back and finish the year. She did however, begin transfer paperwork to other universities – where she ends up, we don’t know. I do feel that she has a different perspective now. Talking about it has made a big different in how we view the situation.

And then there’s this –

team994I found this on her SnapChat the other day. Things are getting back to normal . . .

Last semester the thought of trying out for the equitation team was overwhelming. She said to me, “Everyone here is better than me.” I, of course, thought that statement was ludicrous and if you’ve been following my blog for a while (wow, it’s been seven years), you also know that she’s a talented rider. It was the first week of school though and everything was new so I told her that if she didn’t want to tryout, she shouldn’t. Ironically, she decided on the school because of its competitive equitation team and its equestrian program. The equestrian club is the biggest club at school and almost everyone rides. There were a lot of other things to adjust to though and it didn’t seem as important at the time. We understood why she decided not to tryout.

But this semester is different. Before she left she asked her dad and I what we thought if she tried out for the team. We held back our enthusiasm and told her it was a good idea, that perhaps it will give her sometime else to focus on but internally, we were both jumping for joy.

Two days after returning to school she tried out for the team – and made it. Hallelujah!

We pray it will be a great semester for her. We pray that making the team will give her something positive on which to focus. We just pray for our girl – she’s a precious jewel trying to find her way in this big bad scary world.

She may not get as much saddle time as a freshman, but I hope to go to some competitions. Stay tuned for some horse pics! What a journey through life! And it’s just beginning . . .

Why Did They Throw The Ball?

sb1Why did they throw the ball?

That is the question. Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to run the ball and win the game or to suffer the slings and arrows of living with the worst decision in your life?

Those poor coaches!

I had to post early today because so many people are talking about the game and yes, even Puxatawny Phil can’t compete with the press coverage of the game today.

We, the husband and I, watched the game from a private event. Yes we did.

sb6Neighbor Beth hosted a party at the yacht club. I was excited to go, the husband – not so much. I wanted to enjoy a dinner out, the husband wanted to stay home and actually watch the game without – you know – talking to anyone.

Men.

sb3But look at the menu.

sb4How fun is this? It’s a Seahawk on the menu! The sliders were amazing by the way. I didn’t feel like cooking but the husband was hungry so he had four of them.

sb8Neighbors Beth & Bill really threw an awesome party but we decided to leave a little after halftime because of this.

They were streaming the game and the commercials weren’t shown. Since that is such a large part of the Super Bowl experience, we decided that we should go home and watch the rest of the game from the comfort of our couch.

It was the best decision we ever made because when the Seahawks were intercepted on the last play of the game, the husband rocketed out of his chair and yelled at the television at the top of his lungs. You know what he yelled?

“Why did you throw it? Why did you throw it?”

I hid cowering under my blanket and thanked God we were at home.

I love football – everything about it. The emotion, the drama, the half time shows. And yes, sometimes I even watch the game.

sb2Hi Neighbor Margie! She’s waving from the second floor of the ballroom. And to all a good night.

How Else Would I Know?

The last few weeks have been full of challenges but I can always rely on the boy for a smile or two. I essentially stalk social media to see what he’s up to because we haven’t spoken much the last few weeks. How else would I know what’s he’s up to? I know that he’s studying because he has a challenging semester but the constant is his ability to have a good time.

By the way, and I can’t believe I haven’t bragged about this earlier – must been a crazy January month – but, the boy went back to school a few days early in order to finish up a certification. A couple of days later, we get a text from him with this photo – ian3This means that he is now a Instrument rated multi-engine commercial pilot – or something like that. It also means that after two and a half years and a lot of work, he’s reach a major milestone and we’re proud of him. The best thing is this – the thousands and thousands of dollars invested in flight fees may be coming to an end soon. I can’t tell you how great that makes us feel! There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

So congratulations to our boy. He’s the bees knees of sons.

ian2Then again – he signed up to take a skating class with his friends. They didn’t know it was also a figure skating class! Now that is classic. I hope they pass it. I asked him why in the world he would do this and he said it’s to counter the difficulty of his other classes this semester. Alrighty…

ian1The other thing I also count on is his requests for money. He wanted to attend a retreat with his church for the Martin Luther King weekend and it was a request I was glad to fulfill. It was an eight hour drive to the retreat and I was glad he rode with some friends. He said he had a blast and I wouldn’t think otherwise – it’s the boy after all.

ian4North Dakota is apparently going through a heat wave. What a goof.

ian5They’re doing some decorating again. I just love these boys. One of their roommates is he equipment manager for the school’s hockey team and they keep all kinds of discarded broken hockey sticks and this is what they did! The husband and I are going up to Grand Forks next month and I can’t wait to see their apartment. It must look like a “bro” place.

ian7Here’s another creative use for hockey sticks. Did you see the Miss Universe Pageant last night? I fell asleep before the crowning but I was rooting for Miss Jamaica, I loved her hair. I was, of course, rooting for Miss USA as well. On another note – I loved Miss Thailand’s costume too. It was a creative take on a traditional dress. I should do a post on the costumes. What fun.

And where was I?…

ian6I found this photo on Snapchat and I have to say these are my three favorite amigos. They have other friends of course and eventually there will be girls and hopefully wives and kids, but these three have been together since freshman year. Now they live together and I know they will be life long friends. It’s a blessing.

I hope they pass their skating class though . . .

I Have A Cooking Problem

I find myself once again scheduling my day around food preparation. I have some friends who have had personal hardships and I don’t know how else to help but to cook for them. I’ve made pans after pans of beef and broccoli stir fry, chicken satay, rice, roasted Cornish game hens, chicken scampi – whatever I can put my hands on.

food3I was making dinner for a friend last week and got a call that another friend was in a horrifying cycling accident to which I made extra food, dropped it off at their home before making my way to the other home to drop off food. The girl came downstairs and asked what was for dinner and I realized that I took all of the food to give away and there was no dinner. Not to worry – I heated up a bunch of leftovers and it was like a smorgasbord.

food2Sometimes I have so much food that I have to throw it out. It’s not good.

I asked the husband if I cook too much – maybe? He said this is all he knows so he couldn’t say –

food1I’ve recently noticed when I’m nervous, anxious or fearful, I immediately go to the kitchen. I don’t really cook that much when I’m feeling centered so one can deduce that I’ve been feeling the former. Could that be the reason? It’s ironic and some people will drown themselves in food by eating it. I drown myself in food by cooking it.

This week will be a challenging one. It guarantees more pans of beef and broccoli will be popping up! Ha!

Is It Ugly?

hip7On this snowy, cold day, I thought it appropo to post about ugly sweaters. It could be an excuse to not go out in this weather to run, but in any case, here it is.

The boy has a sweater which he says is ugly. I kind of like it and I told him so. He thanked me but I’m not sure if he thought it was a serious remark, but it is. I like it and I told him several times. I know he bought it at an ugly Christmas sweater store, and he won 4th in an ugly Christmas sweater contest but it’s really not that ugly. Is it? Gaudy maybe? Surely not ugly.

He rolled his eyes.

ugly1He must like it too because he wore it to our family Christmas party.

ugly2My mother asks me every year what she should get for the kids and this year, I offered to buy their gifts for her and she would give me the money for it. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about it, I’ll take care of everything. I even wrapped it.

This is what I bought the boy – from my parents.

ugly3When he opened it, he said, “Oh. Nice jacket.” When he put it on I thought, “That looks a lot like his ugly Christmas sweater.” But it’s not ugly. Is it?

ugly4It’s very Nordic and cutting edge fashionable. And it was warm.

He seemed happy to get it, and he said thank you to his Nanna and Poppop but something about his reaction made me pause. Rather, it made me overly enthusiastic about how beautiful it is, and I kept saying so.

On our way home I asked him if he really liked it or if he was being nice. He finally admitted that he didn’t, and that it looked like his ugly Christmas sweater. He asked me if I was so enthusiastic about his ugly sweater – because I bought him one just like it.

I said, “Maybe.”

I just sent it back. One of the reason codes for the return was, Received As A Gift, which is code for I Got It As A Gift And It Was Ugly. He was very diplomatic about the whole thing. I’m going to get him something to replace it.

Stay tuned.

New Year’s Week In Review

It’s 2015! It’s a great celebration because the number five is such an even number. Ha!

It’s only a couple weeks into 2015 and I’m already doing a “look back”. Why wait until the end of the year? And of course, being slightly obsessive about documentation of life in general (you must know me by now), it’s something I’m compelled to do. This platform is like journaling. It’s personal to me, and I don’t mind if you read it. My anecdotes may seem funny only to me, but then again, it’s my journal!

The week after Christmas was a week filled with hockey – hockey – hockey. On the ride up to Nanna & Poppop’s the boy was on his phone searching for a game. He found one of course, an AHL hockey game in the biggest little town closest to us. I knew when he mentioned it that there was no use protesting on my part.

So the day after Christmas, on Boxing Day, we went to a hockey game and watched some boxing:)

newyear1Hockey is the only game where a fight between two opponents is sanctioned.

newyear2It’s like the days of the Roman Coliseum where normal Romans go to watch a blood sport and cheer.

newyear3It is a physical sport so it’s understandable that emotions get high. It’s a balance of gentlemanly aggression (two words not normally used together) and unbelievable athleticism. It’s one sport that I get almost physically tired watching from my seat.

newyear4And we all love it.

It’s funny that the week between Christmas and New Year just seemed to drag by. I think it was probably an emotional exhaustion, you know, worrying about a certain boy to get home from school for Christmas. After we came home from Nanna and Poppop’s and I mentioned to several people from work that the holidays seemed to drag. Not much was happening at work, which was a good thing. Funny how that is when we were so busy before. Maybe everyone needed a break from all the Christmas activities. And we still had New Year’s Eve to get through.

All of a sudden, social activities seem burdensome. So much so that the husband and I didn’t go out until 9 PM. We joked about how it was our bedtime. We hadn’t got out at 9 PM in decades. Partying really is just for the young.

newyear5But once we’re out, we had a good time. Our friends unselfishly had a party, and I liked it for all of the young people who came and partied right along with us old folks.

newyear6A friend who was there is a dance instructor (who knew? I didn’t) and she held an impromptu swing dance lesson in the basement. I love to dance, I was all in. The funniest part was watching the kids watch us. They laughed, they pointed, and they took videos. Some actually came and danced with us. My partner at one time was Joshie, a very handsome and charismatic 17 year old. He came right up to me and said, “Let’s dance Miss Puna!” How adorable, don’t have to ask me twice. I wish I had a photo – but I was busy dancing. However, the boy took a video –

Mr Gary dances - watch at your own risk. I love Gary, he’s the biggest sport you will find anywhere. A true gem. We had a blast. Can you tell?

newyear8BTW, the kids do the best selfies. It understandable that some people are “done” with this trend, but I hope it goes on and on. I want to see what they’re doing:)

newyear7 This cute couple is getting married next year. We went to their engagement party the next day. It’s a great celebration. I’ve known Alex for years, love his parents and his finance is absolutely adorable. It’s as perfect as life can be perfect.

We ended up staying longer than we expected to, who would have thought? We really shouldn’t have because the next day, we were doing this –

newyear9It was a total blast! The kids were so excited. I’ll write about it soon.

newyear91One more selfie by the boy. I love it. And we don’t look too worse for wear after staying up late the night before – well, maybe I did.

newyear11The rest of the holiday break was spent doing this. I miss these boys, I really do. They can hang out as much as they want to.

newyear12I never see his friends unless he’s home. LCAT Daniel came to visit too. He stayed the night but I don’t any photos of his incredibly long hair and goatee. It’s another post for another time.

After the boy left, I thought, “That went fast.” I forgot that I was just complaining that the holidays were going slowly just a week before. I was incredibly sad when he left.

newyear13He had a rough trip back to school. His flight to Grand Forks was canceled and he had to fly to Fargo. Then his bag was lost for a while in Minneapolis and he was just reunited last night with it. He’s a college student, which means most of his clothes were in the bag. He said he was wearing the same jeans for five days. I’m not sure if that’s abnormal for a someone in this stage of life. Anyway, he was happy to see it.

So now, back to normal – not quite. The girl is still home but it’s normal as normal can be.

Like you, I’ve been watching the news. We live in a fallen world, a broken world. However, this little piece of normality reminds me that God is in control. He’s in control of all of it. We just need to be reminded of it from time to time.

Christmas In Review

jan5As I look back through photos from this holiday season I can’t help but feel blessed. Life goes by in a literal flash and there’s nothing like a good look back and a wonderful church sermon to remind me of God’s grace and blessings in each and every second. The good, the sad, the laughter, the tears – it’s all a part of the life that God gave us. I spend so much time wondering what I should be doing with it that I don’t spend enough time enjoying the moment because the next moment will come like clockwork, but this moment – it will pass.

I woke up today feeling a great urge to read the Bible. Like many others, I have an app called, well, The Holy Bible. I turn on my phone and today’s verse is this, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with your lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13.

Let’s just say I decided to read a little bit more . . . and this is what the end of Isaiah 29 says, “Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction.” Isaiah 29:24.

Once again, I’m reminded to be obedient. I know people don’t like the word “obedient” much: I know I didn’t. It’s actually become a favorite word of mind now, and when I’m obedient to Christ, my life is better, I lead a better life, or life is good – however you want to put it. Then there’s the eternal aspect . . . The odd thing is this: it’s only when I look backward that I realize this. I find it hard to feel blessed in the moment. Funny how that is . . .

Anyway, a look back.

As Christmas approached we, the husband and I, were once again left wondering when the boy was going to make it home. Every year for the past three years it’s been like this, and it’s really frustrating. I was hoping to do a family Christmas outing but I couldn’t plan anything without knowing a date of his return to Maryland. One of the things I wanted to do again this year was go to the Ford Theater to see A Christmas Carol on stage. We saw it as a family a few years ago and it’s an absolutely beautiful production, though we can’t do that when a certain boy doesn’t know when he’ll be home. The day before he came home I looked for tickets and they were sold out. Oh well.

homeWell look at that! He made it on the Monday before Christmas. Better late than never – but it wasn’t too late. Christmas wasn’t for another three days! He didn’t finish his flying at school though, so he has to go back early. But that’s another complaint for another time; “those who complain will accept instruction.”

As a substitution for seeing A Christmas Carol, we decided to celebrate by eating dinner at a Brazilian steak house called Fogo de Chao. Many people have told us about it, I couldn’t fully appreciate the experience until I got there.review3It’s an all you can eat meat restaurant. Yes all you can eat meat, served to you by Brazilian gauchos. It’s definitely an experience. I will write a review, but I have to go again. I was too overwhelmed the first time.

review2But look at these kids . . .

Since we were so full we walked to the White House to see the Holiday Tree. I showed it to you here.

review4I love doing this because it makes the masses, like me, feel like we are close to the people who are in power because we were right across from the White House. Once again, it’s human. Every year there are model trains that run around the tree and this year the boy noticed a drug bust going on at one of the train depots. This is Washington DC after all . . .

review6And because we’re in Washington DC, there’s all kinds of characters with whom you can make friends.

review5This town – it’s just gorgeous. I think one of the scenes from House of Cards was filmed right here at the Williard.

The next day we got up early and drove the six hours to my parents home. Once there we went directly to a family Christmas Eve party. It was really wonderful, there were full grown men there who I had not seen since they were 12 or 13 years old.

review7. . . like Phillip here, shown with his beautiful family. When I walked in I saw hello to him not knowing who is was. He was just a little boy when I last saw him.

review8I didn’t know who this boy was either but I told him I was his aunt.

review9This is my mother with my Aunt Shirley. I will cherish this photo always.

review91And I will cherish this photo forever too – but not for the same reasons. I love being in rural Pennsylvania because it’s so far and away – and totally different from Washington DC. When there is an apocalypse, you want to be in rural Pennsylvania where people know how to hunt and fish and survive in rough climates. The only exception would be a zombie apocalypse, then it wouldn’t matter where you were . . . it could happen . . .

review92We brought both the dog and Ella the dog as well as the cat with us on our trip. It was an uncomfortable six hours for all of us. Once there, we were greeted by Tuk Tuk and when Willow and Jasmine came by Christmas morning to visit – let’s just say it was a zoo.

review93Speaking of Tuk Tuk . . . he got a Chewbacca costume for Christmas.

review94He was not happy to be the brunt of our jokes. Poor guy.

review95When we took it off of him, he rolled over with happiness and relief.

review97Since this is already long I wanted to leave you with this – garlic.

review99. . . frying in butter and garlic. Heaven.

review991The garlic was in this seafood scampi.

review98. . . and in this squid ink pasta with Chilean sea bass. Merry Christmas to us!

I hope yours was a wonderful Christmas, filled with love and garlic. Perfect.