Sunday, November 02, 2008

Busy Saturday

Saturday was full of mazes, shopping, eating and movie watching. The day started off with a wonderful family breakfast at Mediterranean Breeze. We enjoyed coffee and great conversation before heading to Leesburg to the Maize Maze. Lee, Andrew and I met up with our good friends Sarah and Greg and our new friends Elisha and Eric. We met Elisha at the 3-Day Walk back in the beginning of October. So, she and her boyfriend Eric set up this meeting at Temple Hall in Leesburg for a fun day of corn dogs, funnel cakes, corn shootin', pony ridin', slide slidin', hog racin', turkey watchin', maze walkin' fun. Pictures can be found here. What a great time with great friends!!

After our wonderful afternoon at the farm, Sarah and I headed to the mall for some good ol' shoppin'! Ok, I can stop talking (typing) like I'm still on a farm now. Some shoppING. I needed shoes for my Reunion dress and I needed an outfit for the Reunion happy hour! I was successful!

I returned home to the wonderful aroma of chicken smoking on the deck. I was able to pick a gift out of a catalog for being with Mitretek/Noblis for 10 years. Since the jewelry was less than appealing, I went with the Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal Smoker & Grill. Lee was very excited to buy some chickens and get those puppies on the grill. They were FANTASTIC! I don't think we will eat chicken any other way but smoked! Delicious!

After eating, we headed downstairs to watch a movie together. Shrek the Third was the movie of choice for the evening. Funny, but not as good as the first one!

Now I get to spend ALL day Sunday working on my annual review for work. Yippee!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Parents vs. Kids

Last night was a fun night! It was Andrew's last baseball practice of the season. The coach thought we'd spice things up by having a Parents vs. Kids game. Wow, was that fun!!! The kids were talking SO MUCH trash!! Anyway, after all was sad and done, the coach sent out the following email. I can't take credit for the awesome writing!

Every few years, there comes a match up between titans of baseball so colossal that time seems to stand still during play. Old men become giddy school boys, and school boys seemingly grow wise beyond their years. All because of baseball.

Tonight was just such a game. A game that will transcend the ages. A game that will, perhaps, redefine Ashburn as we know it. This was indeed a game where legends are born, and only time makes these legends immortal. Let it never be said that Americans are dispassionate about baseball, or that they are disinterested in humiliating their family members. Tonight's game gave us a passionate display of both, particularly the latter. Grown men cried. Refined women spit. Little (innocent?) children cursed. Families were split in two. And all was right with the world. All because of baseball.

Truly, words can not capture the number of momentum swings that the game, its fans and its players experienced. You want momentum swings? The recent volatility in the stock market would have to be considered a flat liner compared to this game. You want edge-of-your-seat excitement? The Olympic 100-meter sprint would be a yawner compared to this game. Indeed, the game started out as a defensive battle, with the ace hurler throwing darts to all batters. Suddenly, in the heat of battle, the defense fell apart, like a soviet-era "armored" tank. From that point on, it was a battle of wills where you knew that the the last man, woman or child standing would be standing not on crutches, but on heart alone. The game, as it always does, turned into a metaphor for life as we know it. Poetically, the game ended in a tie because of darkness.

As with any match up, there were controversies. Did Steve W. intentionally stick his foot out to kill the ball to create a dead ball when he was the third base coach? Is that even the rule? Did that "creative coaching maneuver" really help his then-struggling team? Did Scott B. really pay off Greg E. to stay way from the game so that the parents had a fighting chance? No one will ever know, but it will at least be a point of discussion for years to come. All because of baseball.

Years from now, this will be on of those games that everyone will claim to have laid witness to.

"Were you there when Carlton Fisk willed that home run to stay fair in game 6 of the '75 World Series?" "Yeah, I was there."

"Were you there when Charisse R. ripped that double to make her son cry?" "Yeah, I was there."

All because of baseball.

Great game tonight to all. Thanks so much for all the parents coming out. Personally, I had a blast and I hope the players and their families had a blast as well.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today is my BIRTHDAY!!!!

I was born on October 15, 1977 to the most wonderful parents! (Hi mom and dad!) I always tell the story about how my father was not there when I was born. For YEARS, I gave him such a hard time. Well, I was not due until Halloween, so my dad went off to his annual meeting in Phoenix, AZ. As luck would have it, my mother went into labor (what she thought was indigestion from a chili dog!). Our wonderful family friends were there to take mom to the hospital so I could come into the world 2 weeks early. Unfortunately, my father wasn't there to be the first one to hold me. HOWEVER.....after MANY years of me making him feel so guilty for not being there, I found my baby book. Although there wasn't a lot of stuff written in it (middle child syndrome) I did find some pieces of paper from a notepad in the hotel where my father was staying. On the paper were all my stats: weight, height, time of birth and flight information so he could get home as soon as possible. So, after finding that, I decided to stop giving him a hard time.....well, at least for that!

So, instead of being depressed about becoming another year older, I thought I would take the time to realize how wonderful life really is! I don't want to put a limit to how long this list is, so I will just start listing things and see where it goes!

1) Health. I am healthy. I am thankful everyday for my health and the health of those around me.

2) Family. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family. Two parents who I love very much, a brother who has a heart of gold, and a sister who is always there (especially with cupcakes and a pumpkin for my birthday!) I have an incredible husband who I love more than I can say! I have a wonderful stepson who keeps me laughing ALL THE TIME.

3) Friends. I have so many good friends who I couldn't live without. A big THANK YOU to my friend Leah who had the kindest words for me today in her blog.

4) Job. I have worked for the same company for 10 years (well, it will be 10 years on October 26). For the most part, I have enjoyed it. I am thankful to have a successful career and co-workers who make my days easy to get through when the job itself makes it hard.

Well, I think I hit the core 4. Health, Family, Friends, Job. Without all those things, I would be miserable! Well, I could do without the job, but you catch my drift.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

2008 Washington DC Breast Cancer 3-Day

I'm finally recovered from the emotional, inspirational, exhausting, uplifting, exciting, wonderful, hard, incredible weekend at the Breast Cancer 3-Day. Nobody can ever know the impact of this event until you participate in, or crew for, the 3-Day. It is mind blowing. My best friend Sarah and I walked in the 2004 3-Day in DC. What an amazing time that was. Through all the painful cramps, blisters, popping knees and just pure exhaustion, we truly embraced the meaning of why we were there and really cherished every moment. So much, that Sarah and Greg (now her husband) decided to be a part of the Crew at the 2005 3-Day in Philly. They were in charge of route hydration. This means driving a truck throughout the route each day dropping off water and Gatorade and carrying extras to and from each stop. LOTS of work.

When we heard the 3-Day was coming back to DC, we really didn't blink an eye! We knew we wanted to be a part of it. So, the four of us signed up as Team Newlyweds. There's still time to donate!!

We found out earlier this year that we would be a part of a Pit Stop Crew. We couldn't have been happier! This was our first choice. There are usually 5-6 pit stops along the 20 mile course each day. These stops allow the walkers to take a break to use the bathroom, fill up on water/Gatorade, load up on food (chips, pretzels, peanuts, animal crackers, raisins, bananas, oranges, UNCRUSTABLES, bagels w/ cream cheese, and STRING CHEESE).

The 3-Day actually was a 4-Day for the Crew. We had to attend Crew Day on Thursday, October 2nd. This year, the walk began at Potomac Mills Mall. Thursday we learned all about what the weekend would entail. From meeting the rest of our crew, to communications equipment, to Western Shelter assembly - (more about this one later). We got there around 12:45 to sign in and collect our credentials and crew shirts for the weekend, then attended the various meetings and sessions to learn everything about the weekend. Our crew turned out to be a little short handed. We were supposed to have 12 people on our crew but 4 people did not show up. This was a little upsetting, but we were able to bond together very quickly and we knew we would just have to work harder.
After all the festivities, we were released and went to Pizzeria Uno for our "last supper".

We enjoyed some pizza and beer before embarking on our journey. After dinner, we headed to our hotel in Springfield. The boys both had to do some work, so we left them in the room while we headed over to the mall to find some basketball garb for me for Friday. Our Crew decided to do a sports theme for our 3 days. Friday was basketball, Saturday was baseball and Sunday was, of course, football. I had the clothing for Saturday and Sunday, but needed something for Friday so we found a Wizards shirt for me at the mall. After our shopping adventure, we came back to the hotel and settled in to watch some of the VP debate before going to sleep. The alarms were all set for 2:40. Don't adjust your eyes, you read that correctly. 2:40 AM! The shuttle from the hotel to Potomac Mills was picking us up at 3:15, so we had to wake up, get dressed, make sure all our things were packed, grab breakfast and hop on the bus.

We got to the mall in time to stand around for a few, gather our Crew (two of which went to the NKOTB concert the night before.....maybe they saw my sister!). We dropped our bags at the crew truck so they would make their way to the campsite that day. We found our van and Lee went to get the keys so we could start loading up all our decorations for the day's pit stop.

(some people definitely did not obey this sign!)

We picked up our bagged lunches for the day and headed out to our first pit stop location. Friday's location was in a Safeway parking lot off Minnieville Road. We realized on our way there that we were passing right by my former boss's house! (HI ROGER) We arrived at the pit stop location around 5:30 AM and began unloading our Pit Can to start setting up.

Elisha putting a sign in the porta john for Potto Lotto - this is a game we were never able to play because we were so short staffed. Basically, there were 15 sports figures taped to the inside of the porta johns (basketball for Friday, baseball for Saturday, and football for Sunday). The walker would pick a card out of a stack and head into the john, if the card he/she picked matched the picture on the inside of the john, they would win a prize (candy).

We were almost finished with setup when our first walker came through the Pit Stop. She was walking FAST! Following her was another group of folks who were definitely in a hurry. In this group was a teacher that my mom works with (HI JOSH). Anyway, we had to hold these walkers until the Pit Stop officially opened so we could make sure the safety crews were in place before allowing them to get on the road. Once the stop opened, we released them and I was able to head down to the food tent to help Sarah and Sarah. The two Sarahs were handing out fruit and bagels to the walkers while I kept restocking the other boxes of food. Everything was going so fast, so I was constantly opening boxes and refilling the ones on the tables. There were roughly 3,000 walkers coming through the stop and they were all HUNGRY! While we were manning this tent, Lee, Cheri and Greg were manning the hydration tent. They had to prep about 3 dozen gallons of Gatorade and 6 coolers of water before the walkers arrived. Once they all started coming in, it was NONSTOP action! Elisha, on of our other crew members was up at the entrance taking a walker count. What a job she did! She managed to count every single walker that came in, all while talking to them and keeping their spirits up. Great job Lish! After all the walkers came through, we had to break everything down and wait for the Litter Bugs to come pick up the trash, the hydration truck to pick up the extra water and Gatorade, and we had to load the Pit Can. After that was all completed, we grabbed our bagged lunches, hopped in the van, and headed to the lunch pit stop to help out there. We ate on the way and arrived to give them a hand. We each grabbed either a trash bag or Gatorade/water and walked around topping people's bottles off or gathering their trash. We even had time to pose for a team picture!

We were there for an hour before heading to our campsite to get settled in there. When we arrived, we picked up our bags and tents and headed to our designated tent location to setup camp. We decided to walk around camp and help others put their tents up. The last thing you want to do after walking 20 miles is put up a tent, so we were there to help.

When we were finished putting up about 30 tents or so, we headed to the New Balance tent to play some BINGO!

After BINGO, Sarah and I took a walk over to the Remembrance Tent. This is an enclosed area that has a white tent setup inside with a pink ribbon draped over it for Washington DC. Inside the main tent, there are pictures of people who previously had walked or crewed who passed away. The smaller tent was there for people to write messages on. Outside of the main tent were the other tents from other cities. One of the pictures hanging was of a girl who was only 24, was registered to walk in the DC walk, who passed away in June. This one really got to me.

After we wiped away a few tears, we exited the tent and headed over to the rest of the Crew so we could grab dinner!

After we ate, we headed back to our tents to grab our shower stuff. We headed to the wonderful mobile trailer showers to get clean! Good times!

After showering, we headed back over to the dining tent for the night's festivities. The master of ceremonies, who reminded us all of Ellen Degeneres, talked about the top fund raisers, the biggest teams, the people who have walked the most, etc..... They also had a Rock Star (karaoke contest) along with other stuff. While we all sat there, the last walkers of the day were coming through. Everybody got up, headed to the camp flag pole and watched two girls walk in (HULA HOOPING THE WHOLE 20 MILES) These two girls do hula hoop therapy for cancer patients and literally hula hooped the entire 20 miles on the first day. So, they came in last and raised the 3-Day flag to end Day 1 of the 3-Day. What a day!! Off to our tents!

The first night of camping was a little rough. The woman right next to us was snoring so loudly that we couldn't sleep. Also, it was a TAD cold so I couldn't sleep at all. Other than that, 4:30 came and it was time to start Day 2!

We got ready and headed to the dining tent for breakfast and to meet up with the rest of our Crew. We ate and waited and waited and waited and waited for out Crew Captain to show up. We waited too long and just headed over to our van to see if she was there, nope! So, we got in the van and talked to the Road Coach who tried to call her on her walkie and nextel. NOPE! They finally got in touch with her husband who said "her alarm didn't go off". Yeah, sure! Anyway, we waited about 10 more minutes for her to arrive then headed to our location for Day 2. When we arrived, our fearless leader, Ann Marie, was there waiting for us so we could get started. However, our Pit Can, food, and ice had not arrived yet, so we just started our decorating for the day. Finally, all the trucks showed up and we started the whole unloading routine all over again. We set up all the Western Shelters, prepared all the food, prepared all the water and Gatorade and waited for the walkers! They started coming in slowly then the mass chaos began! We were running out of food left and right and had to ration what we had so that the later walkers would get to eat! Finally, some relief came and food was brought to us from an earlier stop. Whew! Here are some pictures from our "Baseball Day".

Once the last walker came and left Pit Stop 2 on Day 2, we broke down camp as usual and went to grab our lunches, which had been sitting out in the sun all, a decision was made to go grab some food before heading to our next location - TBD at a later time. We ended up at Fireside Grill in Lorton. Good food and great new friends!

We hopped back in the van after our little break and gave the Road Coach a call to see if we needed to head to another location to help out. Turns out, we were good to go! So, we headed back to camp to settle in for the afternoon/evening.

We headed to the dining tent and grabbed food and sat at our table to just chit chat and eat. After a while, and a wonderful dance party, we headed to bed. Elisha, who lives in Arlington, was able to get her boyfriend to bring an extra comforter for Lee and I to use on Night 2. THANK GOODNESS!! It was much appreciated!

Day 3 began at the same time, 4:30. We got up, got dressed, headed to the dining tent, had breakfast, walked to the van, and headed to our Day 3 location. Today we were lucky to be at a school where they had a large awning. We didn't have to put up the Western Shelters today!! YIPPEE!!! Those suckers take 8 people to put up and 8 people to take down. Given that we only had 8 on our Crew, we were pretty sick of those things! Anyway, we set up and waited for the day to begin. Day 3 was much like Day 2 with the food running out and having to ration. Also, for some reason, Arlington County (where we were for Day 3) has some regulation against knives. So, we couldn't cut anything in the food tent that day. So, whole bananas and whole oranges were given out. Therefore, we ran out of bananas REALLY fast. The previous two days, we quartered the oranges and halved the bananas. Oh well! We had to do what we had to do! At least we didn't have to put those shelters up! Here are some pictures from Day 3!

One of the favorite signs of the weekend (great job Sarah F. and Elisha)

Another favorite - lots of walkers taking pictures of the signs (great job Sarah W.)

Greg and Sarah with the Litter Bugs - these girls were SO wonderful all weekend.

Our fearless leader, the WONDERFUL Ann Marie

Lee taking a little break after we closed down the Pit Stop

The mark we left on the inside of our Pit Can at the end of Day 3

A perfectly packed Pit Can!

Lee closing the Pit Can for the LAST TIME


After leaving our Pit Stop on Day 3, we headed to the lunch stop to help them tear down. So, we DID have to deal with the Western Shelters! We helped them carry out trash, break down boxes, load up gatorade and water to bring further down the line, and take down 4 shelters.

After we helped there, we headed to closing ceremonies. This was the most emotional part of the whole weekend. Words cannot describe.

One shoe salute to the survivors....why we walk and crew

Survivors all walking in

Closing ceremonies - raising the flag to end the walk

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dogs and Balloons......

Some dogs love demonstrated in Maureen's birthday blog post and the picture below:

So, as you can see, Liddy is a big fan of the balloon. As you know, Lee's birthday was last weekend and there are still numerous mylar balloons hanging around in the house. This is what Farley does when a balloon comes near him:

Yes, he's hiding under our bed and wouldn't come out for a long while!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Cure for Juvenile Diabetes Invitational

About a month ago, I was asked to participate in a charity golf tournament through work. My company, Noblis, sponsored a foursome to participate in the tournament and the three other people in the group consisted of our CEO, our CFO and one of our HR folks. So, how could I turn it down. Better than that......the tournament was for The Cure for Juvenile Diabetes. As a lot of you know, my uncle Thom and my uncle Jim both were diagnosed with this disease when they were a lot younger. Thom passed away on December 24, 2002 from this horrible disease and Jim still struggles with it every day. So, this was the perfect tournament to be involved in.

The tournament was held at Lowes Island Club in Potomac Falls. Registration and lunch started at 11 and the shotgun start was at 1:00 PM. I am not one for being late, so after picking Farley up at the vet and picking up Andrew's percussion learning kit and book from Music & Arts in Sterling, I headed over to the club and arrived right at 11. Well, I got a call from one of the executive admins telling me the CEO and CFO had to attend a meeting and would not arrive until around noon or a little after. Our CFO lives in Lowes Island and belongs to this club so he is definitely familiar with the course.....worked in favor SOME of the time! Anyway, I was able to head out to the driving range and hit a few after stretching a lot.......yeah, that didn't help!

After I hit a few, I headed back to the clubhouse for lunch. It was pretty decent! I enjoyed an Arnold Palmer and some fruit and then the rest of the group showed up. We chatted for a few and then had to head over to the carts for our instructions. Here are the directions, as I remember them:

Format = Shamble (not to be confused with a Scramble)

Every player will hit a tee shot. The team will decide the best shot and all players will hit their second shot from that location. THEN, each player will play their own ball all the way to the hole. Each team MUST use each player's drive at least once and NO MORE than 9 times. Each player will record their own individual score. The best score will be used as the "team" score for that hole. HOWEVER, each player's score must be used at least once and NO MORE than 9 times. As if this wasn't confusing enough, each team is given a tournament ball that will rotate among the players for the entire 18 holes. A separate score will be recorded for the "game" ball. Geez!! Good thing we had our CFO there to figure all the numbers out!! Anyway, everybody was quite nervous when they had the game ball because if you lose it, you are out of the running for the game ball score prize. Lucky for us, it lasted until our 16th hole. Who lost it? Our CEO. SIGH OF RELIEF!!! Better him than anybody else!!!!

After we finished, we headed into the clubhouse for dinner. GOOD food. Shrimp, oysters, scallops wrapped in bacon, crab martinis with avocado, chicken satay, a carving table and made to order pasta!! Oh, and open bar!! So, I drank a beer with our CFO. How cool! Anyway, we didn't win a thing. Did I mention I played like CRAP???? It was horrible. I have a feeling I won't be asked back!!!

Well, all in all, it was a great and BEAUTIFUL day, so all is good!!

Lee's Birthday Weekend Part 2.....

After all the bottles were put in the recycling bin, the confetti was picked up off the floor, the BBQ was put away and we went to sleep, it was time for ROUND 2 of Lee's birthday weekend. We woke up on Lee's actual birthday and enjoyed coffee and breakfast as a family. Then, it was time to prepare the house for Part 2. This party consisted of family. Lee's family and my family all came over to enjoy some conversation, laughter, MORE BBQ and CAKE!! Yes, it was time to try the 5 hour cake! I was able to use our wedding cake knife and server to cut and serve the cake. It definitely was good, it was just a little dry, as most homemade cakes are (I am told). I am excited that it turned out well and everybody seemed to have a great time.

After having two parties to prepare for, I was EXHAUSTED. I think we all were! So, Sunday night was spent watching some football and just going to sleep!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Lee's Birthday Weekend Part 1.....

Well, it's official....I am married to a 40 year old man!!! :) This weekend was just wonderful. Despite Hanna and her stupid rain downpour, tons of people came out on Saturday night to help celebrate Lee's birthday. Thanks to everyone for braving the storm to come party! We had roughly 40 people here on Saturday night....Yikes!! That's a lot of folks for our place, but we managed!! The day started with us waking up pretty early, taking Farley to the vet for the weekend and getting started on the cake. This was my first attempt at a "make it from scratch" cake. Lee LOVES chocolate cake, so, naturally, I made a chocolate cake! I started around 8:00 Saturday morning with the icing. That was the easy part. Even if I had to stand at the stove and stir the cream and chocolate chips for 35 minutes. Trust me, that was the easy part!! Then, I started on the cake. This was a triple layer cake. Well, I only have 2 pans....that was the beginning of the fun. So, I decided to go ahead and divide the batter as evenly as possible into two of the pans, leaving what I thought was an equal amount in the bowl. I baked those two layers and took them out to cool. Once they were cool enough to take out of the pans, I washed the pans and filled a third pan with the remaining batter. WOW....that's gonna have to be the base was HUGE! Oh, I baked it and cooled it and then I started to assemble and ice. The whole process took roughly 5 hours from start to finish. Ok, Betty Crocker DEFINITELY had a good idea with the boxed cake method! I wish I had pictues of the cake when it was all said and done, but unfortunately, Lee's computer sorta died and we lost the pictures that were on it. Oh well....just for a visual, it was a triple layer chocolate get the picture?

Ok, so then it was time to get the house ready for the guests. Unfortunately, the weather was NOT too fabulous. Tropical Storm Hanna came to visit us on Saturday. What a pain she turned out to be!! Although, she certainly didn't stop the people from coming!!! In the middle of the treacherous downpour, I had to go to my parent's house, pick up balloons in Leesburg and pick up the BBQ. So, I went to my parent's house to get a few things I would need for the evening and came back home. Lee really didn't want me to drive in the mess by myself all the way to Leesburg, so the three of us piled in the Element and headed to Leesburg. The rain was just crazy! He dropped me off right on the curb at Party City and I ran in to grab the balloons. I ordered 3 mylar and 12 latex balloons, so not a small bunch! When I came out the door, that was when the HUGE gust of wind came through and almost knocked me over and I had balloons pelting me in the face. So, I quickly backed up into the store and tried to figure out the best way to get these suckers into the car without any casualties! Lee ran out in the rain and helped me get them into the truck. Ok, they're in. Time to go get BBQ! We ordered 12 pounds of BBQ (6 lbs chicken and 6 lbs pork) from Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque. We also got 6 pounds of baked beans, 5 pints of cole slaw, 8 pounds of potato salad, 48 buns and 3 bottles of BBQ sauce. Wow, that's a lot of food!!! If you've never been to or eaten food from Carolina Brothers....PLEASE GO. It is fantastic!!

After getting back to the house, it was time to start decorating! I placed the balloons around the house and put the table cloths down with confetti and all.
Sarah and Greg showed up a little early so they could help with the rest of the decorations while I got ready for guests to arrive. We truly were nervous that we wouldn't have a great turnout because of the rain.....boy were we wrong! I think we counted a total of 42 people, 10 of which were children ranging from 3 months to 10 years. Crazy!!! Because of all the rain, the party was pretty much held inside. After a while, the sky cleared up and people were out on the deck which helped with space!! We don't have a big place!

All in all, we had a great time, and most importantly, Lee had a blast. You only turn 40 once right? Here are some pictures that Polly took of the night's you can see what I mean by all the kids!!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Today's tunes.....

Crazy Love by: w/ Van Morrison

Tommy Can You Hear Me? by:

Evenflow by:

Hard Headed Woman by:

Tempted by:

Stupid Girl by:

Noah's Dove by:

I've Been Everywhere by: