Impromptu College Reunion

I am currently experiencing a post-exhausting-week cold.  My throat began itching on the drive home Friday, and now I am in full blown green snot mode.  (You’re welcome.)  Andrew woke me up in the middle of the night and said, “Catherine… roll over.  You’re making funny noises….and you’re right in my face.”  😀  I consider myself to have a strong immune system, but I know I am highly susceptible to getting sick when I am stressed and/or overly tired.  Oy.

I spent most of Saturday recuperating, and on Sunday I met up with with my college housemates for an impromptu reunion.  We met at Kate’s apartment in the Fan and walked to Garnett’s Cafe for lunch.  I’d never been, but it was delicious, and they have gluten-free bread, so I will have to go back with Andrew very soon!  From there we walked to Kuba Kuba for their iced cafes con leche (by the way, I have been far too lax about the amount of dairy I’m eating…)  By the time we arrived back at Kate’s after two hours of talking, eating, talking, and walking, I was exhausted and had a bad case of medicine-head.  I drove home to take a nap, and the girls went to the river, with the plan to come over to our house later for dinner, prepared by Chef Andrew.

The meal included a salad with lots of fresh veggies from our garden, plus spinach and arugula from the store.  I was thrilled to be able to share the harvest with our friends 🙂

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In addition to salad, we had baked chicken with a roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade (the tapenade was from Trader Joe’s) and a lemon-basil quinoa.

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It was all pretty delicious. 🙂

The girls were concerned that I was taking this picture because they’d come straight from the river/being out in the sun all afternoon, but I think they all look beautiful:

dollhouseI love these people 🙂 

We ate and talked and reminisced about things we did in college.  Andrew informed us that the more he hears about our college experience (mostly the pranks we pulled and the weird things we did that we thought were hilarious), the less he wonders why none of us dated very much 😀

We ended the day with a trip to Ray’s for ice cream and Italian water ice.  As always, it’s so good for my soul to spend time with this crew, even when I’m not feeling well!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Independence Day, Yoga, and Laughter

Thanks to everyone–in real life and the blog world–for your kind words about my grandmother the last few days.  It’s been great to have what I know reaffirmed through so many: Grandma Tudor was a hell of a woman.  For those who didn’t know her, you’ll get to hear more about her in the coming weeks; don’t worry. 🙂

It has been a stressful week.  I leave tomorrow for a mission trip with the middle school youth at church, which I am so looking forward to, but there has been a lot to do related to the trip this week.  On Wednesday morning, hospice let us know that my grandmother was in her final 24-48 hours.  I think the anticipation of her death was, in some ways, worse than her actual passing.  I felt like, I am sad, but I can’t start grieving yet because I have too many other things that I need to do that will be much harder to do when I am actually grieving!

As Andrew walked through the door Wednesday evening, he made a playful jab about an email I’d sent him earlier in the day.  I immediately burst into tears and said, “I’m stressed, and I’m sad… can you not pick on me??”  (What can I say?  I am good at articulating how I feel and what I need… even if I word it the way a 6-year old might.  ;-))

After dinner that night we went to our yoga class.  I’d been looking forward to it as a stress reliever, but I didn’t anticipate all the ways in which it would help.  We set up our mats in the middle of the room; some people were already sitting or lying down, meditating.  The instructor entered the room and began setting up at the front of the class, but had not started the music yet, so the room was very quiet.  As I walked to the closet in the back of the room to get straps and blocks for Andrew and me, I heard a strange noise through the quiet of the room:

fsshh fsshh fsshh fsshh…

I turned around to scan the room.  Everyone was perfectly still… except my dear husband, who looked like he was trying to make snow angels on the floor, his socks making the fsshh noise as they moved back and forth.  I think from his position, he couldn’t tell how loud or obvious the motion was.

I hurried back over  to our mats and whispered,

Andrew!  Stop!  What are you doing?

The floor is so slippery!  They just redid it, and it’s SO slippery!

That’s great… but stop…you’re being a lot louder than you think!

Then we did our best to stifle our laughter.  What is it about laughing when you aren’t supposed to that makes it so hard to stop laughing?  The harder we tried to stop, the harder we laughed, and laughing is great stress relief. 🙂

(But seriously, we are the worst yogis.  Let me apologize now if you ever happen to be in the same class as us.)

On Thursday, after the news about my grandmother arrived and I spent some time crying and talking to family, we decided it would be nice to get out of the house rather than spend the day moping.

We harvested some veggies:

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…ate lunch at Burger Bach, by which neither of us were wildly impressed.  We were lured in by the gluten-free bun option and grass-fed beef.  The burgers come with side salads, which is nice, and you purchase fries and dipping sauces separately.  We were turned off by the fact that a small fry comes with one sauce, and if you wanted to try multiple sauces, you have to pay extra–that includes ketchup.  Come on… just put the bottle of ketchup on the table; people will still try the other kinds.  Also, the cooking options were “pink or no pink.”  Well, I don’t want it to be pink, but I also don’t want it charred, which is how my burger arrived.  To be fair, I was having a bad day, but don’t be lazy;  a “medium-well” option won’t kill you.

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After lunch we went to Maymont to see the goats (I’ve mentioned this before, but I really love goats.  I regularly petition Andrew to let us get one as a pet.)

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Because it was so hot, they had all the animals inside, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to pet them.  Still cute. 🙂

That night we had dinner on the river and watched fireworks with our good friends Amanda and Diron.

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We love these guys. 🙂

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While waiting for fireworks, we laughed about the insane flash on the iphone camera:

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😀

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It was a great end to a tough day. 🙂

What did you do for Independence Day?

Beach Day and Crazy Tomatoes

Life is about to be busy–a good busy–for a season.  Next weekend I leave for a mission trip with the youth group, will be home for a week, then leave for another mission trip (more on this later this week!), so this past weekend was somewhat of a “calm before the storm.”  Saturday we drove to Virginia Beach and met my college roomie Leah for a day of fun in the partly cloudy sun.  Other than a couple of brief rain showers, it was a wonderful beach day!

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Andrew and I are not exactly “beach compatible.”  My ideal day on the beach includes lying on my back, taking a long walk, lying on my stomach, dipping my toes in the water, and repeating.  Andrew, on the other hand, turns into a giant 9-year-old as soon as his toes hit the sand.

“What do you want to do first??  Build a sand castle??  Dig a hole??  Body surf??  Throw the frisbee??  Dig a bigger hole??”

I say that with all the love in the world. 🙂  Because marriage involves many compromises, we did a little of both beach methods.  We sat, Andrew built a carefully measured, structurally-sound castle (you can’t turn off “engineer”), we threw the football and Waboba in the water, and we relaxed.

Before Leah arrived, Andrew was in the zone building his castle.  I thought it would be funny to turn on the self-timer on the camera, sneak up behind Andrew, and take a funny picture without him noticing.  Well, as I was walking over, raising our sand-diggers (yes, we bring toys to the beach), I noticed the woman on the blanket next to us looking at me like I was nuts.  I lost my nerve, and camera took the photo mid-sneak.  It’s not what I had in mind, but I look so awkward that it makes me laugh:

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😀

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We had a great time catching up with Leah just enjoying the beach!  On the way home, we met our friend Allison for dinner.  We miss her so much in Richmond, and was so, so good to share a meal and chat for a bit. 🙂

Things were productive on the garden-front this weekend as well.  Between the heat and the afternoon rain we’ve been having for the last few weeks, our tomato plants have grown out of control.  Part of the problem is that we planted too many too close together;  it’s hard to tell which branches belong to which plant now!  They’ve long surpassed their 4-ft cages and started flopping over on top of each other.  This weekend we had to stake them:

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Most of them are taller than their 6-ft stakes, and a few are even taller than Andrew now.  Despite the craziness, they are producing lots of beautiful fruit:

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We are approaching an exciting point in which we are harvesting a lot of veggies.  I know it’s all relative, but we were thrilled to bring these beauties inside yesterday:

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They were (we ate them all) the best cherry tomatoes I’ve tasted!  Thankfully, there are dozens more ripening at this very moment. 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
What activities do you like to do at the beach?

Liebster Award

Thanks to Wendy over at The Scarred Runner for nominating me for this cool little blog award!  I am very flattered and excited to write this post. 🙂

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The Rules:

  1. This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.  Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to them in your post.
  2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 new bloggers (with fewer than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.
  4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.

11 Random Facts About Me:

1.  I am very easily startled.  Not scared–just startled.  The majority of my coworkers have caused me to jump, gasp, and take a step backwards simply by walking through a doorway.  Recently, I was walking into the bathroom right before going to bed; the light was on in our bedroom and off in the bathroom, so there was just enough light to make out shapes.  For the briefest of seconds, a pile of towels on the floor looked like a wolf.  Obviously, I knew there was not a wolf in the bathroom, but my body reacted before my brain.  I gasped so loudly and turned to run.  Andrew looked scared at my reaction and asked what was wrong.  “I thought…there was a wolf in the bathroom.”  Yep.  Not going to live that one down…ever.

2.  I am very squeamish.  I once passed out while having my blood pressure taken because the cuff was so tight and I could just feel the blood pooling up in my shoulder and…
Similarly, a few months ago I cut my finger while slicing a bagel.  I didn’t need stitches, but it was a bad cut.  Andrew told me to hold it under the water and NOT look at it while he went in search of a band-aid.  I looked anyway.  Andrew had to carry me to the couch and later quoted me saying, “I’m bleeding out!”

3.  I really enjoy pranking people, and I always have.  Once in elementary school, I wrote down a fake message for my sister that her friend Sarah had called.  This was before 8-year-olds had cell phones, so she actually had to dial the number on our wall-mounted phone.  Instead of writing down her friend’s number, I wrote the number of one of my friends who was also named Sarah.  I correctly suspected that they’d have an entire conversation without realizing who they were actually talking to.  When Whitney finally figured it out, she chased me outside and around the house.

4.  I think I am hilarious.  One time in college I laughed so hard that I peed…I was laughing at a joke that I made.

5.  I have two nieces, and when each of them were born, I understood love in a whole new dimension.  But seriously, how cute are they?

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6.  I am at greatest risk of laughing uncontrollably at inappropriate times when my mom starts laughing.  A few years ago, my brother was participating in “No-Shave November,” or “Movember.”  When Thanksgiving rolled around, he looked a little scruffy, and we gave him a really hard time about having a Dirt ‘Stache.  At Thanksgiving dinner my very Southern, proper grandmother said, “Ross, I see you’re growing a mustache.”  I smirked, anticipating the criticism he was about to receive.  Instead of criticism, however, Grandma said, “I think it’s kind of… sexy,” raising her eyebrows on the last word.  My mom literally spit out a bite of mashed potatoes and laughed so hard she was crying.  I might have been able to control myself, but seeing my mom try to stifle her laughter while wiping tears off her face was too much.  We were quite a non-discreet mess.  It happened again recently, but the situation was so inappropriate that I fear we, along with my brother, are still in the proverbial doghouse with my sister, and therefore, I cannot tell the story.

7.  When I was little and couldn’t fall asleep at night, I’d sneak down to the living room where my dad was watching television (the rest of the family was asleep.)  I’d sit in his lap, and we’d eat popcorn and watch old Westerns, and he never told me to go to bed.  Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.

8.  My grandmother–not the sexy mustache one, but my dad’s mom–is probably cooler than your grandmother, and has more awesome one-liners than anyone I know.  Prior to suffering from Alzheimer’s, she was a feisty little Italian woman with a huge heart and strong opinions.  She was our babysitter growing up, and when I was in middle school, she drove me to the drug store one afternoon to buy supplies for a school project.  While standing in line at the checkout counter, she scanned the magazine rack and started angrily reading some of the taglines aloud:  “50 ways to please your man?? 100 ways to please your man??  If you did all those things, you wouldn’t have time to do anything else!!”  😀

9. I skipped school once during high school.  It was during our standardized testing week in the spring of my senior year, and I had a two-hour study hall that day.  My partner in crime, Whitney, had a two-hour physics class in which they were watching a movie.  (In other words, we weren’t missing much.)  We met in the parking lot after checking into and then excusing ourselves from class, and drove to Starbucks.  Immediately after ordering our Frappucinos, Whitney side stepped toward me, leaned in, and said, “Don’t turn around, but the librarian just walked in.”  Keeping our backs to her, we both went into the single stall bathroom, locked the door, and spent about five minutes freaking out.  What are the chances?? Why did we skip school?? We’re going to get in so much trouble!!  Finally, we peeked out the door, saw that she was gone, and claimed our drinks.  We were young and wild and free.

10. I am, as Andrew likes to say, an “emotional sponge.”  An easy crier.  I’m not sensitive in the sense that my feelings are easily hurt, but when I see/hear/read/imagine that other people are sad, it’s like I absorb the emotion.  Around Christmas this year Andrew and I were watching Home Alone.  <Spoiler alert> At the end of the movie when Kevin’s mom walks in the house and sees him standing in front of the Christmas tree, I started crying.  Andrew was incredulous.

“Why are you crying??”
“Because he’s okay!”
“…He’s been okay!  We’ve seen that he’s okay the whole time!  And you’ve seen this movie before!”
“But his mom didn’t KNOW that he was okay, and now she knows!”

True story.

11.  I love telling stories.  Thanks for reading a few of mine. 🙂

Questions from The Scarred Runner:
1. What do you do to unwind for the day?  When I get home I grab a snack, lounge on the couch, and watch a few episodes of whatever sit-com is on at the moment.
2. What is your favorite dessert?  Ice creamNo contest.
3. Cats or dogs?  Undecided.  If a cat is raised right, as ours were, they are awesome pets.  Ours totally broke the cat stereotype, but I don’t necessarily like other people’s cats.  Theoretically, I like dogs, but there are few things I find more gross than getting licked by a dog.  I am allergic to both.
4. What color is your car?  Grey
5. What inspired you to start blogging?  I enjoy writing, and I love reading other people’s blogs!
6. Beach or Countryside?  Beach.
7. Drive or Fly?  Drive.
8. Do you always have the latest tech gadgets before anyone else?  Definitely not.  I went from flip phone to iphone just a few months ago.
9. Least favorite celebrity?  Lady Gaga.  I don’ t know what it is about her, but her music makes me want to gag-a.
10. How do you feel about magic tricks?  I hate them.  Magicians are so smug, and I don’t like feeling tricked.  Seriously, don’t ever show me a magic trick.  I have very strong feelings about the matter.
11.  Have you ever modeled professionally?  Why yes, I had a brief stint with Rosetta Stone in college.  Look for me as you’re learning a new language.  (I just made up that question because I wanted to share that fact :-D)

My Nominees for the Liebster Award:

Races, Reps, and Ramblings
Lucy On The Lookout
Gluten-Free 2013
Reluctantly Skinny
Run With Perseverence

*You can answer any of the questions above or make up your own 🙂 *

Thanks for reading, if you’ve hung in this long. 😀

Father’s Day, a Retirement Party, and a Wedding

Andrew and I kicked off our weekend with a date night Friday at the Mellow Mushroom–a new-to-Richmond pizza restaurant.  We had learned they make gluten-free, dairy-free pizza, so Andrew was excited to try it (as excited as you can be about GF, DF pizza. 😉  Don’t tell Andrew I said that… I always tell him his pizza tastes delicious.)

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Overall, the food was really good!  Andrew ordered their version of a supreme pizza, minus the ground beef that usually comes on it, and I had a cheese pizza with Roma tomatoes.  My only complaint is that I received a rather pitiful amount of tomato, as you can see in the photo above.  One thin tomato slice per pizza slice?  Come on, Mellow Mushroom… you can do better than that!  We both definitely enjoyed our meals though… and had plenty of leftovers!

On Saturday morning I went for my first run since hurting my quad during softball.  I kept it to an easy 30 minutes, and my legs felt good other than being a little achy from not running a lot lately.  Success!  I am going to take a break from our softball game this week, then hopefully play again next week (with a thorough warm-up and stretching.)

Saturday late morning/early afternoon, we worked in the yard (ah, the joys of home ownership. :))  I weeded the garden bed around the perimeter of the back yard, Andrew mowed the lawn, and we cleaned up the vegetable garden a bit.

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(Also, I think it might be time for me to buy a new camera.  All my photos have been blurry, regardless of the setting, lighting, etc.  Something is “off,” and I don’t think it’s just user errors.)

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…And we picked and ate our first green bean 😀

That evening went to our good friend Erin’s wedding.  Everything was wonderful–Erin looked absolutely beautiful, and both she and Nick seemed so happy.  It was a joy to celebrate with them!

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(I may have borrowed this photo from Facebook…)

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Additionally, we were able to visit with friends who came in town for the wedding.  We don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, and it’s always great to catch up!

Sunday morning we went to church to hear our pastor’s final sermon before retirement.   John has served our congregation for 16 years!  It was a bittersweet day, full of emotion as John’s wife, Julie, escorted him out of the sanctuary at the conclusion of each service.  After the final service, we had a reception/farewell party in our fellowship hall.  The committee in charge of decorations went all out!  They created a “tailgate” theme and used the school colors from John and Julie’s alma maters:  Randolph-Macon, UVA, and Duke.

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For Father’s Day, Andrew and I were limited to phone calls with our dads–mine lives near Atlanta, and Andrew’s dad was at the Cape.  In honor of my dad, (Papa Walt, as he has been renamed since the addition of my nieces, the next generation,) I resurrected this photo gem to post on Facebook:

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This was taken at the preschool party for my 4th birthday.  Andrew pointed out that I still make that face, minus the green marker on my nose. 😉  Papa Walt is the best dad a girl could ask for;  I love you, and I’m so proud of you, Daddy!

Sunday afternoon, after an accidental nap on the couch, Andrew and I went to the hardware store, purchased supplies, and built a more permanent cage for our strawberry plants.

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We bent 2-ft tall chicken wire to make a box, secured the top with small wire pieces, and added a rope handle so we can lift the whole thing off.  Take that, birds.  I am 83% sure that our neighbors think we are nuts. 😀

And now, off to tackle Monday!

What was the highlight of your weekend?

First Softball Game

In anticipation of our softball game Tuesday night,  Andrew insisted that we visit the batting cages.  (Is he a little bit competitive?  What gave it away? ;-))  Earlier that day my dad reminded me that when I was a kid and we’d play in the cul de sac, I batted much better left handed than I did right (I am right handed.)  I decided to give both a try.  At the cages, I was able to hit the ball both ways, but felt stronger with the right, so I made the decision to bat righty that night.

We arrived at the field, met our teammates, and before long the game began.  We played two games, and the first was truly a practice game–we followed most rules, but for the sake of batting practice, everyone swung until they hit the ball.  Prior to this game, I thought that concept sounded fantastic.  Who doesn’t want to keep batting until they get a hit?  What if that fourth pitch is yours?  For my first at-bat, I chose a bat, walked to the plate, and positioned myself to hit the ball right handed.  The first ball was pitched, I swung and missed.  Then the second.  And the third.  No contact.  My face was burning.  Can I please sit down?  That was three.  Then the fourth (nothing,) fifth (nothing,) and sixth (nothing.)  I was mortified.  I decided to switch sides and give my left hand a try;  it couldn’t be any worse.

Amazingly, I hit that first pitch left handed!  For the rest of the game, I hit everything I swung at.  During the first game I played right field, and in the second game I played second base.  While I didn’t have any outstanding plays, I don’t think I made anything on the field worse.  That must count for something, right?  😀  At second base, I stopped more balls with my shins than my glove, but I stopped them!  And before you think that I am exaggerating and no balls came my way, please allow me to say that I now have two serious bruises on my left leg, one on my right, one on my left foot, and one on my right elbow.  I heard someone on the other team call me a “brick wall.”

bruisesLots of icing happened that night.

Bruises aside, I really enjoyed playing.  I still stand by my statement that, had I played softball as a kid, I could have been pretty good.  With a little practice, there might be hope for me yet (assuming I can learn to catch the ball with my glove rather than my legs. ;-))

 

Softball, Fresh Produce, and Unrealized Dreams

Tonight… I play softball.  I have never before played, with the exception of a few intramural games in college and, of course, gym class, but I have always suspected that had I played growing up, I could have been pretty good.  Just a hunch.  (A few years ago when I told Andrew about that hunch, he said, “I don’t know if you have the size necessary to be really good at any sport.” Dream crusher.)

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Yesterday my friend Evan from work asked if Andrew and I would be interested in playing on our church’s team.  In light of my unrealized dreams mentioned above, I gave him an immediate yes.  Our first game is tonight, so last night Andrew and I headed to a local high school field to play catch–or, as Andrew probably thought of it: give Catherine a crash course in fundamentals so she doesn’t embarrass me tomorrow. 😉

But first, dinner:

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Baked salmon with a Dijon mustard/soy sauce glaze, steamed broccoli, and brown rice.  Quick, simple, delicious… and eaten outside on our new deck furniture, which made it taste even better!

During dinner we spotted a rabbit munching on weeds around the garden.  We see them out there daily, and so far they haven’t touched anything in the garden;  we are hoping the weeds will be enough to satisfy them!

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Hey, bunny… get away from those tomatoes!

Speaking of tomatoes…

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Ours are growing like crazy!  In the photo above, the tomato plants make up the jungle on the left.  Most have flowers on them, and the cherry tomatoes are starting to come out!

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We also picked our second strawberry last night;  last week we put netting around the plants to keep the birds out, so hopefully we will be able to harvest more than one berry at a time now 🙂

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As we split the single berry in half I thought, “Vegetable gardening really does make you appreciate the work it takes to produce food.”  You may be wondering at this point, “Is she going to post a picture of each individual fruit or vegetable they pick?”  The answer is: possibly, leaning towards likely. 😉

After dinner and bunny-watching and strawberry-picking, we grabbed our gloves and a softball and worked on some fundamentals.  As I suspected, I wasn’t terrible:  I caught the ball far more than I missed it, I threw it fairly accurately, and I was only hit in the shin once by a close-range grounder… And once in the knee, at which point I immediately fell to the ground in pain.  I now have a lovely bruise and pain to the touch. 🙂

“If that happens tomorrow during the game, you have to throw the ball before you can think about the pain.”  -Andrew

Thanks, coach.

I am excited to play tonight and hope I don’t embarrass the team too badly 😀

Any last minute advice from you softball or baseball players out there?

 

Cape Charles (Memorial Day Weekend)

As we drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Saturday morning, I thought about the popular get-to-know-you question:  Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?  Then I thought, God bless Virginia, because I don’t have to choose.  Mountains Friday, beach Saturday and Sunday.

Andrew’s dad and his girlfriend recently purchased a house at Cape Charles and have been working hard to renovate it before summer.  The house is finally live-able, and this weekend we helped them move furniture from Richmond.  Saturday afternoon, after moving all the large pieces into the house (plus lunch and a 2-hour nap…hah!), Andrew and I set off the explore the small town. Unfortunately, at 60 degrees with 20 mph winds, it was not a great beach day, but we were content to walk around in sweat shirts. 🙂

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Cape Charles definitely has a small-town feel.  There is only one street with stores–a few restaurants, a pharmacy with a lunch counter, a hardware store selling everything from paint to hula hoops to cleaning supplies that may have expired in 1987.  Outside most of the shops, locals sit in rocking chairs, greeting passerbys.   It was charming.

After dinner Saturday night, we caught a beautiful sunset over the bay:

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On Sunday morning, I went for a short, easy run; my primary motivation was to snap a few pictures before too many people were out and about.

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I saw an otter (that Andrew tells me is a muskrat…) swimming in a pond!  Walking closer to the water I thought, “Either this is an otter (muskrat,) and this is going to be awesome, or it’s the biggest snake I’ve ever seen, and I’m in big trouble.”  Thankfully, it wasn’t a snake. 😉

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For lunch, Andrew and I walked to the Cape Charles Coffee House (where I had also grabbed a coffee at the end of my run :-D.)    On Sundays they only serve breakfast, which suited both of us just fine!  Andrew ordered the egg platter, with scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit (including local strawberries!,) and I ordered the Belgian waffles, which came with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and sausage links.  The waffles were huge, and other than Andrew helping me with the sausage, I ate every bite.  I was pretty hungry, and it was so, so delicious!  I wish I’d taken a picture!

On the way to lunch we passed this pretty blue wall.  This is what happened when I asked Andrew to model in his red shirt:

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How did I get so lucky? 😉

After lunch we packed up our bikes and drove to the nearby National Wildlife Refuge, then Kiptopeke State Park.  The NWR had paved or fine gravel trails, but not many of them, and the state park had lots of trails, but most of them were grassy and tough to ride through.  Still, between the two, we spent about two hours on our bikes exploring.

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The marsh overlook at the National Wildlife Refuge

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The Bay Overlook at Kiptopeke State Park

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I’ve said this before, but I rarely notice our height difference until I look at pictures… and then I think it’s hilarious.  I look like a child on the bike.  😀

We ended the afternoon with some beach time at the park.

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By the end of the day, we were completely exhausted.  I think we were in bed by 9:30!  It was an awesome weekend, despite the cooler weather on Saturday.  We drove home early Monday and spent most of the day resting and watching Arrested Development on Netflix.

…And I continue to be thankful that I don’t have to choose between the beach and the mountains. 😀

What did you do for the Memorial Day weekend?  Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?

College House Reunion

First, I apologize for being MIA for the last week;  it was pure laziness rather than busyness.  I am back!

Last Sunday-Monday I got together with my college housemates.  There were five of us that randomly lived in the same dorm suite our freshman year, and we quickly became best friends and rented a house together for the rest of our time at JMU–the Dollhouse.

Amazingly, all five of us still live in Virginia, so it’s not impossible to reunite a few times a year.  This week we traveled to Norfolk and stayed with Leah.  Before I left Andrew asked what we had planned for our time together, then said, “Wait, let me guess:  eat breakfast and talk…go to a coffee shop and talk…eat lunch and talk… find another coffee shop and talk…”   😀  It’s true; we’ve noticed that when we get together, we just talk as we move from one eating establishment to the next.

We all arrived around noon Sunday–two of us from Richmond, two from D.C.–and immediately drove to a coffee/sandwich shop near Leah’s apartment.  Then we walked around by the water for a bit.

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…And Sarah decided to test-sit a stranger’s boat…after climbing over a locked gate to reach it… 😉

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After a while we found a place to sit by the water and enjoy the day.  And talk.  And laugh. And talk.

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Leah, with Kate’s help, reenacted a scene in which she fell while on a run and was groped (she suspects intentionally) by a homeless man who helped her back up.  Hah!  (Leah, don’t kill me for posting this photo… you are hilarious :-D)

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From the water we headed to the grocery store, then back to the apartment to make dinner:  quesadillas and bell peppers…

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…+ homemade salsa and sangria

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I’d also like to mention that our quesadillas were vegetarian because, while none of us are vegetarians, we all decided that the packages of raw chicken were just too gross to touch, and we’d rather go without.  Andrew’s mind was blown by this, but it’s one of the millions of reasons that I love these girls. 🙂

It was a beautiful evening so we ate dinner on the back porch, then talked for hours about life and love and pranks we pulled in college (and a few we’ve pulled since…)  Then ate ice cream & half-baked cookies.  Then talked until we fell asleep.  Glorious. 🙂

Monday morning, Leah made us waffles with a strawberry syrup, all from scratch, with strawberries she’d picked herself.  It. Was. Delicious.  After breakfast, Hannah and Sarah went for a walk while Kate, Leah, and I went running.  If there are two things the five of us share, it’s a love for food and a love for fitness. 😀

After running/walking, we cleaned up and drove to the beach!  We took lunch to go from a cute sandwich shop and ate on the beach.

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It was awesome.  Beautiful day… At the beach with my best friends…on a Monday.  All I could think was, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”  Complete in-the-moment contentment.

That is, until Leah turned around and said, “Uh, check out those clouds…”

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To the East: perfect beach day.  To the West:  rain clouds of doom.  We sat in the sun and denial for a little longer until I finally said, “You guys, this really is coming towards us.  It’s probably already raining on the car.”  We packed up, and after trying to wait it out in the car, gave up and headed back to Norfolk.

In our final hours together we parked ourselves back on Leah’s porch, ate pizza (yes, I ate more dairy this weekend than I have in two months,) and squeezed in a few more laughs.

I miss these girls like crazy when we are apart, but thanks to regular life-update email chains, we are always able to pick up where we left off when we do reunite.

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(Our one, super-grainy, self-timer iphone photo group shot ;-))

Dollhouse ❤

Friday Cheers, Hay, and Mother’s Day

It’s Monday morning, and Andrew and I had another full, but awesome weekend.

We kicked things off by heading to Friday Cheers–a summer concert series on Brown’s Island in downtown Richmond.  $5 lets you enjoy good music, nice river views, and excellent people-watching.  There are food trucks, and people park themselves on picnic blankets all around.

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(Source)

The bands playing this Friday were The Lone Bellow and Radical Face–I was excited about the former, Andrew the latter.  The music was good, as was the company (we met up with a few of my college roommates but ended up seeing about 30 other people that we know, including my brother!)  The only downside was that, in addition to the food trucks, a cigar store parked its truck on the island (I say that as if it just drove up and decided to stop, which I know isn’t the case;  it may have been a sponsor,) and so many people were smoking.  <Begin smoking rant here> Now, I know smoking is not illegal, and we were at an outdoor event, but as a nonsmoker it stinks to leave a family-friendly event with a sore throat because people decided to light up while standing in very close proximity to other people.  Be kind to your body, but if you aren’t going to do that, at least respect the fact that I am trying to be kind to mine.  <End smoking rant.>

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Playing with the panorama feature on my phone before the concert

Saturday morning I went with a group from our church to work with Shalom Farms.  We spent three full hours putting straw around the potato plants.  That’s a lot of pitch-forking, walking, and squatting!  Also, to add to the week of wildlife I’ve been having, we found a few giant spiders and a nice little snake.  By the end of our time there, I was itchy and never wanted to see straw again.

When I arrived home in the early afternoon, Andrew informed me that he had purchased straw that morning to put in our garden.  Hah.  He had no idea that I’d been doing that all day, but I told him that our little 10 x 20 garden would be a cool down after everything that morning!

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I have no idea how he determined the amount of hay we would need, but he better not quit his day job in favor of farm math;  we used maybe a quarter of one of those… bales?  (I better not quit my day job either in favor of farm terminology…yes, I’m sure that’s a paying job ;-))

Saturday night we went to a graduation party for our good friend Gabe after her graduation from VCU.  The party was held at the Center of the Universe Brewing Company up in Ashland.  We were given a brewery tour, enjoyed time with friends, played Corn Hole, and celebrated Gabe.  We are proud of you, my friend!

For Mother’s Day on Sunday we went to church in the morning with Andrew’s mom, then took her out to lunch to all of our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, Vietnam Garden.  Sunday evening my mom and brother came over to our house, and we cooked burgers on the grill.

I posted this photo on Facebook yesterday in honor of my mom.  It’s one of my favorites from our wedding that I think anyone who has taken part in a wedding can appreciate:

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We were all so tired of taking photos, but desperately trying to get the Christmas card shot.  Whitney’s best friend Jeanine was behind the camera trying to make my nieces laugh–or smile… or just look in the general direction of the camera–and her strapless dress fell down, leaving her a bit exposed.  This photo captured everyone’s reaction.

My brother, however, posted the winning photo that captures the coolness of our mom.  When Ross was about ten, he got really into WWF wrestling.  He’d watch the shows on TV regularly, so my mom decided to take him to see it live.  This photo was taken before the show, sporting their WWF t-shirts, and honoring one of Ross’s favorites with the wrestler’s signature move:

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Hah!  Awesome.  Not much else can be said about this one 😀

We had a wonderful day celebrating our mamas and a great weekend with friends!

What was the highlight of your weekend?