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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Rewind (August): Chelsea and the Beach

I had not ever taken a true summer vacation before...usually I go to camp and that is my summer vacation. Given my training schedule, I made the tough decision to not to go to Camp Fantastic this year.  Instead, I booked a family vacation in Virginia Beach.  Given the Chicago excursion, I ended up taking 12 days off of work and it was fantastic.  As it turned out, I readjusted our vacation plans twice due to soccer...extended vacation to go to Chicago and then left a day later for the beach so that my Mom could see one of her favorite  teams (Chelsea) play.  The joy on her face seeing all of her favorite players walk right in front of her and play...there are no words for how incredible it was.

It was fun to be at RFK for once and not be stressed at all.  It was also weird to be there in normal summer clothes...no DC United gear at all.  I can't even remember how many miles had done earlier that day...maybe 14...like many Saturdays this past summer...I was limping but happy.  My sister and I surprised my Mom with a scarf...while she was watching the match.  Our seats were spectacular...we were right up in front not too far away from where Chelsea took the field.  We are very lucky in all of our soccer pursuits.

Here are some pictorial flashbacks from the Chelsea game on August 10...

It was a takeover...

Another beautiful night at RFK...

Crazy to be so close...

Mom's Favorite...

Michael Bradley
 
Juan Mata!!

And then the next morning we left for the beach...it was an easy trip...made even easier by a little rest stop in Williamsburg to visit with one of my favorite families...The Baillies!! My Mom and Sister had never met my friends Nate and Karen or their sweet Joelene.  We had a fantastic afternoon...lots of quality time with Joelene and swapping Joel stories.  It is always nice when your friends become instant friends with your family.  I'm so lucky!!

The beach was fun...but I have to be honest...I ended up working on my laptop way too much. I was a bit bitter about it...so I had to keep reminding myself that at least I was at the beach.  There were moments when the whole thing felt like a disaster, especially since both my Mom and Sister were sick with cough/colds.  But, staring for hours at the water always does me good.  Running on the board walk and on the beach was good for my soul too.  Even with the work interruptions...I felt rested and yet not lazy because I was still able to keep up with my marathon training.  I (of course) negated this with too much good food and drink...but that it is what vacations are all about.

The other highlight was being able to see my childhood friend, Bianca, who is a newscaster on the local news. I have never had a chance to see her do her thing on air (well other than on Cougar TV in High School)...and it was great.  With busy schedules...it was hard to find time to get together...but as luck would have it...we found each other for a quick visit.  I had checked in at the Starbucks near our hotel and she was at the gas station right across the street.  We were classy...she was all pretty for the shots they were doing and I was in my running clothes.  It was fantastic.

The Beach Life...I would do it again...

We are really bad at packing...I am the worst... :)

Rainbow...

Mornings with Coffee and the Sunrise....
A surprise from Bianca's Mom...TuTu...so sweet...

King Neptune...

Could stare for hours...so calming...

Yep...still staring...still calm...

Vacation Me...even though I wasn't at camp...it was with me...in the form of bracelets....

Mommy and Me after our walk/run together on the boardwalk....

Sissy and Me....

Evidently...Vacation Me gets Henna Tattoos too...A firefly...in honor of Chass...another Camp reminder...

More Water...and Walking along the beach...
Keeping up with Training and Starbucks Consumption....

Even found an Irish Pub to watch soccer....and they had Magners on Tap!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Rewind (August): 26 Hours in Chicago...

Being a DC United fan in 2013 was tough...but not for me.  Win, Lose, or Draw...I couldn't not support the Black and Red.  There are good years.  There are bad years.  My seasons so far have been 50/50...I'm only two years in...but I'm not going to stop the love after one tough season.  Besides, there was the US Lamar Hunt Open Cup...and we won it!!  We won the ship!!  So, there was that.  I'd like to think that my fandom helped DC United along the way.  I attended every game in person (wearing the exact same outfit and earrings and shoes)...except the final that took place on October 1 in Salt Lake City.  And yes...I had on the same lucky outfit, earrings, and shoes for that game too...it is only crazy if it doesn't work!!  If the time of year had been different, I probably would have hopped on a plane to go. 

I did decide to get on a plane with my Mom and Sister in August...to head to Chicago for the Open Cup Semi-Finals.  I needed to keep the winning momentum going and so I extended my summer vacation by an extra two days.  Why not hop on a plane to help DC United get a victory against the Chicago Fire?  I had always wanted to go to Chicago and when I knew I could escape the office with no worries...I knew I had to go.  It was a jammed packed 26 hours or so...we arrived in Chicago at 9:30am and moved full speed ahead.  We had plenty of time to sight see and shop before the game that evening.  This is what being a soccer fan has done for me...I get on planes and buses to chant and cheer.  It is the best thing ever.  I have traveled more over the past three years to watch soccer games...then I probably have in all the years combined before hand.  I love it!! 

Here is a quick pictorial trip down my Chicago memory lane...

With my Purple Petals Vera Bradley and Venti Americano...I can do anything!!

I love writing on the plane...and staring at the clouds...

There was a butterfly waiting for me...

Cool Art Pieces in Millennium Park...I loved the Lurie Garden.

The Bean...

Us...reflected in the Bean...

Dizzy....

The Three Amigos...


So pretty...

Reflections...

A tree, riverwalk...perfection...

Huge down pour...no umbrellas...every adventures needs a thorough rain soaking!!

Chicago did not disappoint...it had been on my list years...I need to go back.
There was much to swoon over at Nike Town...instead of the above...I got my Marathon Race Day outfit instead. :)
 
Arriving at Toyota Park...our first DC United Away Game!!

Vamos United!!!
Fantastic View...

So awesome...


You can see my Mom, my sister is hiding behind the red/white flag...I'm at the top right...headless!!

I had my first scarf exchange...

Back on the plane...coffee, clouds, pen, paper...perfection.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Rewind (May): Under 7 Weekend...

Camp...much like writing, soccer, time with gym and music...completes me as a person.  It is a key to keeping  me balanced.  It is a second family.  It is a different way that give cancer a punch in the gut.  Camp was on my mind this week...how lucky I am to have so many amazing connections with tremendous people...campers, families, and siblings.

This past year, given my crazy schedule for training for the half marathon and marathon, I made the tough decision to not do Camp Fantastic and several other weekends.  I actually only volunteered for one camp event this year.  In fact, my marathon was the same weekend as Octoberfest...one of my most favorite family weekends.  Well, it was my favorite until this past May.  I (much to my surprise) have a new favorite weekend.  Under Seven Weekend!!  It is geared toward children under 7 with cancer but their families get to join along in the fun.  I knew I was matched with the PERFECT Family because the older sister called her baby sister Sissy.  This got me.  Sissy is what my sister called me when she was really little and struggled to say "Joy".  Plus, on the first full day of camp...we were all wearing pink...so you know...we were instant best friends.  It was also the family's first time at a camp event, so that made it even more fun.

I was really nervous because at camp, I'm always a counselor to teens.  In fact, little kids scare me.  So I was truly surprised by how much fun I had, I was worried I would not know what to do.  I conquered a few of my camp fears that beautiful weekend in May...I not only had fun with the kiddos but I also led a song in front of the entire camp.  I had never done that before.  It was awesome.  I got to sing the "Moose Song" which is my favorite and super easy because it is a "repeat after me" song.  I even held a baby goat...I'm not good with animals either.  It was such a relaxed weekend...not as much structure as other weekends.   I am hooked...I can't wait till next May!! 

At every family weekend, I always take a step back and watch how amazing each and every family is.  I can't imagine the weight of all of their worry and all the things they need to manage while caring for a child with cancer and the siblings.  I have seen that strength year after year...and it is awe inspiring each and every time.  I am so lucky that I am able to be a part of such special love.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Rewind (August): Baking and Cooking??

The Teacher and the Student
To be clear, I don't just use the kitchen for anyone...my skills are limited.  I toast, I make coffee, I make great scrambled eggs, and I microwave.  I am also good at doing dishes.  When I was in high school and took baking...I just did the dishes.  I also kneaded bread dough...I was pretty good at that too.  I am best at selecting food options from restaurants/stores/caterers and reheating, if necessary.  I can throw together a great menu with excellent food pairings...including desserts!!  But this past August, for my sister's birthday, I decided that I wanted to cook one of her favorite meals (one that Grandma used to make) and bake her a cake.  So I did...with excellent teaching/coaching from my Mom.  I made Chicken N' Gravy (which is chicken cooked in Cream of Mushroom Soup), parsley potatoes, a salad, and a cake.  Another motivating factor was brand new marble counter tops...they were so pretty I was actually inspired to use the kitchen.

My Mom took my enthusiasm and seized the opportunity to teach me lots of things grown-ups apparently should know how to do - for instance - how to quarter a chicken, julienne fruits and vegetables, mix together ingredients for baking, use a mixer, decorate a cake, and many other things.  We had a really good time...we make a good team.  She is an amazing cook and baker...I usually just help with dishes (not as often as I should), design, color, and flavors.  This time...I was all in.  I took pictures throughout the process so that I could remember everything.  Plus, I wanted visual proof that it actually happened.  I cooked!!  I baked!!  I decorated!!

So here is a pictorial listing of how I made a birthday dinner and cake for my sister...
 
Everything I do starts with some notes and lists...

Shopping!!!

 
Baking is done first...and the order of ingredients is important.

Two perfectly finished cakes!!!

Layering Up...I made the orange color too...
You can see the stress...
 
All iced and ready to go...I made the yellow color!!

Starting to decorate with fondant pieces I cut out...what will it be?

The chicken...so gross...but I conquered my fear!!
  
All cut up!!!

All souped up...and ready for the oven!!

Cutting Skills...

My favorite...Grandma's Parsley Potatoes...
 
The table...ready to serve with some 802 Woodchuck!!

A Lion Cake for My Leo Sister!!
 
Ready to Eat!!!

I don't just use the kitchen for anyone... :)