Monday, May 30, 2011

Get Away

It takes a certain type of person to appreciate a weekend in the mountains.  You have to be the type of person who likes eating, sleeping in late, chatting with good friends and being in beautiful nature.

You can imagine it’s very hard to find people like this.


Friday Night: Kate, Charlie, Anne & I warm up the kitchen.




Saturday: Picnic & wiffle ball in Julian Price Park



Saturday night: dinner at Woodlands BBQ & drinks at Boone Saloon


Sleepy Sunday morning on the porch… serenaded with some Robert Earl Keene while I sipped coffee.


A long walk into the woods & some bouldering.  (A mountain house visit tradition!)


Kicking off Sunday night relaxing with “Anne-grias.”


Play me some mountain music…  (Or Guster.  That’ll work too.)


Good eatin’…



Sunday night games.


Ya’ll come back soon now, ya hear?

Thanks to good friends Kate & Charlie and Anne & Locke for making the windy trip up the mountain roads to spend Memorial Day weekend with us at our little getaway.  You know you get along really well with people when you can spend 3 days with them without cable TV.  What a great weekend.

(2010 visit here and 2009 visit here.)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just One Piece

Whenever I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or frustrated by work, all I have to do is catch sight of what’s hanging on my cubicle walls and I’m restored.  Seeing these two pictures reminds me that I have a great big beautiful life and work is just one small piece of that great puzzle.  It’s all about perspective.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Shower The People You Love, Part 2

We are about to welcome our second baby into our little group of friends so it was time for another shower!  Donna’s baby is due in just 4 weeks, and we can’t wait for Baby Johnson to arrive!  Akanksha and Liz hosted a fun baby-boy themed shower for Donna on Sunday.






We’re not quite as clueless about baby gear now that we’ve had Crystal breaking us in, but we still have a lot to learn based on our skills from the Name That Candy Bar Game.  Look it up – I’m not attaching pictures.  We were all quite good at the matching teeny tiny sock game…. Anne & Kate took home the prize for that one.


Donna got stocked up with lots of great gear, and a whole new library of baby books!


And Jamie got some practice in, loving on Ethan…


Hurry up & get here, Baby Johnson!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dead Legs


It was hot.  The first really hot day we've had this year, and we were out pounding the asphalt down a country road with no shade.


It was hilly.  Gorgeous scenery - rolling farmland, with vines stretching as far as the eye could see.  Gorgeous.  But it's hard to notice that when all you can think about are your quads burning and your heart pounding.

It was tough.  My mind wasn't in a good place, and coupled with the heat I hadn't trained in, I was saying all sorts of curse words about the sport of running.  We came around a bend to a water station at mile 4, and a cute little pixie handed us our Dixie cup of water and squeaked...

"All uphill from here!" as she cheerily waved us on.

"Wait, what did she say?" asked Anne.

"All. Up. Hill." I grunted.

We groaned.

We chugged along, our happy chatter from the first mile being replaced by occassional comments and eventually, just the sound of our breath and our feet pounding.  Our paces changed, and soon I was by myself.  I put my headphones on and prayed some Gaga and some ZBB would carry me to through the final mile.

I came around another corner and saw the gates of the vineyard in sight, and picked up my pace.  I saw the mile marker 6, and knew there were just 0.2 left go and poured out everything I had.  I saw my friends waving from the finish line - done already, happily nursing their powerades and cheering for me.  I pumped my fist, I picked up my legs, I crossed the finish line....


And I puked all the way down the lawn in front of a family and 2 EMS volunteers.


What does Jillian always say?  "Unless you puke, faint or die...keep going!"

Yes ma'am.

I'm pretty sure it was the heat, coupled with the fact that I hadn't been exactly faithful to my training plan the week before.  (I was busy, I had a messed up toe from a pedicure, I prefer sleep over running, blah blah blah...)  But nonetheless, that is what I will always remember from my Running through the Vines 10k.


On a happier note, it was both Anne and Akanksha's first 10k and they did amazing.  There's no better feeling that surpassing a goal you previously thought impossible and I'm so, so proud of them.  Also, Jamie came out to support us and seeing her smiling face and big camera lens at the finish line was the extra push I needed to get me ACROSS the line before my eventful finish.  She drove all the way up from Winston - an hour's ride - to stand in the heat (at 20 wks preggo) to support us.  That is a good friend.


After the race and getting a little food in me, we walked across the street to the cheap hotel room we had rented for the purpose of showering and napping.  Both of which were much needed.  After some BravoTV and napping, I dosed myself with the necessary medicine for recovery: 1 liter of water, 1 packet of Goody's aspirin and a happy meal from Dairy Queen.  With that, I was good to go.

We were able to enjoy a great tasting at Shelton and pick out a bottle to carry out to our picnic blanket on the lawn and settle in for the concert.  The Embers did not disappoint.  They brought down the house... as soon as their first song started playing, there were folks out there shagging and by the end of it, I think the entire lawn had spilled out on the dance floor.  I love beach music and I love the culture of shag dancing - but that's a story for another day.  For now, let me just say that the evening's events... a bottle of wine, the sun setting over the vineyard, some upbeat music and dancing with my girlfriends... more than made up for the morning's miserable run.




I'm still not sure whether my legs were sore the next day from the hill at mile 3 or 3 hours of shag dancing.

PS, Thanks to Jamie for all the race day pictures!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Big Reveal…

This is probably the most fun I’ve had doing a photography shoot so far.  My best friend Jamie found out the day before whether she is having a girl or a boy, so we took a big bunch of balloons to a field…


And let go of a few at a time…


And well… you’ll just have to go see for yourself….

Isn’t she just the cutest pregnant lady ever?


I can’t wait to do more pictures when the bump gets bigger.

Thanks for letting me be part of the big reveal, J!  xoxo

Thursday, May 19, 2011


When my Grandma was in the nursing home, my Grandpa used to drive up to see her twice a day.  I imagine that he knew the route with his eyes closed and he counted off the hours in the day to first visit, then second visit.  We all worried about the toll it was taking on him - at this point, she was suffering from Alzheimer's and had various degrees of awareness of why she was there and not at home, or when she could go home, or even who he was.

Can you imagine visiting your wife twice a day and often having to tell her, twice a day, that no, I'm sorry... I can't take you home with me?

At one point, my mom asked my Grandpa if he wanted to go with her to Florida and take a break and go golfing.  She wanted him to have some "me-time", to do something he absolutely loved doing.  My Grandma was in good hands - my mom is one of 4, and everyone was ready to be all hands on deck.  I was in college when my mom told me this story and his response has been burned on my heart ever since.  She asked him to go to Florida, and he said:

"No, Shari, no thanks. I don't even want to go to Wal-mart if your mom can't go with me."

When my Grandma passed away in March of 2005, we all wondered how my Grandpa would fare.  He was healthy, independent, mobile and totally with it - not something all 84 years old can claim.  But we knew he would have traded all of that just to go home with Grandma.

My Grandpa stayed in good health for most of the last 6 years.  Until about 14 months ago, he still lived in his house, drove his car, and some days even still visited the nursing home my Grandma had spent her final years in.  It wasn’t until he had a heart attack in January of 2010 that he showed any signs of his physical body catching up to his calendar years.

On a Rochester-cold December day, in 2009, I met him for a breakfast date at Denny’s.  I had driven down to Geneseo to meet him, the half way point between my parent's house in Pittsford and his house in Fillmore.  He drank an endless cup of black coffee and ate half of an English muffin, I downed a diet coke and some scrambled eggs.

"How did you meet Grandma?" I asked.  I don’t remember what we had been talking about before then, but I wanted to ask that question and the moment was right. 

Quite some time passed while story after story fell out of his mouth and he alternated peering into his coffee cup or staring off into the distance - watching the movie unfold in his head as if it was yesterday, and giving me the play by play.  He told me how they met, about their courtship and of course, his proposal.  He shared stories of how once they were married, she was always late to meet him anywhere because she’d stop to talk to someone in the grocery store or church parking lot and lose track of time as she would slowly unfold a stranger’s life story.  “What took you so long?” he would ask her, knowing what the answer was. 

After about an hour, he realized where he was and looked at me with an almost bashful look to him.  "How did you get me talking about this?" he asked, a little embarrassed and a little bit wistful..  My heart was full with stories, and I knew I couldn't press my luck any farther so I just grinned and shrugged.  I tried to steal the check from him (he wouldn't let me) and hugged him hard in the parking lot and told him to drive the speed limit.

He chuckled to himself as he got in the car, which I knew meant he would not.

I have so many precious memories of my Grandpa, but this is the one that I have played over and over to myself in the last few days since my mom called me with the news.

I think of that wistful look he had in his eyes as he recounted to me seeing my Grandma for the first time  and I can only imagine that they're exchanging those glances again as if it was their first time seeing one another.  Their marriage was what every good marriage should be – a friendship, an equal partnership (a rarity in the 1950s), and genuine, sincere love for one another. 

I feel sad for myself, that I’ll never get to hug him and feel his scratchy beard on my check, or listen to a voice mail where he tells me to say hello to “that good Methodist boy you married” or see him flipping pancakes on the Coleman stove of their Airstream trailer.  I am sad that my brother won’t have anyone to give a carton of Whoppers to at Christmas for the first time in 33 years.  That my sister won’t get to have him proudly walk down the aisle at her wedding, shaking hands with people as if he was a celebrity. That he won’t see my 4 cousins graduate college, get married and turn into the amazing grown ups they are already becoming.  I am sad that my mom, her sister and her 2 brothers have lost their Dad, a sadness I can’t even really permit myself to imagine.

But after I wade through this sorrow, there’s an incredible sense of peace and overwhelming happiness because I know my Grandpa is exactly where he wants to be: home, with my Grandma. 

And imagine the first thing she will say to him is, “What took you so long?”


Grandpa { 2.18.21 – 5.17.11 }


{Christmas 2004 with Grandma & Grandpa}

Monday, May 16, 2011

Victory Lap

It took me a second to realize what I was looking at.  I saw Charlie and Kate first, and for a second, I thought they were there to celebrate her law school graduation.  Then my brain registered that the rest of the table was filled with our friends too, there was an empty chair, a lot of sneaky grins and even the waitress was looking at me expectantly now.

Tears pricked my eyes and my voice got squeaky, with one of those obnoxious “Oh my gossshhhhhh, you guuyyyyyssss” that we always pick on my mom for doing when she’s really excited.  (Sorry, Momma – guess the apple doesn’t fall far, huh?) 

I was so amazed and touched to see all my friends waiting to celebrate my day and it was the icing on the pink lemonade cake of a wonderful birthday.


(Picture from Jamie before I showed up.  Hi, friends!)

I had been asked by a few people how I felt about turning the big 2-9, the "victory lap" as my friend Zac called it.  Considering that every year of my 20s has been better than the one before... bring it, 29.  I can't wait to see what you have in store.

Birthdays do amazing things for the ego.  I'm pretty sure that most people would swear off celebrating their birthdays after turning 21 if it wasn't for Facebook.  I'm pretty addicted to my phone as it is during the day, but I'm not gonna lie, I had a hard time resisting hitting refresh on my FB feed every 4.5 seconds.

I was spoiled rotten at work - my coworkers showed up with a double chocolate espresso brownie (uh huh) and a grande skinny vanilla latte from the 'bux and a huge bouquet of balloons.  I had already cashed in my free-birthday-drink postcard at Starbucks that morning for a venti dirty chai so that made for two, count ‘em two, tasty beverages (that actually lasted me all week.)


Oh and the balloons?  No sooner had Susan tied them to my chair but then we were then immediately scolded because unbeknownst to use there is a latex ban on our floor due to an allergy.

A sign would be nice?

(We also learned, after inquiring that there is a cologne/perfume ban on our floor.  I can tell you right now this memo has not circulated all the way around.)


And then I got home and found my darling, darling, darling hubby had picked me out the Cowboy boots I have been coveting for who-knows-how-long.  Listen friends, just go ahead and prepare yourself of getting sick of seeing me wear them.  I. Love. Them.
I think it’s probably a little uncouth to tell the interwebz what kind of presents you got for your birthday, so I’ll stop there and just say that my family knows how to make me feel oh so lucky.


I feel so blessed today. All I can say is that I hope I pay it forward and when each one of my friend's or family's birthday rolls around, that I dole out the same dose of love that came my way.

Or at least, that I send them a Facebook message and some illegal balloons.

(Thank you, thank you, every one of you who made my day so very special.)


Sunday, May 15, 2011

One Last Fling Before the Ring

Sister’s Bachelorette Party in Charlotte, NC


Started off with a little Neti-pot action… pretty indicative of a wild weekend to be had, yes?


Getting our toenails all prettified at Polished.


Signing the wall at Polished.



The view from the Westin, our bachelorette party digs.


Presents!  What bride doesn’t love presents?


The night continued on at Crave Dessert Bar….


S’mores!  This is pretty much a genius idea…

And the rest of the night involved dancing, dancing, dancing….


Okay and some tweeting….


And our safe delivery home from Jack, the Charlotte EcoShuttle.


Okay, home with one pit stop.  Dancing makes you hungry.


Success: One Last Fling, and a fun night with best friends for the bride-to-be.