It will always remain one of the great unfathomable mysteries of life how two people who heavily skew toward the neurotic produced this cool customer:

IMG_9588It’s been a stressful few weeks. I’ve been waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night for no good reason at all and have been finding it hard to get back to sleep. When I finally surrender to the day and get out of bed for good, I find I have to unclench my aching jaws.

One of the things that was causing me a certain amount of anxiety were the logistics of this past weekend. Two of the three kids had soccer tournaments in two different states. With my husband out of the country, I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to shake out. I ended up taking my daughter to North Carolina and leaving the boys in Virginia so that my oldest son could play his games in Charlottesville, and so that he and his brother could take care of our ever-growing menagerie.

At the end of a rainy first day, my goalie ended up looking like this:FullSizeRender 4

The next morning we set out for the third game. As we walked toward the field I read a text message announcing that after another night of torrential thunderstorms, the whole tournament would be decided on penalty kicks – five per team.

“Do you think that’s a joke?” my daughter asked.

“I don’t think so,” I answered.

We watched an official attempt to prep the area by the goal. Again and again he pulled at the water with a large broom…a Sisyphean task if ever there was one.

A mother of a teammate came up to me and asked if my daughter was nervous. We both glanced over to find her doing a goofy dance with a grin on her face, her arms waving like noodles.

“Guess not!” I said. My stomach, on the other hand, was roiling with nerves. And I wasn’t the only one who was anxious. The parents formed a tense, fidgety row along the sideline as we watched our girls lining up to take their shots.

As my daughter squished her way to the box, you could see water coming out of her cleats, which were already soaking wet after just a few minutes of warm up.

She dove for the first ball and landed with an audible splash:


Photo by Forever Photography By Elissa 

She stood up, drenched with dirty rainwater and spitting out mud and bits of grass, but holding the ball she had saved.

Our cheers turned into laughter when she turned to look at me and shouted, “THAT WAS NOT WORTH IT!

Eventually, she took the fifth kick for her team. As she stepped up to the line, the referee kindly wiped the mud from her eyes before she took her shot:


Here’s mud in your eye!

She got her ball in, but her team lost the tournament. Was my girl sad?


I wish I could be as wholeheartedly fearless as this girl. I wish I could pick myself up after a fall with a rueful smile and a quip. I wish I could wring humor out of the most miserable of situations…When I grow up, my goal is to be just like my #1 goalie.


Weekend Snapshots 48, or: Amor vincit omnia


Twenty years ago, I woke up early in the morning and crawled into bed with my mother. I was going to be married later that day in an outdoor ceremony and I had been fretting all week over the iffy-looking weather forecast. We flipped back and forth from one TV channel to another to compare the different local weather reports, which were all  slightly different. My mother humored me by agreeing that the most believable forecast was the one with the most favorable prediction.

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Even if it did rain, my mother reassured me, it would mean good luck for our marriage. She soothed me by repeating: “Showers of blessings” like a mantra. It eventually did rain that day, though not until we moved indoors after the ceremony.

Our twentieth anniversary was on Wednesday, but my husband and I decided to celebrate the occasion on Friday. Leading up to the day, we were both privately scrambling to figure out a way to mark such a momentous milestone. In desperation I turned to my 11 year old daughter for advice:

“What do you think I should get Dad for our twentieth anniversary?”

She didn’t have an answer for me, but she laughed out loud and said, “Daddy asked me the very same thing!”

My husband finally took matters into his own hands and announced that he was going to pick me up from work and whisk me off to a secret destination. On Friday, the weather was not just iffy – it was downright dismal. The rain was coming down in sheets. My husband kept sighing and saying, “Too bad the weather’s going to be so awful for our rugged hike in the mountains…”


The last time I got dragged up a mountain…

We drove through the rain for a little more than an hour, past the neighborhood where we bought our first house together, through little hamlets, and past fields of cows and horses. The whole way there, he kept tutting about how our picnic on the mountainside would be ruined, while I gave him serious side eye and badgered him to tell me where we were really going.

The secret was finally revealed when we pulled into Washington, Virginia and to the Inn at Little Washington. We were first ushered to a beautiful foyer with a crackling fire…

IMG_9769and then to “Anniversary Row.”


Everybody sitting to the left and right of us was celebrating an anniversary. The waiter asked each couple how many years they had been married, and as we overheard the answers from the other tables, we were very proud to have been married the longest! IMG_9784

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From the violin recital…


…to the soccer field:


We went to a party later that evening. Our hosts had devised an ingenious adult scavenger hunt with stops along the way for wine and sake tastings complete with paired hors d’oeuvres.  As we hiked through the woods and up to the top of the mountainside to find the grand prize, I remarked to my husband: “We’re having our anniversary hike, after all!”:


The Grand Prize


Our last day of choir:


This boy’s Confirmation:

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Mother’s Day Photo Op…FullSizeRender 15FullSizeRender 13FullSizeRender 7IMG_9834

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She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister…


Purple Passion afternoon tea break with my buddy…

I rejoined my family for dinner and then got dropped off at another friend’s to head to the Downtown Mall…

You may have seen the news about a group of torch-bearing, knuckle-dragging Neo-Nazis who marched in Lee Park in Charlottesville on Saturday. On Sunday night, a much larger group of people gathered at the park and vowed to love and protect each other.

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This is the Charlottesville I know and love.

Some days the rain will fall. Some days a band of retrograde half-wit Nazis will try to spew their hatred in your beautiful little town. In the end, love conquers all and showers us with blessings. That’s the forecast I want to believe.

Weekend Snapshots 47


My daughter and three of her friends are playing in a quartet together. On Friday after work I went to pick them up and got to listen to the last half hour of practice…


We met up with my 15 year old and his friend at a restaurant for dinner. IMG_9178As the kids piled into my trusty old minivan after dinner to head to the movie theater, I said, “Hey, please turn a blind eye to the mess inside. Just ignore it all! Pretend you don’t see a thing…”

As one of the kids gingerly stepped over the mess to take his seat, he deadpanned: “Like…the balloon punching bag, a Holy Bible, a warm six-pack of Gatorade, aaaaaaaand the brochure on chameleons?”


I’m not messy, really – I’m prepared. We could probably ride out the apocalypse in that minivan. We have reading materials. We have entertainment. And there’s probably enough food in crumbs and half-empty bottles of various liquids to keep us going for months. And if we happened to have chameleons during the apocalypse – we’d know exactly how to take care of them.



The next morning I did a baby photo shoot. My camera stopped working halfway through, so I had to finish up with my camera phone. I’m planning to post more photos later, but here’s a sneak peak:

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I had to dash home to get this girl to her soccer game:

Later that evening we met up with the quartet girls and their mothers and headed over to Staunton, Virginia to hear the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra.


Elgar’s Concerto for Cello and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 were the musical highlights of the evening. The girls loved hearing their violin/quartet teacher play the violin.