Monday, June 20, 2011

Remembering Jeremy

Dear Readers (not a big crowd, I'm sure),

I apologize for being MIA this last week - I know that is a running theme for me - I had definitely intended to write about finally getting to visit my family and our weekend at my parents' lake house on Table Rock Lake, and I had wanted to write about our week of baseball games at Nationals Park to watch the Cards, Nats, and Orioles play . . .. but those plans and that motivation got derailed last week when we got the horrible news that one of Chris' close high school friends was killed in Afghanistan. Maybe someday I will be able to articulate to all of you how I've felt this past week, but one thing I do know is that my heart breaks for the wife and 7 month old son he left behind and the life they had planned together.

While you probably did not know him or his family, I ask that you visit the website we've created in memory of him - Remembering Jeremy - and, if you feel inclined, please also consider donating a small amount to the fund that was established for his family (more information can be found on the site).

Lastly, please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Best to all of you, and thank you!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old Rag Mountain

The title of this post probably sounds like either some horror film or an old Disney/Hayley Mills movie, like there are crazy mutant people hiding behind trees ready to kill your friends or as if there was some secret about the mountain that a 13-year old girl discovers . . . Sorry to disappoint you all, but Old Rag is just a mountain in Shenandoah National Park that we happened to hike this past Saturday.

Old Rag Mountain is located about 1.5 to 2 hours away from downtown Washington, DC (depending on what kind of traffic you hit on I-66) not too far from the cute little town of Sperryville, Virginia . . .

View Larger Map

Old Rag Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National Park, probably because it boasts of a great rock scramble and breathtaking panoramic views of the Virginia countryside, Shenandoah Valley, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is one of my favorite hikes just because it has a good variety of difficulty levels and is 8.5 miles in total, which is good for that calorie burn!

Anyway, Chris and I had hiked it last fall, sort of by accident, so we I decided we would hike it again this past Saturday in the hopes of beating the crowds and actually enjoying the rock scramble and views. We left our house around 7am, and after stopping for gas, paying the National Park fee, and using the restroom, we started our hike around 9am. The first few miles aren't strenuous, granted, you are going up and definitely begin to feel the burn, but it is the last mile to the summit that is the most fun.

And once you reach the top, it is great to sit your butt down on the rocks, eat some snacks protein, and take in the views! (Including the crazy hiker guy we saw who was wearing something similar to snow/ski boots, pictured below.)

See the crazy boots behind me?!
Great views!
Demonstrating how to "hop" on the rocks.

 The hike back down is relatively uneventful. You have the usual switchbacks and then an endless fire road. The most exciting part of our hike back down were the butterflies . . .that were feeding on horse poo. Eww.

Butterflies . . . Had to!
Even though the end of the hike is kinda boring for our taste, the views and the hard work to get to the top are worth it! We got to our car a little after 1pm (4 hour hike isn't bad!) got home around 3:30pm, so it made for a great day trip and a gooood workout.

I love going out to Shenandoah to camp and hike, however, I think I really love making the trek out there because the Virginia countryside and forests remind me so much of Missouri! Love the fresh air, and endless country roads with cute farm houses and silos . . . Love the trees and hills, and the crunch of leaves and rocks under your feet . . . so, if any of you want to go hiking or camping out there with us, let me know!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Happy 2nd Anniversary!

Today is Chris and I's 2nd Anniversary! (And yes, only history nerds like Chris and I would get married on the anniversary of D-Day - if you didn't already catch that!)

We aren't exchanging gifts (even though you are supposed to give cotton for a second anniversary gift, which could be really inexpensive)... Instead, we are going out for a fancy schmancy 3-course(ish) dinner at Restaurant Nora, America's first certified organic restaurant. I'm super excited, because this means not only do I get to indulge in lots of yummy and delicious food, but I also get to dress up! Yipee!

Anyway, since Chris and I started the tradition, last year, of looking at all of our wedding pictures on our anniversary, I figured I would share a few of my favorites here with you. Enjoy!

(by the way, all of the photos are compliments of our wonderful photographers, Saliba Photography, check them out!)

My Dad and I getting ready to go down the aisle.
Shrine of St. Joseph in St. Louis. Gorgeous church.
Our awesome wedding party!
Cutting our yummy strawberry banana cake... complete with the Kewpie Doll Bride & Groom cake topper!

Two thumbs up for an amazing day.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday Kitties!

Today is our kitties' 5th birthday! It's hard to believe that 5 years ago today I was sitting in a cubicle at work excitedly receiving text messages from Chris letting me know that our kittens were being born . . . And, Chris was sitting in his apartment watching it all take place!

See, what happened was, 5 years and 9 weeks ago, Yuki, our beloved siamese mix cat escaped through an open door when one of Chris' roommates had a party. We found her a day later, under his neighbor' porch, but we quickly realized that she came back to us, "knocked up." We definitely did not intend for that to happen, but prepared ourselves anyway for this completely unfamiliar process . . . In the meantime, Yuki's little body got bigger and bigger . . . 

Pregnant Yuki. She was HUGE.

Then, on June 5, 2006, Yuki gave birth to four precious little kittens - two black, one gray, and one black and white, two males and two females. As you can guess, they were soooo precious, and cute, and fun! It was a blast helping Yuki take care of them, watching them open their eyes for the first time, wobble around on their little legs, and then begin to pounce around and play with one another.

The babies.
Taking a family cat nap.
 (Excuse the poor poor quality of the photos in this post. I am no photographer, and I was using whatever crappy camera I had 5 years ago!)

Chris and I decided to keep two of the kittens - the black boy, who we named Teddy, and the gray girl, who we named Luna. (Teddy because he reminded us of a Teddy Bear and for Theodore Roosevelt, one of Chris' favorite presidents, and Luna because, well, she was kinda crazy, spastic, and looney. And for Luna Lovegood for all of you HP fans out there!) Chris' mom and sister kept the black and white one, who is now known as Nike, and the black girl kitty went to a friend's girlfriend at the time.

Chris, Teddy, and Luna. Yup, I'm sure they loved this.
 These last 5 years have been a blast watching them grow-up, learning about their bizarre cat personalities, and loving them. Teddy and Luna are like our kids and I cannot imagine our lives without them!

Unfortunately, we lost Yuki to cancer this winter. She was too young and it was a hard loss for our little family, but we have adjusted and while we will miss her on this big celebration day we know that without her there wouldn't be a day to celebrate! So, as much as this post is about sharing with everyone that we are crazy cat-people and are celebrating our "kids" birthday, it is also a big THANK YOU to our Yuki-baby who gave us our little family and will never be forgotten!

And, if you must know, we will be celebrating Teddy and Luna's birthday by giving them some "fancy" cat food, probably some loads of catnip, and some new toys to add to their collection! Plus, we have yardwork to attend to and need to run errands - it is still a Sunday!
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