Bring On 2019, Already!

Hi!  My name is Lauren and I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  Shocker!  To know me is to have heard me say, “I’m logging off for good!”

I wanted to write a holiday greeting this year, but I figured, “why bother?!, everything is either Facebook or Instagram-worthy (but sometimes not both), and so if you follow me on there, you already know what this year has held.”  But you don’t.  Because I leave a lot out.

Looking back, I jammed a whole lot into 52 weeks that made up the year.  I was thinking maybe I’d write one memorable thing about each week and just give you a list of 52 fun or fabulous things in 2018. I was thinking just a photo collage like Instagram’s “top 9” but that wouldn’t do it justice, either.

So…here it is, buckle up, it’s a doozy!

Royal Wedding watching, didn’t we all?  I was hooked, up early and watched every minute!  Loved it.

Washington Capitals win the Stanley Cup!  I was in the Omni Grove Park Inn watching on the TV in a very comfy hotel bed.  I’ll admit, I’m a fair-weather fan when it comes to the Caps, well, all of hockey, really!  If they’re winning, I’ll follow along, if they’re in the playoffs, I’ll watch.  But I learned this year that if I “Rock the Red” on game day, they’ll lose, so I donned black that night and they won it all!  Very awesome!

Saw Waitress at National Theater with a girlfriend.  Terrific, better than the movie!

Shacked up (in the opposite of a shack) at the Martha Washington Inn with a cousin from Tennessee, ate a fabulous meal at Rain, then saw Steel Magnolias at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, VA.  Cannot believe I’ve never seen the movie all the way thru OR the play, but this too was fabulous!

Next stop, the Biltmore Estate to see the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit inside the mansion and all thru the gardens.  Amazing & breathtaking and SO worth it!

Spent the beginning of July at the Inn at Westwynd Farm with my super-thoughtful husband who insisted we needed a getaway together, and took a day to be a kid at Hershey Park, roller coaster, water rides, and all!

Toured Maymont Estate & Gardens and ate great (again) at The Stables in Richmond before seeing a friend in West Side Story at the Virginia Repertory Theater.

Quick trip to NYC to see the Stuart Weitzman shoe collection exhibit and Tiffany lamps and Rosie the Riveter before a haul to upstate to see friends and eat at the wonderful Glenmere Mansion!

Finally, finally, finally started the Harry Potter series.  Slogged thru book 5 and most recently started on book 6! Built the Hogwarts castle out of Legos with friends, our moms and my Lego-loving husband (of course) all while watching McCain’s funeral.

Speaking of funerals, went to one too many and saw two fine Republican statesmen lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.

Saw Hamilton at the Kennedy Center in August after buying tix pre-sale back in March!

Literally day-tripped to Chicago on a fluorescent yellow Spirit Airlines plane…hated the flight, loved the company and laughs, and of course, food!  Surprised dear friends celebrating seventy!

Took in a WNBA playoff game and toured my nephew’s college campus, home to the winningest, most undefeated team in college football history!  (I just jinxed it, but Go Knights, Fight On!)

Skipped coasts and took off to Laguna Hills, CA with a girlfriend for a couple of beautiful first days in October.  There’s something about watching the water do its thing… ahhhh!

Enjoyed much-needed time down at Elon for the inauguration of the 9th College President and first female president, Connie L. Book.  Was great to see college campus, friends and have a drink with my advisor!  My, how the campus has changed. Long Live, Elon!

Wrote postcards (‘til I ran out completely) to twist arms and get Democrats elected across this great country and made history, er, …herstory, by getting one hundred (three digits!) women elected to Congress!

Toured a replica of Air Force One at National Harbor with family and shared the Capital One Arena with Michelle Obama on Thanksgiving weekend with cousins!  Finally saw Barack and Michelle in the National Portrait Gallery and then the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (a family tradition), too.

Loved loved loved Mary Poppins Returns the night before it opened, wishing “if only I could be half the caregiver she is!”  I’m still loving a babysitting gig here and there and nannying on Fridays for a precious six-month-old girl.  What I’m not super-loving is getting Christmas cards stating that babies I watched since a stork appeared in their yard, are graduating college in a few short months!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  I guess that old adage is true.

What a difference the years make?  In 2014 we rang in ’15 by getting engaged, and this year we’re hosting “her first sleepover.”  My, how times have changed!  It’s only 6 p.m., will I even make it ‘til midnight?

In closing, I really do think I’m getting off of Facebook, but on insta (and I know they’re related) I’m @LESRidg2018

Happy New Year to you and yours!
I hope 2019 will be as fun-filled as we all deserve!
we3.2018

 

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March For Our Lives

Written on Metro en route to the March For Our Lives:

I am not a mom, but moms are not what this March is about.

This is about their kids. This whole tidal wave of outcry and protest is courtesy of our kids. A mom’s kid.

Kids who don’t come home from school on Wednesday. Kids who have created a “black hole” in a classroom by not being there the next week.

Innocent children lost to scary madmen with big guns. It’s all too easy.

I am not a mom. I don’t play one on TV, but in real life I’ve helped raise lots of kids. Kids who are two years old with twin brothers on the way. Kids who are on the brink of 5 who run carefree at an “open air” playground in the City. Kids who are on college campuses and in high school classrooms. I’ve been a carpool mom for many years now and I simply cannot ever imagine arriving to a crime scene or receiving a text that “Beth hasn’t been heard from yet”.

When moms send kids to school and wave as the bus pulls away, or not because the day is already too busy, they expect them to return later that day. What they don’t expect is complete mayhem after receiving a text, or worse, a breaking news alert that there’s a gunman on their elementary school grounds and the place is on lockdown and, no, you can’t come get your kids. It’s like yesterday Columbine happened. I was in college. It’s like this morning Newton happened. Those kids should be marching. Kids younger than those walked out of school on March 14th and I say good for them, but they shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t know why they had to.

My nephews go to high school in Florida, not necessarily near Parkland, but when it happens in your state it’s like it happens to you. Then just last week it happened in my state. Don’t think it won’t happen in yours. They took their poor 16-year-old daughter off of life support. It had to come to that. Can you imagine?

Watching and listening to the vigil at the Washington National Cathedral was a moving reminder as to why we do this. Carmen’s parents spoke and it was probably the last thing in the world they thought they would do in 2018 would be to have to tell this county and that audience on March For Our Lives-eve about their daughter receiving word that she was a National Merit Scholar the day after she was shot and killed at school. (See their remarks starting at 59:50 mark) But, I’m so glad they’re here and strong enough to tell their story and share their Carmen with the world.

How to go on? What to do next? Is marching the day after the budget vote when Congressmen & Senators have gone to their respective Districts the answer? Will they hear these kids? Who knows. How soon until the next mass shooting? The next school shooting? The next gunfire outbreak at a concert? When will it end? When is enough really enough? Hopefully now. The future is in the hands of our youth. Let’s listen to them. Let’s be inspired by them.

Let’s act and stop with the “thoughts and prayers.”

Fast-Forward to…Written on Metro home from the March For Our Lives:

What an amazing day! Thoroughly inspired. Amazing.

It was not a March as there were definitely too many people. More of a rally, and an uplifting pep-rally at that! The entire stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue (where the President lives!) from 3rd to 12th Street and beyond was chock full of people. White people. Black people. Brown people. Men. Women. Children. Teachers. Democrats. Republicans. Gun owners, even! People who just plain care about kids, their safety and voting out the NRA and all of the representatives bought by the NRA.

And those on the stage: WOW! Articulate. Inspiring. Amazing. Angry. Fired up & Ready to Vote, if not run for office, or better yet, both! Not one person who spoke on that stage must have been 20 years old minus the musical guests. And Lin Manuel & Ben Platt, totally the greatest ever!  Download the song here.  Watch these men on stage here!

It was a day I won’t soon forget and I’m extremely grateful for my friend Davina who survived the Women’s March with me & still wanted to do it all over again. Only this time with an early breakfast meeting place that was empty and worked perfectly.  We walked from breakfast to until we couldn’t walk anymore and ended conveniently right in front of a Jumbotron! Go us! 

Yay kids!

Our future is fine, the kids are alright!

Keep up with them at www.MarchForOurLives.com

A few pictures from this memorable day are here:  Enjoy!

March For Our Lives

Is anyone else ugly crying this year?

OK here it is – virtual “talk” therapy.  I can’t stop crying lately – I mean, at the drop of a hat, ugly cry – crying!  2017 has sucked.  Didn’t we say all of this back in 2013?

First, my grandfather passed away – he was hands down my biggest (ok, & oldest!) cheerleader from way back and until the end.  Terribly sad.  On my dad’s birthday, and just 3 days after my 40th.  I got 40 great years with Grandpa and he lived to see 90.  But still…heartbreaking.

Then, my dear Aunt Betty (Grandpa’s only sister) passed away just two months and three days later.  It’s like they were besties in real life and wanted to be together in heaven, too.  She was with me and by my side my whole life and thru every hospitalization, so it was only fair that I stuck with her til the end.  Weird how things work.

Now, Jim Vance has passed as of this weekend.  Saturday morning, first thing over coffee, breaking news alert, terrible.  Such a sad hard way to start the weekend.  It’s like time stopped and we had to keep asking “Really?  For Real?  Jim Vance died?  Really?”

I am forced to agree with his colleague Pat Collins here when I say, “I thought he’d never die!”  Grrrrr.

It takes me right back to my dear Great-Grandmother’s living room (Ma, Grandpa & Aunt Betty’s mom).  These were days before the remote and at 6 p.m. sharp it was time to change the channel to “Jim and Doreen” on the TV on the cart in the corner of the living room.  You know, the safe place at your great-grandmother’s house where all of the games and toys are safely tucked underneath.  I miss her terribly, too.  She would hate to have to have seen her kids struggle at the end of their lives like they did, BUT she was also a HUGE (not to quote 45 or anything) fan of Jim Vance.  She lived a stone’s throw from the NBC4 studios and would call in if a typo appeared (ahem!) or if a hair was out of place or an outfit clashed.  She, too, would hate that Jim Vance is no longer on the airwaves. 

I feel as though it’s an ultimate “over”.  We watched him together, we talked about all of the NBC family on our first date.  Ma wasn’t at my wedding. It’s literally like the end of an era.  So many good ones gone.

Jim Vance was welcomed into any and every home I spent dinnertime in growing up.  Our house, Ma’s house, Grandpa’s House, Aunt Betty’s house, and now …my marital home.  Just doesn’t seem real.

I mean to say – we love you Jim Handly, we are glad you’re there, Leon Harris, and Doreen, you’re an amazing woman to have gone live on the air at 6:00 that Saturday night.  I cried the whole 30 minutes.  Jim was an amazing man and is watching over you, and all of NBC Washington & D.C. always.  I delivered a bouquet with my mom to the NBC Studio Sunday morning and stated they were for you and hope they brought at least a little bit of a smile.

Enjoy the ride, Jim Vance as we’ve enjoyed having you in our lives!

With Love & Gratitude,

Just lil ole Lauren, on behalf of all of Washington

Fave clips of Jim compilations thus far, also difficult, as there are so many…

Jim & George:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vance-Laughs-as-Model-Falls-on-Runway_Washington-DC-263327011.html

Nationals Honor Vance:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/National-Honor-Jim-Vance-With-Moment-of-Silence_Washington-DC-436612493.html

Barbara Harrison Remembers:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Barbara-Harrison-on-Jim-Vances-Legacy-in-DC_Washington-DC-436387733.html?t=6

Vance’s Last Story:
http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Jim-Vances-Final-Story-Inside-the-NMAAHC_Washington-DC-436391343.html?t=2

 

Happy Heart Month!

Pretty sure we can all agree that January was full of Inaugural festivities, quibbles, rants and definitely some alternative facts.  But beyond that, there was the day after which was one for the history (ahem, her-story) books as so many of us participated in the Women’s March on Washington.  It was not necessarily a march, but more of a mass amount of women showing up with creative signs, catchy chants, a crystal clear crowd, and several pink pussy hats for what turned out to definitely be something truly inspiring!

This rowdy crowd of ladies (complete with a photo bomber, the photographer’s wife, perhaps?) was very fun to share the day with, and every day since doing various outreach by email, twitter, facebooking, calling and mailing.  We hailed from Virginia, Maryland, New York, Illinois and Orlando, Florida to get city specific!  We started with breakfast with the Florida delegation at the Library of Congress and were pep-rallied with “We Will Not Go Back” chants from Senator Bill Nelson, Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, my sister’s, younger than I, Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy & Val Demings.  Maryland’s own Steny Hoyer even made a rousing speech in a pink scarf!  It was an invigorating morning!  Then…we marched.  Or rather, shuffled. 

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Pics from The March are all here!

But now it’s February and the man who wears cheeto colored foundation has gotten me about as down as I think I can get on life, so I’m shifting focus!

heart

HAPPY HEART MONTH!

Why is it that the shortest month of the year gets devoted to the most important part of our bodies?  I digress, see, I’m about through being perplexed by all of these questions.

So begins the I am #1in100 campaign raising awareness about Congenital Heart Disease as an issue belonging on the forefront to those of you who know and love me.  


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Born with a broken heart…

 

A Quick Wrap-Up of 2016!

Those of you who know us and read my blog may know most of this, but for those of you who just want a fancy piece of paper to read by the fire in your most comfy winter socks, here’s a quick run-down of my (ooops, our) farewell to 2016. 

In May, Ja & I went on our honeymoon to London, Windsor and Nottingham.  It was a jam-packed & fun-filled few days.  We thoroughly enjoyed every minute and totally spoiled ourselves. #BetterLondonThanNever Click for pictures here.  

In June, I road-tripped to a little slice of heaven, right here on the East Coast: Bald Head Island. I met up with friends from Texas and crashed their family vacation for a few days and nights and it was great to see them all and play in the sand!

bhi

July ended quickly with a lot of activity.  Thanks to NBC4’s promo on the DC Animal Welfare League’s Clear the Shelters weekend, we found ourselves an already TV-famous four-legged friend.  His name fits as he is a complete mix of shar-pei, basset hound and something else …or a few somethings, Rhino!  #Rhino2016

rhino

Rhino bonded with Ja for a few days while I headed to Philadelphia to volunteer as a suite bouncer at the Democratic National Convention.  I worked hard, made new friends, saw old friends and most importantly:  witnessed a lot of history up close!  I’ll leave it at that, you can read this blog for wayyyy more details and pictures!

We took in a lot of Washington Nationals (NLDS Champions!) baseball, headed to Edisto Beach for a week, saw Molly turn 10 and even built an almost life-sized Tower Bridge out of Legos!  

All in all, life is good, but bring on 2017 already!!!

For the Facebook official year-in-review you can click here!  Fun Times!

 

I Can’t Put it Into Words, but…I’ll try

I feel like I’ve read it all.

I haven’t.

I feel like I’ve felt this all before.

I have.

Folks, we’ve been here before. We’ll be here again. History repeats itself.  We were “with her” and we are “stronger together” as a result. We just didn’t chant that as frequently or with such fervor as they chanted “lock her up!”

But the facts are the facts: feet on the street win elections. We should have done more. We assumed minds were made up so we ignored middle America. You cannot win with the seaboards alone, though 77 electoral votes in the West Coast were worth staying up for.

There were carbon copy flashbacks of Election Night 2000. Remember “Sore Loserman”? What’s old is new again.  We were counting down the days “until we win” while Ralph Nader’s shit show paraded back and forth in front of our Nashville HQ.

We did all we could until it was “return watch party” time.

And it got later, and later, and later.

The stage was set, the balloons ready to fall from the ceiling, and then…it got later, and an older man with not quite a full head of hair came out INSTEAD of our candidate, and the woman we had been with during the entire campaign, did not.  Remember Warren Christopher?  There was no real end to that night. Either night.  But in 2000, the recounts were underway.

After all that time and singular focus, you throw in the towel, you go to sleep, you wake up and POW!, you find yourself in a different world where the one with the most votes is NOT declared the winner.  Again.

We live in a democracy. It was a real-life (long & drawn out) episode of Survivor (or the Bachelor, or however best you can relate), someone gets voted off the island and not handed a rose. There was only going to be one winner. But for the sake of SO many, and as I had wished it in 2000, I wished it had been HER.

My lucky big-city-livin’ brother was IN the Javits Center in the heart of the excitement and energy….until it wasn’t anymore. When I asked if he got any pictures he gave me a quick reply and I wished I could have eaten my words.

“You know what I got last night? I watched a Muslim man writhe in agony on the floor in front of me. I saw a woman take off her keffiyeh and throw it in the trash.”  

I cried when I woke up and I cried again when I heard the news and time stood still. This is real. This result means so much and so many different things to so many.

Kindness & love, people!  You just never know what Tuesday meant to so many lives around us. Start talking to people. Everyone. This is an all too divided nation and it needn’t be.

I wish I had answers. Protests and riots are not the answer. We should each strive to be our better selves and hope our new president and our fellow citizens will learn to love their neighbor.

Onward!

Some articles that meant something and that I wanted to share.

Forget Canada, Stay and Fight for American Democracy

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/forget-canada-stay-and-fight-for-american-democracy.html?mid=facebook_nymag

Finish Your Ugly-Crying: Here’s What Comes Next

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/finish-your-ugly-crying-heres-what-comes-next.html

electoral-college-map

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our gracious hostesses with the mostest, we did have a lot of fun for a while and did punch two fists into the air when we won Virginia!  Thanks, T & L

 

Teachable Moment

Those who know and love me know a teacher I am not, but those same folks never thought I’d sport the title of “step-mom” either, but alas – as a step-mom today I spied with my little eyes a teachable moment and went for it … all the way & all in!

We went as a family to vote early at the local rec center. Having already made mine count by voting absentee, I stood in the periphery and watched the process. Technical difficulties and a minuscule tear in page two (yes, the ballot is front and back of two legal sheets of paper) made someone have to go “re do” his ballot and so the youngest and I stood together between the scanner and the door.

A family of four, clearly first time voters, placed their ballots into the scanner one page at a time and the poll worker stood beside ensuring that they saw the flag, meaning their ballot was cast and counted. I froze, thankful for what I was, what we were, witnessing.

After receiving their stickers, the voters cooed over how cute she was in her cheer uniform and hot pink breast cancer awareness hair ribbon. Once they walked out I leaned right in between her cheek and shoulder and whispered in her ear:

“Do you notice anything about what is happening?”

“Yeah, they’re voting for Hillary!” She proclaims.

“Shhhh! No, not that, what else?”

“No. I don’t notice anything else?!” (Like, “what’s wrong with you, yes they are?!”)

“What do you notice about that nice man next to the machine?”

“He’s tall?!” (Like, “where are you going with this?!”)

“What else?”

“He’s brown?” I personally noticed his J. Hopkins name tag, but ok.

“What’s he saying to the people?”

“There you go (handing out the coveted “I Voted!” sticker) and thank you!”

Exactly.

And there it was – – – I should have teared up, but instead I just said:

“Not that long ago people like him didn’t get to vote, and now he’s thanking all of these people for voting” – and she stops me excitedly, “for a woman!?!”

YES!

Whew! Poor thing thinks Hillary is the only thing on that two page, double sided legal sized ballot! I’ll take it!

Personally, I wanted to know that everything we discussed sank in so once her dad finished she says, “Dad, guess what I know about that brown man?!”

OK -let’s leave! Now.

“In the olden days…” she began.

I had said “not that long ago” but, ok, she’s 9 3/4!

Teachable. 

My history major and women’s studies minor heart is happy today. More on the ticker in the next post.

#GetOutTheVote #IWillVote #MarylandWillVote #VoteEarly #EveryVoteCounts #StrongerTogether

 

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