If I turned 40 in April, that can only mean that my “ticker” turns 32 today!

For 32 years, my St. Jude mitral valve has been ticking in the center of my heart.  Providing me daily with life, questions, breath, joy and wonder.  And sometimes, rhythm.


Placed by Dr. Frank Midgley on October 30, 1985 and by medical miracle, still functioning today in 2017 – I mean, come on, doesn’t 1985 seem pretty long ago?  You wouldn’t drive a car from 1985 these days, would you?!  I’m ecstatic to still be tickin’ today.  I think of Dr. Midgley often, every time I go to a cardiologist appointment and as 10/30 gets closer and closer each year.  My parents and I are eternally grateful for his expertise.  

2017, in keeping with the jinx that I dislike odd-numbered years, has not been great, but today, 10/30, I focus on finding joy in the medical miracle that I carry around with me everywhere I go and listen to every night after a long day.

It takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’!

Today I am donating $32 to the Adult Congenital Heart Association, because babies like me who have successful procedures like I did on 10/30/1985 grow up to be thriving, successful adults and need continued care and research, too.  Hope you’ll consider donating along with me.

So, what’s so big about 32?

Well it’s Matt Weiters jersey number.  He plays for the 2017 NLDS Champion Washington Nationals!

It’s also the jersey number of the New York Yankees’ first black player, Elston Howard, and L.A. Dodger & famous Jewish pitcher, Sandy Koufax & the LA Lakers’, Magic Johnson!  Come on, you knew there’d be sports references!


Thanks for following along.



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:

Nationals Honor Vance:

Barbara Harrison Remembers:

Vance’s Last Story:


The April That Was…

So much has happened I’m ready for April to be over.  Or am I?

In keeping up traditions: The first Monday in April started with Opening Day – friends, baseball & a Curly W!  Does it get any better?


The next Monday I turned 40 brunching the day before with dear friends and loving family members. 

I thought 40 would feel different and be such a big deal, but I think my making a big deal out of birthdays is over, finally!

My dad’s birthday is just after mine – I came home from the hospital on his 30th birthday, so that means if it was the big 4-0 for me, it was the large 7-0 for him!  We threw him quite the party with a few friends from far away and his brother as an added surprise!  That was fun to pull off!


But on my dad’s actual birthday, I was with my mom’s dad, my dear Grandpa, as he passed away peacefully at his apartment with his wife, his daughters and I (and helpful hospice folks, who can’t go unmentioned) at his side.

I cannot believe we are now busy chronicling a life of 90 years well-lived and will be celebrating them on Tuesday, May 2nd.

The obituary my mother and I wrote for his local paper, the Falls Church News-Press can be read here:  FCNP on Trollinger


Proud & Happy Grandpa @ U of M Convocation  Go Blue!

Last weekend I traveled to Providence, RI to become a god-mother for the second time.  My oldest god-daughter has turned 18 and gotten into college and is about to graduate from high school.  Where does the time go?  She was born when I was in college!

One of my friends had a baby girl on December 30th and I was honored to be asked to serve as her god-mother.  I was introduced at the reception: “This is Lauren, she’s my oldest friend!” What?  Because we go way back or because I’m 40!?  Anyway, her daughter, my god-daughter, is just an amazingly beautiful porcelain skinned babe who didn’t flinch a bit during the baptism.  I tried to celebrate the great circle of life, and it was nice to get away, but…

Closing out on a high note, I ended this last weekend of April participating in my 7th Congenital Heart Walk.  I exceeded my fundraising goal of $4000 (40 and some additional zeros!) thanks to people from just about every walk of life.  Friends, relatives, friends of relatives, Grandpa, and even my aunt’s friend whose daughter just had heart surgery in California.  We’re all in this together.  I walked with AGC, a friend’s daughter who is now 5 ½ (not 5, not 6, “5 and a half!”) and no longer in a stroller, but walking, alongside me, thriving, living and loving life – even after several open-heart surgeries.  Tick Tock We Don’t Stop! (OK except to take a pic or 2!)

The world is small, see the good in the bad.  Hug tight.  Smile.  Be present. 

Love with your 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!


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 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!


A Thing With Numbers!

I have a thing about numbers, I don’t know why.  No one else in my family does, and they all think it’s a little strange.  Truth be told, I hate odd numbers.  The fact that we got married on 9/19 still seems weird to me, but it was so collectively odd, even with a 2015 at the end, that the alliteration of “nine nineteen” all but made up for it.  What fun we had.  View an even number of four albums here on our wedding website: https://www.weddingwire.com/laurenandja


Today is “Ten Ten” which was a runner-up for wedding weekend, before quickly whisked away by my (baby) cousin Spencer, who will marry his high school sweetheart, Sarah, today.  They were engaged just a few days before we were and it’s been fun following their love story for so long. (Sarah’s shower, the weekend after our wedding, is when it hit me that the fun of wedding planning was all over for us.)  This will be the first wedding since ours, the first we’ll attend as a married couple and the first I know Ja is looking forward to because I will not be whispering “I want that at ours” in his ear the whole time! My cute cousin’s wedding website is here:  https://www.theknot.com/us/sarah-eber-and-spencer-hayes-oct-2015


It was Spencer and I who drove together all through the night to Atlanta, Georgia for the NCAA Championship Final Four games in 2013.  It was so much fun having the cousins together, and will be fun to be together again today for such a fabulous occasion! Go Blue!


Here’s to more happily ever afters!

A Bronx Tale

It’s all been said, “Mr. November brought October to September,” when “Captain Clutch” came to the plate.

And yeah, yeah, yeah, so he threw an error the first time the ball was hit to him in his last game in Yankee Stadium (“the house that Jeter built”), but really, he’s flawless.  By far the best man to strut out onto the diamond, in the Bronx and stand between second and third base in pinstripes in my lifetime.

Never a bad anything from the guy, no DUI’s no fiancé beatings, lots of girlfriends, but never cover of People magazine-making drama, just class in a jersey with a 2 on the back.

There’s been a whole lot out there about Derek Jeter this week and that’s been super-fitting for my family.  (I was brainwashed by my father at a very young age, chanting “Reggie, Reggie!” with my navy plastic batting helmet on, to love the Yankees.  But this fan of the National League East Division Champion Washington Nationals simply claims, “The Yankees are my favorite American league team!”)

My stepmom, Anna, was a huge fan (& that’s a ginormous understatement) of Derek Jeter.  This week, sadly, we marked some firsts without her as Derek was celebrating a big last.  Wednesday would have been her 57th birthday.  We celebrated and the Yankees played a day game.  Thursday, she and my dad should have been at Yankee Stadium for Jeter’s last trip around the bases celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary together.

On their last road trip together they went to the Bronx for a game, if not for the win, then to simply collect their Mariano Rivera bobble heads!  All for the love of the game…and each other!

Anyway, it’s been fun to overflow Dad’s inbox this week with memories of Anna and accolades to his beloved’s beloved, Derek Jeter.  Here are just a few I thought I’d share…

Jeter’s dilemma: To play or not to play?
NEW YORK — Throughout his career, Derek Jeter has been famous for never wanting to take a day off. But is it possible he’s contemplating taking at least part of the weekend off in Boston, especially if the Yankees are eliminated from the playoff chase?


Pinstripe Pantheon
Derek Jeter has just four games remaining on the schedule in his storied, 20-year career with the Yankees. He’s served as team captain for a franchise-record 12 seasons. Jeter will retire as the club’s leader in career games, hits, and at bats, and has played more seasons in pinstripes than any other Yankee in history.


Red Sox: ‘Respect’ for Jeter
The long-awaited Fenway finale for Derek Jeter is Sunday, and the Boston Red Sox plan to mark the occasion with some type of ceremony — but don’t expect it to be an over-the-top affair.


Stadium Signage


WTOP:  CoreValues


Never ejected from a game!


Taking The Field Alone…


Billy Crystal on Derek Jeter!


I hope Boston does Derek justice is all I can say.  I’d hate to see him not play just because they’re in Fenway for the grand finale!

Enjoy & GO Nats!

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& last but certainly not least: