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?


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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!
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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!

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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


Us!

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!

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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

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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!

 

New Friends & Shattered Glass!

 

(Author’s Note:  This is Part 2 of 2.  Read Part 1 here)

Well, I definitely made some new friends and I certainly watched some glass ceilings come down in a bajillion pieces and it was all worth it!  To see my Senator, Barbara Mikulski take the stage and be recognized as the first woman into the US Senate (sadly retiring), and to watch my former Commonwealth’s Governor, who turned into a Senator, and who is now Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running-mate, Tim Kaine, and be in the same “room” with them and 50,000 other people was incredible.  That’s so not the word, but I can’t find the right one just yet, either!

Wednesday evening, I was moved from my post in Suite 2 to Suite 19, still on the balcony, but Wednesday night was for the record books in terms of exciting nights of my life!  Our guests in suite 19 were just some of the American people who have seen the worst in America.  Luckily, they see the best in Hillary and came and spoke as amazing surrogates.

Angela Bassett introduced two women who were in Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church on that fateful night at Bible study.  Grief into action.  Say their names. Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard and their husbands were in Suite 19 for the evening. I would like to think my teammates and I served up some Southern hospitality in the City of Brotherly Love for them!

Tyrone Sanders, after his wife finished her remarks, said to my friend, Jennifer, who was in the suite with us, “I was proud of her on that day, and I’m proud of her now.  I could have lost 3 family members that day.”  Gut-wrenching!  He was amazing in his lavender shirt which he told us he wears for his son.

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Tyrone Sanders & Lauren

Jamie Dorff, who married the boy she grew up with when she was 21, lost her husband, Pat in 2004 in Iraq.  Jamie and her daughter, Brissa, were in our suite before, during and after Jamie’s speech.  To sit (ok, I was standing the entire time!) and watch Brissa watch her mom on that podium, that world’s stage, and just bawl crying was something that will rock my world for a while.  To get that up-close with the people who’ve seen and felt the worst is heart-grabbing.

Cap off Wednesday night with getting onto the elevator with Christine Leinonen and her only son’s friends as they make their way down and out of the Wells Fargo Center, where she had received a standing ovation and 38 seconds of applause mid-speech.  Honestly, really?  Is this happening?  I couldn’t’ stop myself.  I had to say something to her and while I wasn’t a blubbering idiot, I honestly don’t remember what I said, but she touched my forearm and said, “I did it for you, and I hope you never experience anything like it.”  She reiterated that the outpouring of love from Orlando and this country has been and continues to be amazing.  I didn’t add that my fabulous husband donated blood at my suggestion after seeing so many in line the next morning, but he did!

I had been joined by friends in Suite 19 and even made new ones.  The world is a small place.  A McEnearney agent and friend, Brett West, who volunteered on the floor with the Vermont Delegation, (lucky him!) brought a friend with him to Suite 19 on Wednesday evening and I was very happy to play hostess to them and witness our President’s speech along with them and all the rest! He didn’t bring Ben, he was just a crasher!

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Brett West & Lauren

Ben crashed too

Ben crashes Suite 19!

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Brett watching Barack!

Peter Newbold, a friend from Alexandria and the Electoral Board there, (since moved to Seattle) was hosting and assisting with the speakers and getting them from suite to podium.  It was like no time had passed when he walked into 19 with them.  Just good Alexandrians doing good!  What could be better?! 

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Peter Newbold & Lauren

I’ll tell you what’s better, the Secret Service Officer who was “on duty” from as high up as we were, but who was still willing to take a pic (zoom & no zoom) of Barack speaking at the podium! 


Thursday I didn’t have volunteering duties, so I hung out around the Pennsylvania Convention Center for a bit, bought some campaign paraphernalia, saw Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. & had lunch with my favorite Senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Honorable Adam P. Ebbin!  You know – a typical day! 

Hard to see the fun week come to an end, but I wanted to be home with my mother to watch Chelsea introduce hers and witness HERSTORY with my mom, who, of course, shed a tear or two watching!

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Ready!

There are lots of good people in the world, folks!

Happy August, Make It Count!

 

99 Days!

This time last week I was fretting and packing and so excited to be heading to sleep only to wake up early and take the first train to Philadelphia!  Tonight, I go to sleep knowing that when I wake up there are just 99 days left until November 8, 2016.  99 days left to work, sweat, knock and call and get out the vote for the first female nominee for President of these United States.  A Democrat.  A Clinton.  A Female!  So so so exciting.  What a great time to be alive!

This past week’s experiences cannot be put into words.  I witnessed and was a part of so much history.  It was an amazing few days in the “City of Brotherly Love” & “America’s First City” celebrating history (my major) and women’s studies (my minor).  I wore my acorn & oak leaf necklace as a tribute to Elon!  (Long Live Elon!)  I wore my great grandmother’s engagement ring to keep her with me at all times, and a bracelet from my mother for the same reason.  Truly an exceptional few days!  I wouldn’t have been there without those women, Elon & EMILY’s List, where I interned my senior year of college.  Yes, that was the Spring of 2000, and my springboard on into the National Presidential Campaign trail that took me thru to Nashville, TN and the Gore Lieberman campaign where America originally (most recently) learned about the 3rd party candidate debacle that I hope does not rear its ugly head into Election Day & Night, November 8 of 2016!

You see, I connected (thank you, Mark Zuckerberg & Facebook) with my mentor, boss lady, official badass & Emerge Wisconsin’s Woman of the Year award winner, The Great Heather Colburn, and landed a volunteer gig with the Democratic National Convention Committee.  It only took a few days and an email to which I relied “Deal. Me. In” and, voila, I was tasked to serve as a “Suite Access Volunteer” and just get myself to Philly & find a place to sleep!  Thank you to both AirBnB.com and Amtrak, I was set in a matter of hours!

Monday afternoon I met up with my team (plenty early, of course, because you know I didn’t want to be late or miss a thing!) and became fast friends with several wonderful people and lowly volunteers lucky enough to be given the privilege to serve and be handed credentials not only to the Wells Fargo Center, but to club & balcony levels, too! 

Ironically enough, not one person (ok some fellow volunteers & some not-so-volunteers, but staffers) came into my suite on Monday night.  But to be parallel with the balloons suspended from the rafters was definitely a breath-taking experience.  It sounds totally cliché, but as soon as I saw the balloons I was taken back to Boston (2004) & Los Angeles (2000) instantly, where I had been in similar seats to witness history of a different kind.

So, yes, I was there to watch and listen to Michelle Obama as she exuded nothing but pure passion for this great nation and pride in her daughters, never mind how much she pumped up the crowd!  And I was there on my feet screaming and clapping when Cory Booker told us to “Rise Together!”

Tuesday evening, I was able to enjoy a few more folks in the suite to which I was assigned, but still not many, so therefore I was able to listen as every state cast its votes and Bernie Sanders handed the nomination off to Hillary Rodham Clinton!  I took a video. I’ll upload it soon.  It was terrific to witness.

Then, I was calmly able to focus on every word Bill Clinton spoke about his love affair with “a girl” he met in the Spring of 1971.

But right this minute I’m going to bed.  Sorry – more tomorrow!

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Nashville Fun in February!

Hard to believe it was two years ago that I started the trend of crashing the conferences with my dear friend, Davina!  We did Vegas in 2014 and this year it was Nashville!  A conference at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel?  Yes, ma’am….I’m in!  One night there and the next downtown so we could play tourist, thanks to a certain Friend & Family rate, and we had a blast!

Conference schmonference, I proclaim that that part was great, she kicked serious lawyer a$$ on the panel and proved she’s super great at what she does, but come on, let’s go party!

And by party I mean watch the last Republican debate live from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery Restaurant & Bar.  Yeah, our bartender handed her the remote!  It’s more fun on mute, anyway!

Friday morning we headed downtown (after a pit stop at the nearest Target for sneakers -yes, I only had my boots!)  with our fantabulous Uber driver, Rodney!  I swear he never took a breath, he was so excited to play tour guide I thought he was going to stop Uber-ing and join us. 

We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and played county girl tourists to the best of our ability. From there we went to Puckett’s Grocer at Rodney’s resounding recommendation and had the Nashville foodie tourists must-have, a hot chicken sandwich!  Keyword: HOT!  

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After lunch we went to the Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Nashville. This place is and was by far the greatest place on earth, in Tennessee!  Beyond worth the price of admission. Terrific informative video and just too much history to take in while that place is empty. I would love to see that Auditorium in action. Whether it would be a Garth concert or an Obama rally, I would give anything to be in there. So glad it did not get the wrecking ball. (Or Miley, for that matter!)

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A few pops at Tootsie’s to see the sunset over the City and we were loving life watching and listening to live music in Music City!

Yes, we wore matching sweaters. Inside joke. #wallahtour2016

‘Tis The Season for a Tuesday afternoon at 1600!

There’s nothing more fabulous than a leisurely stroll thru the White House on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon.  Daniel has connections from NYC and sent his two favorite Democrats and we had a blast!  Pictures and captions are solely ours!  Enjoy!image

#WHHolidays @MichelleObama @WhiteHouse @POTUS @FLOTUS

The Story of Us!

Ah La Taylor Swift song lyric style, I thought I’d capture for you, The Story of Us!

2014 – An Even Numbered Year!

March some odd date, I joined eHarmony for some ungodly reason. 
(I’ll never really know what at the time possessed me to bite that bullet!)

Saturday, March 22 – I received the notification that “your profile brought a smile to my face.”  Yes, we celebrate this monthly!

We “chatted” back and forth that night and many days and nights after that, until…

Thursday, March 27 – after a long road-trip filled day to Salisbury, MD & back (Darren, you’ll always be a part of this) we met up at The Cheesecake Factory at White Flint Montgomery Mall for dinner.  At 6.  No 7.  No 7:30 – 8, but closer to 8. Hours of talking. A yummy meal. Walk to the car. Plant first kiss.  Check!  Done.  We knew.

Saturday, March 29 – 2nd date – Wildfire at Tysons Galleria at Kate’s suggestion. It’s where she and Brian had their first date. She knew then.

Wednesday, April 2 – Ja played hooky from work so I went to his place for lunch in Rio at CPK.  He promptly left for Chicago, and I took off for Vegas, hedging my bets!

Sunday, April 20 – Easter Sunday with the Ridgway family. Met a lot, but not all that day!

May – I met Molly for a day at the Catoctin Zoo.

June, July, summer fun.  August, we were at the family beach house for a week, I meet the rest of the fam, then I start a new job.

New Year’s Eve…Engaged!

Today, it is one year later!  Next month on my 38th birthday, we move into a new beautiful house together,

…and the adventure continues!