Friday, November 20, 2015

Ring Figure 2017

In honor of this week's events, here are a few throwbacks...

Congratulations VMI Class of 2017!
Tony and I were lucky enough to be guests of honor for the Class of 2012... It was quite a night! Tony remembered it here... A Squeeze

Thursday, November 19, 2015

State of Turmoil

I've read about the five stages of grief, and I think they are logical, but I don't think they apply to me. Maybe it's because I knew this was coming... or maybe I went through them when Tony was still alive. But, at this moment, none of those are a good description for me. So, I'm going to keep making up my own terms... I'm the one who's trying to figure this out, so I'll call it whatever I want to!

Right now, I am in a state of turmoil. Tomorrow is 9 months since Tony died. His birthday has recently past, the holidays and my birthday are coming up. Last week, I got rid of a dumpster worth of stuff that had been lying around, some of it Tony's. We went through the first soccer season without him. Most days, I feel all over the place. Every night, I feel emotionally exhausted, though I can't remember why.

After spending the summer with the girls, I said I would take this fall to focus on myself, and clearly I needed that. But I'm still unclear on what that means and whether or not I'm accomplishing it. I've been so confused about how I've been feeling, that I couldn't even figure out how to write about it.

Maybe I've finally hit a stage of deep depression after the frenzy that followed Tony's death. Maybe I'm starting to be able to see the world past the end of my toes. Maybe I just have no idea...

Sometimes I feel good, sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed. I try to remind myself that my life has been turned upside several times in the last few years, and it will take time to right it. I try to remind myself that being a single parent is hard work, no matter who you are.

If I go back to my last invented term widow-lescence, I think it still fits. I remember adolescence as a time of turmoil as well... goodness knows I was all over the place then too. And while I usually try to find a lesson in my observations, I can't find it in this one. I suppose that's the nature of turmoil... hard to see it clearly.

People often ask me if I'm going back to work, which is a perfectly understandable question. Clearly, my answer should be "not yet." Not until this settles down at least.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Award worthy

I was so honored to accept the Citizen of the Year Award for Tony this year.

I could go on and on and how wonderful he was... and it's always lovely to see that other people know it too.

Thank you to whoever nominated him, and everyone who voted!

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Tonight, the girls and I listened to Superstition on repeat during bath time.

Somewhere, I know you were grooving along with us.

Love you, babe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Scotland (week 2)

The final day of the Blair Trials featured the last phase of the competition, show jumping. We were lucky enough to have seats in the stands to watch it, instead of fighting through the epic mud created by the previous days' rains.

First, I owed Cora and Louise another trip to the kids area. They were dying to try a few other things, and I certainly thought they earned it after surviving cross country.

This first thing Cora wanted to try was the bubbles.... just what it sounds like... a guy zipped them into big plastic bubbles, and they got to roll around in a pool of water. They loved it! I've decided that my new career will involve a version of the same attraction. All you need is a kiddie pool, some big bubbles, and a leaf blower to inflate them. Genius!

They also made a few laps of the obstacle course in the bouncy castle.

After that, it was off to the rounds of the top riders in show jumping. We were excited to be in our seats early, because the Queen and Prince Phillip were going to be there too. They drove in right past our seats, and were seated in the adjacent seating area.

I'll admit that I was astonished, and I know I shed a few tears. I never thought I would see her, and was so happy I had a hand in giving that experience to the girls. Regardless of opinions of monarchies, she is an amazing lady and an important historical figure... the week before she had just become the longest reigning British monarch.

The show jumping competition was impressive, and the weather (that day) couldn't have been more beautiful.

That night was our last night in our little cottage, and we had a great dinner at the resort restaurant.

The next morning, we hit the road again, and I demanded that we take a detour to a famous viewpoint that wasn't far away. Remember that most roads in that part of Scotland would barely pass as public roads here... and even a short detour can involve and lot of twists and turns and more than a few minutes... I think it was worth it though!

panorama at Queen's View
Then we headed south to our rendezvous with the Moffats in the Borders. They certainly deserve an introduction, since they are as dear as family to us, and I think the best part of the trip was the time we spent with them.

Many years ago (as the pictures prove), Neil Moffat built a few stone walls for Tony's parents while they lived in the Borders. He ended up coming over here to build some walls for us at our old house. (His work is amazing! check it out... )

We kept in touch, and saw him when we visited Scotland; and a few years later, he brought his girlfriend, Jill, over for a visit. When they got engaged, they returned here to look at possible wedding venues, and we couldn't have been more excited to have their wedding close to us. They got married just a few miles away, and that week we spent with them and their families really cemented our relationship with the extended clan. We aren't family, but we might as well be! We only get to see them every few years, and were really excited to spend a few days with them all.

It was a perfect break in our trip, which had been a whirlwind of the roads of Scotland. We went on a little trip into England, explored the coast, and had the best fish and chips ever! But generally, we stayed put a bit and just enjoyed the company. Wherever we went, the whole extended family came along, so it would often be 16 people for dinner and a convoy of 5 cars! It was superb though, and I only wish we could have stayed longer!

Thursday, September 17, was our second to last day in Scotland, and we headed into the big city of Edinburgh. Our first stop was the glorious castle, although we were a bit daunted by the crowds. September is high tourist season, and Edinburgh is a very popular place! We walked a little way down the Royal Mile, and then the girls and I jumped on a double decker bus, while the grown-ups went from pub to pub on their way to Holyrood Castle.

The girls and I were headed for Dynamic Earth, an incredible science center for kids. It was truly an amazing experience (for Cora especially), and I highly recommend it to anyone with kids! They take you into a time machine where you travel back to the creation of the Earth, and then through the different time periods and climates of the planet. People were always confused when Cora would tell them that we crash landed in a volcano... but that's just how amazing it was!

View of Edinburgh Castle from Kyloe
Our dinner that night was the best of the trip, and Renata said the best of her life! We ate at the Kyloe Restaurant and Grill... again, I would highly recommend it! The waiter could tell us the name of the farm from where our steak came, and everything was superb, from the food to the drinks! It also had the best chips of the many, many, many chips we had eaten in Scotland. Plus the view couldn't be beat!

Our last full day in Scotland, we headed back to Glasgow. We toured Buchanan Street, and Glasgow Cathedral, and we got to spend some time with our buddy, Hannah, who had traveled hours and hours to see us. And, of course, we had to stop by the Celtic Store to pick up a few things!

Louise and her balloon Minnie Mouse
That night, we visited the house of Tony's aunt and uncle who live in Glasgow. We had a scrumptious dinner with three aunties, two uncles, a great-aunt, and four cousins...  I was so thankful we could see them all. It was the first time Cora and Louise had met most of them, and they absolutely loved it!
Cora, Louise, and their cousins, Matthew, Katy, and Stephen

The next day, it was off to the airport... spend our last pounds at the duty-free, and climb on that large plane named after a volcano in Iceland.

It was really an incredible trip. And I'm so thankful to our family (Virginia and Scottish branches) for everything. Of course, I thought about Tony nearly constantly, and desperately wished he could have been with us. I know he would have been glad that we went, and so proud of how well the girls did. Scotland will always be a special place for us, and I can't wait until we can return!