Experienced a Flamethrower

Another “Favorite Unblogged Moment of 2015”

When our anniversary plans were altered at the Outerbanks because of Hurricane Joaquin, we did a small outing together, but decided to post pone our celebration.

Locally there is a large tank museum that we’ve wanted to see, and husby shared that the weekend we planned to celebrate our 6th anniversary, they were doing a flamethrower demonstration. At first I hesitated, daydreaming about a romantic fall venture complete with facebook profile picture worthy photo shoot, but then I realized that likely husband would have the most fun watch the flame throwers, and I was going to enjoy best whatever he was actually interested in, as I obtain so much of my energy from authentic enjoyment. But that is what marriage is about, right, compromise?

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The museum’s controlled attitude was a surprise, as we laughed at all of the signs and that the flash of my camera would hurt the tanks, but embraced our adventure.

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We watched the flamethrower demonstration, and it was sobering to think of its use in war.

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Our adorable anniversary photo? Totally on a tank. Didn’t you know the 6th anniversary is customarily tanks?

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Weathered a Hurricane in OBX

Another “Favorite Unblogged 2015 moment”

Like most summers/fall we were able to vacation again in the beautiful Outerbanks. We looked forward to this break from work, a chance to travel and relax with friends. As the trip neared closer there was the chance of ugly weather (as there usually is when we plan the trip for off season) but we shrugged it off.

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Due to successful persistence (aka obnoxiously repetitive comments) husby had agreed to sign us up for a wild pony tour. This is the most wished for experience that I’ve wanted to try the past several years I have traveled to these beaches. He checked the forecast and and scheduled the tour for the morning of the least amount of rainfall.

At the beach we enjoyed the house and watched the weather reports. We called the morning off, listening to the news, but were reassured, “honey we have hummers, we won’t cancel for rain” So we drove north, smile on my face.

We arrived, and when I heard a worker saying, “yeah we are about to close up shop” I had an awful sense of foreboding, I knew something was wrong. Husband went to check in, and began to talk with another employee. This man began his comments about the problem being about how far the water was inland “There is just no beach to drive on.” He continued to the point of saying that the tour was cancelled, and that they would probably not open again until the next Tuesday…when we were leaving on Sunday. Before he was finished explaining, I pulled my hood up over my head, and began to bawl/ugly cry like a small child.

I hadn’t realized how much I had been looking forward to this experience, and when it was finally on the schedule. We returned to the car, to try to redeem the day. We did find some fun things to do, even if I was crushed.

This was as close to a Pony as I got:

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The next morning was when hurricane Joaquin came to visit, although to be fair, I think it was the outer storms, and not even the most powerful part of the hurricane. Of course, my curious self had to go out and explore it. At first I attempted to put my phone camera in a plastic baggie to document the moment, but then a friend let me borrow his waterproof camera as they all laughed at my silly nature.

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It was neat to experience, to feel the power of the waves, I felt my breath catch in my chest and my body tense up in response. The waves were driven in high, and you could see where debris were floating onto the beach.

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When the rains stopped, husband and I ventured out for lunch. We wanted to see how deep the puddles were, and if we needed to leave our trip early so we wouldn’t be trapped on the Island. I enjoyed the signage. Husband and I planned to leave the next morning.

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That evening sitting around in our wonderful theater room, a friend came up and said, “The sky is beautiful right now, we are all trying to take pictures of it, and it dawned on us that you LOVE taking pictures” so they ushered me outside and several of them committed to try to help me rig up a tripod (since I hadn’t brought mine–we stolez it from the provided telescope) to marvel at the moonlight streaming on the calm ocean. It was incredible to think of the change from that morning, but the relationship aspect of the moment will last with me forever. I’m not good at making friends, as I documented at that recent wedding, and the fact that they were pursuing me, and embracing this wonderful moment with me, was such an incredible gift. I wanted to bask in that feeling.

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So husband and I plan to leave, only to wake up to the gorgeous sun shinning down, and decided that we might as well celebrate the sunny day that the beach was giving us (even if we’d postpone more significant anniversary celebrations).

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And that sunny day I ensured that I did all of the things that I hadn’t done yet on the trip: swimming in the ocean, relaxing in the hot tub, etc. Definitely our most memorable beach trip ever.

 

Marveled at a Lindsey Stirling Concert

Another in the “Favorite 2015 Unblogged Moments” series.

Randomly, I discovered Lindsey Stirling and her unique sound of dubstep beats mixed with classic violin via Pandora, and she’s been on of my favorite artists since. Her story of overcoming a horrible critic during America’s Got Talent, is inspiring.

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In 2015 I was lucky enough to attend one of her concerts in Charlottesville, plus it was a fun opportunity to grab a meal with friends that live in the area. We ate at Citizen Burger.

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Our friends brought their dog with them, so we decided to try to eat outside on the patio, braving the mean looking skies. We figured, hey, there are umbrellas, right? And we were warned by the wait staff that we could be outside as long as it wasn’t windy enough to take down the umbrellas.

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Well, a few minutes later, and ALL THE RAIN happened. We ended up sitting across a couple we didn’t know in an effort to have everyone seated quickly so we could make it to the concert. I was incredibly nervous, especially as the most extroverted of the remaining of us (the guy went to return their dog to their home). We made some small talk, discovered they were also going to the concert, it was fun.

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I really enjoyed the opening performances, though I’d never heard of EchoSmith before I was quickly singing “wish that I could like like the cool kids…”

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The excitement to see Lindsey Stirling perform was palpable. I’d only brought my small pocket camera, fearing the predicted rain. This turns out, was a very wise decision as the water flowed down the sloped amphitheater.

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I pushed my way to the side front to snap some better pictures. I found myself down there when one of the dancers through some sort of black cloth towards the audience. I believe it was some sort of clothing prop. Somehow I managed to catch the thing! My victory was short lived as another guy also co-caught it at the same time. I tried to persuade him to let me have it, playing the girl card, but the girl that seemed to be the leader of his small group also decided to paw at it. I realized that they were never going to let it go, so I resigned myself to have a fun story to tell, rather than a physical object. Le sigh.

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It was incredible to see the concert with my best friend R-Belle as she kept fangirling over all of the dancers. I learned that many of them had recently been on “So You Think You Can Dance.”

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Turning the flash off, and snapping quickly to hoping to freeze the motion, I managed to get some fun pictures.

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I hope to get to see her again in concert, and definitely upgrading to the meet and greet VIP package.

 

 

Celebrated the 71st Anniversary of DDay

Another post in the “Favorite Unblogged 2015 Moments” series.

My in laws tend to visit in June when they can, and we found ourselves near the DDay Memorial on the 71st Anniversary! I was excited about a fun opportunity, despite that husband was leery of the crowds. We visited later in the day and enjoyed the special events taking place. We missed the music and speakers, but there were still tents and many other things to explore.

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I think you’ll be able to tell from the pictures that husband actually ended up having the most fun of all of us on that very hot and sunny day. He enjoyed scoping out all of the different artillery.

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Plus, it was a fun chance to test out my new Tamron 24-70 2.8 lens. Apparently, working has its perks, even if it takes me away from fun things like blogging.

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This is BY FAR my favorite picture of the day, my husby, he’s kind of handsome.

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A friend of ours in the National Guard had the opportunity to travel to Normandy France for the 70th anniversary celebration ta-d0. I enjoy his stories of meeting people who lived there through the experience, and he enjoyed his trip so much that he plans to return for the 75th anniversary. This means I’ve got a couple more years to talk husby into it and save up!

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Joined the Dance Onstage

Another post in the “Favorite Unblogged Moments in 2015”

Once upon a January I began an adult ballet class on a whim. My church has an incredible dance ministry that I’d been volunteering to photography, really to develop my sports photography skills, and to watch my talented best friend perform. Then, I discovered that they offered an adult beginner class and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

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For the very nonathletic girl that can’t manage to continuously commit to a fitness regimen, who has been called less than graceful her entire life, this was a huge step for me. The first class KICKED my butt, but it wasn’t impossible, so I continued. Quickly, I discovered that we’d have a performance  at the end of the semester; not only did I laugh about me performing on stage, so did most everyone I spoke to about it.

I was nervous about performing, honestly dreading that I would trip up and encounter the worst shame in front of an audience. However, I pushed those catastrophic thoughts away. I felt much frustration as our performance crept closer when I couldn’t perform some of the moves like they should be done. Then, I decided that I had to do my best, even if that meant that I turned in the wrong direction. I just had to do my best and leave it on the stage. I focused on the lyrics of the song “Through Heaven’s Eyes” (from Prince of Egypt) as my best friend played Pharaoh in the Exodus themed production, and tried to focus on how God sees me.

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These lyrics continued to stay in my mind, “and though you’ll never know all the steps, you much learn to join the dance, learn to join the dance” It is so true in life and something that I struggle deeply with. I strive to know all of the things, to feel like I have a sense of control. In learning something new I’d rather watch someone first, to make sure that I KNOW how to do it. But in life, we learn as we go, so instead of being held back in fear we have to take the first step.

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The performance went well, even managing to twirl my flag in sync with my flag buddy! (Seriously, such a good feeling).

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At the end of the semester our teacher wrote us reviews and evaluate our performances. I’m sure these were mostly planned for the littles to help provide their parents with a picture of their progress, but I appreciated it so much. My teacher identified several things that I was good at (that was difficult for me to notice) and praised my attitude. In her description she wrote that I quickly achieved a level of grace in the past six months. I almost wanted to cry, I’d never been called any sort of graceful before!

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But, life happened, the job started, and we had summer off. When classes began in the Fall I felt very discouraged in one lesson. I’d missed a couple and just had a bad class where I was off, couldn’t remember the sequences, and couldn’t make my body do what it was supposed to. I wondered if I should quit, not because I wasn’t as good as I wanted, but because I desired to be better, but a level of better that I knew I’d need to commit time outside of class to progress the way that I wanted.

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The next class was better, and I’m so thankful that I didn’t quit! I still don’t practice outside of class, but hey, that is what new years goals are for. Honestly, dancing has been my favorite new activity in 2016, something I had no idea I was capable of, a beautiful strength in balance. I feel like I could soar across the dance floor.

My dance teacher asked my what my dance goals were, specifically about flexibility, but I began to daydream more. Honestly, I’d love to do well enough to join the company some day. It would be incredible to share the Love of Christ by painting beautiful pictures in dance. So, maybe one day.

Watched Otters Play at Maymont

This is part of the “favorite moments of 2015 that I never blogged about” series. Once upon a time I started this thing called a career and since then I haven’t quiet figured out balance between work and personal life.

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In January we always find ourselves in Richmond lobbying the capitol on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. With my love for adventure and travel I’ve been able to convince hubby to have us visit a stay a day early in order to explore. This past January we visited Maymont, detailed as “an American estate” I was curious about the animals and gardens on the 100 acre area.

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It was slightly misty, rainy when we arrived, but we enjoyed it anyways!

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There were all kinds of animals to enjoy, though many of them I couldn’t get good pictures of since I hadn’t brought my longer lens, the black bear and bald eagles were further away.

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Inside one of the buildings is a petting zoo, despite that most of the animals weren’t out and about because of the rainyish weather.

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Husby and I walked around in the Nature Center, exploring it like children. It was entertaining to watch him and capture fun moments to digital film.

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Husby was trying to get the fish to follow his face, and I’m pretty sure it did!

My favorite moment at all during the day was watching the otter play. A young boy had brought a soccer ball with him, and rolling it around, discovered that the otter interacted with him, and pawed at the glass to get the ball. It was one of those moments as a photographer that you hope for, I couldn’t get enough pictures of the otter displaying his famed personality :0).

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In that one, you can just see his sad little puppy dog eyes as he couldn’t get to the ball and really play with the little boy.

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Otter paws! The otter would press its paws against the glass, before spinning/turning around, and zooming in the other direction.

I can’t wait to find myself in Richmond again soon so I can explore Maymont some more! In googling the website again they seem to offer animal encounters now, even more specialized animal experiences! I might need to add some of these to my 2016 list!

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Said Goodbye to My Childhood Kitty

Its been a little over a week since I had to say goodbye to my childhood kitty, Wildthing. I finally sat down and calculated her age, estimating it to be 18+ awhile ago, and never trying to pin it down. She lived 20 years; I’d had her since the first week of 3rd grade!IMG_5656

For those of you who never met her, she was truly the best kitty that I have ever known. She would come running to me when I was crying (usually from falling down the stairs) and lick the tears off of my face. She was always friendly and talkative, brrrrow! She never really hissed or anything.

She’d been struggling with her health the past few months, but since she was older we always tried to verbally prepare ourselves for her end. When husband first met her while we were dating in college and I told him how old she was he said, “oh wow, she’s gonna die soon” just because she was already ten or so at the time (she showed him!). When friends watched our apartment while we were on our honeymoon, husband warned them that kitty was old and to not feel bad if she passed. (He never wanted anyone to feel surprised or guilty). Wildthing would often sleep very soundly, face down, and honestly we never knew if she was gonna wake up when we’d pet her. She did, and she’d mmmmrow at us in a very unhappy tone.

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We joked about her being old and geriatric, and then suddenly the past few months her health became much worse. We had a scare last year, but then she pulled through. Wildthing struggle with being constipated, but we’d give her baths, and then she’d be back to normal. We tried her on soft food for awhile, when it didn’t seem like she was wanting to eat her hard food. We tried several things to help her hang out, hoping her health would turn around.

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We knew the end was near, so we tried to take advantage of the time, getting in cuddles and pictures with her. One night, her meows seemed more pitiful than normal, then worse the next morning. Husband took her in, and he promised to keep me updated as I went to work. Around lunch time he called me, and it was official, there were some options we could do to help her, but nothing that had a good chance of lasting more than a few weeks. We decided to “make her comfortable” till we could say good bye later that afternoon. I began to tear up as I excused myself from work, I’d known it was coming, but it still hurt to know that we now only had hours together.

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Husband and I were both emotionally upset over the upcoming loss, wondering what would could have done differently, feeling guilty. What I appreciated is that we could work through it together, and reassure each other.

Then, it was time to go to the vet clinic. I’d brought some stamp pads and Project Life cards to take paw prints. We brought my nicer camera, making sure to take snap shots of the moment, knowing we’d want those pictures later. I felt weird, making sure we were doing those things, but I am super grateful to have those pictures now.

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When I entered the building, I heard her distinctive meow, and saw her when they allowed us into the room. Another staffer was petting her, but she still cried. Once we were in the room she didn’t cry out again until the end. My husband pointed this out to me, smiling, saying that she knew that we were there. I’ve never been there when a pet was this far gone, her organs were failing, and I wasn’t ready for how she was. She was lying on a comfy blanket, with a head pad, and her head on a blanket/pillow. She was so still from the drugs they had given her, it broke my heart. It was hard to connect with her, because I felt like she was already gone. I petted her head, and her outstretched paw.

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I’d worn my “soar” bracelet on purpose to embrace the moment. Soaring is always about the good and happy things. For me, this year, my mantra has turned into “keep calm and soar on” just keep going, no matter what is going on.IMG_5699 IMG_5672

The staff were incredibly kind, allowing us to take care of paperwork upfront, and giving us time to be with her. Our vet seemed apprehensive to be there while the procedure was done, probably because other pet owners freak out, but no matter if she meowed or what, I felt that I needed to stay by her side. I couldn’t let her die alone. He explained that she might cry out, but that she wouldn’t be in pain. We said that we understood, and we talked with her, and petted her while the pink liquid went into her arm. He checked her breathing, telling us that she was gone, and gave us a few more minutes. It felt awful that she was gone. I wanted to keep petting her, like if I stopped petting her, it would be real, that she wouldn’t be coming back home with us. Husband asked if I wanted anymore pictures, and I knew solidly that I didn’t. I wanted all of my pictures to be of her alive.

We walked out of the room, and I shut the door, leaving her there. We debated about asking for her ashes, but since we don’t own property there wasn’t any place that we’d be able to mark for her. Plus, I wasn’t sure when we’d be able to spread them at a local park and it would become a to do hanging over our heads.

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Thankfully, it was Friday so we had several days before we had to be back at work. We worked through our grief the following ways: distraction through Christmas party, buying our puppy a treat, snacks, and visiting kitties at the humane society. It was difficult to move past the guilt of not loving on her better, earlier in the year, before I became so busy with my job. I was sad that I couldn’t remember the last time that she’d displayed her amazing personality and her loud purring.

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The hardest night was the first night. Husband was out, and it hit me all of a sudden that she was gone and wasn’t coming back. I cried so hard I was almost hyperventilating. I became fixated with this stuffed cat that my dad gave me when I was in highschool or college. It was a Harley Davidson stuffed cat, and he’d gotten it for me because it reminded him of WildThing. I remembered being grumpy about it at the time, thinking that it didn’t really resemble the cat, just that it was also white and black patterned. As soon as possible I needed to find this stuffed toy, and I was so afraid that I’d gotten rid of it. Thankfully, I found it. It sounds silly, but having something fluffy to cuddle made it easier. I decided that whenever our future children lose pets, I think they should have a stuffed animal to hold to say goodbye.

Husband and I talked off and on, before Wildthing left us, about what kind of kitty we’d want next. When she was gone, I needed kitties to love on me, so I visited the local humane society several times. I hadn’t picked out my own cat before. I’d picked out one cat, and he was gone by the next day when my mom went to pick him up, so she’d actually picked out the most amazing and wonderful Wildthing. I didn’t know what to look for, but I ached for a kitty connection. I needed them to love on me. We discussed getting an adult cat, since they are less likely to get adopted, and they’d be less hyper, but none of them seemed eager to approach me. I left feeling defeated, not even knowing what I was looking for (some unrealistic magical connection).

Today, we returned to the humane society, knowing that there was an adoption sale. Husband met a beautiful and kind kitty, named Pansy. You could tell that she restrained herself when she was play biting. Her coat was a lovely brown and grey tabby. I hesitated, wondering if I was really ready for this. I was afraid of rushing into a decision, afraid of the kitty not loving me, afraid of not loving the kitty. We went home, knowing that the sale was only good for today. I thought about it, prayed about it. I realized that it wasn’t worth being afraid (and likely something that I was overthinking) to pass up on such a sweet affectionate kitty.

So we added a new member of our family! Something that held me back was wondering if it was “too soon” and what people would thing (seriously, I focus WAY too much on that). But it seemed like many people could get another kitty soon after one passed. And I missed kitty noises, and having my own pet running around the house. (Daisy is obsessed with her daddy, and I’m definitely the second).

Meet Saria (to continue our Nintendo naming style).

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Here’s the Nintendo Saria: (at least my Saria’s collar is green to look more alike).saria_playing_for_you_by_zalogero-d37iiij

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Gratefully, pet introductions went well, despite that Daisy is in her face and overwhelming. Saria kind of avoids her, till she gets overwhelmed, then runs and hides in some small (dusty) crevice of the apartment. But I actually think they’ll become good cuddle friends. Saria definitely has that kitten spunk (at 5 months), wanting to explore her new home, not wanting to be held. But, when she explores, she’ll come rub her face on me to check in, then go exploring some more. I couldn’t stop smiling, despite all of my fears, when I nodded that I wanted to keep her at the humane society. I felt joy at having a cuddly friend again. I have missed kitty love.

My favorite moment so far is when we put her on our bed, and she immediately made herself comfortable and began to purr loudly. Its safe to say that this kitty is happy to have a home.

No kitty will ever replace the childhood friendship that I was lucky enough to have with Wildthing for 20 years of my life, but I’m excited to give a new friends a home this holiday :0)