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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Cape Cod 2021

 Another Cape Cod Vacation is in the books!

We left last Thursday evening when Dan was finished with work and made it to Chambersberg, PA. We were up bright and early on Friday morning and on the road by 7:00 am.  We made it to the Cape by around 4:00. We got unpacked, got groceries, ordered our normal first night dinner of pizza, and were finally able to relax.

We spent Saturday morning doing some chores around the house and spent some time on Saturday afternoon on the beach. We grilled out hotdogs and then went for ice cream. We get ice cream every single night when we are on vacation at the Cape.  Every night. Without fail.  And we have zero regrets about it! After ice cream we took a drive through Hyannis to check out the big city on Saturday night. :) They have blocked part of Main St. and made it one lane instead of two so restaurants can have more outdoor seating and it makes for a very festive vibe.  There were lots of people walking, eating, cruising, etc.  We stopped at a little beach to take some pictures before heading home.

You can't really make it out, but this is Sarah swinging on the beach swing.

On Sunday we headed to mass at beautiful St. Francis Xavier in Hyannis. We should have remembered that Main St. was now only one lane instead of two but we weren't thinking about that and were a few minutes late to mass due to the traffic.  Ooops! After mass, we came home for lunch and then headed to Chatham.  It is such a cute town with a lot of shops and Sarah had some money to burn so Dan and Peter stood outside a lot while she and I went into all the shops.  On the way home in the evening, we stopped for dinner at Captain Parker's because when you are on the Cape, you have to have chowder and in my humble opinion, Captain Parker's is the best!

We had a long wait for dinner so we walked over to Parker's River to kill some time.

On Monday, we headed to Boston. We picked up Dan's uncle and then drove to Gloucester to pick up Dan's other (adopted) uncle, Ron.  Ron and Uncle Bob are best friends dating back to the seminary where they were roommates. Uncle Ron was an only child and Dan's family adopted him so to speak after his parents passed away. He spent all major holidays at Dan's home and we all call him Uncle Ron.

After we picked up Uncle Ron, we headed to lunch at the Seaport Grill.

After lunch, we dropped Uncle Ron off at his house and took Uncle Bob back to Boston and then we hung out in the city for a while.  Peter and Sarah wanted to do some shopping on Newbury St.  We parked in the garage at the Public Garden and went from there.

Sarah's new obsession is pictures with disposable cameras.  I think she's going to be disappointed with the results but maybe we will all be surprised. :)

After our time in Boston, we headed to Needham to have dinner with Dan's brother Dick and his family. It ended up just being us and Dick because Jennifer's mom had recently broken her shoulder and she had to help her and Jillian was sick with a cold and didn't want to get the rest of us sick so she stayed home.  Hopefully next year we can enjoy some time with the whole family but it was still nice to hang out with Dick for a while.

On Tuesday we slept in and then had lunch at home. Sarah and I spent the afternoon on the beach while Dan and Peter went off to do a little fishing in Parker's River.  

The only thing they caught!

On Wednesday, we were up early again and headed up to Provincetown.  We toured around the city, shopped, and had lunch.  Then we boarded a ship and went on a whale watch!  We saw three whales.  There was a mom and baby and they hung out around the ship the whole time we were out.  The third whale swam around for a while then went away from us, swam back for a while, went away again. But the mom and baby stayed near us the whole time.

We could see the baby nurse and then he would nap.  Then they would swim a bit and he would nurse again and then nap.  The baby napped at the surface while the mom was swimming beneath him.  

At one point, the mom was not visible and the tour guide said she was way below the surface eating.  She was gone for a bit and then the baby woke up and breached!  This was my third whale watch and the first time seeing a whale breach.  He breached at least 7 times. It was so cool to see.  And the sound he made each time he hit the water was awesome - sounded like a giant belly flop.  I felt like he was doing that to get his mom's attention so that she would come back to the surface. (I can only imagine how awesome it would have been to see the mother whale breach! Maybe next time.)

The whale pictures aren't impressive.  It's very hard to get a good shot of the whales so don't let them fool you.  We all had a great experience seeing them and it was definitely a highlight of this trip. We got some video but I have the worst time getting video loaded to this blog.

On our way home from Provincetown, we had dinner in Harwich port at Embers and of course, stopped for ice cream too. Sadly, I have no pictures of our ice cream trips but just know that it was all delicious!

On Thursday, Sarah and I spent time at the beach while Dan and Peter tried their hand at fishing again.  They had fun but didn't catch anything. 

On Friday, we headed to Falmouth and got on the Shining Sea Bike Path and rode the 3 and half miles to Woods Hole where we stopped in for lunch at Captain Kidd (this has now become a tradition) before riding back to Falmouth. This part of the bike path is so lovely.  There's lots of water views, lots of shade, and it's all very flat.  So it's the perfect bike path for me!

When we got back, we all went to the beach to spend a little time in the water and got this cute family picture:

After our nightly ice cream run, we took one last drive through Hyannis and walked around.  The moon was gorgeous so we stopped to take some pictures.

And then we headed back home to finish packing up and cleaning up and got on the road early on Saturday morning.  We drove from 7:00 until 3:50 when we stopped for mass in Havre de Grace, Maryland. After mass, we got back on the road and finally made it to Dan's sister's house in Alexandria, Va.  She made us a delicious dinner and then we walked around Alexandria and, you guessed it - got ice cream!  Alexandria was hopping! They also had streets closed down for outdoor eating and it was like a huge party in the town.  We got in a nice long walk, came back to her house watched some Olympics and then headed to bed as we were all exhausted.  There's nothing like a long day of doing nothing in the car to really tire you out! :)

Cathy fixed us a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning and then we headed home.  It was a wonderful vacation at the Cape. Dan and I spent a lot of time talking about the fact that as the kids go to college, family vacations will start to look a little different. I imagine at some point in the not too distant future, it will just be the two of us on these vacations with the kids joining us if and when they can.  That made me a little sad. Hopefully when the kids have their own families, another generation will be able to enjoy the little Cape house and fill it with lots of laughter and new memories will be made and cherished.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Rebecca's Hydrangea Bushes

When Rebecca died I had the horrible task of going to the florist to pick out flowers for the funeral. The sweet lady at Reggie's Flower Shop suggested two little dark pink hydrangeas to put on either side of Rebecca's tiny casket.  She said after the funeral we could plant them in her memory. That sounded like a wonderful idea.  I was happy to have the decision made and I loved that they were  pink and not the blue color that most hydrangeas are around here.  (I love the blue ones but this was my baby girl and she needed something pink.)

We later planted the two tiny hydrangea bushes on  the east side of the house hoping they would get the perfect amount of morning sun and afternoon shade to grow and thrive. At this same time, we planted other plants we were given in Rebecca's memory around the outside of the house.

My best friend Jennifer gave us a gift card to Lowe's to pick out something special and I chose Dahlia's that were called Rebecca's World.  I chose them because of the name and their flower was a beautiful deep dark pinky purple and white.  They were beautiful.

My friend Christy gave us a beautiful butterfly bush to plant and I loved watching the butterflies hover around the blooms.  Each butterfly that landed on it made me think of Rebecca.

Dan's brother and sister sent us two perfect azalea bushes which we planted under a tree at the front corner of our house. Dan's sister also sent a Camellia which had gorgeous blooms on it.

Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School gifted us with a lovely dogwood tree which we planted at the edge of the yard and I was looking forward to enjoying it's blossoms for years to come.

We also planted many of the plants that were included in beautiful arrangements we received. 

Sadly, every single thing that we planted after Rebecca's funeral ultimately ended up dying. Some didn't make it past the heat of the first summer while others made it two years before they were gone. The dahlia's made it four years before they were done. Not sure if it was the location we planted everything or the fact that we over watered or under watered. Most likely a combination of all of these factors.

While I sadly pulled everything up as it died, I continued to keep an eye on our two little hydrangea bushes.  They did not die but they also were not really growing and they certainly weren't thriving.

We researched and googled and I determined that it was because they were from a florist. They weren't meant to be planted and grow like a hydrangea bush you would buy at Lowe's.  They were meant to stay smaller and bloom once and look lovely in an arrangement.

We got a couple of blooms in year two and they were looking blue so we added some lime to soil to change the pH so that they would turn more pink/purple. We would usually get one or two flowers and there were a couple of years where there were no blooms at all. The hydrangeas down south are normally out of control.  The bushes seem to take over the space they are planted and they are always heavy with blossoms. However, ours remained small and essentially flowerless.

After year three, I wanted to rip them out but Dan is a little more patient than I am. He continued to water and research and hope for the best.  Last year, the bush closest to the garage had a three or four blossoms around the back of the bush and the other bush had one blossom and I was thrilled!  We watched those blossoms and I delighted in them.  I just knew that 2021 would be the year our hydrangea bushes were actually going to look like hydrangea bushes.

In the early spring, I would check on them each morning and look for blossoms. I chatted with them and told them that this was their year.  I continued to cheer them on when I noticed blossoms forming on them and was especially excited when we finally spotted blossoms on the smaller bush as well.

I carefully cut two blooms to bring inside to enjoy:

Even though they are seven years old now and still very small, they have lots of blossoms!  And they are beautiful!

I am so thankful that Dan did not give up on our little hydrangea bushes. For me, they are a visible reminder of my sweet  Rebecca. But even more than that, the bushes are a reminder of God's love for me. 

God loves us deeply and intimately and even if we know that with our minds sometimes our hearts  need reassurance.  God loves us and sees us.  God knows what we need. God gives us what we need.

And sometimes God sends hydrangea blossoms to remind us that we are loved.

“Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” - Luke 12:27-28

"Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?"  -Matthew 6:27-30


Monday, July 12, 2021

Quick visit to N.C. State

On Saturday morning, we picked up my mom at 9:00 am and headed to Raleigh.  It's an hour and 45 minutes from our house to the campus of N.C. State. 

The day was sunny and warm and it was a nice drive there.  We parked the car and then checked out all the sites on the main campus.  N.C. State has three campuses but as a freshman (and as a business major) Peter will spend the majority of his time on main campus.

We did a lot of walking and were all getting pretty sweaty (you've got to love North Carolina in July). At one point, Sarah exclaimed that she was angry about how hot she was.  I commiserated with her because being hot and sweaty is high on my list of things I don't like.

Peter enjoyed checking out the campus with us and was especially glad my mom was able to come.  He really wanted her to see the campus. 

After walking around campus for about an hour and a half, we got lunch at a great little Italian place and then headed to the school's dairy farm and got some of N.C. State's famous Howling Cow Ice Cream.

It was a really great day and Peter is even more excited than before to get moved in and start his college career next month.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Another quick update...

Yikes.  My time between posts is becoming longer and longer. I guess it's the lazy days of summer or perhaps it's just me being lazy!

Sarah has been working at the pool as a lifeguard and is still enjoying it. She was hoping to get more shifts this summer but for some reason this particular pool has a lot of guards.  The only positive about that is it's leaving her some free time to hang out with friends and do her summer reading work. 

She, along with Dan and I, are also working as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Leadership team so that's helping to keep our Zoom skills on point. Although Dan continues to work from home so his Zoom skills are at extreme pro level at this point.  However, it sounds like they might be back in the office at some point in the very near future.

Peter had planned to work all summer as a delivery driver for Post Mates.  He made some deliveries for them this past winter before football started and hoped to work a lot this summer.  Unfortunately right as he was heading to the beach it was announced that they were being bought by Uber Eats and sadly, to drive for Uber Eats you have to be 19.  He tried to apply for Door Dash, who also accepts 18 year olds as drivers, but they were already maxed out and aren't accepting any new drivers.  He toyed with the idea of working at a fast food restaurant but he was gone for a week with his friends and we leave for the Cape next week for 10 days and he leaves for school on August 13th so that left approximately 6ish weeks to get a job and train and actually work.  It really didn't make too much sense so he is enjoying sleeping in, working out at the gym, hanging out with friends, and shopping for dorm stuff with me. Okay - he probably isn't enjoying the shopping very much...

We had a nice 4th of July. We had the Waller's over for dinner.  Well, some of them, anyway!  It's a little sad when your kids grow up and have other things to do.  Sarah had to work and only Cheyanne and her boyfriend could join us.  So our numbers were down but we still had fun!  My brother put on an awesome fireworks display!

He even had a "grand finale" that was absolutely incredible!  I honestly felt like I had just been to a fireworks display at the Winston-Salem Dash game.

On Tuesday, we headed to UNC Charlotte (my alma mater) for a tour with Sarah and then had lunch in Charlotte.  It was crazy to see all the changes that have been made to the campus since I departed in 1992.  And the number of students has doubled!  Sarah really liked the campus and she loves Charlotte so it's definitely a contender.  She placed UNCC above UNCW which we visited in February.

My old dorm is still standing!  They've renovated it and updated it.  I was hoping to go into it and visit room 209 but this building wasn't included in the campus living part of the tour.  The whole day was definitely a walk down memory lane.

Today we are headed to Raleigh to walk around the campus of NC State.  Dan didn't get to go on the official tour when Peter and I went in Fall of 2019 and we just wanted to go back and check things out ahead of August 13th which is when we take Peter to move into his dorm room. 

Have a great weekend!