Category Archives: Weekend Moments

Weekend Moment: Christmas Vacation

Photo credit: Vivenne G.

When you read that title, did you automatically start singing the theme song from National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation?”

Because I totally did. And now it will be running through my head for approximately the next 568 hours.

In a little while, my family and I are heading to New York City for a week.

Our kids have always wanted to go there and there is no better time for a visit to NYC than at Christmastime.

We plan to see the Radio City Music Spectacular, a Broadway show, and the New York Philharmonic while leaving plenty of free time to explore and soak it all in.

In the past, I always had such unrealistic expectations of vacation.  I expected no less than the following:

*being well rested and having tons of energy

*constant smiles and good humor

*absolutely no fighting between my children

*no getting lost trying to find our destination

*one Hallmark moment after another

Totally realistic, right?

Needless to say, things never happened that way.

So this time, I decided to be much more practical.

This quote by Ann Voskamp will frame this particular vacation for me: “I want the moments enough to let go of the mirages.”

No more mirages.

I will let it be whatever it is.

I will meet and embrace the moments ahead with joy.

I will endeavor not to lose sight of the many blessings that we have.

I will thank my beautiful God for giving us this gift of time with my precious family.

I will make memories.

I will laugh off the non-essentials.

I will refuse to let go of my joy, no matter what happens.

By the way, my brother is staying here at the house with Buddy, our Bichon Frise.

Pray for him. 🙂

And by the way…the rumor is that Milton the Moose will soon be making a bloggy appearance,  as he is making the trip to NYC with us!

Happy holidays!



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Weekend Moment: A Surprise Birthday Party

Earlier this week, my children and I were invited to a surprise 16th birthday party for one of their friends.

The birthday girl’s father and sister were getting her to the site under the ruse of taking her out to dinner.

In the meantime, her mom (who is also one of my dear friends) and the rest of the guests were waiting in a private room within the restaurant.

I had nominated myself  as the official photographer for the night. When we received the two minute warning that the trio were on their way, we all gathered near the door, ready to yell, “Surprise!” I thought it would be a great idea to capture a shot of some of the guests near me as we waited.

However, I forgot that I had the flash on and only proceeded to blind those who were waiting to take a photo of the moment the birthday girl arrived.

Notice the “Are you kidding me?” look on this young man’s face:

Fortunately, he was a good sport and harbored no hard feelings. At least that’s what I told myself.

The birthday girl was completely and totally shocked, which is the perfect outcome for any surprise party. She was enveloped in a flurry of hugs  and well-wishes after we all sang a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday.” It was a joyous moment.

You may ask why I do not have any photos of her grand entrance…and I would have to tell you that every single one of them ended up being blurry.

I was then forced to fire myself as the official photographer.

Moving on…

The party was a catered affair and we all had a our choice of delicious French cuisine.

You know what’s sad?

I had three years of French in high school. I got all A’s. Yet, I did not know what any of this meant, other than “avec” which means “with.”

My son currently has an A+ in French so I could have asked him for assistance but he was all the way across the room at the kids table. So, I  proceeded to place my order by simply pointing to the item on the menu.

I am certain our waitress was impressed by my sophistication.

Our host encouraged us to be brave and try something we have never eaten before. In the end, I just couldn’t do it.

My daughter was much more adventurous than her mother. She actually ordered frog legs.

She said they tasted like chicken. Who knew?

The food was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious…

Here are my kids awaiting their dinner:

Interesting story about my son’s tie.

None of us knew how to tie one and my husband was in Vermont .  So, during the drive to the party, my son downloaded an app onto his i-Pad that showed him what to do.  Thank goodness for technology.

During the course of the evening, I was thrilled to meet a fellow Pittsburgh native and we had a great time speaking Pittsburghese.

Overall, it was just a wonderful night! There was so much laughter and fellowship as we celebrated the life of this special young lady. I am certain it will be an evening she will never forget.

Bon Anniversaire N.! You are loved!

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Weekend Moment: Compassion International

My family and I are huge supporters of Compassion International.

We have sponsored a lovely young lady named Margaret from Ghana for several years now.

It has been a joy to watch her grow and to hear how Compassion is meeting her material, educational, medical, and spiritual needs.

A group of bloggers is currently in Ecuador, visiting the Compassion centers there. One of my favorites is Sophie, otherwise known as BooMama. Her post today brought tears to my eyes and I just want to encourage anyone who reads this post to check out her latest entry about meeting a boy named Jonathan deep inside the Amazon:

Ann Voskamp’s post about the same young man is incredibly beautiful:

Catch up with the rest of the bloggers’ stories here:

And if you can, please consider sponsoring a child through Compassion today.

I promise that it will bring so much joy to your heat, knowing that you are changing the life of a precious child today.

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. —Psalm 113:7


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Weekend Moment: Columbus Day Edition

 In our part of the country, Columbus Day weekend means one thing: it’s time for the Sandwich Fair!

Nestled into the mountains in the middle of the state is a charming little town called Sandwich, which looks as if it was painted by Norman Rockwell.

The fair is filled with yummy food, award-winning animals, arts and crafts exhibits, rides and games.

Our kids marched in the annual parade with their high school band…

There was wonderful time with family…

Our niece's son getting ready to tickle the ivories

My mom laughing at something our son said

Our niece

Our son and a friend from school

Doug, our nephew-by-marriage and his little boy

And, of course, Milton was there to enjoy the festivities. It was his first fair and he was quite excited…

Milton with an Awesome Onion

Milton, Julia, and Grandma

All-in-all, it was a fabulous, sun-soaked, laughter-filled weekend. The Sandwich Fair is always a special time for our family. We are already looking forward to next year!

And if you are in our neck of the woods next October, be sure to stop by the fair! 🙂

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Weekend Moment: Milton The Moose

And now for something completely silly…

I love moose.

I live in the mountains where they are (supposedly) plentiful, yet I have never seen one.

As a consolation, my friends sometimes send me a stuffed moose. I have amassed quite the collection at this point, a growing testimony to my sad lack of moose sightings.

A few months ago, my dear friend Destiny sent me a moose for the dashboard of my car. I immediately named him Milton and installed him in my Honda Pilot (who I have named Max. Are you sensing a theme?). I got him just in time for our trip back home to Pittsburgh.  At one point, I was bored during the long drive so I decided to take a photo of Milton:

I call it “Moose On The Open Road.”

He is quite handsome; wouldn’t you agree?

Doug suggested that I have Milton accompany us  on our trip and include him in all the places we visit. I loved the idea.

So, as a result, I completely embarrassed my children by pulling Milton out of my purse at every opportunity. 🙂

Below are some of Milton’s travels as he saw Pittsburgh for the first time:

This is Milton at the lake with family on his first day of vacation. Clearly, I was struggling with figuring out how to focus properly with my camera but you get the idea. Notice the “she’s-crazy-but-we-love-her” smiles on the faces of my loved ones:

Milton enjoyed being near the water:

He indulged his sweet tooth at the local ice cream place:

It was easy for him to imagine himself gliding over the water in this sweet ride:

After leaving Ohio, Milton traveled to West Virginia. I was a little slow on the uptake with the camera…

At Cabela’s, Milton found one of his own…

Food is very important to Milton…especially indulging his sweet tooth. One of his favorites is the incomparable Bethel Bakery cupcakes:

He also enjoys the occasional (or twelve) Krispy Kreme donut…

Don’t judge him. Whom amongst us has not dived into a box of these once or twice?

Or maybe it’s just me.

Native Pittsburghers love their Eat-n-Park. While not a native, Milton is a fan:

So many choices!

Milton finally settled on ordering the strawberry pie:

A trip to downtown Pittsburgh to walk off all those calories was in order:

This is Milton riding the incline down the mountain into the city. (Our car was packed with people and my kids could not contain their mortification when I pulled Milton out of my purse to take this photo :))…

The following day found Milton posing proudly with Washington and Jefferson (as in George and Thomas) at W & J College:

Followed by a trip to Ikea… Coolest.Furniture.Store.Ever…

All in all, Milton had a delightful trip to the Steel City. He looks forward to traveling more in the future and I’m sure he will be happy to share photos of his upcoming travels. Until then, he leaves you with this…

(Thank you for indulging me with all this silliness. This is what is commonly known as “writer’s block 🙂 ).

Have a great weekend everyone!


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Weekend Moment: Summer 2011

This summer has been a wonderful one.  It has been a time of laughter, lots of time with family and friends, and answered prayer.

It began with a fond farewell to the homeschooling co-op we have been attending for the last four years…

Julia and one of her best friends

Our son Josh marched with the high school band in the town’s Memorial Day parade…

Our daughter spent her summer attending volleyball camp, in hopes of making the team in August (she did)…

We attended two fireworks celebrations for the Fourth of July…

There was time with friends and family…

We got to go back to my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA for a week…

Heinz Field where the Steelers play!

The view from the top of the incline

Only in Pittsburgh!

Inclines meeting

Forbes Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh

PPG Place

Market Square

And of course, as everyone knows, when you go back to your hometown you simply must visit your  favorite restaurants. So…there was ALL THE EATING…

Bethel Bakery cupcakes...none better!!!

Strawberry pie at Eat-n-Park

Aiello's Pizza in Squirrel Hill

Cold Stone Creamery

Our favorite spot on Mt. Washington

We went there five times in 7 days!

It is no wonder that I literally gained five pounds during this trip! 🙂

There were the end-of-summer celebrations known as Old Home Days in New England…

Vermont became our second home when my husband accepted a consulting assignment there…

Above all, there was a lot of laughter and love…

I am a blessed woman.

“...Summer gathers up her robes of glory,
and, like a dream, glides away…”
—Sarah Helen Whitman


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Weekend Moment: Old Home Days

I had never heard of “Old Home Days” until I moved to New England.

It is a wonderful annual summer celebration of small town America: a time for residents to gather together and revel in the joys of community. People who have moved away try to make the trip home each year to see old friends and family. Neighbors visit under shady trees, local artisans display their wares on long tables covered in tablecloths, and the smell of grilled food wafts through the air.

This year, the band that my kids are in was asked to perform at two Old Home Days on a single Saturday, so we had the joy of attending both.

Patriotism runs high…

There are plenty of animals:

Historic buildings that date back to the 1700s…

Antique cars are proudly on display…

 The people-watching is wonderful…

I so enjoyed walking around and talking to the locals. Since I love jewelry, I was drawn to an elderly lady’s table that was decorated with brightly colored necklaces, bracelets, and bookmarks.

When I complimented her on her offerings, she smiled, leaned forward and said, “It’s all crap, you know. That’s why I have everything priced so low. I just enjoy putting the pretty colors together and getting to meet the folks!”

I immediately purchased a beaded bookmark, unable to contain my smile. You gotta love honesty like that! 🙂

At the end of the day, we  had listened to two fantastic concerts, met a lot of great people and made lovely memories of a day spent together in the summer sunshine. We were also  sunburned, tired, and full of junk food …but I would not change a thing.

I love small towns


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Weekend Moment: Pittsburghese (Repost)

Since my family and I are back in my hometown for a little summer vacation, I thought it would be fun to re-post this tutorial on Pittsburgh. Enjoy! 🙂


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I was very blessed to grow up in Pittsburgh, PA.

It is a wonderful place and in this post, I alluded to the fact that it has a language all its own. It is called Pittsburghese.

I never thought I had any kind of accent until the day my friend Heather called me when we were living in Rhode Island and said, “Susan! I just heard a caller on Regis and Kathie Lee and she sounded EXACTLY like you!” It turns out that the caller was from my hometown and she did sound just like me!

If you ever visit, it’s important that you know the language of  the natives…so here goes:

Steelers = “Stillers”

Downtown = “Dahntahn”

If you want your kids to clean up their rooms, you say, “It’s time to ‘redd up’ your room!” (My kids still make fun of me every time I say, “Okay, it’s time to redd up the house!”) :)

Speaking of house, it is pronounced “hause.”

A rubber band = “gum band.”

Did you eat yet? No, did you? = “JeetJet? Nodju?”

Pittsburgh = “Pixburg”

Soda = “pop”

Giant Eagle (a local grocery store) = “Jynt Igle”

Out = “aht”

Northside = “Norseside”

(This one is for you, Ida Mae) : Iron = “arn”

She makes me say “iron” then collapses into a fit of giggles every time. :)

And…my all-time favorite:

You all = “Yinz”

I love my hometown.

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Weekend Moment: The Legacy of Fitness

My dad was a physical fitness nut.

He had his own home gym, spearheaded the building of  a gym for fellow employees at work, took an enormous amount of vitamins and supplements everyday and played for his work softball team well into his later years.

From the time my brother and I were little, he encouraged us to stay in stay in good shape, forever extolling the many benefits of exercise.  He was front and center (along with my mom, of course) at all our sporting events, cheering us on.

I have so many memories of walking with him at the park near my childhood home. He was always fully equipped with an odometer and a stopwatch because he had goals he wanted to reach.

I have passed this same love of fitness onto my kids.  We have walked, hiked, biked, swam, etc. Both kids have qualified to win  the Presidential Fitness award three times.

Even when he was two years old, Josh loved to run. He would tell me, “I need to run Mommy!”. So, we would walk to the cul-de-sac in our neighborhood and he would run around and around until he collapsed in the grass, happily tired.  Today, he runs 5K’s and is a member of the track team.

I recently came across these photos from 2003, the year we moved to south  Florida. Our plan had an exercise room and the kids and I went there nearly everyday. They would wait patiently while I worked out, then we would go swimming.  I took these photos one morning when my mom was visiting. Josh was 7 and Julia was 5. The age of my mom will remain a secret. 🙂 :


I love that they know the joy of regular exercise and continually challenge themselves to reach new levels of fitness.

Just as I used to walk with my dad, my kids and I enjoy walking together as well, strengthening our bodies as well as our relationship.

My dad would be thrilled. His influence lives on.


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Weekend Moment: An Explosion of Color

Earlier this week, I drove by the local nursery  and on their sign someone had written: “Visit Us and Experience An Explosion Of Color!” Just past the sign were rows upon rows of flowers of every hue. It was a beautiful sight and a reminder of just how glorious the season of summer can be.

So, for this Weekend Moment, I decided to display my own “explosion of color” from my part of the world. Enjoy and celebrate summer where you are today!

ski slopes in the summertime

“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer.” –Violette Leduc

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