Fast Cars and Family

We make it a point in our lives to hang out with friends. We always try to fit in that newest episode of The Big Bang Theory. And there is rarely a time in our lives when we opt out of the opportunity to take a vacation or road trip down to Kings Dominion.

We place such high priorities on so many silly things in our lives, and yet, family isn’t always very high on that list of things we simply must make time for.

I personally try to make a specific and conscious effort to say yes to life, and yet, I have no problem saying no to my family. Somehow, they have been excluded from my life’s aims. They are just the people whose home I share. The people whom I summarize all of my other adventures to. The people whom I just assume will be patiently awaiting my phone call or visit.

I take them for granted.

And I shouldn’t.

My family means so much to me. Having them around brightens up my day, maps my future, and enlivens my past. I am so grateful for (almost) every interaction that I have with them. And I need to start actively engaging them in my life instead of passively relating to them.

That’s why when my Dad asked me if I’d like to stop by a car show with him and my brother, I gave him a definite and resounding yes.

Yes, I would like to spend time with my father and brother and make memories that involve more than just arguments about the cleanliness of the house. Even if the only thing that I get out of this adventure is looking at some handsome cars with my family, count me in.

So when you look through these pictures, know that yes, they are simply pictures of cars; but the photographer is not simply a photographer, she is more of a daughter and more of a sister than she has been in a long while.

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Ocean City Dreams

Every year my family takes a trip Ocean City, Maryland to visit my grandparents and have some fun in the sun.

I’m sure you all can guess exactly what comes with the promise of a family vacation:

  • Yelling and screaming over the TV channel
  • My grandparents’ refusal to turn on the air conditioningIMG_2194
  • Losing to my Mom in cards
  • Taking far too many pictures of my cat
  • Wishing my Poppy didn’t wake up the house at 5 in the morning by stirring his coffee
  • Trekking sand around the house all week despite making 1 trip to the ocean
  • Not having enough time to visit the boardwalk because your family is still playing with the cat
  • Sitting in traffic in the church parking lot after a slightly pathetic 4th of July fireworks display

This is the only real vacation I get for the summer. To some people, it may have seem like a wasted trip, more like a test of my patience than an enjoyable time. But, after vacationing with these people for all of my life, I’ve learned to look at things a different way.

So in addition to all of those riveting events, also came:

  • Sleeping in and bumming around watching American Pickers
  • A warmth that thawed me out from the constant stream of air conditioning I’ve grown accustomed to and will forever keep me heated
  • Trying to sabotage my Mom in cards and finding innovative ways to at least beat my DadDSCN0905
  • Taking far too many adorable pictures of my cat
  • Spending quality time with my silly and even more adorable grandparents
  • Relaxing on the beach and gaining a slight tan
  • Always finding room in my stomach to gorge myself with buttery scallo9ps
  • Watching fireworks with my one-of-a-kind family

One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip was getting to take pictures of our adventures. Even though we go every year, I’m always too busy living in the moment to take pictures. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like that’s a great mentality to have, but when you want to share meaningful moments on a blog, pictures are nice too.

I hope you enjoy this!

I hope you enjoy this!

And even though the fireworks weren’t as good as they’ve been in the past, it’s still balls of light, color, and sound exploding into the night sky and occasionally making a smiley face. And that’ll always be worth seeing. When fireworks are involved, how could anyone not look on the bright side? (Pun intended…)

O’s Magic

Since before I was born, I’ve been an Orioles fan. I may not be the most avid or knowledgeable baseball watcher, but I truly enjoy the sport, and even more than that, I love attending the games.orioles logo

I’ve always gone to the O’s games with my family, but around last year I realized that it had been a good 4 years since we’d last ventured into Camden Yards. So for Father’s Day 2012 (delayed due to hectic schedules and weather complications), I decided to give my dad tickets to a game of his choosing, which we used by watching the Orioles play the Rays.

camden yardsDespite the threat of rain, constant humidity, and eventual loss of the O’s, we had a great time as a family. The beautiful Baltimore skyline greeted us as we drove into the city early that morning for a bit of exploring. We took a stroll by the warehouse right next to the park and paid a visit to Boog’s BBQ stand where I got a picture with Boog Powell himself. After satisfying our craving for deliciously overpriced ballpark food, we took our seats in one of the top decks. But the height of our seats and the fact that they were a mere $17 didn’t deter us from having a lovely afternoon. We could see perfectly and had plenty of people around us to add volume to the cheers reverberating throughout the stadium.

Unlike Ravens games which can get intense and loud, the Orioles games are oh so calm and relaxed. There is a real family atmosphere to be found with all of the children toddling around in their orange jerseys while grandparents patiently wait in lines for the tots’ cotton candy. Despite the child behind us kicking my mom’s seat and playing his video game rather loudly, everyone was so well behaved and courteous, further adding to our pleasant experience.

IMG_2091

IMG_2092I truly love spending time with my family, and the strong sense of community that the O’s could provide for me was great too. Every now and again you just need to know that you’re a part of something larger than yourself, and it may take yelling “O!” during the National Anthem with thousands of strangers to feel that sense of unity.

A Daughter’s Love, A Mother’s Day

mother's day heartAs I hope everyone was aware, the most anticipated and stressful day, Mother’s Day, was this past Sunday. Even though I’m away at school and knee deep in studying for finals, I welcomed the break to tell my mother how much I appreciate and love her for all she’s done. I had a 4 Phase Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack strategy, and I welcomed the chance to put it into action.

It began Saturday night when I decided to drive back home for Phase1. I didn’t get home until late Saturday night and as I opened the garage door, I saw my mom’s jaw drop in surprise at my presence. She had no idea I’d be making the trip back home, as the last time we talked she had sadly agreed that we may as well put Mother’s Day off until next week. Delay the one day of the year dedicated to such a wonderful woman? No. Phase 1, shock and awe, complete.

Phase 2 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack involved me, my brother, and my father taking my mom out for a delicious breakfast of blueberry egg and cheese bagel sandwiches at a restaurant we’ve been frequenting since I was a child. This Phase was just as much for me as for my mother. She loved the consideration and the opportunity to relive our former Sunday morning tradition, and I loved my buttery bagel.

IMG_2082Phase 3 involved helping my mom cook dinner. While most people tend to go out for this special day, my mom opted to eat in for a delicious dinner of scallops and asparagus. Despite her insistence that she be the one to prepare the meal (which I was oh so grateful for), I helped prepare some fruits and vegetables for the occasion. It was so much nicer to relax at home than to spend such an intimate day in a crowded restaurant brimming with strangers and overpriced specials.

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago...

This is the last picture we took where all of us are in the frame. It was more than 8 years ago…

Next, came Super Phase 4 of the Mother’s Day Surprise Love Attack, and the presentation of my mom’s true gift. I provided her with a homemade card and the promise of taking family pictures sometime over the next couple of weeks. I wanted to give her a gift that truly expressed how much I care about her and our family, and by cementing our love in a series of cheesy looking photographs, I know that we will always have a reminder of how much we care for one another.

Overall, the day may not have been outrageously special, but I’m just glad that I could spend some time with my mother and tell her how much I appreciate everything she has done for me, because she has truly sacrificed everything to provide the best opportunities for my future. Her patience, dedication, and love are gifts that I will always recognize, and her effort to provide for me is a gift that I never intend to waste. It’s a bit sad that I only take the pains to acknowledge and celebrate these feelings one day of the year. All of the people I love should know exactly how deeply I care for them, and they deserve to hear my heartfelt expressions of love throughout the year.

mother's day meme

Charm City

baltimore skylineI’ve lived just outside of Baltimore, MD my whole life. As a child, I never frequented the city unless it was to visit the prairie dogs at the Zoo or pay testament to Barney on Ice. Once I grew up a tad and  figured out how to properly work the light rail, I could really begin to appreciate the beauty of the city and everything Baltimore had to offer (my Super Bowl-winning Ravens). I fell in love.

I don’t consider myself a city girl by any means, but there’s just something about Baltimore that pulls on my heart strings and makes me feel like I’m comfortably at home but also capable of discovering untold adventures. Everything that Baltimore offers is dear to me and I am so grateful that I’ve grown up next to such a prominent and delightful town.

I think Tracey does a pretty good job of describing Charm City:

In Baltimore, I’ve:

DSCN0095

The Harbor was gorgeous at night

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The prize was meeting Torrey Smith. GIVE ME MORE CARDS!

Played Bingo in Ravens stadium.

Celebrated my anniversary on the Inner Harbor.

Gotten an internship with a premier medical center.

Tolerated my brother at baseball games.

Beauty and the Beast!

Beauty and the Beast!

Bonded with my Dad on the 20 yard line.

Relived my childhood with my Mom.

And created memories that are bound to last a lifetime.

We all have that one special place around where we grew up that just calls to us, and for me, that’s Baltimore. I hope that one day I can find some way to give back to the city I love. For right now, I’m content to just reflect on all the wonderful experiences it’s lent me and continue planning for more memorable times.

baltimore harbor

Grandparents: More Than Hard Candies and Hearing Aids

For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve had a family. And for as long as my family members have been alive, they’ve had a family of their own. I know it seems simple to reflect on, everyone understands the concept of a family tree, but, not everyone takes advantage of this tremendously supportive and loving network of people who all care deeply about your happiness.

Specifically, I’m going to give a shout-out to grandparents; more specifically, my grandparents.

My grandparents live about 3 hours away from me and my family, and as a kid I loved the distance between us. The surprise presents they brought with them (CANDY) were always great, but after a day or two I couldn’t stand my grandmother’s nagging or my grandfather’s bellowing responses due to his poor hearing.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realize the important role they have in my life. I am their granddaughter. That means so much more than seeing them occasionally; it means actively engaging them in conversation and letting them know how much I care for and appreciate them. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey are loving and kind people (if you look in between their rants on Obama and affinity for disguising rude comments in a sweet demeanor) and I never want to neglect their presence in my life, because they have so much to offer me.

Some of the things my grandparents offer me over our bi-weekly phone calls:
• Accurate insights on the weather
• Complaints regarding the weatherweather graphic
• Hopes for the future weather
• Insight into what my grandmother is wearing for the current weather
• Wishes to come and visit the family
• Pride at my more strenuous workout routine
• Musings regarding the celebrities on Dancing With the Stars
• Frustration over my support of Obama
• Good luck wishes regarding school and finding an internship
• Intriguing conspiracies mentioned on the History Channel
• Pride that I’m attending college
• The same questions regarding my daily schedule

All of these topics both amuse and frustrate me, and if I don’t call at least every week to confirm what I already know about the weather, I know that I’m missing out on a good time and a conversation with the two loves of my life.

An Easter Surprise

This Easter weekend I had planned on visiting my boyfriend down at his college. While there, we went bowling with friends, ate a scrumptious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, played tennis until our arms ached, and caught Jim Gaffigan’s comedy show down in Roanoke. I could dedicate a post to every noteworthy element that made up our time together, and yet, there was something missing come Sunday morning. Though it had the all the essentials for a memorable weekend, the fact that I was missing Easter Sunday with my family was rather devastating.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I didn’t have to sit in a stuffy church listening to babies cry for an hour and a half, but I missed having the “Easter Bunny” hide eggs around the house and having an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I know I’m not a kid any longer, heck, I’m not even a teenager any more, but those are some quality family memories that I never wanted to lose. And that fact that there weren’t going to be any hidden eggs for my brother to find due to my absence left me riddled with guilt and an urge to change this year’s depressing Easter fate. I had to make it home for Easter.

After waking up that morning, I embarked upon my Easter adventure through the rain and fog. I called my parents to let them know that I wouldn’t be heading back to school until later that night and that I was bummed out about not spending time with them, they ate it up. I took pride in my lie as I drove the 5 hours up north to bring me closer to their long-lost faces and hoards of candy stored in the cupboard.

When I pulled into our driveway I made sure to park the car far back from the house and close the car door as silently as my anxious hand would allow. I ducked under windows while trying to maintain balance with my suitcase and made it to the front door not a moment too soon. Not only was I proud of my undeniable stealth, but I was positively giddy with the excitement of being reunited with my family. I rang the doorbell and hid below the glass window in the middle of the door, not daring to make a sound. Out came my grandfather looking rather confused until he spotted me stooped low to the ground. He began silently laughing and helped me up into the foyer where he called for the whole family to gather. My dad came first, and as he tried to hide his shock, a big smile broke out onto his face. My mom and grandmother could hardly believe I was real, so thoroughly convinced were they that I would be going straight back to school. My brother met my arrival with an air of teenage indifference…

What followed was a sweet and memorable Easter day with my family. We ate a great dinner, talked about our lives, and watched a documentary about the Raven’s championship season. Suddenly, I had a new highlight from my weekend.

P.S.        My cat usually sits in a box on our big table. When we took it away for Easter dinner, she just wouldn’t have it. We’ve never had a cuter centerpiece. IMG_1923