Category Archives: Family

Belle Isle

Recently, Peter, Abby and I enjoyed a really nice day together down in Richmond.

First we had a delish meal at Kitchen 64. We’ve only been here two times but each time has been excellent. Great food, always busy, quick service.


We then went to explore Belle Isle. It’s a 54 acre island on the James River that used to be where a POW camp was used during the Civil War (also previously home to a hydroelectric plant). It is now a park with paths, an area for rock climbing, and apparently the most popular thing to do is lay out on the rocks in the sun and/or take a dip in the river. To get there from the north side, you have to take a suspension footbridge under the highway. Earlier in the year, we visited just across the way at the Tredegar Iron Works and we’ve also been across the river at the Hollywood Cemetery.

Here are some pics I took from Belle Isle:









Someone has such long hair right now!













Afterwards, we figured oh, we might as well make a stop by Legend Brewing Co. We weren’t hungry for dinner yet but it was too nice out so we sat out on their deck and enjoyed an appetizer and some lagers before heading back home. All in all, a great day!




Blue Moonlight Biking

Last week I participated in the Anthem Moonlight Ride in Richmond for the first time, along with my brother. It was a lot of fun!

You had the option of biking 8 miles or 17 and we both did the 17 mile course which took us on main roads throughout RVA (Monument Ave.), through some neighborhoods and side streets, and through Bryan Park which was my absolute favorite part since it was so dark but the path was lined with glow sticks. There is a costume contest and tacky lights contest as well, and many people dressed up and had glow sticks, Christmas lights, etc.

I can’t say the entire course was super easy, as there were some hills to conquer but they were doable and where there’s an up, there’s a down! Keep in mind that my bike is a $150 Huffy bike from Target (snicker, snicker) – no, it does not have a basket or pom pom strings hanging from the handlebars, but it DOES have a sweet bell! Given that I don’t have many gear options, I was happy with myself that I did not have to stop, get off of my bike or stand up in order to get to the top of the hills; I just pushed on through as best as I could on the highest gear and did it. It drizzled a bit in some parts but didn’t bother me whatsoever – it actually felt good. There were at least 2 food/drink/bike mechanic pitstops along the way but I didn’t want to stop my stride. Although my bike speedometer was not calibrated correctly and said I did 28 miles, I managed to do 17 miles in 1 hr. 30 min. My brother completed in 1 hr. 13 min. I was happy with that given that the website said the avg. was 2 hrs. to complete the course. In the past, before having Abby, I had done the Livestrong 20 mile course in PA. Can’t remember what my time was for that but I remember stopping to eat along the way haha.

After the ride (not race), we got in line for our free food (Papa John’s pizza, Jimmy John’s subs, ice-cream novelties, Blue Moon beer and other drinks) and listened to the after-party band named the Good Birds. I heard that they ran out of food later on so I guess there needs to be some better planning in that area for next time. And next year I hope to do it again!

Once we left and I began the drive back home, the skies opened up and the rain really started to come down throughout the night and the next day. We lucked out with the weather!






Oh man, I’ve been neglecting the good ol’ bloggy blog! Not on purpose – just enjoying the fun and sun of summertime. We’ve been having fun with daytrips, family visits, trying new restaurants, concerts, swimming at the pool, visiting the lake and “beach”, working around the house, cookouts, ice-cream consumption, walks in the neighborhood, a vacation at a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, playing outside and more. Our first summer at our new house and new neighborhood. 🙂

This evening I was scoping out some more places for daytrips and found a whole lot of wildlife refuges and state parks I want to check out with Abby (and the hubby if he isn’t working). Plus there are a number of breweries to look into, heading out towards Charlottesville and west, toward the Shenandoah Mountains. Lastly, maybe not for this summer but for next I’d like to go to Virginia Beach and Sandbridge which is just south of VA Beach… and maybe further south to OBX since we are not so far away as we once were. I want to take advantage of the rest of the summer/early fall while we have it because before we know it, it will be back to school time and the weather will be getting cooler. Why can’t summer be longer?

Maybe I will try to start blogging / photo blogging a little bit more, not sure. It’s fun to look back on older stuff but at the same time it’s annoying to find the time to update on a regular basis and sometimes bothersome to even publish a blog entry. However, it’s sometimes therapeutic to document some of this stuff we do as a family. Whatever happened to good ol’ scrapbooking? HA!

Here are a few recent summer-related pics I took:






Maymont Maybe?

Since we’ve moved to Fredericksburg and closer to my brother and sister-in-law in Richmond, we’ve been talking about visiting Maymont Park with them. Well la-di-da, we finally did it! The husband had a rare day off on Sunday and it was so nice out, so we took the opportunity to go with Abby, my parents, and Chris and Jennifer down to Richmond.

First, we met up for lunch at Kitchen 64. First time there – it was very busy. I ordered the Rhysdale sandwich which included smoked turkey, cranberry spread, herbed cream cheese and mixed greens. And a side of potato salad. HUGE-mongo sandwich and very good.

So, off to Maymont. It was so pretty there! There are approximately 100 acres and includes various gardens (Japanese, Italian), ponds, waterfalls, fountains, statues, big ol’ trees, lawns, horses, petting zoo, wildlife (bear, bobcat, eagles, bison, fox, etc.), and the Maymont Mansion, or Dooley Mansion. James Dooley was a wealthy Richmond lawyer and he and his wife left their house and land to Richmond to enjoy after they passed.

There was lots to see as we made our way around the grounds. Abby had a good time and of all things, she especially liked the trees that had “skirts” on them (see picture below), even though at the end she told me she was a little bit afraid of them. We look forward to going back again sometime!

“Some” (haha) pictures:

























The Ukrops Monument Ave. 10K

Saturday morning I ran and completed my first 10K race – the Ukrops Monument Ave. 10K in Richmond, VA. Also participating with me were my brother Chris and sister-in-law Julie. The weather was absolutely perfect – sunny, low-mid 60’s in the morning. My parents and sister-in-law Jennifer watched and stayed with Abby while we ran.

I had started to get a tad nervous (good jitters) leading up to the morning of the race. I didn’t do the greatest job of training and prepping for the race so I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I only ran outside in the neighborhood a few times and the rest were on the treadmill at the gym (and we all know running on the treadmill is not the same as running on pavement and cobblestone streets). Which by the way, I finally joined a gym around here. It’s not a big flashy gym but it’s open 24/7 and was only $32/month.

Anyway, Julie arrived at our house Friday night and we got to bed around 11:45. Probably should have been a little bit earlier but we were too busy looking up “cicada apocolypse” images on Google. The alarm went off at 5:45am the next morning. We snarfed some bagels w/ pb, banana, Gatorade and were on the road to Richmond around 7:15 after my parents picked us up. We met up at the TORX office with Chris and Jennifer and got ourselves organized before heading off to the start line. Our wave time start was 9:20 and we literally walked right up to merge into the group as they were starting to move. Perfect timing.

The race was exciting – bands on every block (playing songs like ‘Eye of the Tiger’), cheering sections, different organizations set up to cheer you on dressed in various themes, kids giving high fives along the way, people holding all kinds of funny and/or motivational signs, balloons, people dressed in funny costumes, spectators all over, people grilling on their porches and drinking beer… so much fun. The houses and buildings along Monument Ave. are impressive as well so there was always something neat to look at. There were also plenty of water stops along the course. I nabbed water at 3 of the stops because my mouth was so dry but made sure to keep walking fast while drinking (if I tried to run and drink it’d be down my shirt). If I drank anymore I would have peed my pants while running – ha! I also stopped to say hi to Abby quickly when I saw her on the sidelines somewhere between mile 5 and 6. It was so nice to see them there and helped me move a bit faster at the end to get across the finish line. I finished with a time of 73:07. My brother was just behind me by about 40 seconds and Julie was somewhere around 64 min. I felt pretty good throughout the whole race, just sore and tired afterwards of course.



We then nabbed some post-race food (bananas, 50,000 fruit cups, Martin’s rolls, water, powerade, granola bars) and other flare at the post-race event in Monroe Park before heading back to TORX.







Next, we headed to casa de Rhines to shower and clean up before heading out to nom on some Mexico for lunch. I really enjoyed my grilled chicken quesedilla with guacamole salad and spanish rice… and of course chips and salsa and queso. Tasted oh so good.

It’s funny what you can do if you put your mind to it. A few years ago I would have said I could never (and would never) do a running race. I first tried last year by doing 2 5Ks and then decided to double it and try a 10K. Did I die? No. Did I blaze on through with a fast pace? No, but I ran and I finished and had fun. I don’t consider myself a runner by any means and I probably do all kinds of things wrong in terms of technique but I feel good after doing it and I reach my goals in steps – and that’s what counts. I’ve always said that I don’t think I could do a 1/2 marathon but who knows… never say never!

Thanks to my parents for driving us and watching Abby while we ran! Thanks to Julie for being my race buddy and for motivating me! Thanks to Chris for getting us to sign up and for running w/ me… and for picking up our packets and accomodating us w/ your office location and hot showers at the house! Thanks to Amy for being an inspiration to have me just run any distance. This girl runs all kinds of races, marathons, and is training for her first triathalon in September. Given what she does on a regular basis, I should be able to get off my butt and do a 5K or 10K here and there. 😉

Can’t wait to (hopefully) do the Monument Ave. 10K again next year!

Historic Tredegar Day Trip


Yesterday we took a trip down to Richmond for the day, as Peter had a rare Saturday off with us. First order of business was lunch at Q (BBQ). I think this is my favorite place to eat pulled pork sandwiches. So yummy, and their mac n’ cheese… yes please! I wish one would come to Fredericksburg.



After Q, we saw the site where Jeb Stuart was mortally wounded and then headed to the Tredegar Iron Works area, down by the James River. We walked around outside, as well as inside the visitor center for the Richmond National Battlefield Park (NPS). During the Civil War, the iron works was the primary iron and artillery production facility of the Confederates, and the remaining structures is where we visited. It was a really nice sunny day so it was great to be outside after a week of rain and gray. Abby was quite energized to say the least.





Barney had fun here too and wanted to see how the cannons worked.


Tiny snowman!






We walked around the Riverwalk Park too, getting some close-up views of the James River and let Abby run around. Lots of people were out biking, running, or segway’ing.








Abby on walkway






We had some time to kill so we drove around in the car throughout Richmond while Abby took a catnap before meeting up with Chris and Jennifer at Red Robin for dinner. After we woke up Abby from her nap she was in a crabby, dramatic mood but towards the end of dinner she was ok, as she shredded her napkin and placed strips of it on Barney’s head and laughed at him. After a somewhat tough day with her, of course on the drive back home she was really good and just talking with me the whole time.

Family Friends & Food

Last weekend was a fun one. It started out by meeting up with friends at Amy’s house in Alexandria. Her birthday was on Wednesday so we were celebrating that and just wanted to get out for a little bit. We began with our standard appetizers, snacks, and beer before heading out (no worries, Kelly is pregnant so she was the DD). By the time we left for dinner it was around 8. Julie also came out with us so we picked her up in Kelly’s new mini-van and cruised in style. 😉 First up was dinner at O’Connell’s in Old Town. It was busy there and had a good atmosphere; we sat upstairs. I had the spinach and strawberry salad with house wine. Very good.


Next, we headed over to Murphy’s Irish Pub where I dined on Yuenglings. It was fairly packed there as well. I didn’t notice much of the place, as we just hung out upstairs, but eventually we did head downstairs as they ushered everyone away as it got close to 2am. There was a band downstairs so we hung out there for awhile.


Walking in Old Town in boots/heels is not ideal – lots of cobblestone and brick sidewalks.


Then we mini-vanned it back to Amy’s for a ‘sleepover’. It was very late by the time we went to bed but surprisingly it didn’t feel very late to me.

Maugle Mania began on Saturday when Alan and Joyce came down for a 2-3 day visit. We first met up at Red Robin (where I haven’t been to in years) and then took them back to our house which they were seeing for the first time. Julie then got down to our house and after Abby went to bed it was time for wine and popcorn, and breaking out the classic Flight of the Conchords dvd and laughing, laughing, laughing. “Wear the eye patch Bret, wear the funky, funky eye patch.”

On Sunday we had some Crack(er) Barrel brunch. Abby kept telling the waitress that she didn’t like the curtains on the windows.


Later on that evening, Peter and I had dinner with Alan and Joyce at Castiglia’s down the street (as opposed to the main one downtown). Before I say anything about this place, I must say the Sicilian pizza was very good. However, the place was so odd and we had the strangest server. It’s hard to put into words but he was super awkward. The music they were playing there was also an eclectic mix (like Italian background music with Spanish singers). I think we’ll be going back to the downtown location from now on! After introducing Alan and Joyce to Sweet Frog, it was early to bed that night then as the next day was work and Alan and Joyce were heading up for a fun day in DC. It was good having them here for a few days!!

Home Sweet Home

Wow, I haven’t been on here since May – oops. Was a tad busy! I hope to be back here on a more regular basis in 2013.

Since May, a lot has happened. We sold our house in Pennsylvania and then bought a great, new house in Virginia (which I’m so happy about; see below). I traveled to Chicago and Indianapolis for work as well as a few visits to the office in PA. Peter had a very busy week or two at work for the 150th Anniversary of Fredericksburg battles, which was very impressive. I went to see My Morning Jacket in concert. I ran two very fun 5Ks (Crystal City Twilighter in July and the Glo-Run DC in October). We had fun with Abby for Halloween and took her trick or treating where she dressed as BJ from Barney. Breast cancer has returned to the family, which will not be discussed on here. Peter and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. We had our first holiday in the new house on Thanksgiving with family. We traveled to Pennsylvania for Christmas and visits with family which was really nice. We’ve had visitors stay for the weekend at our new house. A new baby girl was born in the family. There have been parties and gatherings with friends. Abby has gotten bigger, smarter, funnier, naughtier.

The main thing we were busy with was selling our old house:


And then buying our new house:




There’s so much to do and I love it. We are not in a rush so we plan to take our time with making it our own and figuring out what we want to do with each room. For now, just getting boxes unpacked is pretty nice, haha. We settled on October 31st/Halloween and moved in the following weekend.

The house is a plantation colonial style, built in ’85. It sits on 1.4 acres (part of that is a wooded lot to the left of our house) and has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, 3 room shed, huge deck on back (with 2 trees within the deck itself which I love), 2 porches on either side in the front, and an overall warm, cozy feel throughout the whole house. There are lots of tall trees around the home (can be nerve-wracking when there’s a storm with wind but it’s worth it for the scenery and nature-like feel when looking out the windows) and the neighborhood is what we were aiming for when we started house-hunting. Each house is different and I feel like I could close my eyes and pick any house and be happy with it. The people we have met here so far have been nothing but wonderful – very welcoming, offering desserts, treats, homemade veggie soup in a big crock pot, cheese and crackers, veggie trays, fruit salad, homemade pound cakes, homemade wine, and more. Very generous and friendly – good ol’ southern hospitality! Still gotta get used to this. Also, our neighborhood is within good proximity to my parent’s house, Peter’s work, shopping and dining, and 95. Abby has more room to play and take up space with her plethora of toddler toys, and a nice backyard to play in when the weather gets nicer and warmer.

One of the best parts is that we are paying LESS money on our mortgage compared to our house in PA which was considerably smaller in square footage and land. We’re also paying less in taxes. Winning! Overall, we’re quite happy and have much to look forward to in our new home sweet home. We just had our first Christmas here with Abby and I couldn’t help but think of all the future Christmas memories we’ll have with her, and all the memories in general as she grows up in this house.

More to come!

Abby Turns 2!

On May 22nd, our little girl turned 2!  Where did the past two years go?  I feel like I was just planning her 1st birthday party a little bit ago.  This year we kept it low-key and had family over to our (still temporary) humble abode.  It was rainbow-themed so it was quite colorful and Abby had a lot of fun!  Thanks to Nana, Pop Pop, Granma, Chris, Jennifer, and Julie for coming!  And to Grampy and Barb who came the following weekend!


Good morning birthday girl!


I had some fun craft time.


(Non-alcoholic) jello shots, rainbow fruit kabobs (kabab), rainbow lollipops, skittles, peanut M&Ms, fruit salad, rainbow goldfish crackers…

I also made pulled pork in the crock pot.  It was the first time I made it and it was really, really good!  Such a simple thing to make.  Took some pork, root beer, and bbq sauce.  Deeeeeeelish.  Good thing I didn’t try to make rainbow colored pork though.

Abby got some really nice presents from everyone and she had a great time pulling them all out of the guest room and opening them one by one. 

Since it was rainbow-themed, I had decided I wanted to make Abby a rainbow tie-dye cake.  I saw something on Pinterest so I followed that.  Needless to say, it did NOT come out like what I had pinned.  I think it’s because a) I used vanilla cake instead of white, b) I ran out of vegetable oil and had to substitute with some corn oil, and c) I just wasn’t as artsy when dealing with the icing.  The colors were much more muted compared to what I went off of.  Oh well, it was still fun!



You might think, “That’s pretty cool, not too bad!”  Yeah, I won’t share the picture where I got the idea.  😉


Again, I won’t show you the inspirational picture.  This came out looking quite pastel. 


2 years!  Little big girl!




Richmond: Children’s Museum, Hollywood Cemetery, BBQ, and Beer!

Somewhat, kinda, sorta recently we took a trip down to Richmond for the day and had a great time with Abby and my parents. 

First on the agenda was lunch at Q Barbeque.  Yes please and thank you!  It was most excellent.

Then we took Abby to the Children’s Museum of Richmond and she had a lot of fun.  It’s a great museum for little ones and I’m happy to hear that the same museum organization is building one in Fredericksburg for 2013.  🙂  The pictorial:


She had fun scanning and ringing up plastic piles of spaghetti, tacos, and green beans. 

 Our lil’ Abicus playing with a lil’ abacus. 


And playing with a big abacus.



Teacher Pete!



This is FUN Mom!



 Big apple tree.

We can’t wait to take Abby on her first camping experience some day!


 Abby’s first ride on the merry-go-round.  We let her pick and of course she wanted to sit on the kitty-cat.  🙂


 We checked out the big craft room but only drew with crayons on the table for a little.


 She had fun jumping up and down on these outside making music, and hitting other musical instruments with that mallet.


 Since it was so hot out, we then went inside where Abby decided to rotate some tires.


 Then made a new friend in the sandbox, although this was filled with tiny particles of rubber – not sand.  She would have stayed in here all day if we let her!



Fun family day!


After the museum we went to explore Hollywood Cemetery for a little bit.  Abby fell asleep, it was HOT, and it was closing soon so we only drove around for a bit and got out at a few spots.  It’s a very beautiful cemetery.  We’ll have to go back again sometime.


JEB Stuart



Very interesting tombstones and headstones here.


Noticed this FISHER tombstone and even though it’s not an uncommon name, I found it ironic to find a Fisher tombstone in this huge cemetery since at this time I was finishing up the excellent HBO series Six Feet Under. 


Another neat tree tombstone.


After the cemetery, we met up with brother/uncle Chris at Legend Brewery for some grub and brews.  Perfect way to end the day!