1SED 2014

Here’s one second for (almost) every day of 2014. What a year! Concerts, travel, completion and delivery of Big Ds Cobra, and what looks like way too much BBQing (I wonder what my Cholesterol looks like!?)

And here’s a little Instagram recap (can you tell I’m surfing on the couch all day today?)

Thanks for the memories and Happy New Year!

The Concert for Valor

Staged to boost awareness of veterans’ support groups, raise funds for veterans charities and salute the troops, HBO’s Concert for Valor drew hundreds of thousands of fans to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day. HBO, Starbucks, and Chase were the main sponsors, and thanks to a fellow music loving friend, who works at Starbucks HQ, we were lucky to have two “Honored Guest” tickets – landing us in front of the massive crowd.

We arrived at about 2:30, set up camp on our blanket, and started playing cards to pass the time when rehearsals began. A woman walked out, the crowd buzzed and I said, “Should we know who that is?” when I realized the woman was Meryl Streep! Holy cow! We knew we were in for a great night. Meryl Streep

The Black Keys ran trough their entire set! The Black Keys

After a few celebs came out to read their lines and get used to the set up, we figured out how things wold work: A band would perform, a celeb would introduce a video about a military member, the member would be recognized, and the celeb would introduce the next act. Things were slow during the afternoon, but zipped right along at night since while everyone was watching each video, the lazy susan style stage was spinning around to reveal the next act’s set. The technical aspects of the evening were fascinating. And speaking of technical and fascinating: hows about the scaffolding on the Capitol dome? US Capitol Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson sang the National Anthem and later joined Jessie J for Titanium. Jennifer Hudson & Jessie J

Thanks to the sneak peek in the afternoon, we knew when we saw Meryl that it was time for Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl

My mind was officially blown when The Boss himself joined Dave and The Zac Brown Band for Fortunate Son.

The Boss, Dave Growl, Zac Brown

Big D and I are big John Oliver fans. True Fact: His wife is an Iraq War veteran who was an Army Medic with 1st Cav. And as the saying goes, “If you ain’t Cav, you ain’t sh*t !” (which was fun to yell along with him and the crowd!)

John Oliver Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood does not phone it in.

Jack Black had the crowd chant to introduce Metallica. Metallica. Metallica. Metallica! I was surprised they were such the crowd favorite – they were impossible to photograph since arms were flying everywhere.

Jack Black Metallica

From the NY Daily News regarding Springsteen: “…Nuance came from Springsteen’s solo set. Accompanied by just an acoustic guitar, he didn’t flinch from alluding to the more controversial or gritty elements of war. He offered a stripped and slow version of “Promised Land,” the better to savor lyrics which address America’s possibilities, not necessarily its realities. He went further with a desolate and wounded take on “Born In The U.S.A.,” which critiques the military presence in Viet Nam in the ’60s. Likewise, his somber take on “Dancing In The Dark” emphasized the sadness behind its passion.” Bruce Springsteen

Bryan Cranston used a Heisenberg threat to encourage folks to support the troops saying “There’s still a lot of room in Belize for people…” and mentioned both of his parents who served before he introduced Rihanna.

Bryan Cranston Rihanna

Eminem joined RiRi for Monster and then opened his solo set by shouting “Happy Motherf—ing Veterans Day!” Just as our forefathers intended. Eminem

There are tons more photos over on Flickr including folks I’ve omitted here like Bob Woodruff and Jamie Foxx. Thanks again to my pal AK who helped us with tickets! Finally, here’s a little video recap I put together a few days after the show: 

One Crazy Summer

Good grief, what a summer! We had a lot planned, and fit most of it in with a few twists.

My elderly mom, who lives in Arizona, was hospitalized and eventually transitioned into an Assisted Living Facility. So far, I’ve made two unexpected (both very stressful) week-long trips to the surface of the sun.

She's shrinking, and I'm exhausted. But here's a snap before we said farewell this morning.

One more.

Big Ds cousin and his wife visited for a long weekend:

Big Ds brother dropped in for a fast overnight visit:
And away they go...

There was BIG excitement here when Germany won the World Cup.

Here we go!!

Big D’s sister and our niece visited for a long weekend – we had a blast hitting some tourist sites I hadn’t yet explored, including Madame Tussaud’s:
We tried to warn Abe...

Jen, my BFF from Germany, made two visits. During the first, we ran a fun 5K, and toured around (so if you’re keeping track, I visited the Lincoln Memorial every Sunday for a month!)

We're ready to run!


Somehow, I squished in a trip to Raleigh, NC to see a Matt Nathanson and Gavin DeGraw concert with our other BFFs (and even managed to stay an extra day.)
pre-show selfie

And we got to meet Matt after the show:
Carey, Matt, Jym & me

I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Matt in Frankfurt a few years ago, and he was just as kind and hilarious when Carey, Jym and I met up with him this time around.

Last weekend our whole Germany gang and our constant travel companion Angie were reunited for the first time in years. Thanks to the Army, our time together was far too brief, but it was great to be together!
the whole gang

Big D is talking, not frowning. But this is the only non-blurry photo snapped at Bryan HQ.

Jen, me, Tricia & Angie

And to cap it all off: Jen, Tricia, and I trekked to Baltimore where more fun (and many beers) were had. Yes, this was my third concert in a week.

Gavin DeGraw

Tricia, Matt & me
Tricia finally got to meet Matt, too!

And now, our house is so quiet that its eerie. I’m looking forward to our first weekend in ages (nine weeks?) without a single plan.  As always, tons more pictures than you’ll probably care to see from everything I mentioned are over on my Flickr page.

I need a nap.

Nonstop giggles

Big D and I have been great friends with Jym & Carey since we met at Fort Rucker in 1996. We’ve been lucky enough to live near (and occasionally with) each other in Korea and back in good ol’ lower Alabama a few times throughout the years. Watching them parent and knowing their increasingly adorable and hilarious children is a constant privilege. And oh, those kids… there aren’t enough adjectives.

I trekked to their home in North Carolina last weekend:

dinner at Effie's Dos

We watched Jym & his unit depart for annual training –
'belle watches Papa depart

Here’s the hangar that hosted Big D’s redeployment ceremony ten (!) years ago:

We visited Yates Mill County Park, where the kids were good sports and posed for some fun pictures:
Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill County Park

And James impressed us with his photography skills:
Photo Credit: James

We laughed our way through the weekend thanks to things like this:

James: “Our neighbor had to have a mouth operation.”
Isabelle: “And he woke up during the amnesia!”

while discussing the next school year…
Isabelle: “She’s changing schools. Next year, she’s going to Saint Mary Macadamia.”

and on the topic of Vacation Bible School:
Mama: “But you had such a great time. Please explain why you don’t want to go again?”
James: “Because! I went last year! I learned it all!”

Can’t wait to see them again in less than a month!


This week’s calendar is a blank slate – something I haven’t seen in quite a while. The last two weeks have been full of really exciting adventures!

After three long years, Big Ds project is complete and his 1965 Shelby Cobra replica was delivered from his extraordinary cousin’s garage in Oklahoma to our doorstep.

That same night, I rocked out at a secret Foo Fighters show at the legendary 9:30 Club.
9:30 Club

I spent a fantastic weekend at “home” in Jacksonville Beach, FL where I visited great friends, ate at some favorite spots, attended three days of the PGA Players Championship, and hit the beach.
me, Shelley & Cheryl at North Beach Fish Camp

Did we win!?


just before massive sunburn

If you’re an NPR listener (and/or big nerd) you’ll know what a treat it was to attend Carl Kassell’s final recording of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me at the Warner Theater.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

Carl & Peter

Friday, we attended the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks. Established in 1801, it’s the oldest continuously operating Corps post.

Oldest Post of the Corps - founded 1801.

Silent Drill Team

And yesterday, I ran the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, VA. This is by far the most challenging course of the 12 Half Marathons I’ve done. Everyone hears about Hospital Hill (and dreads it) but there are a LOT of other hills too. A lot.

But I survived, and celebrated at home last night.

glad that's done


And now back to that work calendar…

Tons more photos from these and other fun adventures are over on Flickr.

Zum Wohl!

Considering Big D and I have resided at 16 addresses in 19 years, its no wonder Wiesbaden feels like “home.” We’ve lived there longer than anywhere else. Our three years in Germany were one long vacation with a whole lot of real life mixed in. And our actual vacation there recently was great – I shouldn’t have worried it wouldn’t live up to my memories and expectations.

Our visit was cram-packed with delicious food and wine, beautiful sights, and most importantly: fantastic friends.

We made a beeline for our favorite bar, the Bäckerbrunnen, and spent lots of quality time there throughout the week with the owner, our good friend Chris.
One of my very, very favorite places anywhere.


Despite the calendar, it snowed here in Virginia while we were away. Thankfully: the German Spring was in full swing:
Hotel Nassauer Hof

My dear friend Barbara adjusted her schedule, juggled her family responsibilities, hauled me all over the place, and opened her home to us throughout the week. She and equally dear Kirsten hosted a Wine Tasting Luncheon for me which was just lovely!

That was one tasty afternoon!
We enjoyed selections from Winegut Bieber (no relation) – and yes, the wines named Beast and Xanadu are inspired by Iron Maiden and Rush!

There’s nothing quite like having a friend you can spend time with from breakfast, luncheon, sunset, dinner, through to couch time with the family, and then ask for a pair of socks before getting a ride home!

Evening on the Rhein.
The Rhein view from Barbara’s balcony is as beautiful as she is.

We did some wacky things like blending in with a football crowd in the city of Mainz, and for the first time in ages: we were out past 2am dancing at a club!

blending into Mainz HbF football crowd
Go team!

at Park Café
The Rays, Slys, and Nicoli during a very late night at Park Café

It felt great to wander through the market, parks, and wine stands I know so well.

Wiesbaden Market
Wiesbaden Market

Jam on it.

Kurhaus Wiesbaden
Kurhaus Wiesbaden

Kurhaus park
Kurhaus park

Zum Wohl, indeed! Loving this evening on the Rhein.
Hattenheim Wine Stand

Wiesbadener Marktkirche
Wiesbadener Marktkirche – for perspective, look for the person in a red jacket at lower left.

The adventures of the upcoming week on the European road were the only thing that made departing Wiesbaden bearable. Stay tuned!

Zum Wohl from the Wine Stand!
Zum Wohl!

Hometown tourists

We were lounging on the couch with big cups of coffee this morning when I turned off the television and declared today was the day we’d finally see the US Constitution at the National Archives – our attempt last summer was thwarted by a HUGE crowd and a mile-long line in the sun on a blistering day.

Today’s first stop was the Air Force Memorial:
Air Force Memorial

Air Force Memorial

Who knew the District’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade was this afternoon? All of the participants and crowds making their way to the parade route, that’s who. The detour took us past Union Station. I snapped this from the car window:

Union Station

We changed our plan (will we ever see the Constitution? Hopefully, the third time will be the charm?) and spent the afternoon at the Newseum

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall section

Flight 105 engine
9/11 United Flight 175 engine

Richard Reid's passport
Richard Reid’s passport

On notice!
Indecision 2004!

Tim Russert's office
Tim Russert’s desk – a real highlight of the day for me. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press!

Stay Classy!
Ron Burgandy and Big D – You stay classy, DC!

We stopped by the Maine Street Fish Market on our way home. And now: time for dinner!


Tonight's dinner.

Bad pictures of great people

The person most responsible for all of our fantastic European adventures is without a doubt Rick Steves. For three years, I almost never left the house without consulting a blue and yellow book for every imaginable detail for our destinations.

It was a thrill to thank him in person, and snap this photo at the DC Travel & Adventure Show!
Rick Steves

Last week, Tricia and I attended an interview and Q&A session at George Washington University with the one and only Barefoot Contessa: Ina Garten. Here’s a terrible picture of a delightful evening:

(I told you it was terrible. But I really wanted to document it here!)

Ready for Spring

I think about this poor, neglected blog often but put off writing since I don’t know where to pick up. Quickly:

The Polar Vortex had a direct affect on us when in the middle of a very cold January night, a sprinkler pipe froze and burst, flooding all four floors of our town home. Thankfully, our landlord was easy to work with and our insurance covered our expenses (though I don’t know how to submit a bill for my mental breakdown?)

The last six weeks were filled with packing, moving, unpacking, buying new furniture, navigating the insurance claim, and… more record-breaking cold weather. And for a change: I couldn’t blame the Army for any of my woes!

We’re settled in our new home. And while the neighborhood isn’t as great as the one we left (there’s not much within walking distance) the place itself is better: bigger, brighter, and has a gourmet kitchen!

Big D has traveled a few weeks since we’ve moved. And each time he leaves? We get a ton of snow. I’ve asked him not to go anywhere again until June…

One member of our family never seems to mind the winter, and Fletcher really enjoys exploring new parts of the trail that we now live near.

Potomac Greens Trail

The end of Daylight Saving Time and a few “warm” days (if you can call 50° warm?) really gave me my mojo back. Things look, and are starting to feel, sunny again.