Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 5 – Norfolk Tides Baseball Game)

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Image Credit: Ticketmaster

The Norfolk Tides are our home baseball team!

The Tides’ home, Harbor Park, opened on April 14, 1993. This year is it’s 25th anniversary!

The Tides are a minor league team in the Triple-A International League. Prior to 2007, the Tides were affiliated with the New York Mets for 38 years. For the last 11 years, the Tides have been a farm team for the Baltimore Orioles. Harbor Park can hold 11,856 people!

The long-time mascot is Rip Tide. He’s hilarious!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

And, yes, he has a baseball for a nose.

Not too long ago, the Tides changed their color scheme to green, black, orange, gray, and sea foam, and added a seahorse mascot.

For more information, check out this link: Norfolk Tides


On Tuesday night, we enjoyed a night of good food, a few drinks, great conversation, and the game with several of Al’s work colleagues, and the law firm that his company has on retainer. The law firm has one of the boxes at the park, and they offer tickets to any employees who are interested around once a year. Al scored an extra ticket, and asked if I wanted to go!

I can’t remember the last time I went to a Tides game. I think it was with Al, and I know we weren’t in a box! I felt super fancy.

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This was the Tides’ long-standing image/marketing. Image Credit: SevenVenues

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An aerial view of Harbor Park, which sits next to the Elizabeth River. Image Credit: The Virginian-Pilot

We left the game in the eighth inning, mainly because we knew the traffic would be bad once the game ended. The score was 3-2, with the Tides leading, when we left. I checked the final score yesterday, and that’s where the score remained! Go, Tides!


Do you follow baseball?

What are some of your favorite summer pastimes?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

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Adventure Time: Blacksburg, VA Edition (P.E.O. Virginia State Convention 2018)

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This is my first-ever P.E.O. State Convention post!

What is P.E.O.?

  • From P.E.O. International: P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women CELEBRATE the advancement of women; EDUCATE women through scholarships, grants, awards, loans, and stewardship of Cottey College and MOTIVATE women to achieve their highest aspirations.
  • Motto: Women helping women reach for the stars
  • There are 230,000 members throughout the United States and Canada
  • More information: https://www.peointernational.org/

This was at least my fourth Virginia State Convention. I have been to Convention in Roanoke, at least twice in Richmond, and this year was in Blacksburg, at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

I was one of two delegates. Each chapter – There are 76 chapters in Virginia – are asked to send at least two delegates to Convention every year. I was thrilled to be a delegate with Darcy, a newly-initiated sister into our chapter. We are from Chapter L, based in Norfolk.

Convention was held from June 1-3, 2018. Come along for the ride!


Friday, June 1st

Darcy and I left my house around 8:30 a.m. for the long drive. It was roughly 440 miles from Hampton Roads. I wanted to make sure we got there before 4:30 p.m., where I was supposed to be in rehearsal for one of the convention workshops.

Thankfully, we didn’t have a lot of traffic. We arrived around 2:00 p.m., and the hotel was already buzzing with activity! We checked in, and then went toward Virginia Tech’s campus in search of food, and to stretch our legs.

We discovered downtown Blacksburg, and we stopped at Bottom of the Stairs (BOTS, for short). They weren’t busy, and the food was delicious!

My Slider Trio – Chicken, pulled pork, and their “veggie BBQ,” which was pulled jackfruit. Yummy!

After our early dinner, we took a Lyft back to The Inn. My workshop rehearsal was successful, and we were able to relax for a bit before the evening activities began.

I was part of the Friday night membership workshop, which was stylized as a live radio show from “WPEO.” It was a blast! I was “selected” as a Region 3 contestant, where I was a panelist with Ibani, a sister from Chapter AS in Richmond.

The Convention theme was “Catch The Waves To Better Futures.” Our outgoing President, Sherry Arendt, lives right on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, so she brought “the ocean to the Alleghenies.”

After our evening workshops, Darcy and I spent several hours with the Franc 7’s group. Franc Rhodes was one of the seven founding sisters in 1869, and she was the youngest of the group. So, Franc 7’s are the women who are under 40-years-old. We had 21 Franc 7’s present during Convention, which was awesome! We pushed couches and chairs together, and enjoyed a nice, productive, unscripted conversation. Darcy and I hit the hay around 11:00 p.m.


Saturday, June 2nd

Saturday is easily the busiest and longest day. Breakfast usually starts around 7:00 a.m., and the day ends with the Saturday Night Banquet at 10:00 p.m.!

The P.E.O. flower is the marguerite, a flower much like a daisy. When I saw this dress for sale in the Darby’s Dresses Facebook group, I knew I had to have it!

One of the highlights of Convention is honoring our Golden Girls – Women who are celebrating 50 years of membership in P.E.O.! We had one sister that we celebrated this year – Our current chapter president, Jeanne Brody. She was initiated into a New Jersey chapter in 1968.

The handmade gold centerpieces!

The Golden Girls luncheon was fabulous. Ethel Muter, the State Organizer, did an amazing job with the presentation. In addition to displaying the 29 Golden Girls, their photos, and fun facts, she also did a ton of research on things happening during these ladies’ initiation dates in 1968!

One of Sherry’s challenges for the past year was using our special sand castle bucket for collecting spare change and fundraising ideas. All 76 chapters decorated their buckets, and proudly displayed them for all to see!

$2,000 in one fundraiser!

On Saturday afternoon, there were a few hours between the end of the day’s Convention business and the Saturday Night Banquet. Darcy and I walked around campus, and enjoyed the Duck Pond area.

On Saturday night, there’s a great banquet. There are project speakers who thank the P.E.O. chapter or chapters that helped nominate or sponsor them, and all of them are incredibly inspirational and humble.

We had dinner, and then an awesome trio played beach music. Imagine around 200 women dancing for two hours!


There are six International projects:

The state / Commonwealth of Virginia has two state projects:

Convention also has what’s called a “Projects Room,” where attendees can learn more about the projects, and see the recipients from the last year.


Sunday, June 3rd

I wanted to get as many photos as I could!

The sign outside the Projects Room.

The photos below showcase our seven founders, who started P.E.O. at Iowa Wesleyan College on January 21, 1869.

P.E.O. is celebrating its sesquicentennial – 150th anniversary – in 2019!

The year 2019 is also a P.E.O. International Convention year – So the 150th celebration will be held where it all began – Des Moines, Iowa. I’m already saving my money for next September!

I love this handmade quilt that showcases all 76 chapters, and where they are in Virginia.

Sunday morning is always a whirlwind. There are just a few hours to finish the Convention business, install the new State Officers, and say goodbye!

P.E.O. also takes time to remember sisters who have died, or passed on to “Chapter Eternal” every year. This year was particularly emotional. There were 69 sisters who passed away, including two Past State Presidents (PSPs).

Tragically, one of those deaths was the accidental death of Liz Jackson, who was the sitting State Secretary. I met her when my church was host to one of the Reciprocity Rallies (Reciprocity is a group of chapters based on geographic location – There are many throughout the state) in September 2017. Sadly, she fell off a balcony in February 2018, and never recovered.

After the Time of Remembrance, Convention business was concluded for the weekend. The new State Officers were installed. Our new State President is Rhesa Janice, from Chpater AZ, Herndon.

The 70th Annual Virginia State Convention will be held in Richmond, Virginia in 2019. The year 2019 will be an exciting one for P.E.O.!

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Rhesa’s theme is “Value The Past, Vision The Future.”


I hope you enjoyed my post about P.E.O. and the annual Virginia State Convention!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Portsmouth, VA Edition (The Visit From The Vacationing Doll)

American Girl Dolls Sandcastle

Image Credit: Flickr – Julia Monroe

As most of you probably know by now, I love American Girl.

I’m also a part of a huge Facebook group called Obsessed BST (Buy/Sell/Trade), which has well over 14,000 members.

At the beginning of May, a woman named Kammi proposed an intriguing idea: Doing a traveling doll, kind of like a Flat Stanley idea. I immediately wanted to sign up!


Kammi lives in Ohio, and was great at keeping in contact with me!

The doll, Emily, belongs to Kammi’s 7-year-old daughter. Emma is one of nine children! Amazing!

Emily came to Al and I on Tuesday, May 29th. Kammi included a journal, and asked everyone to write in the journal, add pictures, and write a short bio of the family who has her. I was so excited, and Al got in on the fun, too.

Emily is now on her way to the next destination – North Carolina! – so I wanted to share my photos of The Visit From The Vacationing Doll!


Tuesday, May 29th

Emily was so excited to get out of her box and get the packing peanuts out of her hair. She made seven new friends almost immediately. Here she is spending time with my dolls.

Emily meets Autumn, Chrissa, and Z. The photo got cut off – I was so excited!

Emily meets Stephanie, Molly, mini Molly, and Kit!

They apparently had a nice slumber party. I thought I could hear them trying to be quiet!


Wednesday, May 30th

Emily spent most of the day with my dolls, when we were at work.

Once I got home, Emily joined us on the couch while we ate dinner and watched TV. We’ve been re-watching Chuck on Amazon Video.

For dessert, we made s’mores in the microwave! We had the traditional Hershey’s chocolate, but I also had one with a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Yummy!

“Oooh, yum!”

Yummy!

Emily wanted my extra candy!

As much as Emily wanted a taste, I didn’t want her to get messy! S’mores are really sticky!


Thursday, May 31st

Today was my Friday, since I was off work on June 1st for my P.E.O. Virginia State Convention! Al proposed the idea of going out to dinner, like we normally do on Friday nights, and showing Emily downtown Portsmouth.

This is the historic Commodore Theatre. The Art Deco-style movie theater was originally built in 1945, and was fully restored in 1989. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

This is just one of several murals in the downtown area, honoring local musicians and other celebrities.

We stopped by the Portsmouth Courthouse. Built in 1846, it’s now home to the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center. The fence was beautifully decorated for the recent Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Naturally, we had to stop by the Children’s Museum of Virginia, also on High Street. I think Emily was sad that it was already closed for the day. It’s been open since December 1980, but it’s been at this location since 1998. From 2009 to 2011, the entire building was gutted, expanded, and revamped to offer more interactive and spacious exhibits.

I think Emily really loved our mini-adventure!


Friday, June 1st – Sunday, June 3rd

I was in Blacksburg, Virginia, all weekend. I thought about taking Emily with me on the road trip, but was afraid something would happen to her. So, she happily stayed home with Molly and all her new friends. Al tells me they had slumber parties every night!


Monday, June 4th

Emily had to say farewell to her friends today. But, everyone was very excited for her next leg of the journey. I even wanted to send her along in a new outfit!

Before. I kept the pretty handmade dress, but the pink shoes were specifically requested to come back to Ohio. They’re in a secure baggie in the box, I promise!

After. She’s ready to go!

The School Stripes Dress was introduced in 2014. Emily is headed to her next destination in style!


We loved having a visit from the vacationing doll this past week!

Have you done anything like Flat Stanley?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Florida Edition (Round 3 – Richard Madan’s Celebration of Life & Family Trip)

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Mom, me, and Uncle Richard, on my wedding day, November 2015. Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

It’s a funny thing sometimes, your conscience.

Saturday, April 7th, was my Uncle Richard’s 68th birthday. It was a busy Saturday, but this little voice in my head kept reminding me to call him for his birthday. Between a successful blood drive and going out to dinner with our friends Casey and Beth, that voice kept at it. I had a wonderful 20-minute conversation with my uncle that night. I could almost hear his smile in his voice.

Little did I know, that would be the last time I would hear him speak.

The following Tuesday, April 10th, my parents called after Al and I finished dinner. I could tell my dad was hesitating about something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Finally, the words that always signal bad news to me came out of his mouth: “Are you sitting down?”

My uncle had been in a car accident, near his house in Miami, Florida. Immediately after the accident, he was found unconscious in his SUV. Thankfully, medical personnel got him to the nearest hospital in time to save his life.

It was a flurry of activity that week. Mom flew down on Sunday, April 15th. My dad drove 17 hours straight from Monday night into Tuesday morning. They started organizing his house while visiting the hospital daily. Originally, there was hope of rehabilitation, and eventual discharge to some sort of assisted living facility.

But, the stroke was worse than everyone had thought. More moderate to severe. He wasn’t speaking, or eating. My mom made some of the most gut-wrenching decisions in terms of aggressive treatment and resuscitation. Thankfully, my dad was there by her side.

We knew things were near the end when he was transferred to an excellent hospice unit of another medical center. At five minutes to midnight, on Wednesday, April 25th, he passed away peacefully.

I had the opportunity to attend his Celebration of Life, and help spread his ashes. I took a full week off of work, and I’m so glad that I did.


Thursday, May 17th

I was very fortunate to find a seat on the same American Airlines flight as a friend from church. Her wonderful husband drove both of us to the airport. Aside from some unruly thunderstorms, it was an uneventful flight, direct from Norfolk to Miami. This was my first time on a plane in nearly three years!

After an adventure getting the rental car, my parents met us at Kathy’s hotel in Coconut Grove. My parents took me back to Richard’s house in Miami, where I saw first-hand the fruits of their labor. In the four weeks they had been living there, they cleaned everything out, painted everything, and deep cleaned the carpet. They hand-scrubbed half of the back deck, and were preparing to cut a big branch of the beautiful mango tree that was hanging over the deck. We picked at least 100 mangoes! I was very impressed with their work.

For dinner, we went out to Il Bambino, a wonderful Italian restaurant nearby. They spent several hours with Shirley and Bill, dear friends of my grandparents. They’ve been married for 65 years!


Friday, May 18th

The Celebration of Life was scheduled for Friday evening at Plymouth Congregational Church, and there was a lot to do before then. This is the church where my mom and uncle grew up. I have many memories of this amazing church since I was a kid.

Our friends Debbie and Lucy flew down from Virginia on Friday morning, and they stayed at one of the church guest houses. Plymouth is a sprawling church campus – 17 buildings on more than 11 acres of beautiful, lush, tropical land!

Kathy was wonderful – Between Mom, Dad, her, and me, we loaded multiple food trays from Publix into the rented Kia van and my uncle’s Durango SUV in the afternoon. We had plenty of time to get everything set up at the church before the celebration was scheduled to begin.

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The entrance table.

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I helped buy the guest book. I thought it was fitting that we had several Pan Am pens for people to use.

These photos are just some of the memorabilia from National Airlines and Pan Am. Richard was hired as a flight attendant by National Airlines in 1973. National merged with Pan Am in 1980. Richard flew with Pan Am until the company’s demise in 1991. He also worked as an instructor and trainer.

There were amazing letters from passengers, too, complimenting Richard on his professionalism, service, and more!

We had 50 people come to the celebration, which exceeded our expectations. We laughed more than we cried. Mom spoke. I spoke, telling the story of my conscience telling me to make that phone call. A dear friend from Plymouth, Dickie, echoed my words and implored everyone to “make that call.”

Richard’s best friend, Michael, an Episcopal priest, shared stories of their 45-year friendship. We could tell that Richard’s death has affected Michael greatly, since Michael called my uncle every night and they talked for an hour. Every night. For years. Now, he can’t make those calls any more.

A few flight attendant friends also spoke, but most of the evening was very much a beautiful, non-alcoholic wake. I was so happy to see so many friends, and to catch up with them and learn more about their lives. We sent everyone home with food, and by 11:00 p.m., we were beyond ready for bed!


Saturday, May 19th

Saturday started early. In preparation to sell Richard’s house, the wonderful real estate agent (who happens to be married to Plymouth’s amazing associate pastor) asked that one of the big branches of the backyard mango tree be cut down.

No problem!

I got to use power tools, and work with my dad and our good friend, Tim. Tim was a business associate of my grandfather’s and Richard for years. Tim’s kids, Timmy and Megan, grew up with me. Tim’s wife, Nancy, told me that whenever they told Timmy and Megan that we were coming to visit, they would get so excited. One of the best area restaurants is The Big Cheese Miami, and Timmy and Megan knew that when the Strickers were coming to visit, that meant a trip to The Big Cheese for everyone!

This was part of the branch that hung right over the deck. Not great appeal to potential homebuyers. It had to go!

That’s Tim, using the special mango picker. We also picked a bunch with pruners, and by hand!

We filled this crate, and two other big boxes, full of mangoes. My dad printed signs for the boxes, imploring people in the neighborhood to come and take mangoes!

The branch is gone! We set up the patio furniture, too, which I hosed down.

You can see where we cut several huge branches, in the left of the picture.

All clean!

After working in the backyard, Mom and I showered. We met Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy at Plymouth. We drove over to Terri’s gorgeous condo in Coral Gables, where she was hosting us for lunch.

The beautiful tropical plants surrounding the entrance.

Terri and Walter’s condo is on the 15th floor, and the elevator stops at their place. Such opulence! A few steps in, there are gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that give a panoramic view of Miami, Key Biscayne, and more.

The most beautiful orchids – They were everywhere!

Lunch was delicious, and it was so nice for my mom to have some “girl time.” I think Terri was pleased to host, and we learned more about her, too. She and my mom have been friends since third grade. Terri’s mom was Richard’s 5th and 6th grade teacher, and my grandmother was the “room mom,” so naturally, their families became friends. Terri was also a flight attendant with Richard for several years.

After lunch, we went back to Plymouth to spread Richard’s ashes. Plymouth has a beautiful memorial garden, with nameplates of those who have passed on. My grandfather, Norman Madan, and grandmother, Grace Madan, have nameplates already. Richard’s will be added soon. It was overcast, but wonderful words were spoken by Michael, and Moira McGuinn, one of the church’s amazing associate pastors. Mom, Dad, Michael, Moira, and I all took turns spreading his ashes in the garden.

As we were concluding the ceremony, I heard an airplane flying overhead. Perfect symbolism, in my opinion.

After we finished, we showed Kathy, Debbie, and Lucy the church and the grounds. It’s such an impressive place. Here’s some photos.

We went back to the house, where Mom and Dad met with the real estate agent. While that was happening, the rest of us packed our rented Chevy Tahoe full of the remaining items that needed to come home to Virginia. Kathy is an expert packer, so we had the job done in just a few hours.

By then, we were famished. I called The Big Cheese for takeout, and Dad drove me to pick it up. We did family style. All I cared about were their amazing garlic knots, but the rest of the food was divine.


Sunday, May 20th

Mom, Dad, and I left Miami around 10:00 a.m. We headed toward Seminole, on the west coast of Florida, to see my Grandpa Stricker. He’s 92 and doing great! I was so happy to get to see him, since I was woefully overdue for a visit.

I was happy to help Mom and Dad with the driving. Along the way, we stopped for lunch in Port Charlotte, Florida, to visit with our dear friends Rick and Kyle Watts. Rick and Kyle were Mom and Dad’s neighbors in Virginia Beach before I came along, and we’ve kept in touch all these years. They are currently taking care of Kyle’s mom, and Kyle herself has been keeping a close eye on Rick. He got a new heart via transplant in February, and overall, he’s doing great! It was so nice to see them – It had been too long.

We got to Grandpa’s in the early evening. We had leftovers from previous meals. Mom and I both showered, and turned in early. I got almost 12 hours of sleep!

Before Mom and I went to bed, she noticed this amazing male angina bird outside the window. Unlike other birds, they don’t produce oil to help dry their wings. So, when they get wet, they perch in a tree and spread their wings to help them dry out. We stood at the windows and watched this guy for nearly 30 minutes!


Monday, May 21st

We had coffee early, but knew Grandpa wanted to take us to breakfast. There’s an awesome hole-in-the-wall place near his house called Suzie Q’s Diner. Amazing food!!

This was my delicious breakfast – Their special spinach, mushroom, and Swiss omelet. Complete with hash browns and sourdough toast. Mmmmm!

After breakfast, Dad and I cruised around, seeing how much Seminole has changed in the last few years. The old Seminole Mall that we shopped at and the Cinemas 8 we went to in the summers is long gone – Now replaced by the hip and trendy Seminole City Center. There’s everything anybody could want there – Shops, restaurants, a LA Fitness gym, an upscale movie theater, and more. Very impressive.

We had lunch at home, but went out to dinner at the local Applebee’s. After dinner, we came home and vegged. We watched Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and an episode of Antiques Roadshow before I turned in for the night.


Tuesday, May 22nd

We got up at 4:15 a.m. – My usual!

We were on the road about an hour later, preparing for the long haul drive home. I’m glad I decided to drive back with Mom and Dad. I was able to help out with driving both vehicles. Plus, I spent some quality time with both of them.

We stopped once in every state – Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It all worked out. It was just a long marathon, 14 hours of driving.

Mom and Dad dropped me off at home around 7:00 p.m. – It was a nice end to a great trip.


I’m sad that my uncle passed away, but I’m grateful for my parents. I’m grateful that they’re both retired and were able to travel when they did. They spent 38 days together in a 940-square foot house – A true test to their 36-year marriage! They were a great team. There’s still more work to be done, but they accomplished quite a long list in the five weeks that they spent together in Miami. A true roller coaster of emotions.

I’m grateful that my work provides such generous PTO. I’m grateful that my colleagues were so understanding, and they appreciate the importance of family. I’m glad that I was able to spend the time off with my family, and seeing many wonderful friends.

Hold your family and friends close. Time is precious. Time is valuable.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 4 – LanternAsia 2018)

We got to experience LanternAsia for the second time with Casey and Beth! We went to the Norfolk Botanical Garden on Saturday, April 21st.

If you’re interested in the exhibit, you still have time! LanternAsia will be there until May 13th.

Enjoy the photos!


This beautiful fountain was at the entrance of the exhibit.

The entrance gate.

One of the first displays.

Each arch represented a sign of the Chinese zodiac.

One of the garden’s buildings / exhibition halls.

This stage was set up at the beginning. There were multiple performances every evening.

A contortionist.

Foot juggling.

The “peacock” Chinese folk dance.

Chinese yo-yos.


Then, after the performance, we walked through the garden. The displays were dazzling, and gorgeous!

Al and Beth are fellow Oxen.

I am a Dragon!

Beautiful lanterns. They also turned and moved!

It’s a whale!

Swimming fish.

The stunning display of porcelain bowls, plates, and cups.

The Venus fly trap. Several of them opened and closed!

The giant cabbage.

My phone died about halfway through our walk, so several of these photos are borrowed from either Casey or Beth.


I think this one was my favorite.

The “Love Gallery.”

I love the aerial displays.


The chameleon display changed colors multiple times!


Beautiful butterflies at the end of the exhibit.

This was so much fun!

Thanks to Casey and Beth for coming with us!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth

Adventure Time: Norfolk, VA Edition (Round 3 – American Red Cross “Celebration of Heroes” Luncheon)

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This was the luncheon program. I think the “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Acts” tagline is so fitting!

I had such a unique and special adventure today!

My dad and our church have been honored several times from the local chapter of the American Red Cross, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.

Today, my dad, Jim, and two co-coordinators of the church blood drives, Kathy and Michael, were honored and recognized as the American Red Cross Coastal Virginia “Blood Drive Heroes” during the “Celebration of Heroes” luncheon. It was held at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel. It was outstanding!

Shannon Revels, our blood drive Donor Recruiting Account Manager was the one who submitted the nomination. We were also introduced to Marissa Nihill, Executive Director, Coastal Virginia American Red Cross, Norfolk.

The room was full. Kathy and I had the opportunity and honor to sit with heroes Daniel “Dan” Jones and Gilbert “Smitty” Smith. Dan saved a woman from drowning in the James River in Richmond last summer, and Smitty performed the Heimlich maneuver and other lifesaving acts on a family member, thanks to his first-responder training.


Photo montage!

The tables were beautifully decorated!

The welcome slide of the PowerPoint.

Blood Drive Heroes!

The food was amazing!!

Emcee Ashley Smith, from 13 News Now, was outstanding!

Marissa Nihill, Executive Director, delivers closing remarks.

Every hero/heroes had a framed biography / back story outside the ballroom.

This is Dad’s award. Kathy and Michael’s are identical, with their names engraved.


I know I’m a little biased, focusing on Dad, Kathy, and Michael. However, every single person who was honored today has an amazing story. Everyone was so humble and appreciative!

Here’s the full list of heroes:

  • Disaster Response Hero – Keene Black
  • Coastal Chapter Humanitarian Hero – Jennifer Boykin
  • Community Impact Hero – Judy Fundak
  • First Aid Hero – Daniel Jones
  • Services to Armed Forces Hero – Jason Redman
  • Community Impact Hero – Samuel Clyde Smith
  • Emergency Responder Hero – Gilbert “Smitty” Smith
  • Lifesaving Heroes – Shane McCoy & Clifford Johnson
  • Water Rescue Heroes – Desiree Joseph, Sean Logan, Josh Turner
  • Blood Drive Heroes – Jim Stricker, Michael Strickland, Kathy Williamson
  • Corporate Humanitarian Hero – Dollar Tree

Together, these heroes provided significant relief after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, saved people from drowning and choking, served our country bravely through the military, organized countless blood drives, and much more. It was incredible. Kevin Gaydosh, Co-Chair, Board of Directors of the Coastal Chapter, gave several statistics about the chapter’s efforts in 2017. We noted that there were more than 48,329 units of blood donated!! That’s incredible.

It was such a special event. I got emotional several times. Several heroes received standing ovations. It was incredible to witness, and I’m glad that I was able to be a part of it.

It’s fitting this luncheon was held a week before our next blood drive. It’s also our 18th Anniversary blood drive! If you’re in the Hampton Roads area on Saturday, April 7th, we’d love to see you stop by and Give the Gift of Life.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Newport News & Williamsburg, VA Edition (Greyhounds, Colonial Williamsburg, and Romantic Escape Package)

Al and I had a great weekend! We got to meet and greet some greyhounds, and then spent some time at The Williamsburg Winery!

We went to a meet-and-greet with Old Dominion Greyhound Adoption. This was their first meet-and-greet at the Care-A-Lot in Newport News. There were nine greyhounds there, with their owners, along with the Director of the group. Everyone was so nice and friendly! The dogs were incredibly sweet. We went home with an application, and are excited to start this process!


After the greyhound meet-and-greet, we went to Colonial Williamsburg for lunch. The Trellis Bar & Grill is a really nice restaurant, right in the heart of Merchants Square.

We enjoyed a hearty lunch – Al had “The Burger” and I got their tortellini.

I love the unique touches, from their birdcage lanterns, to their cute salt and pepper grinders.. Their water comes in epic bottles!

We weren’t quite full after our entrees, but we decided to spring for dessert and their signature mock-tails. For dessert, I chose their Flourless Chocolate Torte, and Al had their Burnt Sugar ice cream. Al had the “Moscow Pony” mock-tail, and I had their “No-Jito” mock-tail. They were awesome!


After lunch, we ventured 12 minutes away to The Williamsburg Winery. Al won a very generous gift card at his company Christmas party in December, which allowed us this experience!

We chose the Romantic Winter Escape Hotel Package:

  • One Night in a Tradition room, with king-sized bed and wood-burning fireplace*

  • A Tour and Wine Tasting for two at the Williamsburg Winery, including a tour of the barrel cellar and a tasting of seven wines

  • Bottle of Williamsburg Winery wine

  • Artisanal chocolates

  • $100 Dinner Voucher for CafĂ© Provençal

  • European-style Continental Breakfast for two including croissants, pastries, fresh fruit and more

We got to the winery around 4:00. We checked in around 4:15, which gave us just enough time to unload the car before the 4:30 tour and tasting.

These are the giant oak barrels where the wine is stored!

Barrels of wine in the cellar.

This is the “reserve cellar,” where a more extensive tour and tasting is held.

The shelves hold different vintages of wine, dating back to the late 1980s.

These are the three concrete eggs that hold the white wines.

Once the barrels are past their prime (Their life span is about 10 years), they are sold to private collectors, or used as trash cans in places like Colonial Williamsburg.

The tour and tasting were fabulous. Our guide, Stephanie, was incredibly knowledgeable and awesome! We tasted several different wines. It was really nice and relaxing!

The view from our hotel window. That’s the winery in the distance.

Our room at Wedmore Place was the “Brittany.” I felt like we were in Europe! The bed was incredibly comfortable. I wanted to take the mattress home!

I got to wear my new LuLaRoe Maxi!

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes.

Filet Mignon.

Poached Apple Tart.

Pumpkin Cheesecake.

We had an amazing dinner at Cafe Provençal, which was located in the lower level of the hotel. Everything was divine! Al got the Caramelized Onion Soup (no photo), and the Filet Mignon. I had their delicious Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes, along with a glass of their A Midsummer Night’s White.

For dessert, Al got the Pumpkin Cheesecake, and I had the Poached Apple Tart.

There were exquisite pieces of furniture, like this, throughout!

The courtyard.

Our complimentary bottle of merlot, wine glasses, and artisanal chocolates!

Part of the package was a bottle of wine of our choice, wine glasses, and artisanal chocolates! We took it home. With our complimentary tour glasses, we have four new wine glasses at home!

On Sunday morning, we ate breakfast at the cafe. It was a lavish feast, with fresh fruit, strong coffee, assorted croissants, and quiche! We took our time, and checked out about an hour later. We went back to reality quickly – Getting gas, grocery shopping, getting ready for the new work week.

It was a much-needed mini-getaway. A piece of Europe is only 45 minutes away!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂