For Mary (Theme Thursday)

Oh, but Cari’s theme this week (Google Image Search) is just too good; AND, it gives me a chance to share something with you that I should have posted, like, TWO MONTHS AGO.

Cari asks her readers to do an image search on ourselves and post the first picture that comes up.  I typed in my first and last name, and got a whole bunch of photos of another woman with the same name as mine, and books that I presume she has written.  I then tried typing in my first, maiden, and last name (the same one I use for my Facebook profile), and saw a lot of random pictures, some of which I had posted on one of my blogs and/or Facebook.  The first image is one you’ve seen already, in a previous post here:


But the one that caught my attention was this one:


That’s my friend Mary, holding her adopted son, Justin.

Earlier this summer I posted this on my Facebook page:

Mary and the Hokie Half

This is for everyone loves to run, wants to start running, hates to run, wants nothing to do with running but loves being with friends; AND all of you who knew and loved our friend Mary Wieczynski Furnivall–pretty much everyone on my friend list.  I’m tagging certain people–those who knew Mary, and some of my friends who run and might be interested in this little project of sorts.  But I’m extending this invitation to everyone.

I’ve known Mary since we were kids.  We lived in the same neighborhood and walked to school together, rode our bikes together, sold Girl Scout cookies door-to-door together, went trick-or treating together.  We were counselors together at the same summer camp–two of the best summers of my life.  After we grew up and went our separate ways, I hardly ever saw her but still considered her one of my dearest friends.  At the end of February of this year I learned through a mutual friend that Mary was in the final stages of cancer; she passed away only a couple of weeks later.

Mary and her husband David made their home in Kenya.  Last fall, they adopted a little boy named Justin.  My friends and I learned that Mary received her cancer diagnosis around the same time that the adoption went through.  Soon after I learned that Mary was sick, I was visiting my parents in Blacksburg and decided to go for a run.  I ran through our old neighborhood, past my house and Mary’s house, and down the Huckleberry Trail, where Mary and I and some of our friends used to explore before it was turned into a paved walking/biking/running trail.  It was a beautiful cleansing run, and my mind was exploding with so many wonderful memories of Mary, some of which I had practically forgotten.  I thought about David and Justin, Mary’s parents, her brothers and their families.  I prayed for them, as I do every day.

A few weekends ago, many of Mary’s friends from high school got together in Blacksburg for a wonderful memorial for Mary. I can’t thank L and R and S enough for all the work and planning that went into it–not to mention Mr. and Mrs. F for the wonderful lunch at their house that day!  It was an amazing weekend, and I am ever grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in years, and to share our stories and memories of the beautiful friend we lost too soon.  (I even had a chance to go for another run AND an amazing bike ride with my friend J, and I am especially thankful for the time I got to spend with her.)  I know Mary was with us that weekend.

On one of my recent visits to Blacksburg, I happened to pull up behind a car that had one of those “13.1″ stickers on the back.  I noticed right away that it looked different from others I had seen–maroon with orange writing.  When I took a closer look at it I saw the little Hokie Bird footprints adorning it and the words, “Hokie Half.”  As soon as I got home I looked it up, and found out that just last September Blacksburg hosted the first annual Hokie Half Marathon and 5K, and that the next one was coming up in October 2014.  I also noticed that the half marathon course ran along the Huckleberry Trail, and at mile 10, right past Mary’s house(!!), and down Airport Road past Margaret Beeks Elementary where we went to school.  It got me thinking:  Wouldn’t the Hokie Half & 5K be a wonderful way to honor Mary?  And just maybe we can try and raise a little bit of money for New Life Home Trust, the home for children in Kenya that gave Justin to Mary and David?  When I first mentioned the idea to L she thought it was a great idea, and just about everyone we’ve talked to about it has said, “Yes!  Let’s do it!”

This thing is in the early planning stages now.  We’re working on having shirts made for everyone who wants to participate.  If you think you might want to run the half marathon, you’ll want to start training soon (like, NOW), and there are all kinds of half marathon training plans online you can use.  J sent some of us a great one from the New York Times, where you can find a training plan that works for you.  (Thanks again, J!! Here’s the link: .  There are lots of other training plans out there; let me know if you need help finding one.

Not interested in running a half marathon?  That’s OK, they have a 5K too!  You could either run or walk that distance.  You could even just come to Blacksburg for the weekend, and cheer for all the runners and walkers.  No matter how we want to participate, it will be a great weekend to spend in honor of our dear friend, and to support a wonderful cause!

If you want to make a donation to New Life Home Trust, CLICK HERE.

You can tell your friends about it, and let them know what we’re doing.  Right now we don’t have any plans to formally fundraise, like going through a fundraising website or collecting pledges; we’re just putting the information out there so people can donate if they wish.

L has set up a Facebook group, “Running for Mary,” for anyone who might be interested in participating in our little project.  Please let us know if you want to be added to the group.  It’ll be a great way for us to support each other and keep each other posted on our progress.  PLEASE, PLEASE share this letter with as many people as you can think of who might be interested in on this fun project for a great cause and a great friend!



All right, so I know the Hokie Half Marathon and 5K is less than two months away, which for most people isn’t enough time to train…BUT, there it is.  If you’re interested, leave a comment and I’ll contact you (and I think my email is on my WordPress profile page, so if you’d rather you can get in touch with me that way).

Thanks for taking the time to read this longish post.  Check out Clan Donaldson to see what other people came up with in their Google searches of themselves!  (Oh, and by the way…Cari says we get bonus points if we post a screenshot of the results of our search.  I don’t know how to do that.  I’d love for someone to tell me!)

P.S.  To register for the Hokie Half Marathon and 5K, click here!

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Theme Thursday: PANIC

Last spring, Moe and a couple of other seventh grade boys built a robot at school.  The kids were supposed to design a machine that would operate in the water, like a boat, and that they could steer and make it submerge itself and resurface, like a submarine.  On the last day of school, Moe brought it home, and of course he wanted to test it in the lake behind our house.



When the cord became snagged on a log, trapping the robot underwater, there was a moment of panic when the boys tried to figure out how to retrieve it.  (Mind you, this lake is deep and full of snapping turtles, and I have no way to know how clean the water is.  We don’t swim in it.)  The next thing I know, Curly has stripped off most of his clothes, and he’s in the lake.  I’m yelling for him to get out of there NOW, and he’s saying, “Don’t worry, Mom, it’s FINE!”  (He’s fifteen.  He knows everything.)


To make a long story short, they managed to retrieve the robot, but had to cut the cord in the process.  That’s that, and although they discussed how to repair the wire and make it waterproof, they never did.


That was the last day of school.  The whole summer was ahead of us.  Now the summer is rapidly approaching its end; and although I’m not in panic mode yet, it’s only a matter of days (maybe hours) until I reach that point.  Today we start looking at school supply lists and begin our inventory of what we have and what we need to buy.  I have MUCH to do to prepare for the new year at preschool.

I’ll try not to panic.

Check out Clan Donaldson for more moments of panic.

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7 Quick Takes Volume 16 (and BBQ for Theme Thursday)



Our faith community lost two beautiful souls this week, and much too soon.  Sarah was a young mom who was expecting her fifth child.  She was out in her backyard when she was stung by bees, had an allergic reaction, was rushed to the hospital, and now her husband and four children have had to say goodbye to her and their baby sister they never got to meet.  I did not know Sarah personally, but I have met her and have seen the family in church frequently.  I bought a couple of the beautiful clay rosaries she made as confirmation gifts, and a necklace for my mother on her birthday.  I only wish I had bought one for myself at the time.

Memebers of Sarah’s family have set up a fund to help her children in their loss; please click here and consider making a small donation.  You can also read more about Sarah here and here.


I’ve been in somewhat of a cooking slump lately.  That isn’t to say I haven’t been cooking, but for some reason I haven’t been quite as eager to try new recipes, and there have been many nights when I’ve resorted to digging through my freezer and my cabinets to see what kind of concoction I can come up with using the stuff that I have sitting around.  I suppose that isn’t so bad; last Sunday for dinner I chopped up some leftover Italian sausages and mixed them into scrambled eggs, and it was pretty good.  (OH, and the other night I decided to make this eggplant parmesan, and it was delicious.)

I have tried a few new recipes this summer, though.  Joe really likes scallops, so for Father’s Day I found this super easy recipe for grilled scallops wrapped in prosciutto.  We fired up the BBQ and had a easy and delicious dinner.




I still have my subscription to Fine Cooking. I haven’t tried anything from the most recent issue, but the previous one had a recipe in the “Make It Tonight” section for spicy cod with polenta.


 (Normally I would type up the recipe for you, but wouldn’t you know I misplaced the magazine it was in.  Can’t find it anywhere.  Luckily it’s online now, and here it is!)

The fish market at Wegman’s didn’t have any cod that day, so I used tilapia instead.  (I know; some people say you shouldn’t buy tilapia for various environmental and health reasons; but hey, it’s inexpensive and it tastes good.  Heck, I’ve even been known to buy conventional factory-farmed meat from time to time, especially when I’m cooking for a crowd.  So sue me.)   The recipe also calls for harissa paste–AS IF I’M SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT THAT IS.  After a little bit of Internet googling, I found out that it’s a middle-eastern chili paste that’s nearly impossible to find, that it’s extremely spicy, and if you’re like most Americans and don’t have any, you can use hot sauce.  Perfect.


The boys had a couple of friends over that night, and I made enough for them as well–did I tell you that tilapia is quite inexpensive?–and guess what?  Everyone loved it.  And if you can make a bunch of teenage boys happy with fish, it must be good!  I made it again this week, too (with tilapia), and it was just as yummy. (Oh, and by the way, I never knew how easy it is to make polenta, either!)






On the morning of the Billy Joel concert my friend texted me this:

Did you know special guest Gavin DeGraw tonight



I couldn’t believe my good fortune.  I’d seen Gavin twice already (I blogged a little bit about those concerts here and here), and both of those shows were great.  Getting to see him open for Billy Joel was a fun addition to an already great night.


The first time I saw Gavin DeGraw, Colbie Caillat was there too.  She was amazing.  I’m sure you’ve heard her new song “Try” by now, and seen the video, but I’m sharing it anyway:

I love her.


I’ll leave you with a stupid joke that came right out of my very own brain (ahem):

 What do you call watching all nine episodes of Sherlock pretty much in an endless loop on Netflix?

A Cumberbinge.


Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to tip your server.

And please visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes…AND Clan Donaldson for her 7 Quick Takes/Theme Thursday mashup!  Click on the link in Take #2 for the linkup.  Peace!

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Mountains and Trails: Theme Thursday (New England, Days 2 and 3)

Smuggler’s Notch is a ski resort in the winter, and a fun family getaway in the summer. (Dang, I sound like a commercial.)  On Monday–you can read about Day 1, Sunday, here–Larry wanted to spend the day with other teens his age, and he joined a camp that took him hiking, had him playing games, tackling a ropes course, and generally socializing. (He wished we could have stayed the whole week.  There was canoeing and kayaking and rock climbing and all kinds of other fun stuff scheduled for the next several days.) The rest of us headed out early in the morning to climb the highest peak at Smuggler’s Notch.  We followed the winter ski trails for about 2 1/2 miles STRAIGHT UP to the top.  The spectacular views were worth the effort!





(The descent was harder than the climb, to tell you the truth.  My knees and my toes were objecting loudly by the time we reached the bottom.)


After lunch and a nap, I decided to drive up and down the main road and try and find some more geocaches.  I ended up finding five (and according to my stats on, that’s the most I’ve ever found in one day), including the one under the covered bridge that I had searched in vain for on Sunday.


For dinner we drove into Jeffersonville and had a DELICIOUS meal at a place called The Family Table.  During dinner we had a conversation about possibly coming here to ski someday, and about whether or not we’d ever been to a ski resort during the summer, and that once or twice Moe had been to Massanutten to the water park.  Our waitress asked “Are you from Virginia?” Turns out she was originally from Charlottesville.  Small world.

Tuesday dawned a little cloudy, and we quickly packed up our stuff, wolfed down some pop tarts (which we have ONLY when we’re on vacation), and headed West toward New Hampshire and Maine.  The highlight of that day was driving to the top of Mount Washington.




(Yes, we have the big ol’ sticker now that says, “THIS CAR CLIMBED MT. WASHINGTON.”  I haven’t decided yet whether or not to actually put it on the car.)

Curly said that next time, he’s going to hike to the top.  I’ll gladly join him.  And did you know they have a foot race to the top?  It had just taken place the previous weekend.  My first reaction when I learned about it was, NO WAY.  But the more I think about it, the more it seems like an interesting concept. Could I have it in me to run 7.6 miles straight uphill? I don’t really have what people call a “bucket list,” but if I did…


We arrived in the late afternoon, in the rain, at our lovely house on Moosehead Lake, and had another awesome dinner (The Stress Free Moose in Greenville) and discussed what we would do the next day, in the rain.  Stay tuned…

OH, and I totally forgot!  Don’t forget to visit Clan Donaldson and check out more Theme Thursday Trails!

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Get Thee To Church: St. Mary’s, Cambridge, Vermont (Or, New England Vacay, Day 1)

After our trip to Alaska, I published a summary of our vacation at Musings of a Catholic Mom in one long post, in the form of Seven Quick Takes (“7 Long Days: The Alaska Edition”).  I had planned to do something like that this week but I think I’ll break it up into several posts–and like I said the other day, I’ll try very hard not to bore you….and perhaps I’ll give you more than one post a week after all.

It was the first day of summer.  We had spent most of the previous day in the car, and everyone was exhausted.  I woke up at 4:30 am to find sunlight peeking through the curtains in our condo in Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont–which is a ski resort in the winter, and a fun place for a getaway during the summer.  I realized that we were quite a bit farther north than where we live, and it was in fact the longest day of the year.  After downing a cup of coffee and a little bit of food I threw on my running clothes and headed out the door.  I ended up running about six and a half miles, a little bit farther than I had planned, but what a beautiful morning it was, in such a beautiful place!  And there was a geocache just over three miles down the road–which was a good excuse for a 6+ mile out-and-back.  When I returned, everyone was still sleeping.


When we go on vacation, we’re usually leaving on a Saturday, which means arriving late in the day and going to church on Sunday morning.  It’s nice to start a fun-filled week with Mass.  After I showered and we dragged the boys out of bed, we found this lovely little church a few miles away.


At the beginning of Mass when the lector got up and said “Good Morning, and welcome to St. Mary of the Assumption Church,” Joe and I looked at each other and grinned.  When we lived in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, we attended St. Mary of the Assumption–it’s where I was received into the Catholic Church, in fact!

If you’ve been following my blogs for a long time, you probably know that when I attend Mass at a church other than my own, I like to take pictures and post them here.  So after Mass when Joe and the boys waited in the car, I stayed behind for a few minutes to snap some photos.  A nice gentleman asked me if I was vacationing from out of town, and I said yes, and that I like to take pictures of the churches where I visit.  He said, “Welcome to our little country church!”  And a lovely little country church it was, too; almost as little as Our Lady of the Valley, and Immaculate Conception in Alaska–and every bit as lovely.




After Mass we stopped by a local winery to sample some of their fare (just me–Joe was driving), and the wine-tasting guy told us we should check out Burger Barn for lunch.  Just a little trailer with a few picnic tables outside that served 100% local grass-fed beef.  A long line and a long wait for our food (this blog was once called “Eating Slowly,” after all), and totally worth it!

In the afternoon we played our first ever game of disc golf.  We opted for the nine-hole easy course instead of the more difficult eighteen-hole course nearby.


Later while the boys checked out the water park at the resort, I decided to head toward town (actually a village–Jeffersonville, pop. 731) and check out a couple of geocaches down the road.  To my delight I discovered that they were hidden near an old covered bridge that is still in use.  I found one geocache in the woods off a nearby trail, and looked for the other one underneath the bridge but couldn’t find it.


After grabbing pizza for dinner at the resort Joe and I left the kids in the condo to play their video games and watch TV or whatever it is they do, and went to a pub to listen to some live music for a  while.

What did we do the next day?  Climbed a mountain.  And another one the day after that.  I’ll tell you about those adventures in a future post.  Thanks for visiting!

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Blog Makeover…a Bright Idea?

Last week I got an email from George, host of the New Evangelists Monthly link-up on his blog, Convert Journal. He said it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything there and I was missed.  I had to tell him that regrettably I had nothing to submit because I had all but quit blogging these last few months. That’s OK, he said (I wish I could find that email so I could share his exact words); even the most mundane of adventures are a fine excuse to get into a blogging slump. That made me smile, because that’s what life is, really, isn’t it? One big adventure. Most of the time it’s so mundane it’s hardly worth the teensy-est blog post, and when a bigger adventure comes along you hardly have time to blog about it.


By the way, did you notice anything different when you opened up this post? Yes, I’ve gone and changed the title of this here little site. Lately “Eating Slowly” has been sounding more and more cheesy (it was starting to make me cringe, if you want to know the truth); and besides, I hardly blog about food anymore anyway–heck, I hardly blog at all. So this morning as I was running laps on our local high school track (Speedwork. My least favorite workout. Thank the Good Lord for Spotify.) I started to think, “I wonder if I could squeeze in one post a week? Just one? Surely that won’t be too hard!” I decided then and there that TODAY I would FINALLY get myself back into blogging again, start from scratch (hence the name change), and make an effort to put out one blog post every week–maybe somewhere in the Thursday-Friday time frame, but we’ll see. If I can get into a routine now, maybe by the time school starts I can keep it going, and who knows? Perhaps some weeks I’ll find the time for two posts.

Without further ado, I bring you the rest of this week’s post:  my entry for Cari’s linkup, Theme Thursday. This week’s theme? Bright. That was the theme the first time I jumped onto Cari’s blogwagon, so it’s perfect.



(My 6-mile run in Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont took longer than it should have because I kept stopping to take pictures.)



(From a covered bridge in near Smuggler’s Notch where I found a way cool Geocache.)



(A funny little duck splashing around in Moosehead Lake, Maine.)



(The view from the dock at our Moosehead Lake rental house. It had rained for most of our stay there, and the morning we left I could finally greet the sun.)



(Boston: the Old South Meeting House, where the Boston Tea Party was organized.)



(St. Stephen’s Church in Boston, where we attended Mass.  Oh, hello, Paul Revere.)

Maybe next week’s post will be more New England photos (I’ll try not to make it too boring–I know it’s not always thrilling to look at other people’s  vacation pictures); or perhaps I’ll give you something different like a recipe or some random thoughts about friendship or God or running.  Meanwhile, be sure to check out Clan Donaldson for more bright pics.  Thanks for visiting; see you next week, I hope!

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7 Quick Takes: The I’m Still Here Edition


The other night at the dinner table I was taking a photo of my plate of food, because I had tried a new recipe and wanted to post it on my blog.  “Not that I have time to do that,” I said.  “I haven’t posted anything in like three months.”  Moe (age 13, boy does time fly) seemed shocked.  “REALLY??  What’s the point of having a blog if you’re not going to post anything?”


May I present my first post since February, a short summary of what’s been going on in my life recently:

1. My childhood friend who I hadn’t seen in years passed away from cancer.


2.  I ran my first half marathon.


3.  I’ve found thirty-four geocaches since my last post. (I took a selfie when I found my 200th cache.  People must have wondered what the heck I was doing taking selfies behind the Wawa at 7:30 am on a Saturday.)

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4.  We spent Easter weekend in Atlanta with my brother and his family, my brother-in-law and his family, AND Joe’s parents.  We had a wonderful time.


5.  My Fitbit is my new favorite gadget.

6.  I had the privilege of running with some of my fellow LIFE Runners on a 5K leg along the length of the Mall in DC as part of their annual A-Cross America Relay.  The relay started on Ash Wednesday on at the Golden Gate and Brooklyn Bridges, and met on Palm Sunday in Souix Falls, South Dakota.  I also got to meet Jeanne Monahan, the President of the March For Life, which was way cool.

(Oh, and I signed up for the LIFE Runners’ national race, the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio on September 20.  Except I’m doing the half, not the full marathon.  I want to get a couple more 13.1-mile races under my belt at least before I start thinking about running 26.2.)

7.  Larry brought the house down playing Seymour in his high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors.  And more recently Larry and Curly both starred in Romeo and Juliet, which was the school’s spring play.  It’s so much fun watching my boys on stage!




Today was the last day at preschool.  As much as I’m looking forward to summer, I’m always a little sad to see the school year end.  I’m going to miss the kiddos, especially the ones moving on to Kindergarten in the fall.

My Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training has been going swimmingly.  I have two sessions left and I’ll be certified to teach Level I, which is the three to six-year-old program.  One of my tasks for the summer is to catch up on my homework and required reading because I’ve fallen behind.  Fortunately we don’t have specific due dates and our assignments aren’t graded!

Hopefully I’ll be able to post more often this summer.  I miss being part of the blogging scene.  (And I think it’s time to change the name, which I’ve contemplated doing from the very beginning.  “Eating Slowly” sounds cheesy, and it doesn’t seem to quite fit anymore…we’ll see.)  In these next few weeks I hope to tell you more about my friend Mary and how she touched my life more than I realized, and how random things remind me of her.  I’ll tell you about my new love for running and how I never thought I’d be crazy enough to run a half marathon and then I did, and I’m planning to do more.  I’ll tell you about books I’ve been reading, movies I’ve been watching (not many of either), geocaches I’m finding–yes, I’m a geek–and the shenanegans and craziness that comes with having three teenage boys in the house.  And of course I’ll write about my faith and the adventures of being Catholic.  And about food.  Have I left anything out?

Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend, and be sure to visit Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!



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