Thursday, February 25, 2021

Our Beloved Max

It has been 1 year and 1 day since we said goodbye to our beloved Max and what a year it has been. Maxers would have absolutely loved the amount of time that we have spent at home this past year, as he loved it when Kristi was working from home. I am not sure how thrilled he would have been with the extra little legs and hands being around and grabbing so much, because he certainly liked his peace when he was resting! In honor of his 1 year farewell anniversary, and since I haven't posted it here, below are some wonderful pictures of our buddy and the goodbye letter that I read to him, through copious amounts of tears. We love you and still miss you like crazy!! 💔
Puppy Maxers at the shelter

Maxers enjoying the Shirlington Dog Park

Maxers yawning on a hike in CSZ

Maxers looking cool in the townhouse

Maxers scouting the backyard in PGH
Maxers enjoying a hike in CSZ

Maxers relaxing in FL

Maxers resting at home in Barcroft

A Letter to My Maxers

My buddy Maxers, my life changed immensely the minute that you came into my life. Appearing with Russ and Blue out of the rainstorm at High Hampton with your cute little sibling Chloe. It had been a little while since I had a dog, since I was off at school, and hadn’t really thought about having another one until you guys came into my life. Your auntie B and grandma thought that you would be a good change to my life as you would help me learn to care for someone other than myself. I think grandma secretly wanted you to help prepare me for having children someday.

I had to wait a whole month from that first weekend until I would make it back to Cashiers to rescue you from the Humane Society and we would begin our adventures together! You came back to DC and settled into “city” life fairly well, even though you were a mountain dog at heart. You were a rambunctious puppy and certainly did your fair share of puppy destruction around the house. You loved our almost daily trips to the Shirlington Dog Park, even if you didn’t like to chase balls and only wanted to run and play with Chloe! And then Daddy met a girl who he really liked. Fortunately for him, she loved you just as much as Daddy did. And unlike your sister, you didn’t really mind the feline brother that she brought with her. You even tolerated it when we brought home another little feline companion for him.

I’m sure it came from your early life of scrounging around High Hampton for something to eat, but you never found a trash can that you didn’t like! It didn’t matter the contents; you were happy to sniff around to see if there was something worthwhile and chew whatever was in there. And of course we have to mention your love of all food that was left unattended in your vicinity. It didn’t matter whether it was chocolate in a bag or steaks and Irish soda bread on top of the counter, your nose would show you the way!

But where your heart really lay was in adventure. You were most happy when you could be out roaming the wilderness. Mostly in Cashiers on our many hikes through the woods, but sometimes you liked to split off and give us all a scare by going off on your own. There are probably too many times to mention here, but some of the notable ones are the escapes from the backyard in Pittsburgh, the snow adventure in Vermont, the chase in Hopewell, and the Thanksgiving dash in Cashiers. We always got you back safe and sound and you always convinced Chloe to go with you, even though I think she was nervous about leaving us. And who could forget your first Christmas in East Hanover where you did a number on the powder room door!

The last seven years, you have enjoyed having your Mom at home to give you treats and let you out during the day. Ever since she joined the family, you have always been a Mama’s boy, very content sitting with her in the basement while we watched our TV shows. I wish that you would have gotten to know Rowan and Chase when you were more active. I know they would have loved playing with you, but I am glad that you got to spend as much time with them as you have.

Maxers, you haven’t made getting old easy on us with your 2 knee ligament replacements and your mast cell tumor. The last year has been especially tough as you have lost your mobility. We have had our scares that you would be leaving us sooner, but you have always persevered. You have had an amazing almost 16 years with us and we are forever grateful for the memories that you will leave us with. From all of us, especially Kristi, Rowan, Chase, Susie, John, Britton, Jarrett, Chris, Joe, Chloe, Sushi and last of all me, we give you all of our love and thanks! Give our best to Corky, Funny, Crackers, and Harry. We love you.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Is this thing still on??

Wow, here I sit on a Friday night in February, as the clock ticks over to Saturday morning, and I realize the last post to my site was almost 4 years ago!!

It is scary how quickly time has passed and how different life is now. I am not even sure where to start, but here are a few highlights. I know there is a lot more, but since I am paying for the domain, I hope that I can try to use this space going forward and go into some more details!

  • An update from the last post about Chloe, her treatment went well and she is still going strong at almost 17 years old!
  • We added a little girl to the family in October 2017, and she is really testing our parenting at 3.5 years old now.
  • We lost our beloved kitty Harrison in July 2018.
  • We added a little boy to the family in December 2019.
  • We lost our beloved doggy Max in February of 2020.
And shortly after losing Max, 2020 took a hard right and Covid-19 decided to upend our lives. Since then we have been doing the best that we can to balance working from home and taking care of our kiddies.

More to come soon, I promise! It'll be my 2021 resolution.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Chloe's Challenge

If you have seen my Chloe dog in the last year or so, you have seen the large golf ball sized mass growing on her left side. Well, that mass is gone now and Chloe had her baseline physical and blood work with the oncologist yesterday. She will have a challenge over the next 6 months to overcome what's left of the mass and fight her cancer cells with oral chemotherapy.

This all started almost 2 years ago when we noticed a lump on her side. We didn't think much of it, as Max has had numerous lipomas over the years and we figured that Chloe had developed one. After it started growing fairly slowly, we noticed that this lipoma was different than Max's because it was hard, not the typical fatty consistency. At her annual check-up, the vet wasn't too concerned since it wasn't growing all that quickly, but we did a fine needle aspiration for good measure.

Fast forward a year and at her next annual check-up, the bump had grown bigger and felt a bit like she had a golf ball below her skin. We decided that it was time to do another aspiration, which like the previous one, turned up nothing suspicious. However, this time the vet thought that it could be a problem lump, despite those results. She recommended that we do a biopsy of the mass to get a better sense of what it was, even though this would require Chloe to be put under anesthesia and have two small chunks taken out of the mass.

When we got the results of that biopsy back, the report indicated that it was a grade 1 hemangiopericyctoma, which is a tumor of the blood vessel. Fortunately, they are generally localized tumors and can be removed with much success, but a visit to the oncologist was recommended. After the discussion with the oncologist, we decided that the best course of treatment for my almost 13 year old Chloe was to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Then we would see what the margins come back with and decide on a course of action. So, on February 10th, Chloe had her golf ball tumor removed. Here she is without the bandage.

Chloe after her surgery with her comfort monkey
We waited the 10 days for those biopsy results to come back while Chloe was very restricted in her movement. We finally got the call on the day that she was headed to get her stitches removed and the news was not as good as we had hoped. The analysis showed that the tumor was actually a grade 2 soft tissue sarcoma and that it was narrowly excised. This was not terrible news, but it meant that there were a few cancer cells left in her body and we would need to treat her with chemotherapy or risk the tumor coming back more rapidly.

So, she had her baseline done and her blood work looks good. The medicine has been ordered and will be delivered on Tuesday. Then we settle in and hope that she doesn't have any side effects and that this treatment holds off any more tumor growth for as long as she is with us! I guess she was jealous of Max's knee surgeries and wanted to even things out a bit...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Since it's Spring Training time and the weather is certainly more like spring than it is winter, I thought I would share this great article that I read on the Player's Tribune from Andrew McCutchen.

As everyone knows, I am a huge fan of all things Pittsburgh, especially the sports teams! I have been fortunate to have gone to a lot of sporting events in my life and Pirates games were some of my first memories. This may surprise a lot of you who know of my passion for the Steelers and Penguins, but it's true. Growing up playing little league baseball lead me to follow the Pirates first and foremost. It didn't hurt that the Pirates had Bonds, Bonilla, and Van Slyke!

Before the recent heartbreaks of Steelers losses to the Patriots in AFC Championship games, I first had the heartbreak of watching the Pirates lose in the playoffs to the Braves. We were lucky though that the Penguins had some good players as well and were able to bring the Stanley Cup to the city in 91 and 92! That certainly helped take the sting off of the Pirates losses...

Of course, we all know that the Pirates would never be the same after that fateful loss to the Braves. After Bonds left, it would be 20 odd years until they had another winning season. Throw in the  94-95 lockout and my focus was shifting away from baseball. The Steelers were starting to rise to the top again, making it to the Superbowl in the 95 season. Eventually, I stopped following the Pirates as closely as I used to.

To bring this back to my original point, it was one Andrew McCutchen who brought my attention back to the Pirates. There was a buzz about him as he came up through the minors and was eventually called up the big leagues. I knew that he could be a game changer for the team and end the futility, so I began to watch and read about the Pirates more regularly. It didn't hurt that the Nationals had relocated to DC and I could go watch the Pirates play them!

When I heard the trade rumors this past off season and I saw the news that Cutch wasn't willing to move from centerfield, I began to get really concerned. For everything that he has done for the organization, as the face of the turn-around, the Pirates owe it to him to be upfront and honest about what they intend to do. I thought Cutch was very forthcoming in his article and I really appreciated what he wrote.

He truly means so much to the city and the franchise that I could not imagine him playing anywhere else. (think Sidney Crosby or Mario Lemieux) I really hope that ownership takes the high road and doesn't offend all of the fans who Cutch has brought to the park or like me, brought back to the park. Here's hoping that Cutch turns it around and has a killer year at the plate and in right field. And here's to seeing him retire in the black and gold!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Women's March on DC

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a feeling that there could be a lot to talk about with a new Administration taking over. Little did I know that so many controversial things would happen in the first 5 days of the Presidency! I am not going to touch on all of those items, instead I am going to touch on what I decided to do to show my disapproval for many of the stances that the new President has taken.

Marchers with the Indigo Girls on the screen
#WhyIMarch - In honor of all of the women in my life that I love, I decided to show my support for them by joining the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in the march on DC. I did this to stand up for human rights and against the hateful rhetoric that has emanated from the President during his campaign. It was very inspiring and humbling to be a part of a global movement to stand up for what many people believe in. The one chant that really made me think about how lucky we are to live in this country was "This is what Democracy looks like!"

Ready for the March!
I knew that there were going to be a ton of people that I knew headed down there, so I figured that I would be able to meet up with many of them at some point. Since I knew that public transportation would be a disaster, I decided to ride my bike down. My friend Sanna had the same idea, so we made a plan to meet up near the bicycle check-in, which ended up being right outside my new office building!

Marchers in front of DOE
I didn't make it down there until after the official start of the rally and really didn't know what to expect. I was shocked when it was really tough for me to get to the bike parking because of all the people there. And the check-in was 7 blocks away from the stage! At this point, I began to get a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to find anyone that I knew. To add to that, the cell service was super spotty.

Huge crowds at Independence and L'Enfant
Fortunately I found Sanna and her friend who were perched on a concrete wall with a good view of the intersection of Independence and L'Enfant. There was a screen that we could see most of and speakers nearby to that we could hear what was happening on the stage. We decided to stay there for a while and just watch everything going on around us. It was quite the sight to see!

We became a little chilled from staying in one spot and since it was after the official start time of the marching, we decided to start moving around. Plus, the crowd was starting to get a little restless to start walking as well. We tried to move toward the march route, but it was still so packed, that it was really slow going!

Eventually we were able to break free and we made our way towards the Washington Monument and the White House. This is when we really got a good sense of how many people there were, it was amazing! We headed towards to ellipse to really show the new President how we felt and then decided to circumnavigate the White House.

Signs left in front of the White House
We had to get back to our bikes at the check-in, so we thought we would head back by way of the Old Post Office building to see what was going on there. Everywhere we walked in the downtown area the marchers owned the roads!

Marchers all over Penn Ave

Marchers in front of the Old Post Office Building
We made it back to pick up our bikes and I headed back to Arlington with a new sense of purpose. I cannot sit idly by and watch human rights being taken away from people who deserve better from our Government. Not to mention all of the potential environmental and nature impacts that are sure to occur due to this Administration. I have already started calling my Senators to express my opinions and I hope that many of you will do the same!!

This may be a long four years ahead of us, but we must keep the fight on for the issues in which we truly believe!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Back to Blogging?

On the eve of the Inauguration of a new President, one that I (among others) was not expecting to have been elected, I decided that it would be a good time to update my blog template and start posting again. How long will I keep this up? Well, who knows, but there may be a lot to discuss with a new Administration... Especially living and working in the DC area!

A lot has happened in my life since I last posted. But at the same time, a lot of things have stayed the same. I won't get into all that has happened, I'll save it for another post if I get my act together. But, I will leave you with my biggest change and that was to my place of employment. After almost 15 years of working for Naval Facilities I have moved to a new position with the Department of Energy. I am still involved in project management and construction, but at a higher headquarters level.

So with that, here's to a new year, new adventures, more blog posting, and good things to come in 2017!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Youth Ice Hockey Officiating

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a huge hockey fan. It definitely rivals my love for football. It may be hard to imagine, but I have trouble deciding which I like more, the Steelers or the Penguins. It's hard to really judge though, because the seasons are so different with 16 games versus 82. Anyway, that's not really what this post is about.

Matt Hillson may not remember this, but not too long after we graduated from GW, probably about 10 years ago, I got this crazy idea that I wanted to be a hockey official. One day when I was out for a bike ride, I happened to ride past Mt. Vernon Rec Center Ice Rink. I decided to stop in and see if they had any information on ice hockey programs and refereeing. At that time, Kettler wasn't even in the picture, and the only other rink that I knew about was Ft. Dupont where GW used to play.

The information that I got led me to the USA Hockey website and I found out that August and September were when the registration and seminars for the next hockey season were held. Of course this was sometime in the spring, probably at the height of the NHL playoffs, so that was a long ways away. By the time the end of the summer rolled around, I was not thinking about hockey yet, as the Steelers were gearing up to play! So several years went by and I always missed the cut-off dates.

Eventually I got involved in some other great organizations and activities, and the USA Hockey seminars just fell off my radar. Until this past August when I was reading an article online about youth hockey and it reminded me about wanting to become a ref. So back to the USA Hockey website I went, and lo and behold, there was a seminar in September that I was able to attend. The seminars are free to take and they are promoted as a way for new officials to gauge interest.

I enjoyed the seminar, despite the fact that my skating was a little rusty, since I hadn't been on ice since probably Feb of last year. I decided to take the plunge and register for Level 1 and take the test. It's an open book, multiple choice, 50 question test, so there should be no reason that anyone fails, and I didn't. After that, it was a matter of getting some equipment, a uniform, and joining the Southeastern Hockey Officials Association. The next step was to reach out to some of the schedulers to introduce myself so that they would begin to schedule me for games.

Whistle, uniform, and crest ready!

By this point it was the beginning of November and the season was in full swing. I was able to get a 10 and under Mite game right before Thanksgiving. The Mite games are played with half the ice surface and no icing or offsides, 4 skaters to a side, and one official. I handled that game pretty well, but definitely learned a few things in the process. In December I was able to get two games, a Mite game and a 12 and under Squirt game. Fortunately, I was working the Squirt game with an experienced official. The wild card, which made me even more nervous, was that my parents and sister were in town and wanted to come watch! It wasn't a terrible start to my reffing career, but I wasn't a star either!

Watching the play from the blue line

To wrap up this longer than anticipated story, I have done about 16 games so far and I am generally getting more comfortable as time goes on. This past weekend, I had four games on my schedule. Unfortunately, it started off pretty badly on Sat night with an upper level Squirt game that I worked with another first year official. It was an ugly game and we let it get a bit too out of hand, but no one really got hurt and it was a learning experience for me. The two games on Sun morning were much better and I had a great partner to work with. Then, on Sunday afternoon I got to experience sled hockey from an officials viewpoint. It was amazing to see those youths out there on the ice giving it their all.

We'll see where this journey takes me, but so far despite some travails, it has been a fun way to spend my weekends this winter! I'll leave you with a parting shot of me looking the part, with my wonderful mustache!

Watching the play with my family behind me