Tag Archives: family

Week In Review – Recuperating in Phoenix

Before I start on the week in review, I want to give a huge shout out to Barbara Grostick.  I met Barbara when she was the President of NAVPLG and I was a new member.  I remember thinking of her as being kind and welcoming.  Last week she was also generous, opening up her home to us so that Jay and I could leave the Las Vegas Hotel and recuperate in the comfort of a home.  Barbara, her husband, and her two dogs made us feel right at home and aided in Jay’s speedy recovery.  We are so grateful.

Hedgehog cactus flower

Hedgehog cactus flower

Last Tuesday night we arrived in Phoenix, in time to celebrate Jay’s birthday with his family on Wednesday.  We also celebrated Jay’s dad’s birthday on Sunday and will celebrate Jay’s future sister in-law’s birthday tomorrow.  Needless to say we are eating a lot of cake and trying to stay healthy despite that.  Jay’s recovery is coming along great and we are planning to take a short road trip this weekend to the Overland Expo in Amado Arizona.

blitz torte

We ate a lot of Cindi's famous Blitz Torte this week ... with 2 Holt birthdays and testing for Nate's wedding cake

Hours volunteered: approximately 5, Sharon attended training for a volunteer event in Phoenix, wrote e-newsletter blasts for NAVPLG, and started a web content project for StartingBloc

States: Arizona

Budget: under – we always save money when we stop moving

People Visited: we enjoyed seeing Jay’s friend Steve again and celebrating birthday’s with Jay’s brother Nate, his fiance Nicole, and their daughter Laya; we also celebrated Morgan’s birthday with Jay’s riding teammates from the 24 hour race, Kevin and Mary and Dan (and his wife Lisa)

Nights under the stars: 0

Best meal: Cedar plank grilled salmon, roasted tomatoes and caesar salad with Blitz Torte for dessert that Cindi and Morgan prepared for Jay’s birthday dinner

Best beer: New Belgium’s 1554  (the first beer Jay got to drink once he cut back on the pain meds)

Laya and Sharon

Sharon with Jay's niece Laya

Welcome Home – Phoenix, AZ

Jay returning home for the first time in months

We may be technically homeless, but it doesn’t feel that way since we have multiple home bases around the country.  A week ago we arrived at Jay’s parents house in Phoenix; a home which carries special significance for us.  We met in October 2003 as college students in Flagstaff Arizona.  We had just started considering each other dating material when I needed a ride to Phoenix to visit my grandmother who was living in Sun City at the time.  In those days Jay drove a total lemon, a Chevy Lumina sans hub caps (since they would fall off when he took it off road).  While not pretty, the car was still functional and served as the vehicle for our first road trip together.  When I met his family that first weekend (before we were even introducing ourselves as girlfriend and boyfriend), I knew I realized I had found a great guy.

Jay and his brother Nate

Jay getting a warm greeting from his brother Nate

A bit rough around the edges, Jay becomes animated and caring when in the presence of his family.  I still remember the first time seeing him around their kitchen table talking and laughing.  His mom still referring to him as her baby and him not resisting the potentially embarrassing label.  At the dinner table, as I heard his dad discussing his landscaping work and his mom excitedly sharing news about the next big author they would be bringing to the library, I finally understood why he could identify both desert plant life as well as great literary works.  Until then I really wondered if he was just making stuff up.


For Jay and I both, our families are very important to us.  I appreciated living in the DC area for the last two and a half years so that I could be closer to my family.  Our extended family gatherings are epic and I will miss them greatly … Jay was just starting to get used to them…  It will be hard to spend most of this year away from them, but I am reassured to know that I will have more time with my second family.  I am also excited to see Jay back to being his best self, lifted up by his family and friends and the desert he knows and loves.

Jay's niece Laya

Jay's niece Laya playing in our "home"

My Sponsors, continued

Cindi and Morgan

Jay's parents, Cindi and Morgan

Jay’s parents, Cindi and Morgan, are like 2nd parents to me and have been amazingly supportive of all of our endeavors.    You may have seen Morgan on this blog before as he accompanied me to the Community Garden in Phoenix over the Thanksgiving weekend.  We look forward to spending a lot more time with Jay’s parents throughout the Service Driven adventure as we use Phoenix as a home base.

Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mariel

Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mariel

Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mariel were kind enough to give us a donation in the form of a Visa Gift Card which allowed us to use part of it for the Sponsorship and then part of it in getting camping supplies for our road trip.  Nathan and Mariel recently got married and we were so excited to welcome Nathan into the family officially.  We will miss living so close to them.


Terri, an old picture of us

Terri and I have been friends since I was born.  Seriously.  She was born 3 days before me and our parents brought us together as babies.  We have followed similar paths, doing Girl Scouts together, going to college at a close by state school and then returning to the DC metro area and pursuing grad school.  Terri and Phil recently got engaged, which is an exciting reason for us to circle back to Virginia in August.

my cousin Karl and his daughter Samantha (Amy not pictured)

My cousin Amy and her husband Karl were also generous in giving us a Visa Gift card which we were then able to us towards both the StartingBloc sponsorship and supplies for our trip.  Amy, who worked in publishing, was also one of the first subscribers to the blog and has been helpful in advice on writing and publishing.  We will miss seeing our east coast relatives while we are travelling primarily in the West, and will particularly miss seeing Samantha as often, as she is growing and changing every day.


And last but certainly not least is my friend, Carolyn Ha, for which I do not have a recent picture because I have not seen her very much since High School.  Carolyn was one of my best friends at TJ.  We used to talk about getting into TJ on the “ditz quota” as we skipped through the halls and gave out gold stars for good fashion.  She went on to be a Pharmacist and had clearly been just going along for the fun on my joke about the ditz quota.  Carolyn is one of those great responsible, smart, and determined young people that are going to be the leaders of my generation.

A BIG Thank You To My Sponsors

My sponsors chartWhen I started asking for sponsorship for StartingBloc, a young leaders program that will kick off Service Driven next month, I had faith that my family and friends would come through for me.  I believed that they would support me and this initiative because I have such an amazing group of friends and family.  Thank you so much to everyone that contributed.  I look forward to sharing what I learn next month.  For all my sponsors, I will volunteer in your name during the trip, so expect to see another blog post with your name on it down the road.

Now a little more about who my sponsors are:

My parents, Melinda and John

My parents are always the first to show support for my ideas and adventures.  They stepped up right away with a donation to get the sponsorships rolling.

LinMarie, my AmeriCorps buddy

I met LinMarie through the AmeriCorps program in Flagstaff, Arizona (she’s seen here standing outside our old house in Flagstaff).  LinMarie and I were great partners through our year in AmeriCorps, working together whenever we could and offering support.  LinMarie has an amazing commitment to service and I really look forward to seeing her when we get to Arizona.

Son, my date for prom and go to guy

Son, who I met freshman year of high school, has always been an inspiration for me.  He came to this country as a small child from Vietnam and earned his citizenship during high school.  A true genius, he was substitute teaching for his mom’s college courses as a teenager.  This year he will become a doctor, working for the Air Force, focused on emergency medicine.

Uncle Chris, my cousin Stephanie, and Aunt Madelon

Another of my sponsors was Aunt Madelon.  Madelon is very generous, last year she and Stephanie baked cookies and bread and put on a fabulous bake sale that raised several hundred dollars for the American Cancer Society.

Tiffany, CVN's Chair


I’ve only known Tiffany since early 2010, but through working together on Community Volunteer Network, I’ve come to admire her greatly.  She is a true servant leader, focusing on recognizing others and trying to maximize their talents.  This year she is also the Chair of the Arlington County Fair Board, so the Arlingtonians have a great fair to look forward to this summer!


Maria, a fellow ODKM graduate

Maria was in the ODKM program with me and I got to know her over the last year as well.  She is a passionate person with a big heart and I learned a lot from her in a short amount of time.  Even after the trauma of being in a hit and run car accident she managed to get a check in the mail to send me a donation.

Jay's grandmother, Millie

Jay’s Grandmother, Millie, has always been so supportive of everything we do.  She sent me a graduation gift which I was able to put towards the StartingBloc program fee so I am counting her amongst my sponsors.


Christmas Spirit: Being Grateful and Giving To Others

Tewksbury/Blooms at Ronald McDonald House

Mom, sister (Nora), and Sharon at Ronald McDonald House

This Christmas I was reminded at how blessed Jay and I are and how grateful we are to be so blessed.  We are finishing up on a great year of accomplishments and good fortune.  Yesterday, Christmas Eve, my mom invited my sister Nora and I to join her at the Ronald McDonald House.  She volunteers there every Friday.  Nora and I met my mom there, working our way through the daily chores list unloading the dishwasher, cleaning, and straightening.  We also had time to chat over coffee since the house was pretty empty for the holiday weekend.

Ronald McDonald Houses are located near hospitals all over the world and provide a place for families to stay when they have a child undergoing treatment for a serious illness.  My sister, who was diagnosed with cancer at her 6 month check up, stayed in the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore as a toddler when she was getting a bone marrow transplant (from me) at Johns Hopkins.  Our family was very grateful for this home away from home at such a stressful time.

The Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church  is connected with Fairfax Hospital which has a well renowned NICU and therefore a lot of the families who stay at the house are there because they have newborns who were born prematurely or who have life-threatening illnesses.  Today, in the wee hours of the morning, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy.  We are so grateful.  So blessed.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.