Friday, January 28, 2011

Going Home

Today we're back in Pennsylvania, but it's a sad trip. We're saying one last goodbye to a man that has been a constant and steady part of my life for the past thirty years, my Pa. Last friday Pa peacefully passed away, going Home to be with our Ma and so many other beloved family members that have since passed away.

Of course I have so many memories of him that are meaningful to me; experiences that we shared over the past 30 years. A Pa that was my babysitter while his girls went out for the day and a Pa that came to school for lunch, when my mom and dad couldn't leave work. A Pa that sat through every single piano and dance recital, choir concert and musical, always with a smile. A Pa that planted us our very own apple tree in his orchard and gathered Chinese chestnuts for the kids to sell. A Pa that shot hoops out on the magic square and played in the jungle underneath the weeping willow. A Pa that enjoyed making jam and always had a sweet treat to share.

While all of those moments are sacred and special, mostly when I think about Pa I find myself lingering on the stories that I wasn't a part of; stories of a young man that was so foreign to the Pa that I knew, but still so very similar. I dream about Gene the student who walked the same streets while in college at Penn State that I walked so many years later. I dream about the day Gene Master came to town, the day a young Marian canceled her plans to meet up with him. I draw up visions of a handsome young soldier aboard a Navy ship and then a spirited coach, on the sidelines of the track. I wonder about him as brother playing in the fields so close to his home I know. And I so badly wish I knew more about him as the dad who drove his daughter and her college friends home for a Sunday family dinner. There are so many things I will never know about my Pa's life, so many questions I never asked. But there is one thing I do know for sure - I never met a person who didn't think my Pa was a good guy. I don't think that person exists.

Having been diagnosed with his illness while we were traveling back from Guatemala, I was very happy to arrive at home to spend some time with him after a long time away. My Pa has always been a conservative man, not thrilled about trying new things or traveling to far away places, so our going to Guatemala was always a bit unsettling to him. A phone call every now and again helped to keep his worries at bay. I really would have loved to have him come and visit us there because then maybe he could have seen why we loved it so much instead of just hearing stories. In our conversations he was always very interested in the differences between life in Guatemala and life in the US. I just know that after he got over his apprehensions, he would have really appreciated the culture and understood it better.

Sadly, I don't have many photos of Pa on my computer, but I did do have my very favorite of the two of us together. It's a four part series taken at our wedding. I like how together all four photos capture the moment perfectly. I often wish I could go back to that day for many reasons, but today it's mostly so I can see my Pa smile again as we danced under the moonlight.

For thirty years you were the best Pa a girl could ask for.
I've loved you always, and always will.

In loving memory
M. Gene Master
7.17.1927 - 1.21.2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

5 under 3

Make that 3 and under


I'm referring to the second half of our holiday QFT (remember?, Quality Family Time). I know, geez Krista, it's officially 1 month after Christmas. Get with the program. I'm trying. Really trying. I promise.

I suppose I could have just skipped the holiday wrap up, but then you wouldn't get to see these great photos of the 5 days we spent with the other half of our the same house as 5 little ones 3 years old & under! Well, technically in 2 houses.....but most of the time, just 1.

There was lots of playing going on......inside and out. Throw that in with a Harnish family gathering/pool tournament and a bunch of baby holding and that pretty much sums up how we spent our time.....doing it all beside a roasty toasty warm wood stove.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves - with a little help.

Chloe with her wild & beautiful hair!

Grampy snuggling baby Joel
(he was less than a week old!)

Most delicious punch ever.
(White grape juice, Sprite & cranberries)

Isaiah & Addie glued to the tube....Elmo must be on!

Cousins catching up on life

A favorite male pastime - chopping & stacking wood

Hello Mo!

Aunt Meghan & Joel

Sisco & Joel
(we couldn't get enough of Baby Joel)

This little girl loves the big girls!

Guess who loves the freedom of the farm?

Leaf wrestling pit

Addie going out on a limb

Now everyone want to go out on a limb

Check out this 7-month-old almost walker.....little Lewis

Mia & Taffy sliding on the ice

Mia loving life

Grampy & his girls

Angels making snow angels

Uncle Kush & Isaiah

Present time!

Read me a story Uncle Eloy

Lewis & his mom tearing into another present

Proud big sister....and cousin

Auntie love

Grammy & Grampy with their crew of 5

Friday, January 21, 2011

We Are....

Penn State!

In case you didn't know, both Ben & I graduated from under grad at Penn State. And like most Nittany Lions, we have (and always will) a special place in our hearts for Happy Valley (what they call the town of State College, where the university is located). Nestled down in a valley, life is always grand in Joe Pa's town! Actually, most people probably don't know this, but we laid eyes on each other for the very first time at a PSU football game. Can you even image meeting the love of your life amidst 120,000 people? Well ok, the "love of your life" part was unknown at that very moment, but things did blossom a bit later that evening when we reunited at a party, thanks for our little matchmaker (and maid of honor ) Sara Beth!

So lucky for us, Happy Valley is almost exactly halfway between where my parents live in northwestern PA & where Ben's parents live in southeastern PA. Whenever possible we like to make it a stopping point as we travel between our two families. Our holiday trip home in December was no exception. Only this time was extra special because it was Mia's first time!

Check out the highlights.

Meeting the Allen St. piglets

Checking out the old stomping grounds
(aka the cool kids sidewalk that led to my old apartment)

For sure a McLanahan's sub

Meeting old Joe Pa himself....sort of

And of course, a visit to the Nittany Lion Shrine

Our visit was short (and cold) but we had so much fun, we've even chatted about going back for Fall a weekend trip......but probably not on a football weekend. It would be super fun to tailgate with friends and hit another game, but we'd also like to just hang out and chill in town which is pretty hard to do when the entire world is there too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day Part II

Yay! Wishes really do come true! Today we had another snow day. Well technically it was more like an ice day, but it's all the same when you're stuck in the house!

At first I was a little bummed as I had planned a big trip to Mary Jo's to purchase some fabric for our guest room curtains (it would have been a perfect day to sew) but then I realized how lucky I really am. A 4 day weekend with my favorite 2 companions? How often does this happen? Almost never!

So I readjusted my priorities and got to work making the most of my day. Since I'm really trying to get on top of things in 2011, I began by paying bills, making phone calls and organizing photos on the computer. I bit the bullet and paid to upgrade my Flickr account so that now I can upload as many photos as I'd like, making it a whole lot easier to share the good ones with friends and family. Since the arrival of my new camera, I've been snapping away just like I used to (before it was stolen). I think I took about 500 photos while back in PA. They certainly aren't all great, but how can I delete photos of our family?

Take a look at Part I of our holiday in Pennsylvania, where we celebrated Christmas with the Finotti/Master family. It was great! We spent Christmas day with everyone together, just like old times. Mia got to meet her cousins and experience snow for the first time and absolutely loved it all. And of course we had lots of quality family time....and lots of good eats!

The whole Master/Finotti Crew!

Pa loves his Quickbread!

Who knew Christopher had a soft spot for kitties?

Our first white Christmas in a while.

QFT. (Quality Family Time)
Uncle Mark sharing some funny "Dadisms"

Our little family of 3.

Mia showing off her tricks!

Sadie Boo in her Christmas collar.

Could it be more socks?

I thought they weren't allowed on the furniture?

Sister & Brother

Our little snow bunny!

That's quite the cooler you got there mom!

Christmas in Pennsylvania Part II, coming soon...........