Archive for July, 2008

More Wedding Pics

July 28, 2008

Here are some more pics from Ken and Marcia’s wedding. I can’t wait to see the ones their photographer took! I was in the back of the church and snuck upstairs to snap a couple shots overlooking the whole scene. :)

Matt and I just got back from New York (no flight issues this time)! We had such a great time this weekend!!! Yes, we were in New York for another wedding. This time it was Matt’s cousin, Marcia. Matt actually introduced Marcia to Ken, which is a really sweet story. He’s quite the matchmaker because they are the most adorable couple.

If I think of what the most perfect wedding would be like, it would be like this one. They had the quaint little church and the elegant reception hall and despite the threat of some rain in the morning the weather turned out to be gorgeous!!

I don’t usually cry at weddings, but I had a very hard time fighting the tears at this one. Maybe it’s because Marcia is part of my family now, or maybe because she is possibly the most beautiful bride I have ever seen, or because they have been together nearly seven years and are just perfect for each other… or more likely all of the above.

Here are a few pics I captured in her bridal suite:

Rockin’ in Rochester

July 26, 2008

While we were in the area, we met up with a buddy of mine that I met at WMU. He works at one of our accounts in Rochester. I knew Daren was a hilarious guy from our Western Mich class, but I had no idea. I swear to you he had me had me laughing so damn hard I thought I wouldn’t be able to breathe anymore. He brought several of his coworkers out (wish my account had “happy hours” like theirs) and we had so much fun. There’s a great little section of downtown Rochester that has a bunch of bars all over. We started at a very chill little bar and sat at a table by a window (apparently it offers a great view of people fighting, falling, and getting arrested). It provided us some entertainment while we were there, too. Good times…

We ended up at this place called Daisy Dukes. I’ll let you guess what kind of bar it was. Haha! I can’t really show too many of the pictures because everyone looks much drunker than they actually were, but here are a few of the tame pics I can share:

Even though we were going to a wedding in Rochester, Matt and I flew into Buffalo. We were able to use free flight credits from Air Tran for the trip. We took advantage of the opportunity to go to the Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wing. And here I always thought that Buffalo wings were made out of buffalo. It turns out they are actually chicken (sorry, Jessica Simpson moment).

Matt trying another Buffalo staple, a “Beef on Weck” sandwich. Delicious, but we still don’t know exactly where the got the name “weck” for the type of bread. UPDATE: see conclusion of blog for more info about the history of Beef on Weck

The original Buffalo wing… yummy!!!

We also took the opportunity to head over to Niagara Falls, marking my first time ever in Canada! We didn’t have time to go on a boat tour or anything, but we did walk around and enjoy the falls. The air was misty and filled with the scent of water (yes, water has a scent!!!). I loved it. I actually don’t think the falls were as impressive as I imagined, but had I gone below and looked up I’m sure that opinion would change. One opinion that I don’t think will change is that the American Falls are nicer than the Horseshoe Falls. I’m sure no one agrees with me and I got funny looks when I said that, but when we were there the Horseshoe Falls had too much mist for the falls to be visible. I like all the beautiful rocks at the American Falls and the Bridal Veil waterfall was really pretty.

You know I had to look it up. Thanks Wiki!!!!

“A kummelweck, or sometimes kimmelweck or even kümmelweck, is a salty roll that is popular in Western New York. It is similar to a Kaiser roll, but topped with pretzel salt and caraway seeds. Kummelweck is commonly shortened to “weck,” and often served in the Buffalo metropolitan area with roast beef and horseradish to form a sandwich known colloquially as “beef on weck.” Along with wings and the so-called garbage plate, beef on weck is one of the three most distinct dishes of the region.”

And another interesting thing which tells more about Beef on Weck and another unsolved mystery nagging at me for some time… the name of BW3!!!!!

“The American restaurant franchise Buffalo Wild Wings is formerly known as BW3, and this fact raises the question as to the meaning of the third ‘W’ in the former name. The abbreviation came from the original full name of the restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings and Weck. The chain no longer serves beef on weck outside of Western New York and no longer uses the original name but does still use the extra “W” in its abbreviation.”

Sweet Adelines

July 22, 2008

After three weeks of attending rehearsals for the Jax Harmony chapter of Sweet Adelines International I auditioned… and made it in! Yeah!!!! I sung with S.A. briefly back in high school and have not forgotten about them. Glad I finally found a chapter to join and I’m even more glad that it’s Jax Harmony. It’s just a fabulous group of women and they have an incredible sound! This is the first group I have sung with in about 6 years, so I’m thrilled to have music back in my life!

I’m sure I’ll have plenty to post in the future about the group, but I guess for anyone who is not familiar with S.A. I will explain. It’s an all-female barbershop chorus that has hundreds of chapters throughout the world. The voice parts are different from what you may be familiar (the old SATB voice parts). In barbershop, the parts are:

Tenor – usually sings harmony above the lead
Lead – usually sings melody and “leads” the chorus
Baritone – sings harmony both above and below the lead
Bass – what you might expect… basses sing low full notes that are the anchor of the chorus

I sing baritone which is a very challenging and exciting part. My ear is used to singing the melody or above the melody, so that is where the biggest challenge is. But vocally it’s a comfortable place for me. I think it’s the most difficult part to sing but that makes it more fun.

If any ladies are interested in joining, please let me know. I’d love to have you come out and see what it’s all about. It is a TON of fun. I always feel so energized after rehearsal that it’s hard to go to sleep (like now). And all the ladies are so warm and welcoming. It’s a great experience! :)

The real reason we went to New York this past weekend was to celebrate the marriage of Matt’s best friend, Adam, to his beautiful bride, Lindsey. The wedding was very intimate and perfect. Lindsey’s sister made the amazing wedding cake and the favors (cute little cookies to match the cake). And while the guys were all placing bets on when the newlyweds would be expecting their first baby, they secretly knew that everyone was wrong because they were already expecting! So sneaky, but what wonderful news! They truly are an amazing and adorable couple and we wish them all the happiness in the world!

Stay tuned to the end of the slideshow to see the damage that Matt and the other groomsmen did to Adam’s car! :)

Finally Back Home!!

July 14, 2008

The past few days have been insanely busy, but none as insane as our trip home.

We left for the New Haven tran station around 7am, caught a 7:55am train to Grand Central, and arrived around 9:40am. We then hopped a cab over to LaGuardia for an 11:59am flight. Boarded the plane and sat on the tarmac for over 5 hours due to weather delays in Atlanta. We should have been back to Jacksonville at 4pm, but we didn’t even leave NYC until around 5pm. We finally arrived in Atlanta around 7pm and despite being told we were automatically rebooked for a later flight to Jacksonville found that we were not booked on any flight that evening! The only flight to Jacksonville that was open was Monday morning. So we asked for a flight credit and the gate agent (a supervisor) said that the airline would reimburse us for a one way car rental. We headed straight down to ground transportation and found that there were NO one way rentals available!! We’ve been through this routine in Atlanta before, so we went to the ticketing counter and tried to figure out what options we had. They were able to put us on a 9:45pm flight to Orlando that was delayed by about 30 minutes, so we took it. At least there would be rental cars in Orlando and we could get home. Well, our Orlando flight got delayed until 2:30am. Not very promising. We figured we may as well get on a Monday morning Jacksonville flight at that point, but it wasn’t available. There were no open seats to Jax until Tuesday! The gate agent suggested that if we had confirmed seats on a flight we should be on it. So we waited and waited and waited. We tried to catch some shut eye but the airport was such a nightmare. 2:30am came around and we were told (SURPRISE) that our flight was cancelled. And still no flights were open until Tuesday… to ANY Florida city!!!! We started walking and calling all of the car rental companies and finally found that Thrifty did have a car available. We confirmed that Air Tran would pay for our rental and got our car around 4am. After being up 22 hours we took turns driving the 6 hour trip to Jacksonville. It was so horrible! We finally got home around 10:30am, stinky and exhausted. I called into work to give them an update and was going to try to get a half day in still, but when Matt tried to wake me up around noon I was in such a deep sleep that there was no way it was happening. I slept until Matt woke me up for dinner and still felt like I hadn’t slept at all.

But our trip wasn’t all bad. In fact, we had a great time! The wedding was fun and we also managed to see a lot of sights along the way.

Welcome to New York (sign at LaGuardia Airport)
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Grand Central Station
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Grand Central Station atrium
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New York Pizza… yum!!!
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Tunnel to the train station in New Haven
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Saratoga National Historical Park
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Farm House at the site of the Battles of Saratoga (used as headquarters and lodging)
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Matt near a replica cannon
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Saratoga Monument
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Home of General Philip Schuyler
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Fort Ticonderoga
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French monument at Ticonderoga. The sign reads: Near this spot stood Louis-Joseph de Gozon Marquis de Montcalm on the 8th of July 1758 with a small force of French troops and Canadian volunteers he prevented the capture of Fort Carillon by defeating a much superior British and Colonial army under General James Abercrombie. This monument erected in 1927 to honor a brave and gallant gentleman.
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Firing the cannons at Ticonderoga
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Just in case you didn’t believe we were actually there
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Keyhole at Ticonderoga (I just thought it was really cute!)
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I added Matt’s name! LOL! :p
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Matt passing through the entrance to the fort
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Now we venture into the great mansions of the Hudson Valley!

Clermont (home of Robert Livingston… Mr. Livingston, I presume) – one of 5 who helped draft the Declaration of Independence, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, swore in President Washington, and co-developer of the first viable steamboat
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Wilderstein (home of Thomas Suckley, descendant of the prominent Beekman and Livingston families) – The home was last lived in by Margaret (Daisy) Suckley who was also the cousin of FDR. She gave him his famous little Scottie named Fala.
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Vanderbilt Mansion Hyde Park (home of Frederick William Vanderbilt, grandson of the famous Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt) – gorgeous home, but not nearly as impressive as his brother George Washington Vanderbilt’s elaborate home, the Biltmore. Hyde Park is only 55,000 square feet compared to 175,000 square feet at the Biltmore
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Springwood (home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt)
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Gardener’s Cottage at Springwood
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Just hanging out with FDR and Eleanor
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Final resting place of the President and the First Lady
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Springwood Stables
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FDR named one of his horses “New Deal”
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Val-Kill (home of Eleanor Roosevelt after FDR’s death)
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Gone Fishin’

July 8, 2008

After months (years??) of saying that we are going to go fishing, Matt and I finally dusted off the ol’ fishing poles and headed out to the pier. We kept our expectations low and decided that even if we didn’t catch anything it would be good to get outside and enjoy the sun and the salty air. We did have a few catches, but nothing worth keeping. I didn’t see anyone around us who really had any keepers. I suspect if we had stayed until early evening we would have seen more action, but some ominous clouds changed our minds on that one. The view from the pier made it look like the end of the world was coming. It never really stormed from what we could tell, but the threat was enough to scare us off. If you had seen these clouds, you would have run, too!

Here are a few of our catches:

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This is such an amazing and touching story. I just had to share it. It was sent to Matt by one of his high school friends, Ryan. The article is about Ryan’s fiancee, Trine, who received a liver transplant when she was just 2 1/2 years old. Ryan recently received a liver transplant and Matt says he is doing well.

After reading the article, I questioned why I haven’t become an organ donor. The answer is I just never looked into how to do it, but a simple google search and the answers are there.

I thought I would pass on the information in case anyone else has thought about being an organ donor but never knew how or didn’t take the time to become one.

FAQ about becoming an organ/tissue donor:
Click here for the FAQ

Become an organ/tissue donor:
Click here to get started

Liver donor’s family, recipient unite online By JENNIFER C. YATES, Associated Press Writer
Sun Jul 6, 2:00 PM ET

They were precocious toddlers, both blond-haired and blue-eyed, separated by a thousand miles between Miami and a small Kentucky town.

The two girls would never meet, but would be brought together through unthinkable tragedy: Trine Engebretsen was born with a genetic disorder that would require what at the time was an extremely rare liver transplant, and Amanda DeLapp would die at just 18 months after being stricken with a brain tumor.

In an operation in Pittsburgh in 1984, Amanda’s family donated their daughter’s liver to Trine, making her one of the nation’s youngest patients ever to receive a liver transplant.

For years, each family would try to contact the other. Trine’s family sent a picture of their daughter dressed for Christmas to the DeLapp family, a picture that still sits on the bedroom dresser of Alisha DeLapp, Amanda’s mother. That correspondence was followed by years of miscommunication, with each family mistakenly thinking the other didn’t want any contact.

But Amanda’s younger sister, born after her death, never gave up hope of one day meeting the girl who received her sister’s liver. Keisha DeLapp had found Trine on the Internet years ago, and read about her participation as a swimmer in the U.S. Transplant Games. She read about Trine’s wonderful health, including her complete independence from drugs that prevent organ rejection.

Like other twentysomethings, Keisha also kept a MySpace page, with a simple quote at the top: “Faith is not simply believing that God can … It is knowing that He will.”

Earlier this year, Keisha looked for Trine online again, found her on MySpace and sent her a greeting:

“Hi. I’m Keisha DeLapp, Amanda DeLapp’s sister. Me and my family would love to have contact with you if you would like to. Let me know.”

This month, the U.S. Transplant Games will be held for the first time in Pittsburgh, one of the pioneering centers for transplants in the country, and 25 years after the operation that forever connected the Engebretsen and DeLapp families.

At the games, these two families will look each other in the eyes for the first time, exchanging hellos, hugs and memories of the event that changed both their lives.


Amanda was Alisha DeLapp’s first child, born in 1981. The little girl known as Mandy to her family was healthy and happy, even walking by the time she was 8 months old, her mother recalls.

A year later, everything changed. Amanda was hospitalized because she was vomiting and had pneumonia-like symptoms. Her parents rushed her to the hospital closest to their Mayfield, Ky., home, but doctors were unable to figure out what was wrong. As her condition deteriorated, doctors sent Amanda to a hospital in Nashville, about two hours away.

Doctors there found the problem, telling Amanda’s anxious parents their daughter had a brain tumor and was going to die. Amanda DeLapp was 18 months old.

A nurse at the hospital asked the couple if they would consider donating Amanda’s organs.

“To me, at that time, it had to be God helping us to decide,” Alisha DeLapp remembers. “I can look back at that now and know it was the hardest decision I ever had to make.”

Alisha and her husband returned home. On TV, they saw on the news that a little girl named Trine had received a liver transplant. Alisha remembered the little girl; she had seen Trine and her mom, Mary Ann Lunde, on the Phil Donahue show appealing for help. They had also made other national TV appearances.

The DeLapps knew immediately that their daughter’s liver had saved Trine’s life. (They later learned that Amanda’s kidneys were donated to a man in his 20s.)

Transplants were rare at the time, and in a matter of hours the local news channels were calling the DeLapps for comment. They agreed to an interview with a local TV station, which was broadcast on the “Today” show.

The DeLapps’ were interviewed along with Trine’s family. They didn’t speak directly to each other, but it was the closest the families would come to it for years.

Trine Engebretsen, now 26, doesn’t remember much about her lifesaving liver transplant when she was 2 1/2 years old.

She had been born with a genetic disorder called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which resulted in her body not producing enough of a key enzyme in the liver.

In addition to the family’s appeals for help on TV, her father, a Norwegian citizen, appealed to the Norwegian government, which agreed to pay for Trine’s surgery. He was Norway’s youngest passenger ship captain, and was lost at sea in a hurricane when Trine was 13.

When Trine arrived at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for the transplant, doctors estimated she had less than 24 hours to live.

She was one of several children who had transplants at the Pittsburgh hospital in 1983 and 1984, remembers pioneering transplant surgeon Dr. Thomas Starzl, who performed her operation. The patients were known as “Reagan children,” because then-President Reagan had been using his Saturday radio addresses to drum up public interest in transplantation.

“At the beginning of the 1980s, the only place in the U.S. that was doing these was here in Pittsburgh,” Starzl said.

Starzl remembers Trine and over the years says he has met several donor families.

“I was profoundly and still am profoundly grateful to them, particularly in those days because it wasn’t common (to donate organs). It required a lot of social conscience,” Starzl said.


Over the years, Trine’s family tried to contact the DeLapp family. She knew the family lived in Kentucky, but says letters her mother sent to an address for Amanda’s grandparents were returned, unopened.

Several years ago, Trine wrote a thank you note to the DeLapps for her transplant and gave it to the organ-procurement organization for Kentucky hoping they could pass it along to the family. The note never made it to them.

Meanwhile, she immersed herself in transplant-related endeavors.

“I very much feel that it’s important and also I like to give back. I don’t feel like I’m under an obligation. I want to give back,” Trine said.

She first attended the U.S. Transplant Games in 1992, and has attended most of the games since then. She has participated in swimming, running and even signed up for the shot put this year.

She met her fiance, Ryan Labbe, in an online forum about organ transplants. He moved from New England to Miami to be with her, and received his own liver transplant earlier this year.

Trine has been off immunosuppressant medications for 11 years, something that’s becoming more common among transplant recipients. She is applying for medical school, in hopes of studying something transplant-related, and works for the Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency in Florida.

On a Friday night at her office, around 6 p.m., her Blackberry went off. It was a friend request from her MySpace page.

It was from 23-year-old Keisha DeLapp.

“I almost fell off my chair,” Trine says.

Alisha DeLapp, now 48, had gone on to have Keisha and a son before she and her husband divorced. She followed Trine’s progress through online stories from the various U.S. Transplant Games she competed in over the years. She kept the picture of Trine as a child in her Christmas dress — eerily, it was the same dress Amanda had worn in a Christmas snapshot — and hoped one day to be able to update it with a more recent photo.

“I know it’s not my daughter, but it’s just as special knowing that my daughter saved her life,” Alisha DeLapp said. “I’m proud of her, with the things that she’s chosen to do with her life. It’s so impressive to me.”

The two families have been communicating via e-mail since Keisha and Trine made contact earlier this year. They’ve talked about the many years they tried to connect, and how thankful they are for each other — each in their own ways.

“I’ve waited 24 years to be able to say thank you,” Trine says from her home in Florida.

When the transplant games commence on July 11, the three will meet for the first time in downtown Pittsburgh, just miles from where Trine’s surgery took place. Starzl will also be there to greet them. The women will give thanks for each other through hellos and hugs, and probably some tears.

“I never got to know my sister. I never got to meet her or anything. By no means is Trine my sister, but that’s kind of like a part of her,” Keisha says. “This whole experience, I’m just glad that it happened.”

Happy 4th of July

July 5, 2008

After living here for several years, Matt and I finally went downtown for the first (and probably last) time to take part in the 4th of July festivities. Here are a few pics from the fireworks display:

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