#18 A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

At a Gala at the O.A.S. in Washington, D.C. dating before we got married.

Reminiscing about the past, time flies, how did we get here? I was thinking when we met each other if we really thought we would be here one day, 18 years later. John said he knew since the first day. I know today that our marriage has exceeded my expectations. I have learned so much and John has been so loving and caring always. I hope I have also been a good partner for him, that is my wish, that he knows he is my priority always. I am happy that we arrived here today…

So John said we were to take a long weekend trip for our anniversary and so we did. I cleared my schedule and we left our home around 9:30 AM the day before our “real anniversary” and we took it slowly and bought breakfast along the way. I had no clue where we were going, just like for our honeymoon, I left that to him. So we headed north, Route 15, avoiding the major highways, enjoying the views. We saw some fall foliage along the way but not that much to warrant photos.

Have I told you how much we love “field trips”? Just to take off and go? It is blissful. As long as we are together we just enjoy doing this a lot. After an hour and a half or so I dozed off (typical) and then woke up in Lancaster, PA. Our first stop was in the city itself and John went to the visitor’s center to grab some brochures and ask some questions. We then walked to the legendary Lancaster Central Market, the oldest, continuously running public farmers’ market in the country! More than 65 vendors and OMGoodness what a treat. It is very clean, it has areas where you can sit, but quite frankly there is so much to see and enjoy you want to walk every aisle and sample the delish cheeses or meats they give you. We were a little hungry for lunch so after a quick visit to the dutch market we left through a side door and had lunch across the street at the Lancaster Dispensing Company Pub. Small and busy, set in a historic setting, the atmosphere is very nice, waitresses and waiters very congenial and the faire was what is to be expected, fresh and filling. I had chicken quesadillas and J had a club sandwich. Mind you, we have to try club sandwiches wherever we go and see f they measure up to our “club sandwich standard” 😉

We returned to the market after lunch (it closes early) and bought some treats to take back to the hotel. Quite frankly the market was a great place to be, and made me wish we had something like this in Loudoun county where we live. We were able to evidence so much from being there about Lancaster itself. What better place to experience Lancaster than right in the heart of it? We bought meringues and a guava pastry from a Cuban stand – Havana Juice; cheeses, chorizo and other meats from S. Clyde Weaver; bread from Ric’s Bread. At Ric’s Bread they had an assortment of artisanal breads and handmade baked items. One thing I will tell you, don’t doddle in your decision because in a blink of an eye someone else will come and grab what you had eyed a minute ago. John decided to buy Amish butter and try it, we were all excited about our treats. But this market not only has food and vegetables, it has all sort of products and handmade items, it is a must visit when in Lancaster!

After a short nap we went to dinner to Luca, a fairly new, trendy Italian restaurant. If you do not have a reservation be ready to wait and be seated as they see fit. Luca is very busy, always! We sat by the bar and kitchen at a hightop shared table with a lovely mother and daughter. The mom is a foodie herself and recommended us like ten places to visit and also pointed out how Lancaster has been becoming a foodie city. We could not agree more after our visit. We do want to say that at Luca’s we had extraordinary service and our waiter was pleasant, accommodating and filled our glasses with prosecco all night long and even gifted us our first drinks and dessert since we did mention it was our anniversary. Food was fresh, a mix of old-country with a modern twist; and we loved to learn that they have a farm-driven kitchen focusing on vegetables and roasted meats, Neapolitan-inspired pizzas, and handmade pastas. Needless to say the menu was not a mile long but the offerings were amazing and created such an explosion of flavor in our mouths that we made a mental note to return before we went back home.

We drove around the city and were tempted to go have drinks afterward but we were tired and went back to the hotel. We made reservations for our big night on October 26th at another great restaurant, and a staple in Lancaster, The Belvedere Inn.

On Saturday morning we set out to do one of the various covered bridges tours Lancaster has to offer and we had a wonderful time driving through Dutch country. The farmland and the dutch farms were enchanting. We had a lovely time. John has the best ideas of “field trips” to do and I just love spending time with him and visiting new places.

Dinnertime came and we got ready to get to The Belvedere Inn early and sit by the bar. This restaurant is very popular and it’s building is a victorian Italian style mansion built in 1869 by John Rohrer, a tobacco dealer from Strasburg to entertain his guests while visiting the city of Lancaster. Mr. Rohrer incorporated a belvedere, meaning “beautiful view,” on top of the mansion for his guests to view downtown Lancaster. This restaurant has great history and an amazing second floor with a jazz bar and it’s decor is unforgettable. This night was pre-Halloween so the staff was all decked out in costumes and they all did a great job. We were guided to the bar and lo and behold we were greeted by Jesus! Yes, our bartender’s costume was unique. We also saw Bob The Builder, Curious George, a clapper or two, Harry Potter, a few Vampires and other characters, but this one attracted everybody. We had to take pictures in case someone did not believe us! Our table was great, when we sat down we had a card wishing us a happy anniversary, dinner was succulent, the waiters were kind and professional (ours was Curious George) and the champagne and cocktails were generous and tasty. We had a wonderful time and also made note to return when we came back to Lancaster!

Sunday was a stormy day so we decided to cozy up and enjoy our suite and talk about our plans for the future. Nothing like cuddling with a blanket and just being together. We had planned to go to Luca for brunch but opted to go for dinner since the weather was so dreadful earlier. We had to go back after our magnificent experience, and we enjoyed once again the menu and great atmosphere of this unique and phenomenal spot in Lancaster.

We had a great time and it was not really far from home. There are so many things to do in Lancaster I would not mind living and working there at all. The best part is “Just-Us” celebrating our love . Life is short, I am glad we took some time out of our busy schedules to spend time enjoying each other’s company. John is an amazing husband and I am so very blessed to have him. We really complement each other; we take one day at a time and we respect each other above all. I have to thank God for our 18 years together, I know this has been a match made in heaven.

The Joy Christmas Brings to Our Hearts

Yes, we have a new tradition since 2017. We take professionally made photos with Santa Claus and we don’t regret it for one minute. Last year even though it was a trial year we did it, we again had a beautiful session with my personal friend and professional photographer, Jess DeLaski. Of course I want to share them because we did not send Christmas cards, instead we took a three week trip to Panama to visit family and visit this wonderful place.

Santa has my heart!

John decided to buy the tickets and fly to Panama for Christmas. Our base was my brother and sister in law’s beautiful home and from there we visited a wonderful resort right next to the Panama Canal on the Pacific ocean. We could not have asked for a better time. Sun, breeze, love and fun.

Here are some of our photos:

Three weeks that went by so fast. It was the best time to be on this tropical country because Summer was setting in, which means warm during the day, sunny and bright, and cooler in the evenings. The perfect time indeed. So many places to see and beaches to be at, and for us, it was a much needed vacation time.

So Christmas was very fun to say the least and warm. But that feeling of wonder was still there and that fun excitement that Santa would come to leave his presents as when we were kids was also there 😉 Life has its ups and downs and we took this high to celebrate that, life.

What a grand time. Thanking my John for all the effort he put into us having a wonderful time together and away from everything. “Just US” as we like to say even before the show appeared. And that is how our year ended!



CANCER ALERT

Kindness rocks painted by my sister and niece and left at our doorsteps with words of encouragement the night before my surgery.

In early 2018 I had a biopsy and was diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was shocking to say the least. At first I could not believe it because other than minor symptoms I had never felt more alive in the past 4 years…

But we grabbed the bull by its horns and prayed, held hands a lot, cried a little bit because of shock and because we were scared. And I say “we” because when you have a partner, like mine, I could not have asked for anyone better. We did this together. I could not have done this without John’s levelhead and love. I am so blessed to have this guy by my side.

Forget the visual board for 2018 I made early in 2017, forget the plans, this was urgent and needed to be taken care of. And together, as a family, John and I, and with the prayers and support of my mom, sister, brothers, and some of my nieces and nephew I was able to come hold my head in its place instead of going crazy.

Trying to be brave…

It was lonely. It was scary. It was quiet. I preferred not to share with anybody because that is how I roll. I am vibrant but when it comes to these things I don’t share, I rather stay with my inner and intimate circle. But God in his love and mercy surrounded me from my husband, my mom, my sister that stood by me day and night.  I’d rather share the news once I knew what was coming so keeping the secret was hard but I had to do it so I could hold it together.

At first I looked for a way to blame why I had cancer. I asked myself if perhaps because I was a big girl and never had children. I searched the internet and tried to find a reason… When I spoke with my great oncologist she said, don’t blame yourself. We still don’t know the root of the cause. Through my doors come women that have been fertile and non-fertile, that have been as healthy conscious as those that have skipped a few rules. Don’t blame yourself, it just happened and you have been great at coming to get checked even if your symptoms did not seem too bad. We may be on time, we don’t know yet. Let that guilt go, and focus on what is to come. Have hope, think positive and get prepared for this journey, because whatever the outcome, you will never be the same. And I believe it is a journey of growth in many areas. Wow! I did not expect that, but I took it and ran with it.

The truth is that during all these years John and I have lived a happy life. We did not have the opportunity of being parents but we both have been the best auntie and uncle we could have been. Then when I received the news I think it hit me, this was the period to that. There it was, the struggle of dealing with the end of that story. In a way dealing with this was tougher than the C word. So that was a situation I would still need to deal with on top of all this… But when time is of the essence you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself because you are fighting for your life.


Live as if this was your last day on earth! Don’t waste time in pettiness, it’s not worth it. Love like you mean it, and yes, love with all your heart!

But everything turned out how it was written in the book of Life. God spared me, he showed me his mercy. I won’t go into details, but I as of today I am okay., and of course there are more tests and appointments to endure but I am grateful and I will show it in my demeanor e-v-e-r-y d-a-y. And yes, while I don’t know what may come after this and I don’t take life for granted, but I do try to live every day to the fullest and slow down when I need to. I do listen to my body, and am trying to change some habits, but I continue loving perhaps more than I loved before, I try to not linger on things that want to rob my peace. I center my happiness in God, my husband and my family and true friends. Along the way I have made new friends and I embrace them and they may think I am a little bit crazy, but it is lie my oncologist said; life has changed and the perspective from where I see it is much more different that where I was coming from.

Together we are invincible!

I’m going to be okay. John and I are going to be okay. And whatever comes we won’t let it rob us of our peace and happiness. Get ready because this year we will be back with a lot more.

Always look at the bright side

Celebrating GeeGee

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful mother in law. Her name was Kathy (Kathleen) she was born to Irish parents in New England and she was an amazing woman. Tomorrow, a year ago, she left us.

Kathy welcomed me to her family. She did not say it but she did show me with her actions. One of the fondest memories I have about her is that when I got married, John and I had said we would switch at the time of giving the sign of peace, and he would go to my family and I would go to his. So when I did this, my mother in law whispered in my ear” “You look beautiful.” I treasure that moment in my heart.

Field Trip with Geegee and Belinda 2016

She also welcomed my mom into her life from day one and they got along famously and had much fun when they were together. John and I were surprised because since day one they just loved each other. Kathy was easy to get along with she made things better for everybody.

She loved her baby boy (my John) and when I went to say goodbye I promised her I would take care of him always and thanked her for my greatest gift, my husband.

How can I not miss her? How can I not want to honor her? How can I not mention her? She was and is in our hearts forever.

Geegee we love you and we send you hugs to  heaven. Thank you for your love. Forever in our hearts.April 2016 The Gang

WHY WE STARTED OUR BLOG…

On October 2016, John and I had a marvelous week of love and fun on the open road for our 15th Anniversary. At first we wanted to go to Miami, Florida (actually The Keyes) but the weather conditions were not that great so we changed our plans and instead rented a Ford Fusion and set out up north to see where it would take us. We wanted to search for Fall foliage but it was sort of elusive in 2016, but nonetheless we pursued our intention which took us to discovery of new towns and much joy, as well an enjoying each other’s company. It was actually John’s idea of starting this blog and share our adventures. So welcome to our life. We hope you enjoy our posts.

Hershey 33

 

CHRISTMAS, IT’S MAGICAL…

Once again, where did time go? 2017 is almost gone. But we are here, safe and sound. This  is the first year in our 16 years of marriage that we did a Santa Session and it was really fun. Yes, John retaliated but in the end I convinced him to do it. Yes, I offered to pay for brunch after the session and that seemed to do the trick. The pain was in waking up super early since our session was at 8:10 AM or something like that on a Sunday (think the emoticon with the bug eyes.) We don’t have kids so we have not had the experience of waking up really early to take care of no one before, but we did it!

I love Santa and have been captivated by this guy forever, and John simply loves Christmas, one thing we both agree upon and never have had a discussion about. We are subscribed to Christmas and anything Christmas. So there you go, of course we have more photos but we are just sharing these two as proof 🙂 that we committed to the task and we actually enjoyed it very much.

So after leaving Jess DeLaski’s studio we decided to take a couple of other pictures at the only tree we knew was already up at The Villages at Leesburg and we actually loved it. We decided to kiss next to the tree and the security guard was very nice to take the picture for us. Needless to say we were elated.

winter wonderland

Then what? We went to brunch but we had to wait til the restaurant opened because we were up so early nothing was opened yet. I wanted to introduce John to the rooftop at this restaurant in Belmont but it was freezing and windy so we ate downstairs, had a mimosa and a great breakfast. Then we went upstairs (he raced me -I went in the elevator and he ran up the stairs) and he won 😦 but to be fair I had technical difficulties closing the elevator door (it was not an OTIS nor Lucent Technologies – John will get this.)

So this is our life it seems in a hurry but we try to include things we both enjoy. So much more has happened and we will share more real soon. As I sit here writing…  I cannot wait to live the magic of Christmas, the real reason for it, the love, the kindness, the spirit, the light.  John and I are definitely looking forward to our new year with hope. Because hope is the last thing to go and we are holding on to it. How about you? How has this year been going? If we don’t talk again we hope you have a season of splendor and that you feel loved!

 

Belinda and John or John and Belinda?

Welcome!

Funny things happen when you suddenly begin a blog with your other half. First the name. Belinda and John or John and Belinda? Obviously John wants his name first but I tried to persuade him by explaining that Belinda (alphabetically) comes before the J in John, therefore, “Belinda and John” sounds better. He “sort of” conceded 🙂 But in any event, at this point, it’s too late. The domain has been set-up and “Belinda and John” has arrived to Word Press.

We just came back from a “In Pursuit of Fall Foliage” trip on the East Coast to celebrate our 15th Anniversary. We think it would be an opener to share our trips, our funny experiences, pass on some of our wisdom, great ideas and and some of our mistakes so you won’t make them!

belinda-and-john-fall-2016

What else to expect of “Belinda and John?” Anything and everything unexpected about life as we roll, as we see it as we share it and as it is. Humor, Faith, Travel, Family, Marriage, Community, Kindness, Love, Lifestyle and Inspiration. Perhaps we will share a bit of everything mentioned above, and we promise it won’t be boring.

We are just a couple living life as best as we can.

Thank you for joining us. Enjoy the ride!

This is how we Roll

For some reason we both know we were meant to be together. I write the most here, although this was John’s idea, because he is normally working or checking the news and some videos or sites on his phone LOL. He probably won’t be happy with this comment, but I guess I am more gregarious than he is and make the time. But back to what I said, we were meant to be.

When I met John he said he had had a dream about meeting Belinda and he did not want to scare me away if he shared this. I did not learn this until we were married or about to be married. He said he knew it was me. I believe him. When I met him it was like we were at the same level and at the same time opposites that melded well together. We did have some obstacles, we did not have much experience with being a couple to others so  with faith and perseverance, because we knew we belonged together, we made it through.

In my mind there is no doubt… we hope you enjoy our journey.