Mountaineer Monday

I hate, Hate, HATE to lose!  But worse than losing is beating yourself.  And that is what I see the Mountaineers doing in most of our losses in recent years.  If we had played our best football and the scoreboard had showed a loss, I could live with it.  Then, we would not have been the better team.  But we don't really know who the better team was on Saturday.  LSU is a worthy opponent and their special teams is a.maz.ing!

I think this is the whole source of my frustration this season.  I think it's why I've questioned our coaching (very uncharacteristic for me.  Yes, yes, yes, I did ask Rich Rod to please never ever ever call another bubble screen again, but c'mon, who didn't?) so often the past few years.  We have the athletes to be an incredible team, yet we never quite put it all together on the big stage.  As much as it pains me to say this, that is one thing Rich Rod did well (when he wasn't planning his escape to the north).

I'm ready to win not only the games we should win, but also the games we shouldn't.  I'm ready to defy the odds again.  I'm ready for exciting, game-changing plays (that go our way).

I know it's not the coaches who play the game.  They aren't the ones who fumble or drop passes or blow coverage.  But they set the tone.  They set the expectation.  They establish the game plan.  The decide who plays when.

In the grand scheme of things, the loss to LSU shouldn't cost us much.  (It has already cost us a spot in the top 25 - I did see that headline.)  We have our entire Big East Schedule ahead of us.  We should run the table.  We are the better team in every match-up.  But, we play the game for a reason.  Anything can happen on any given Saturday.  But if something doesn't change, and soon, we may just find ourselves in Charlotte at the end of December.

One thing I know for sure is this: regardless of the outcomes, I am a Mountaineer through and through.  There will never come a day when I don't love this team.  I will always take its successes and failures much too personally.  I will always hope for perfection.  I will dream of a National Championship until we earn one.  I will always be ecstatic when meeting a Mountaineer player or coach.  I am a Mountaineer.  I will step up.


A Definite Step Forward

...or at least across town.

We finally, finally, got the keys to our house this evening at 5 pm.

We have to be out of our apartment by Thursday night.

And we both work all week.

Fun times I tell ya, fun times.

But, just taking over the few boxes that we did have packed (we had to take them in and unpack them, so we could repack them because we ran out - I'm organized like that), and standing in our living room looking around put me at such ease.  When I wrote about feeling like we've taken 2 steps back at times, I think the biggest thing that has made me feel that way is living in a tiny apartment.

It was the right decision for us to make when we made it.  The rent is cheap, we can have Kali (it's h.a.r.d. hard to find a rental that is even decent in Morgantown that will allow you to have pets - a downside of living in a college town), and it's nice.  But moving from a 3 bedroom house with a fenced in back yard to a 1 bedroom apartment with no yard was quite an adjustment.  Most of our stuff has been in storage for 2 years and though we've had company a few times, it's not what I would call comfortable to have more than just the 2 of us in here.  While it's not been ideal, this tiny apartment has been home.  We've loved and cried and laughed here, and really that is what matters.  It's not the walls around us, but the life within them that make our home.

If leaving our first home was tough, this will somehow be a little bit tougher.  By the time our house in Martinsburg sold, The Man had already been living in Morgantown for 6 months and I was more than ready to join him.  But here, in this place, this tiny place, is where we've grown and changed.  Where we went from being married 4 years to being married 6 years.  Where I turned 30.  Where we lived without Pumpkin for the first time.  Where I rediscovered my Catholic Faith.  Where it felt like life stalled and then started again.

So, when the time comes to turn the key in the lock for the last time I will be ready to go.  I am ready to have a house to make a home again.  But, a part of me will miss this place.  The part of me that feels like this tiny apartment was more a home than our house ever was.

This is a definite step forward, I just didn't anticipate it feeling like such a big step.


For Today, WVU Game Day Style

For Today, September 25, 2010...A glimpse into my day, just an ordinary day.

Outside my window...a beautiful fall day, accented with a gold and blue, WV flag.

I am thinking...that a Mountaineer victory tonight would be mighty nice.

I am thankful for...being a Mountaineer.

From the kitchen...buffalo chicken dip.

I am wearing...a #12, gold WV Jersey.

I am creating...nothing, except plans for the day that end with Mountaineer Football!

I am going...to stay home and cheer on the 'eers!

I am reading...lots and lots of WVU-LSU game day coverage.

I am hearing...ESPN College Game Day.

Around the house...boxes, lots of boxes.  And a doggy sporting her WV bandana.

One of my favorite things...Mountaineer Football!

A few plans for the rest of the week day...Beat LSU!

Here is a picture thought I'm sharing...


Catch-up for the Soul

A few weeks ago, our new priest spoke about taking time to let our souls catch-up to our bodies.

His point was that this world is so fast-paced that our bodies are running around so quickly, that our souls can barely keep up.  He encouraged us to take moments to give our souls a break - stop with all of the technology and appointments and running and just be.  Be who God created us to be.

In the weeks since Father Mark spoke these words, I've reminded myself of them and have tried to take the moments.

Attending Adoration was a perfect way to take time to let my soul catch-up.  I felt so rejuvenated afterwards and it has stayed with me in the weeks that followed.

But another opportunity to stop and reflect presented itself.  Somewhat hidden in the form of yet another appointment, but it turned out to be such a beautiful opportunity.

The Man and I have attended 3 evenings of class to become a Marriage Preparation Sponsor Couple through our parish.  And while, at first, it seemed like the timing was horrible, it turns out, God's timing is never horrible.

These 3 nights have been a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what our marriage is all about and give our united soul a chance to catch-up.  This move will be stressful, is stressful, but these evenings have been moments to focus on God and His place in our lives; and to be reinforced by what we are doing well; and a gentle reminder about what we need to continue to work on.

These moments of peace and calm amidst what would normally be chaos, remind me that:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And it is well with my soul.


Mountaineer Monday

I have no pictures from Saturday's 31 - 7 Mountaineer victory over the Maryland Terrapins.

I did something I've not done for a long time.

I put my camera and my phone (for the most part, there was some tweeting in the 2nd half) down and enjoyed the game without worrying about documenting it.

I started to record the pre-game performance by the band and just felt the urge to put down my camera.

It was one the best decisions I've made in a while.

The energy on Saturday was incredible, from the end of the team's warm-ups to the victory-celebrating rendition of Country Roads.

Mountaineer Field felt alive.

Thinking back on it, this week it all started for me during my walk to the field.  The Man was a few minutes behind me, so I was walking alone and I couldn't help but reflect on the many walks to Section 108 that I've made.

During the Alma Mater, tears filled my eyes as pride in being a Mountaineer filled my soul.

As the pigskin flew through the air into the arms of receiver, after receiver, after receiver, I started to believe that Mountaineer Football was returning to the level we've come to expect.

There were certainly low points in the game.  A half-back pass trick-play when we were just about to finish it that, in my humble opinion, should never have been called.  It's one of those plays that if it works, Offensive Coordinator Jeff Mullen is a genius, but it didn't, so he's not.  I just didn't like the change from the game plan (but I am glad to learn that Jock Sanders is a receiver for a reason without it costing us a win).

And when we head to Death Valley on Saturday we need to play a full 60 minutes of football - not a second half like we did last week and a first half like we did this week.

But, at the end of the day, as I contemplated a victory-inspired Facebook status, I was once again struck by the pride I felt in wearing Gold and Blue and settled on "Is proud to be a Mountaineer!".

And you know, that about sums is up.

(For more Mountaineer News, be sure to visit HailWV.)


A Porch, A Deck, and A Yard

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that in the last week or so I asked for prayers for a special intention.

Thank-you for the prayers.

On Friday, our prayers were answered in the way we'd hoped!

After two years of living in our small tiny 1 bedroom apartment, we are MOVING!  We will be renting (with the option to buy - yay!) a 3 bedroom house just a few minutes from where we live right now.

I love the neighborhood the house is in and I am so excited to see Kali run and play in a yard again.

And there are sidewalks for me to run on.

And there is a porch - an awesome front porch just begging for someone to sit on it and read the paper.

And a deck - a big deck just waiting for company.

And off street parking.

Oh, and we will be moving in 12 days.

Yep, that's less than 2 weeks.

Let the packing commence!


Mountaineer Monday

Well, a win is a win they say.
It certainly wasn’t pretty and I won’t even call it a moral victory.
I did, however, see one thing player that gave me hope – Geno Smith.
He kept his cool.  He took the game into his own hands feet and ran like we didn’t think he could.
And, most importantly, Geno Smith became the leader this team needed.
Though Smith is the starting QB, it was expected that a man named Devine, or maybe his buddy Sanders would step up  and be the leader of this team.  They have been the leaders of the practice field.  But on this Friday night, it was Geno who became the leader.  He kept his cool when everyone was depending on him to do it, but frankly shouldn’t have expected it and he led his team to victory.  Maybe it was the Friday night game.  I’ve heard he was quite the leader in high school.  Maybe he just needed a reminder that this is still football, just on a bigger stage.  Whatever it was, Geno showed why he is our starting QB.
I’m usually a positive, supportive-of-the-coaching-staff kinda girl, but I’m done watching us run the same plays over and over and over again.  Doc Holiday knew it was gonna happen, and that’s what gave Marshall the lead.  Sure, we changed things up and came out with a win, but against a more worthy opponent on a more College-footballish Saturday, we will not get so lucky.
Whether it’s getting rid of Mullen, Stewart, or the 0-line coach (bonus points to the person whose not too lazy to look it up), or changing who calls the plays, I don’t pretend to know what the answer is.  That’s what we have a new AD for; Mr. Luck, are you listening?  It is time that our offense starting playing to their level, not the level of their opponent.  It’s time our O-line starting doing their job, their ONLY job, and protected Geno.  Or else, this season is about to get longer.  Much.  Longer.
But a win is a win.  And this is one Mountaineer fan who will take an ugly W over any kind of L any day.
What were your highs and lows from Friday’s game?
And because I’m late today, I can’t let this be published without commenting on Brandon Hogan.
I saw a tweet that broke my gold and blue heart today:  @mikecasazza tweeted:  ”Not that people can’t have fun, but mood @ WVU is one where some are willing to sacrifice what others call fun for good of themselves & team”.  That’s NOT what being a Mountaineer is about and the fact that this is the impression being given of our football team is unacceptable.  If this is the atmosphere created by Coach Stewart, then I will be the first in line to say it’s time for him to go.  The good of the TEAM is what should come first – that’s the honor of donning that uniform every week.  Just ask the guy who didn’t make the cut.
To Brandon Hogan I say:  if you have a problem, get help.  I sincerely mean this.  If you are just selfish and think you are invincible, you’re about to find out that’s not the case because come Saturday you’ll be sitting in the student section – that is if you are still a WVU student.  I am disappointed in you, but I am equally disappointed in the atmosphere that has allowed you to make this choice.  Finally, you better say a prayer of thanks that it was the Morgantown PD that stopped you and not another car that you crashed into.  This day was not a great day to be a Mountaineer.
(This post is also at HailWV today.)



On Saturday, The Man and I went to Adoration for the first time ever.

Many members of our diocese (and others?) were making a pilgrimage to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC to participate in a day of prayer for those whose lives were lost and changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001.  Our new Priest (I love him, btw!), scheduled a time of Adoration from Noon - 5pm as a way to pray for those of us who were not making the pilgrimage.  He asked that 30 minute time slots be signed up for to ensure that the Blessed Sacrament would always be watched over; so, The Man and I signed up for the 3:00 - 3:30 time slot.

As we were getting ready to leave, I was excited and nervous - Adoration is something I've wanted to experience for a while now, but I wasn't completely sure what The Man would think.  I figured he had agreed as one of those 'I'll be a good husband and go' kind of things, so I decided to give him the option to stay home if he wanted (genuinely, not with the 'you can stay home, but if you do you'll hear about it later' tone at all).  He said no, he'd like to go, but then he asked a question:

"Can we take it outside and chill with it?"

I quickly realized this meant he was also a little bit nervous and wasn't sure what to expect either.

I laughed and said 'No, I don't think that's really a good idea.  And you know that's going on my blog right?'

He then said:

"Didn't jesus even say himself that 'it's not in the buildings, or the bricks, or something like that'"

I had to concede, but pointed out that I didn't think Father Mark would appreciate it if we took the Blessed Sacrament outside and just 'chilled with it'.  And with that we were off.

I can't really describe the feelings I had during the Adoration time.  At first I was worried that 30 minutes would seem like forever and that I wouldn't know what to pray about or that my mind would wander.  And then I was upset with myself for forgetting my rosary and became really nervous about how I would possibly stay focused for 30 minutes.

I finally settled on starting with The Lord's Prayer and a few Hail Marys to get myself focused and centered.  And the prayers came from there.

It was such a peaceful, calming experience.  To have 30 minutes in the presence of Jesus to pray and praise.

And that 30 minutes went by faster than I expected.  I could have stayed much longer.  The Man and I had not discussed staying longer than the 30 minutes and I of course wasn't sure if his experience had been as good as mine, so I didn't want to force the issue.

As we walked out of the church in silence.  I said a final prayer of thanks for finally having the opportunity to experience Adoration.

And, as The Man and I drove home, he said "It was like He was telling us Thank-you at the end when the sun shone on us."

You see, our church is new and has lots of windows and if the sun is shining outside, it is shining inside somewhere too.  As the sun moves across the sky, it changes where it shines inside.  At the end of our 30 minutes, the sun was shining right on our faces.

And in that moment, I knew The Man had had a good experience too.

I am hopeful that Father Mark offers more opportunities for Adoration.


September 11th

We all know where we were and what we were doing that day.

We all have the images seared in our memories forever.

Instead of sharing stories or rehashing the horror in the comments here today, would you take the time you would comment (even if only a few seconds) and say a prayer for those who lost lives, the families, and the first responders of that day who have much more horrible memories seared in their minds.

Never Forget.



Because it's been such a long time since there've been photos 'round here (click on the photo for a larger view):
Tony Caridi and WVU Mountaineer Footbal Coach Bill Stewart at the first "Bill Stewart Statewide Sporstline" of the year.  (Mere DAYS before the start of Football Season!)

Coach Stewart autographing my Poster Schedule.  He took the time to ask who I would like it addressed to AND to confirm the spelling of my name.
One of my favorite places.  Ever.  (I'm sitting on a chair in the river to take this picture.)
The Man, me, and great friends heading up to our seats for the Steelers-Panthers preseason game.  I love Pittsburgh.
My brother and I during his bachelor party (the first night of it anyway).  He is the one getting married in October in Texas.
The WVU Alumni Center (and one of the PRT cars) as we drove home after the Home Opener last weekend.
Why does the offseason have to be so loooooong?  Sitting in this spot feels like coming home.  I suspect heaven for me will involve astroturf and bleachers.  Just maybe.
And, last, but never least.  I love this pup.


Two Steps Back?

Some days, or even some moments in some days, I start to feel very overwhelmed with our current situation.  Like maybe we have taken two steps back instead of moving forward.

Three years ago, we were home owners.  We had 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a 1/4 acre yard for Kali to run and play in.  We owned two cars, vacationed for free as incentives from my Party.Lite business, and pretty much did and had what we wanted.  I commuted 90 minutes one way to a job that I loved.  The Man had a job, but it wasn't growing.

Fast forward to today.  We rent a one-bedroom apartment.  We just sold one of our cars, so we have only one.  Kali spends most of her time indoors.  We haven't been on a vacation since before we moved and we have very little money to do many extras.  WVU Football is our exception.

There are moments that feel very much like we have taken two (hundred?) steps back.

If you look at the outside of our life, you would agree.

But in those moments when I feel like we are going background, I have been blessed with the Grace to see the progress.

Yes, we live in a small apartment.  But we spend more time together and have learned to be considerate of one another's space and preferences.

Yes, we now have only one car.  But we are learning to communicate in a new way as we ensure we each get where we need and want to go.

Yes, we filed for bankruptcy.  But we no longer feel suffocated by an extreme amount of debt.  We are not proud of how we got out from under it, but we have learned and will not make the same mistakes again.  (And we will suffer the consequences of it for years to come.)

But then, there are there other changes.

We attend Mass every Sunday.  Together.

We have learned that we both meant it when we said this marriage is forever.  There is nothing quite like financial stress to test a marriage.

We practice NFP and are open to life with an understanding we could never have imagined.  (There's nothing quite like 4 months of abstinence to test a marriage either).

The Man works for an amazing company that continually reminds us that we made the right decision in 'putting all of our eggs in their basket' so to speak.

We laugh often.  And sincerely.

I'm always in a hurry.  I talk fast.  I eat fast.  I drive fast.  I prefer the shortest distance between two points.  If I am not moving fast, I feel as if I'm moving backwards.  I do not chose the scenic route.

But, there are moments of clarity.  Moments, when I am able to see clearly these other changes, that I realize it is not that we have taken two steps back.  Rather, God has guided us down the scenic route as we inch forward.

I did not map this route out for us 6 years ago.  But God's Grace has shown me that it is beautiful.


Labor Day

It has turned into a reason to have a picnic.  It marks the unofficial end of summer and the start of Football Season, ahem, Autumn.  It's celebrated on the first Monday in September and is one of the coveted 3-day weekends in the American Worker's schedule.

But what is Labor Day all about to begin with?

It started as a holiday established by the Labor Unions in the late 1800's.  It has grown into a National Holiday.

So, today, while you wash your hot dog down with an adult beverage, think about those who brought this holiday about.  The workers on whose sweat the advances of this country are built.  Then, this week, when you get annoyed by the slow check-out person at the grocery store, impatient with the coal truck on the road, or frustrated with your child's child care provider, take a minute to remember that without their service, your life would be that much more challenging.  And, instead of getting annoyed, impatient, or frustrated, take a moment to be grateful.  Say thank-you.  And smile.  Today we recognize those whose jobs are often thankless, but without whom we'd live a very different life.

Where is Mountaineer Monday?
I was going to publish 2 posts today, but my sense of order just won't let me.  So Mountaineer Monday is published only at HailWV today.


Let's Bring on the Mountaineers

Just a few more hours and some of the best words ever will ring in my ears for the first time in months.

The energy will be palpable.  60,000 of my best friends will be right there with me.  The Pride of West Virginia will serenade us with "Hail, West Virginia", "Country Roads", "Mountain Dew", and "Simple Gifts."

And then there will be a calm of anticipation.

And then, "Let's Bring on the Mountaineers!" will echo through the field, capped with a shot fired from the Mountaineer's musket.

It is time.  It is Game Day!

Let's GOOOOOOOOOO Mountaineers!!!!