Using My Voice in PA...

Thinking back to the movie, "The Sound of Music" - the hills were definitely alive in & around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Not so much with music - but just alive in making me ill. I was car sick the entire time I was there. Winding, narrow roads lead Jonathan & I to my Aunt's house in Leechburg, PA. I can't even tell you how happy I was once we arrived & I was able to get out of the rental car. I had a busting migraine that had me feeling like my head was in a vice and my stomach was turning. Seeing my aunt for the first time in ten years though, well...that was totally worth the drive & motion sickness. She was just about to leave her house to go get some potatoes when we pulled up, but walked us in and we got to visiting and catching up on life. My cousin Tressa was home & cousin Autumn came over. My aunt's husband, DJ, cooked us prime rib on the grill while my aunt made the baked potatoes & fresh salad. Aunt Chris is quite the hostess & cook! After dinner & hours of chatting it up, off to bed we went.The next day, my aunt drove Jonathan & I to Greensburg where we met up with my cousins Camille & Autumn along with the other members of The Rotary of Westmoreland for lunch. The Rotary & Blackburn Center Against Domestic & Sexual Violence partnered for the event later that evening, where I presented a case study lecture on my case to their community at Seton Hill University, in hopes of empowering others to speak out while also educating the community on the importance of victims' rights. The lecture went really well as the room was full of very kind, caring, compassionate people who listened intently as I described the events that took place in August of 1990, leading up until now in my journey as I continue to fight for justice for others. Being so far up North, there was no A/C in the room the lecture took place in, so I was sweatin' bullets up there, haha. Afterward, there was a dessert reception in the parlors of Seton Hill - everyone gathered around for the mini cupcakes, brownies & cookies, and I met some of those that attended and answered questions they had. By the end of the night, I was exhausted, had a headache and was still kind of car sick from the ride earlier in the day, so we decided to head back to my aunt's house in Leechburg, about a 30 minute drive away. As we walked to the car, I contemplated taking off my heels, but didn't want to walk on the concrete barefoot, so I kept them on...big mistake. While walking downhill with cupcakes on a plate in my left hand, I started to lose my balance as I almost ate the concrete with my face. Thankfully, hearing me yell "Oh my God!" repeatedly, while going faster downhill than I would've like to, Jonathan grabbed my arm with his hand and stopped the madness of me in my heels before that happened. Whew! My face and cupcakes won the war againt the heels. Score! Too bad I was even more car sick by the time we got home that night to eat anymore, and threw up the ones I had eaten once we got there. It was truly a shame to watch that Red Velvet & Chocolate go to waste as it all came up, but I won't go into any further worries ;)

In the morning, I came downstairs to straighten my hair and get ready to head to my cousins photography studio, Skysight Photography, in Greensburg to take pictures with Jonathan..and did I notice a cupcake massacre! Icing, sprinkles, and remnants of those yummy mini cupcakes were strewn along the kitchen counter, and there was one guilty little dog named Sunny who looked miserably full standing beside me on the floor. Lets just say, Sunny had lots of "treats" that morning when no one was looking...and wasn't feeling well that day or the next. - RIP mini cupcakes, you were amazing (while you lasted).

I got behind the wheel Friday afternoon and drove to Greensburg in hopes of the car sickness not being as bad & Jonathan and my aunt were with me. We were really looking forward to spending the day with my cousin, Autumn & her fiance, Bill and having Autumn take some pictures of us, as we've never had any professional ones taken. Autumn opened her own studio years ago, and takes amazing pictures. Recently, she even traveled to Morocco and took the most beautiful pictures for National Geographic, and has been very successful at what she does, so proud of her! Autumn was so sweet to take pictures of us in her studio as well as in a few spots around Greenburg.

First, Autumn took pictures of me in my Girleo gear that Tiffany Corbett & Courtney Noelle, owners of Girl ExtraOrdinaire in Los Angeles, and authors of the Sweet Pea The Bumblebee books sent me when they named me their Girleo 2012!

And here are a few of the photos she took of Jonathan & I that day:

After pictures, we headed to Rizzo's for an authentic Italian dinner with our family on our last night in town, and then headed back to my Aunt's home and we packed our things so we'd have more time to visit with all of my family before we headed back out to the airport to board our flight home the next day. Saturday morning, my cousin Camille and her husband Dan, and their two kiddos, Logan & Livia, my cousin Michael and his pup Duke, and cousin Autumn and her fiance Bill, and my aunt & DJ all hung out and took advantage of our last few hours together over some homemade Spinach quiche, fresh berries, apple salad, and bread. Like I aunt knows how to whip up some tastiness in the kitchen :) Then, we sadly said our goodbyes, and Jonathan and I headed to Pittsburgh along those dreaded windy roads. I drove and surprisingly didn't get sick this time - kicked back in the plane, watched Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and landed home-sweet-home in Houston 3 hours later.

Next stop: McAllen, Texas on Wednesday so stay tuned, but before I go, one question...

'cause I do. :)

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