About Barbara Anne Hough

This began on March 8, 2011.

It chronicles Mom’s journey of almost three years.  Thank you SO MUCH for all your thoughts, prayers, cards, flowers and visits, beginning with her February 22, 2011, admission to Howard County General through her years at Lorien until she left this earth for heaven on February 17, 2014.  She is now with the good Lord, and reunited with many family and friends who went before her. Regular blog entries ended on March 8, 2014, but periodic updates on news about the family will continue.

Mom would like that.


Wow, it’s almost May.  How did that happen?  I wanted to share the joy of the surprise bridal shower that I was honored to host for Nina last Sunday, April 26.  I’d been plotting with Nina’s mom (Doris), and Nina’s cousin and maid of honor (Jessica) for over a month.  Almost 20 wonderful friends and members of Nina’s family attended and it was absolutely joyous!  I did the food and Jessica did the decorating, games, favors and more.   Other cousins, Teeyam and Niki, teamed up to record Andy’s answers to questions that Nina had to guess later.  We broadcast it on a 44 inch flat screen, which turned out beautifully thanks to Scott’s technical skills.  Andy was asked by Teeyam about his favorite gift that Nina gave him since they’ve been together.  He didn’t hesitate.  He said, “a second date”.   Nice one, son!  :-)

Here is the beautiful bride to be, the table in waiting for more goodies and a glimpse of the decorating!  Mom would have LOVED to have been at this event.   I know I will be missing her DEEPLY on Saturday, June 20 at the wedding.    I know it will be an amazing ceremony and the start of a great life together for Andy and Nina Vaughn!  Nina as bride to beNina's showerReady for the shower

Brother Randy and First Sister-In-Law Hope are dealing with Tax Day Eve.   Niece Whitney just had her moment in the sun as an actress on an episode of “Blackish”.  Wayne is doing well and happy that spring has sprung.  Scott is beginning a transition process at Total Wine (long story).  I’m still in the rat race at work and teaching graduate school…yet happily so.   My executive physical results are surprisingly pretty darn good.  Andy and Nina’s wedding plans are coming together for a lovely “small family” event of about 100 ppl on June 20!  MUCH ADO AND ALL GOOD!

Well, I am going to be SIXTY YEARS OLD this coming October.  I am better than I deserve (love that phrase)…and I have more amazing, magnificent friends whose love and friendship fill my life.  Many of THEM will also be SIXTY YEARS OLD this year.  No disrespect to my older and younger friends, but the class of 1955 was pretty awesome.  So, it seems to make sense that the second half of 2015 should be devoted to celebrating with those friends.   Let’s “go there”.   A weekend trip later this summer with Jan Senn.  Friend since we met in Mrs. Hoffman’s 3rd grade class in 1963 (Toledo, Ohio).  We’ll venture to Pittsburgh to get together, which is “about half way” from her home in Ohio and mine in MD.   The incredible bucket list trip in September/October with my high school friend, Clare Martone, her beau Bill, along with Scott and me will be to Athens, then a Windstar cruise to the Greek Isles and several days at the end in Istanbul.  Sixteen days total.  NEVER done such a thing in my life!  My birthday is day one onboard, and Clare’s is the last night onboard.  Doesn’t get any better.  November weekend trip to the east coast beaches of Florida with dear friend, Gina Hall.  Met in 1984 and never looked back.   We talk EVERY day.  It’s amazing.  Like Jan, Gina is “older” than me.  Ha ha!   The first weekend in December, the Windy City will be jolted by Cindy Coto and me as we arrive to ring in our early October birthdays a bit late; she on the 1st of October and me on the 3rd.  Cindy and I met in October 1978 and have had a sister connection ever since.  Cindy and I celebrated our 30th together in the Big Apple, so we are branching out this time.  Tonight at yoga, I felt Mom there – encouraging me, lifting me up to enjoy all of this and to revel in the moments of celebration.   Mom always celebrated her birthday for a month or so.  I think I am going to go for six months!

Love to all!  laura

Happy Easter Monday!  I love Easter – for me, it is a quiet holiday of reflection.  Of what the day means.  It isn’t like the hectic pace of Christmas, or even the food filled fest of Thanksgiving.  It is about the risen Savior.  And I just love that.  Also for me, it is another post Lorien Easter.  For three years, I took pureed Easter food up to Mom.  Pureed lobster mostly…with drawn butter.  I have the videos and pictures which are lovely to look back on.  But now, my friend, Cindy and I meet in Roanoke, VA – our half way point between Rockville, MD and Monroe, NC for Easter.  A new tradition – two years in the running – and next year planned.

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Easter!

More to come in the weeks ahead as the wedding plans continue to take shape.

Love, Laura

Scott and I got invited to a Persian New Year celebration tonight, courtesy of Nina’s parents.  Andy is away for work for a month, so we went to Nina’s parents for the event independently.  Nina has said the two of them as a couple…and their respective families (Andy’s and hers) remind her of the movie, “A Big Fat Greek Wedding”.  OMG, she was right.  We’ve watched the movie together (Scott, me, Andy, Nina), but tonight it played out. I actually TOOK a pumpkin Bundt cake over to Nina’s parents’ house – where Nina still lives.  (Right out of the movie, yes?).

There were 30+ people there, lots of kissing, speaking Farsi, speaking English.  Lots of kidding, noise, Iranian food, beautiful children,  lovely adults, much craziness.  Frankly, it was wonderful.  So pleased to learn that Andy and Nina will be godparents to Nina’s second cousin’s 11 month old daughter, Haven.  Haven is a DELIGHT.  Mom would have had a hoot there tonight and been the belle of the ball.  I hope I didn’t disappoint her with my level of engagement.  Being around that much activity is infectious – in a good way.  I understand how Andy has connected with Nina’s family.  It was just plain fun.  Lots of IQ points floating around and lots of humor.  Doesn’t get much better.

Nina’s dad is Iranian and her mom is Dominican.   She has cousins with 1/2 and 1/2 backgrounds and in one selfie, the post read – “put us together and we make one Persian”.   Hysterical.   Tonight made me realize something.  New chapters.  This is a new chapter.  Mom met Nina, thank goodness. And she liked her.  A lot.  She said she saw happiness…and no stress…in Andy’s face after Nina came into his life.   Mom gave Nina her precious copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.   Yep, she liked her a lot.  But Mom’s life ended before the summer 2014 engagement, the wedding planning and the beginning of melding two families.  It’s a new chapter and Mom isn’t here physically now.  And yet I am going to lean into this chapter because I want to and because it is very special.   And Andy and Nina have managed to honor Mom in a lovely way.   They are having a reasonably small (yet growing somehow) wedding.  Andy took the lead and enclosed a note about gifts with the invites.  It reads, “We are blessed.   In lieu of gifts, please consider donating to 1) Helping Up Mission – Baltimore, 2) Fisher House, 3) Children’s Aid Society of NYC, 4) Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Science and 5) Maryland SPCA.”  He listed reasons for each charity, and for the last one, he said that “Edward and Nina are lovers of animals, just as was Edward’s material grandmother, Barbara, who will be celebrating our wedding with us in spirit.”

Indeed she will.  I am so proud of my son.

This was practice wedding cake weekend.  I think I mentioned that Andy and Nina asked me to do their wedding cake.  Honored and petrified…all at the same time.  Nina likes simple and elegant, so I went with it.

Practice caksThis is what will be the middle and top tiers (6 in and 10 in).  For the real cake, I’ll do a 14 in double as the lowest tier.  What I learned from this…

1.  Red velvet cake bleeds, so I switched to a hand sculpting technique – which turned out to have a lovely romantic look
2.  I will do the middle tier as a square and top and bottom tiers round for dramatic effect
3.  I will stick with the same variety of flower even if you use different colors.  the orange lilies looked awful with the pink roses, so I took apart an artificial arrangement I had in the house to get burgundy roses
4.  Fondant hardens FAST so work with it quickly.  I like how the drape turned out.  There is another one on the other side.
Just heard from Nina by text…she says she loves it and can’t wait to see it in person…she arrives in an hour….whew!  I feel Mom smiling down.
Spring is just around the corner – YAY!  We still have a couple of mounds of dirty snow left, but hopefully it will be gone this week.   Love, Laura

Well, I am safely back from my two weeks in the middle East.  One week in Lebanon and one week in Jordan.  Lebanon was exquisitely beautiful.  The Mediterranean was gorgeous with its beautiful emerald water.   Beirut truly is the Paris of the east.   Although in the picture to the right, it looks more like Tuscany.  DAI has a value chain project (cherries, apples, avocados, honey, olives, rural tourism) and a water engineering project (water pumping station refurbishing) in Lebanon.  From this beauty, we went 1350 meters up to the Cedars, where there was snow and went snowshoeing  (third picture below).  This was after visiting a cold press olive mill, apple packing plant and two water pumping stations.  All thanks to DAI.   All this in one small country about the size of New Jersey.  I felt safe every moment.  And I was proud to meet with our teams who do this wonderful work.

Mount Lebanon

Jordan was predictable as it was my third trip there in four years.  There were three projects to visit – all focused on economic growth.  Fiscal Reform.  Workforce Development and Jordan Competitiveness.   Met with over 50 staff in Jordan.  Plus got to go to the Dead Sea (third trip as well) for a project management workshop kickoff with 55 government officials.    On my ONE day off in two weeks, I made my second trip to Petra, so that was pretty amazing – especially since the weather was gorgeous.  Sunny and around 80 degrees.   On all my international travels these past 10 years, I’d always love to come home and tell Mom all about it.  So…thanks for taking a  look at the pictures and reading about my journey!   It was amazing, but I’m happy to be home!  Love, Laura

Mom and Laura 1Interesting blog statistics.  16,200 hits in 2011.  13,193 hits in 2012.  Both VERY difficult years in terms of Mom’s health.  2013 was a stable year until September; 3,834 hits in 2013.   And in 2014, about the same – 3,872 hits.  Yes, there were 260 hits on the day after she died in 2014, but the continued blog following is not lost on me.  Thank you. Very. Much.  Sharing some photo memories throughout this post and at the end.

Mom and Laura 2

That said… my distraction plan is not working.  I scheduled my middle East trip on February 17…to be a distraction.  The upcoming first anniversary of Mom’s passing is about all I am thinking of right now.   Scott reminded me last night of what I told him on February 15, 2014 after that Saturday morning visit – the last visit where Mom and I were able to communicate.  I told him that I didn’t think she’d make it to the end of February.  I must have known that the miracles were behind us and my prayer had been answered with three years of her recovery enough to reconnect with those she loved and who loved her.   It was time.  But you know, when people say, “she had a good life” or “83 years is a long time”, I just shake my head.  183 years wouldn’t have been enough.   In the nine days before she died, I had seen her on February 8, 11, 14 and 15, as well as an hour on February 17 before she passed at  9:45 a.m.  My visits were definitely more frequent when mom was “in trouble” but that never seemed like it was enough either.   The booklet on “Rebuilding and Remembering” (Dr. Kenneth Haugk) was somewhat helpful.  Now it’s time for me to mail it to someone who lost her husband in early April of 2014.  It is to be read at “11 months”.

Mom and Wayne

Scott and I were going to visit Wayne today and take him to lunch, but subzero temperatures and snow caused Wayne to ask for a postponement.  Although we have 4 wheel drive vehicles, he didn’t want to get out and risk a fall on the ice.  A fake hip will do that to you, I suspect.  We rescheduled for March 8.  Tomorrow, I will lunch with Mary Hackman and we’ll toast Mom, I’m sure.  She is one of few who knew Mom longer than me, outside of her cousins!   As for me, I’d like Presidents’ Day to “go away”.  But it hasn’t.

These are photos from the memory boards I made for Mom’s memorial service.  Enjoy!   Love, Laura

Mom and Andy1Mom and Mantha 1Mom and RandyMom on her 79th birthday


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