Monday, June 20, 2011

Mount Vernon

If you're not really interested in history, you'll probably want to skip over this post.

This is somewhat of a continuation of the last post; while we were in DC, we made a day trip to see Mount Vernon, also known as Washington's home. I love pieces of history that have been restored or recreated so that they are as close as possible to what they were in their time. So as you can imagine, Mount Vernon was my favorite place that we visited. If only I had been allowed to spend hours there by myself, going in the roped off sections and touching the paintings and fabrics and china for myself. Ah well.

I've seen a lot of the forts and battle sites thanks to living in Pennsylvania, but seeing peoples' homes from various time periods is infinitely more fascinating to me. I love being able to see the fullest picture of how people lived back then. Washington's house was built in the mid 1600's but is currently restored to the last year of Washington's life: 1799. I took tons of pictures, but I'll limit the following to a handful.

This home is set in by the Potomac River and surrounded by luscious, rolling land. It's pretty easy to see why Washington wanted to retire here so badly. After a few minutes of walking in the orchards, you're in love.

These were the buildings around the main house- the stables, smokehouse, salthouse,  washhouse/laundry yard, etc.

Washington's port on the edge of the Potomac.

Bird's eye view of the estate

Some of the stained glass at the admissions building depicting the signing of the declaration of independence

Smokehouse. The lack of modern plumbing and electricity definitely would have been annoying, but man it would have been cool to live during this time. Or at least to go back in time and visit for a bit.

I love the way these quarters are stocked with period-appropriate materials, and plaques that explain their uses.

These are all of the outter buildings. Photography was prohibited in Washington's actual home, unfortunately.

Mount Vernon Squirrel. He was super cute and friendly.

This is a picture of Jon and me with our grandparents. We got to visit them briefly on our way to and from DC.

If you get the chance to go, Mount Vernon is worth the trip. The website is informative and interesting too, if you'd like to learn more:

Sunday, June 19, 2011


In April, Jon and I took our vacation. We went to Washington D.C. for the cherry blossom festival, which was actually an idea Jon took from my best friend. We went the weekend before our 6th anniversary. We decided together when we would be going, but I let Jon plan everything else, including the location. I'd never been to DC before so I was really excited. We had so much fun taking the metro, walking around together, taking pictures, and site-seeing.

Jon picked some awesome places to eat. My favorite was a spanish restaurant where we had the most delicious lunch. I'd never had them before, but tappas and sangria are a new favorite of mine. The atmosphere was really cool, too- very laid back, with tons of decorative pillows to lounge on, and live local music. I wish we had something like that here. If I could cook, I'd do it myself!

This weekend was when I converted Jon into a coffee drinker, which is definitely a milestone for me!

I got to see all the major monuments but three (I had to settle for seeing them from a distance because my feet hurt too much by the end of the day), and now I feel like I can truly call myself an American, haha. It was a beautiful time of the year to capture them on film.

Looking at the war memorials really made my interest in looking up my geneology flare up again. Hopefully I can hold on to that feeling and get into it this summer while I'm not in classes. I think the hard part of undertaking such a huge project is getting it started. My parents have never been much interested in family history, so unfortunately I don't even know the names of most of my second cousins and great aunts and uncles. I'm hoping to remedy this with my girls and I hope that they share my interest in our roots and traditions.

Anyway, it was a really fun trip for such a history-lover like me. And even though we missed the girls like crazy, it was so good to get away, just the two of us. While we were there we realized we hadn't gone away together in two years. We are going to have to work harder to find the time to make sure we make it an annual thing, like we wanted.

About half of my pictures are missing, including those of La Tasca, which are really cool. But these should tide you over!

This is a chaotic shot, but they had the best subs I've ever tasted and I wanted to chronicle it.

US institute of Peace. Pretty neat architecture.

Lincoln's memorial is definitely the best, in my opinion.

Better picture of the detail at the top.

Initially I thought Washington got ripped off, but I came around by the end of our trip when I had been able to see it all over the city, from just about any distance or height.

I think it's such a wonderful testimony to the memory of these loved ones that there are always tons of people visiting the Vietnam veterans memorial.

Passed a wedding by the water. What a great idea- I'm sure their photographs are going to be gorgeous.

The WWII memorial was so vast that it required many photos to give an accurate portrait. Here is a taste.

Small glimpse of the WWII memorial

Everyone was flying kites. Most of the cherry blossoms were white, so the colors from the kites really popped.

White house.

Me and some random cute little kid, ha

Flowers may be cliche, but they're jsut too pretty to pass up. God is such an artist.

My man.

Love this one.

Jefferson monument.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day at the zoo!

Here are some photos from about a month ago. Jon took the girls to the zoo and got some really cute shots with his fancy camera.

Sitting on a termite mound.

Cat nap.

Baby elephant footprint

That's lunch.

So cute!

Baby sea lion!

Monday, June 6, 2011


Yesterday at church our pastor gave an excellent sermon. It was part of a series called Thrive and this week's focus was on kindness. Now I don't think I've suffered from the delusion that I'm a kind person in general. Sure, if I saw a person on the side of the road (good samaritan) I'd stop to help them if my kids weren't in the car. Probably. I'd at least call for help. But I wouldn't pay their way. Don't get me wrong, I am ridiculously empathetic (it's kind of a problem) and loving to the extreme, and I'm kind to those I love. But being kind to maybe 40 people out of 6 billion doesn't a kind person make. You would have to listen to the sermon here to really understand the rest of my reflections.

Kurt described 3 types of people: takers, keepers, and traders. I am definitely the first two. As far as being a trader, I don't think so. For those loved ones, I am unfailingly kind. And I don't keep score or expect a fair trade. I just expect love in return. Now this is the shade of gray. On one of those rare occurances when I do need that person to be there for me in some way, if they aren't, I cut them off. It's a defense mechanism learned after years of being taken advantage of. Part of me thinks I should try to change this. But the larger part admits that it has weeded out a lot of people who didn't really care for me as I'd thought they did.

It's not something I have really ever focused on or acknowledged, but I do want to be more kind. I've already added "Learning to Forgive" to my running list of New Years Resolutions for 2012. Why not now? A) I've got too many things on my plate and this is going to require a lot from me. B) I'm the kind of person that needs a blank page to start fresh if you know what I mean. It may only be psychological. I'm aware of that. That's just how I am.

I think that God has acknowledged this desire in me because I've seen some recent subtle changes that I wasn't even aware of until this sermon. On a side note, I have to say that I'm so thankful that He's always watching and paying attention and sometimes, shouldering the responsibility of difficult changes that I want to see in myself. But back to the sermon and it's effect on me. Kurt spoke about how you can tell if you're a kind person by how you use your resources: your time and your money. This is an excellent yard stick because that's what we value most. and you have to give both. Not just one. Many people have an excess of money, and they give it without a second thought, but they can't be bothered to give their time to those who need it. However, this is also why I've felt guilty- I don't have much of either of those things. But God spoke to my heart during the sermon and pointed out that "resources" are not limited to those two alone. When I have excess of either, of course I should give. But for now, I have other resources I can give.

For example, our new place is rather different from our last. Because it is so much smaller, there's a lot of stuff leftover. I've held on to baby clothes, maternity clothes, clothes I've outgrown, etc for years and years with the intention of eventually selling them or reusing them. This is just silly for a number of reasons: I'm not having any more kids, if I've listed them on ebay once and they haven't sold, it's really not worth housing them from years while I waste time and energy trying to relist them, many of these things were given to me to begin with! So I'm making my peace with it. So far, it's going really well. I feel a lot lighter.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fresh start

So! After the last post, we went to look at apartments. Let me say, and this is a compliment, the first was a hole. The woman who showed it, showed up about 15 minutes late and we had to look at it with another couple, because she had left them waiting for over a half hour before us. If you are ever in a position to rent a place out, just know that the prospective tenants pay attention to your tardiness. Aside from being unprofessional, it shows them the kind of attention and care they will receive while living there. I know this seems hyprocritical because I am the queen of running late, but I would never be late for an interview and I am almost never late for work. Doctor's appointments? Yeah, my kids are unpredictable and they can sense my weaknesses. If I'm wearing my last clean pair of jeans, they just know, and find a way to destroy them as we're walking out the door. Lunch with my friends? You bet. I hate waiting by myself. Anywhere I go with my husband? Yes, because he's actually worse than I am at being punctual. But for a meeting to possibly enter into a rental agreement with an individual? Definitely not. And she didn't bother to vaccuum. It didn't go well. That place was rather disgusting and kind of falling apart. But I actually considered it. It was expensive too, but I was willing to make anything work and it just didn't look like we had any other options.

We only had one other apartment set up to look at. I scheduled it on a hunch; it had almost no information listed, and only had one photo of the outside posted with it. But it looked very similar to an aquaintance's apartment and I thought the inside of  their place was beautiful so we decided to check it out.

I kind of feel like these two places were a perfect parallel for my life: One is what I try to force to work, but it's a crushing black hole. It never lives up to my standards. I enter holding my breath and leave gasping for air.  The other is what God graces me with. I don't deserve it. It's always better than I'd expected, better than I could have hoped for. It's always perfect. And it's always temporary. I think the biggest mistake I've made in accepting God's blessings is that I somehow feel like they're mine to keep. But they're not something I can acquire. This used to be so frustrating and, sometimes, devastating to me. But I have learned a lot of hard lessons these last 6 months, all of them reluctantly. The most important one is that all of the temporary gifts and hardships are a purposeful contrast to Him who is never temporary. I may not get to keep the things I love the most or the things that I feel like I've worked hard to earn, but I get to keep the one thing I could never deserve. Learning to rely on Him has been an incredibly humbling and beautiful experience. It's one I will probably have to work at for the entirety of my life, but that's okay. It's a lesson worth the effort of learning.

For those of you who don't know, we checked out the small but clean and maintained apartment and signed the lease almost on the spot. It's about half the size of our last place, has required a lot of money (rent, deposits upfront, ac unit, closets, more utilities than we're used to paying, carpeting, etc) invested in it, and has not been entirely smooth sailing, but it's home. For now. :]

I feel so blessed.