Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DC in Pictures

One of the neatest things about going to DC when you live on the west coast is that it doesn't happen very often. When it does, everything seems new to you and you see it with fresh eyes, even if you've seen it before. That's about how I felt on the whole trip a couple of weeks ago.

 I've been to Mt. Vernon before, maybe when I was about 13? It's even more amazing now that I'm older and able to appreciate many of the subtle things about the property. The view over the Potomac. That George had such a love of his land that he surveyed it over and over throughout his lifetime. The simple, yet majestic beauty of the home. The privacy of the master bedroom and his office.
 Our experience at Arlington was really amazing. Beside the fact that the grounds and the view are truly stunning, one of our parents had a connection for us to have a private meeting with a Sentinel. His knowledge was vast and our kids sat in awe for the entire 20 minutes or so that he spoke with us. 4 of our students also had the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
I'm not sure I'll ever tire of seeing the Vietnam Memorial but this is one of my favorite parts. The nurses.

One of the things that I'd never seen before was the Korea Memorial. It means a lot more to me now that I know that my father-in-law was sent there just before the conflict ended for the United States. I'm not sure what made more of an impression on me: the fact that it was a rainy day and the soldiers actually looked real in their rain ponchos, or the wall etched with the faces and scenes of war. It was really moving.
The National Cathedral was wonderful, of course, but it was the smaller things, like this tapestry, that really caught my attention.

 Another building that we got to see was the Library of Congress. It was love at first sight. Every detail had me staring in awe. On the right is the detail of the arches in the main hall. The flowers are amazing. Below is the stained glass window ceiling. It was truly incredible. The tile mosaics in the floor and ceiling were breathtaking. I could have spent all day there--and that was just the architecture! I didn't even get to see any of the collections.
It really was an amazing trip. (How many times can I use that word?) We saw so much more in DC than what I've shown here. One of my other favorite things was the WWII Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. I don't know how I'd missed the WWII before but I actually think it was my favorite. And MLK? Truly stunning. But it's new so there isn't any way that I'd have seen it before. I would have loved a little extra time there to see a little more of it. As usual, that could apply to most of the things we did but as you'll see when I post about the NYC portion of the trip, we should get the chance to do just that the next time we go! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

While the Cat's Away...

This is the week that I'm taking HB#1 to DC/NYC with his school. Well, the old school. Anyway, apparently Old Man Winter decided that we needed to stress a little because it looks like the DC area will be getting 4-8 inches of snow between now and tomorrow evening. Send up a prayer that our flights are not effected and we are able to arrive as planned. We will be doing ev.ry.thing. All by noon on Thursday, then heading up to NYC. I'm so excited about both cities. I've been to both but there are things that we'll be doing that I've never done.

It's been a rough few weeks around here. Some close friends of ours found out at the end of February that their 11 year old son has cancer. My heart is broken. We're still in shock, I think, but doing our best to be available to the family to help in whatever capacity that they need. So many in our community have already stepped in to fill in the gaps with meals, rides for their other children, etc., the outpouring of support has been almost overwhelming. And the outpouring has certainly been beautiful. It's going to be a long haul, as the treatment plan is for about 12 months. While I'm away, would you please pray for my friend Ann, her son Peter, and their family? He finished his first round of chemo yesterday and is expected home later this afternoon.

Ann reads here if you would like to leave a message of support for her, Peter, and the family in the comments.

The blogging community is so supportive-I'm counting on you all to fill the gap this week while I'm gone!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Old School, Yo.

Inspiration came from Anna today. If you're so inclined join in and link up!

What is the last thing you watched on TV? Days of our Lives on the DVR right now, as a matter of fact.

When did you last step outside? What were you doing? About 3 hours ago, I went to pick up my son at band.

What is on the walls of the room you are in?
A painting by my friend Carrie, things that HG brought for us from Malawi, and some other prints/mirrors.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
I would probably buy new blinds/shades/curtains for our dining room. We have vaulted ceilings and the custom ones that are there are SO HIDEOUS. Since the windows are about 100 inches and are about 40 inches off the floor they have to be custom, and custom is expensive, y'all.

Tell me something about you that most people don’t know.
Despite my sinful ways, I am falling more and more in love with Jesus each day. I hope that someday it shows on the outside, too.

Who made the last incoming call on your phone?
On the house phone: a telemarketer. I rarely answer it anymore. On my cell: my husband. However, I had to call him back from the house phone because I get such terrible reception in our neighborhood. Thus the reason for our house phone!

If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?
I would put in a pool, spa, and add on a room/bathroom. Or do the kitchen. Or add french doors off the master bedroom and add a full deck. How about all three?

What was the last thing you bought?
A travel coffee mug for my husband.

Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?
HELL NO. Neither one, not now, not ever. NO.

If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be?
Jesus. But if it had to be a current, live, on this earth, famous in the US type? Maybe the authors Pat Conroy and Dorothea Benton Frank. They seem like such fun people to be around. OH! and Jimmy Buffett. We would have boat drinks and cheeseburgers.

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Probably a department store because then I could get clothing for my whole family, furniture, linens, a little of everything.

Is the glass half empty or half full?
Mostly full. But sometimes empty. I don't tend to think in 'half full' or 'half empty' terms.

What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been?
When I was 22 I went to Singapore and South Korea.

What’s under your bed?
I honestly can't recall. I know that there isn't much there anymore because the bed frame is very low on the outside and only very small things can get under there now. See: shoes, socks, etc.

What is your favorite time of the day?
Evening. I love the long shadows and chatting about the day with my husband over a glass of wine.

What Inspires You?
I think that inspiration comes from many sources. My Bible is one. Good friends are another. And then there's Pinterest. Heh.

Thanks Anna. I needed this distraction today. (Kinda like I needed a hole in the head. But I had fun anyway!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Vegas Overview-With Teenagers!

 I mentioned that we were heading to Vegas a few weeks ago, yes? We were meeting my lovely friend Shannon and her family. The weekend started with a road trip to the Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona state line. I think I may have done this as a child but have zero recollection of it at all. It was really amazing. Did you know that the dam itself is not attached to the surrounding canyon walls at all? If you're ever in the area it is worth taking the long tour. I'm sure we'll be going back some time since, at the last minute, Headless Dad wasn't able to go.

On Saturday night we went to Bacio Restaurant in the Tropicana. Headless Dad and I discovered it last year on our weekend getaway and it is still delicious. We give it 4 stars!

 On Sunday morning we started on the south end of the strip at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium. The kids really loved it. As you can see, my HB#2 got to get his hands wet and touch the rays. It was a nice exhibit; the pace was perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. Even this old broad learned a few things!

One of my favorite things to see in Las Vegas is the lobby of the Bellagio hotel. Below is the ceiling near the check-in desk. Those are giant Murano Glass disks bolted to the ceiling, with lights behind them. Truly stunning.

 Even the tile floors in the Bellagio are a sight to see. Can you tell that this is an intricate mosiac? I just love it. Someday when I win the PowerBall I am going to have someone do this at my house. Anywhere will do: entry way, bathroom, back patio.... All of the above?

And of course, you haven't seen Vegas until you've seen the water show. It is spectacular day or night. (Click on the Bellagio website for a preview of what it looks like at night.)

 We visited the Paris hotel, a first time for me. Although we didn't see much of it, we did use the bathrooms here and if the rest of the hotel and casino is as detailed as the sinks? Definitely a place to return to and explore a little more. Shannon took her daughter up in the Eiffel Tower and said that the views were amazing!

We had walked the bulk of the day so by the time we hit Paris we were all pooped. The boys wanted to swim so we headed back to our hotel. After swimming we went out to grab dinner and fulfill another promise to the boys. A second ride on the roller coaster at NYNY. It really is a great coaster, but Shannon's 9yo daughter wasn't pleased the first time so she didn't go a second time. I cannot believe I didn't get a picture of this!!

Since it was an early night, the boys decided that "While in Vegas, do what Las Vegans do"... (or something like that.) They pulled out the playing cards, bought Tic Tacs to bet with, and played poker. Shannon and I loved hearing their laughter while we had a glass of wine.

It was such a fun weekend and it even got my #1's highest approval rating of: "Best Weekend Ever." I'll take it!

Thanks Shannon for suggesting this-Let's do it again soon!

If you'd like to follow Shannon's family adventures, check out her blog 100 Routes Across America.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day to Day Living

When my boys were babies we used to live day to day. We had to have a schedule because of their older sister and dad having schedules outside the house but as far as the 3 of us went, it was pretty loose. Diaper blowout? No prob. We weren't going anywhere anyway. This also explains why there is still so many projects left undone in my house. Ahem.

Fast forward a few years to when the boys started school. Schedules changed with added activities so I was able to plan more. I love to plan. I love having a detailed calendar, knowing where everyone will be and when, and for how long. These were the days of extensive meal planning. I had to. Otherwise we wouldn't have eaten. I am happiest when I have a week or so of activities and meals planned, know where we're going on vacation in the summer by February, that kind of thing. Order is the name of my game.

Lately that orderly life that I love so much? Straight out the window. Homeschooling has upended my calendar and for the life of me I cannot set it upright. Meal plan? Yeah, right. My afternoons are so full that not only am I rarely home, I often can't even get to the store for basics until I hear "Mom, how can I have cereal if there is no milk?"

After a super-fun weekend in Vegas with Shannon and her family, I arrived home on Monday a little before lunch time. I thought I'd have a chance to catch up on things.

That sound? Was the universe doing the big "LOL".

Instead of a few hours catching up it was me, running around, putting out fire after fire. Then the same thing today. And so it will be tomorrow. Thursday, too. Friday morning should be ok but the afternoon and evening will be just as nuts. This week, as in the last 2 months or so, I will be dead by Saturday and get just enough done to b a r e l y keep my head above water for the next week. This is not even counting keeping up with all of the school work that has to be done.

I know that organization is key. I'm staying on top of the home school stuff, organizationally. The rest, however? Is totally hit-or-miss. The list of things that I need at Target is so long that I'll need a minimum of an hour and includes basics like soap and toothpaste. I haven't been to Costco in I don't know how long. Last week I was able to meal plan a little and it was such a big help. I need to get there--to that place of organization.

My mental health lies in the balance and depends on a little order around here. Anyone up for a Target run? That looks like my only socializing time in the foreseeable future.