Saturday, July 28, 2012

Washington DC

With Husband on vacation this week, we decided to take a quick trip to Washington DC.  I think this trip went fairly well because we were very realistic about what we could/ couldn't get done.  With just 2 1/2 days there, we planned to do one museum each day.  It actually worked out well, but we did have some very tired little tourists at the end of each day.

We left on Friday afternoon, and drove the 5 hours to DC.  Our hotel was in Virginia, so we did have to weave our way through Beltway traffic.  It was an exercise in terror!  I haven't been in traffic like that since leaving California.  DC drivers, you are very angry!

We took the Metro from VA into DC, and it was easy and relatively cheap.  Weekend parking at the station was free, but Metro tickets were $18 round trip (ages 4 and under are free).  While this is not inexpensive, because the museums are all free, it was a fair trade.  It was nice to be dropped off right on The Mall.   

TIP: We stayed in Fairfax, at a hotel that was really close to tons of restaurants and shops (yes, I made a Target stop!).  It was about 1/3 the price of staying closer to DC, and only about 5 miles from the Metro station.   

The Washington Monument is closed due to damage from last summer's earthquake.  
It was still cool to see it from a distance. 

Our first stop: 

Most surprising observation: the number of foreign tourists!  We expected everything to be busy, but not to be packed with European, South American, and Asian tourists.  America, you need to explore your nation's capitol!

TIP: Get to the museums when they open at 10am.  That way you'll be done around 2pm, and can walk right by the huge lines of people waiting to get in.  Also, no food or drink is allowed except for bottled water. 

The Spirit of St. Louis

After the A & S museum, we walked down The Mall to The Capitol Building.

We <3 America!

The next day we stopped by the White House, and then went to The Museum of Natural History.

Bones, bones, bones!

Monday was our last day, and we had to finish by about 2pm to drive home.  So we headed NW to the Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles airport (part of the Air and Space Museum).  It was AMAZING.  1/3 the number of tourists, and the hangar setting really enhances the atmosphere of the planes on display. 

TIP: GO THERE.  $15 for parking (per car), but free entrance to the museum.

(SR-71 Blackbird)

(notice the name on the plane??)

AND - they have the Space Shuttle Discovery on display.  It was so, so cool to see this up close.  

We can't wait to go back to DC and see even more next time!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The William Morris Project: A TEASER

With a long weekend away and a husband currently on vacation, I was woefully unprepared for this week's William Morris post.  But then I scored a lucky find yesterday morning!  And then we just couldn't get it done in time because of obligations and stuff.  So, I leave you with a teaser:

Also, is anyone else astonished that there are only 4 more weeks until school starts again?  Overall, we've had a good summer, but I'm not quite ready to send her back to school yet.  I haven't accomplished many of the big things I wanted to accomplish, so I guess it's time to kick it up a notch and get to painting again.  In other words: look forward to MORE.   

This lame post is part of The William Morris project spearheaded by Pancakes and French Fries.  Check back next week, I promise my WM projects will get better!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Almost a Year

It's hard to believe we have lived here for almost a year.  Going into this, I thought that 4 years sounded like forever.  And some days it does feel like it.  But I am also marginally astonished that 12 months have passed so quickly.  Then again, I think that we've had something going on every month, so there didn't seem to be a lot of downtime - visitors, new school, new job, new house, new town, new dance school, new soccer league, new friends, new hobbies, new job #2, new preschool, new vacations, new new new.

Our local library

I do want to record some thoughts about our town, just for posterity.

  • I feel like I've adjusted pretty well to living in a small town.  With a population of 15,000, the options are limited.  Generally, you can choose between Take It or Leave It.  Often the default choice is Take It, as Leave It puts me back at square one.  While I do not LIKE shopping at Walmart, I have accepted it as my (almost) only option. If other options are available, they usually come with a catch.   For example: our town does not have a soccer league with Saturday games.  In order to find one that does, we ended up driving 80 minutes round trip, 3 days a week.
  • I am much more appreciative and active in supporting local businesses.  And we've found a lovely bakery, coffee shop, burger place, summer camp, and more because of this.
  • But I still do a lot more online shopping.  What can I say?  I do love the internet.  And especially when it comes to seasonal shopping, the UPS man and I are on a first name basis.  
  • And when we do get to "the city" for some reason, the trips often feel rushed because I have the perception that I need to cram in a visit to every possible store because I just don't know when I'll be back.  I find that preparation helps, and will make very specific lists of what I need so that we can hit 4 or 5 stores in quick succession.  Much less window shopping (boo) and much more get in, get out (which the husband appreciates).  I also appreciate those visits much more.  A trip to Target feels special when you only get to go three times a year.  
  • I know my neighbors!  I feel so lucky to have chosen this house.  Not only is this neighborhood perfect for our kids, but we're getting to know our neighbors, too.  This is a big step for us.  We tend to keep to ourselves (I think it's a little bit of the "we're not going to be here that long" mentality), and I am enjoying chatting with the neighbors in the area.  
  • This area holds strong to the Appalachian values of family, independence, and hard work.  They take care of their own.  
  • Poverty lays heavy on Southern Ohio.      
  • People here are "wavers".  This took me months to get used to.  Every time I took a walk or stepped outside, I would get a wave from someone.  At first I responded with a slightly puzzled look while racking my brain to recall if this was someone I had met & already forgotten.  But then I realized that is a community of wavers.  It's a friendly change that I have embraced.      

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The William Morris Project: Wall Decor

Well, after an unplanned 4 week hiatus, here I am with another William Morris project.  I finally fought off the heat-induced lethargy and get my butler in gear enough to put up some prints I made for M's room, and one I finally got around to framing.  Not terribly impressive, but still done.  Please excuse the horrible iPhone photos.  I had a choice between quick & dirty photos or not posting at all.  You're welcome.

I like this, but it bugs me that the type is so close to the edge of the frame.
I think I'll be reframing it next week. 

I love how this turned out.  
Thank you, Cricut!

This is her nickname, and we both love the shiny foil background with the hot pink bunny. 

I have had my eye on this Lisa Congdon print for months.  
It will be hung somewhere in my bedroom (it's time to start tackling that disaster), as part of a gallery wall of family photos and momentos.
I used a frame we already had, and gave it a quick spray of Krylon gloss white. I had previously used Heirloom White and HATED it. So much for the ravings of other bloggers.  Lesson learned.

This posting is part of The William Morris Project, as instituted by Jules at Pancakes and French Fries.  Link up and join the fun!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Growing Up

For several months now, I've seen status updates and blog postings on how some of my friends/ acquaintances are freaking out about getting older and or BEING OLD.

These people range in age from 29-32.

Le Sigh.

Old, huh?

Before you chug down your Ensure or break out the Bengay (don't be afraid to pass it my way when you're done), let me share a few things with you.

First, you're only as old as you think you are.  It is really is just a number, and it's up to you to decide what it means.  If you want to wail and gnash your teeth over the big 3-0, go ahead.  But those of us who have surpassed that landmark will tell you that the best is yet to come.  Yep, that's not a typo.  THE BEST IS YET TO COME.

Your 30's are where you really come into who you are.  Embrace what you like.  Discard what you don't.  Change your career.  Walk away from the big money.  Open that etsy shop.  Lose the weight.  Embrace the flaws.  Emphasize your assets.  Hug it out.  However you want to put it, your 30's is when it happens.  Notice that there was nothing about stagnation or spinning your wheels or letting your life pass you by.  Nope, now is the time to figure it out and accept it wholeheartedly.  Or change it!  You decide!  Your 30's are when you are old enough to know better, and young enough to still do it.

Maybe I am just a late bloomer, but one of the things I have loved about my 30's is accepting my flaws.  I spent a lot of my teens and 20's comparing myself to others - and always coming up short for one reason or another.  But I've stopped being so hard on myself and I am so much happier.  I know that I will never run a marathon, or have straight, glossy hair, or enjoy visible ab muscles.  And I am just fine with that.  Because I know those things don't define my worth as a person, a wife, or a mother. And worrying about the frizz of my follicles or dearth of size 2 pants in my closet robs me of the pleasure I take in a good hair day and a bite or 3 of homemade cinnamon rolls.  Plus, I have muscular arms, the flexibility of a teenager, and can whip up a mean chocolate bundt cake.    

Next, start looking down the road.  Your parents are still here, but may not be in another 10 or 20 years.   Are you spending quality time with them?  Are you building adult relationships with your siblings?  And what about you?  What do you want your life to look like at 40 or 50 or 60?  'Cause those decades are coming, and they are not that far away.  In these 10 years you will build up the foundation for the second half of your life.  Are you ready to embrace the messy, imperfect joys of parenthood?  Are you the parent of small children, or are they already riotous teens?  Will you be an empty nester within a short decade?  Are you living in your dream house on 5 acres or are you ensconced in a studio in the city? Is your retirement fund flush with cash or do you struggle to pay the monthly bills?  Now is the time to make that long-term plan and put it into action.    

Still don't think your 30's are anything to look forward to?  Here's a list of folks who didn't enjoy any real professional success until their 30's:
  • Sylvester Stallone - Rocky was released when he was 30 (he wrote the screenplay & insisted on playing the starring role). 
  • Martha Stewart - Started her catering company in her basement at 35, published her first book at 41. 
  • Harrison Ford - His first major movie role was at 35 (Han Solo).
  • Julia Child - Attended Le Cordon Bleu at the age of 36, which started her career as an author, chef, and American TV personality. 
  • Jon Hamm - Although he had been a working actor for years, he didn't land the role of Don Draper until he was 36.  
Look, before this devolves into motivational meditation (I always doze off in corpse pose, don't you?), let me leave you with this:


One day in your 30's you will wake up and wonder what you were so worried about. And you might just end up looking forward to your next birthday.  Because, really who doesn't love cake?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Make It So

Enjoying the outdoors has never come naturally to me.  I was a very nearsighted, overweight, bookish child, and far preferred the company of Scooby Doo and a good book to riding my bike or taking a walk.  We also lived closer to the beach than to any mountain, and I didn't mind a bit of time in the sun & surf.  Moving to Colorado as a teen, we never even visited Pikes Peak - despite living about 30 minutes away.  I enjoyed looking at the outdoors, but never quite knew what to do with the soaring peaks & miles of pine trees. 

Before Matt and I were married, we took a trip to Alaska.  We rented a car and drove from Anchorage to Denali, camped for a night, then hiked into the park.  We stayed a few nights, then drove further south, camping along the way.  We had a 2 person tent, some cozy sleeping bags, and other miscellaneous backpacking gear.   He is very comfortable with all things outdoors, and other than a heart-skipping moment with a baby moose who stumbled into our camp site, the trip was fine.

When M was 2 we camped along the Oregon coast for a few nights.   We borrowed a slightly larger tent, cooked over the camp fire, and enjoyed days playing in the frigid surf.

We haven't camped since.

But.....after a few backyard sleeps with the old backpacking tent, and an especially memorable Father/Son camp out, I took the plunge and last night we bought a family tent.  Ohio has many camp sites within a reasonable distance, including the impressive Hocking Hills.

(image from

I know who I am.  Let's face it, I enjoy cable TV, hot showers, and air conditioning.  But I WANT to be someone who is comfortable camping.  I want to pop the tent in 15 minutes or less, know how to start a sizable campfire, whip up a hearty meal using only a frying pan and 3 ingredients, and hike for miles with children in tow.  I want to not mind a faceful of wood smoke and grubby hands at the end of the day.  I want to recognize (and stay far away from) poison oak, and be awake enough to appreciate the sunrise.  So I'm going to try.  I may end up sleeping in the car, but I'm going to try.