Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mountain Man...

Ken has always had a love of hiking and in the past couple of years he has been working on "conquering" mountains, especially fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet). This summer he has had the opportunity to take several hikes. In July he, with his friend, Jeff Love, decided to conquer Grays peak and Torreys Peak. I am hoping that I will get him to be a guest blogger to share his adventures soon. Until then, I hope these pictures suffice.

The Tooth Fairy comes to our house...

One morning I looked at Peyton and I was shocked to see that her tooth was crooked. I thought that she must have hit her mouth and I was surprised to see that it was loose and that her new tooth was already coming in behind! In only a couple of days her tooth fell out, prompting much celebration. It was only a few more days until the tooth beside it fell out as well.

As a mom, it threw into sharp relief that my baby girl is getting bigger. Wow -- she is growing up too fast!

Monday, August 22, 2011

More pictures from the trip...

I literally took hundreds of pictures on our trip back east. Here are some of my favorites...

Marine Corps Sunset Parade

Photos I took during my "photo safari."

Vietnam War Memorial

Portrait my instructor, David, took of me.

Korean War Memorial

At the National Cathedral

(Cool sculpture hanging off the side of a house.)

Views of the city

Mount Vernon


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Celebrating 15 years...

(The text formatting is being weird and sadly I lack the skills to fix it. So sorry!)

I’m not quite sure how 15 years passed so quickly, but they did. In June, Ken and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary and we wanted to do something fun to celebrate. We decided that I should join him for his business trip to Washington DC and then go north and explore Philadelphia for the weekend. Many thanks to Holly and Brian for being willing to watch our children for almost a week so I could join Ken and we could get away together!

Ken headed out on Sunday while I stayed behind for an extra day to pack up the kids and take them to Holly’s, do some errands, and get the house clean. (It is always so much nicer to come home to a clean house!) I flew out on a late flight on Monday. I had a great book so the time flew by quickly and finally reached our hotel at almost 2:00 in the morning. I was lucky, I got to sleep in a bit, but Ken had to get up and go to work. I took my time getting ready and deciding what to do for the day. It is so decadent to be just in charge of me and get to do what I want to do – what a treat!!! I ventured out to get some lunch and then walk over the Natural History Smithsonian. I spent several hours exploring and then went to meet Ken.

One of my best memories of living near DC when I was younger was attending the USMC Evening Parade down at Eight and I and I wanted to share that with Ken. We made arrangements to meet Naomi, my former roommate, and her children to see the Sunset Parade at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The parade was just as cool as I remembered with the drum and bugle corps and the silent drill taking. The setting was majestic and I was so impressed with the presentation. Ooh rah!

On Wednesday I was really excited! Online, I had found a photo safari tour around Washington DC and was excite to take some postcard pictures of my own – or at least try to. It was tour taught by a professional photographer and our group started out with some basics of photography and then David took us around the city as we got to practice our newfound skills. Our morning group had about 14 of us for the half day tour and then four of us continued on for the full day excursion. I think I got some good shots and I truly enjoyed getting to know the others in the group.

That night we got tickets for the musical Oklahoma that was opening at the Arena Theater. It was a fabulous production done in the round and I was really impressed the singing, especially Curly’s voice, and the dancing. We thoroughly enjoyed it!!! Afterward we went to a new restaurant near the theater called Station 4. We loved the yummy food and swanky d├ęcor. It simply is a treat being out for a nice dinner together! About halfway through our meal about half the cast from the play came in for some dinner and drinks in the bar. So of course we took the opportunity on our way out to let them know how much we enjoyed the show. They were all super nice and it was fun spending a few minutes talking with them.

On Thursday I got to have another slow start while waiting for Naomi to pick me up. We took her kids down to her sister’s house and then we headed out to the inspection of the new home they were planning to buy. I was giddy that I was able to spend time with her AND get to see their new home. It was gorgeous and on 10 beautiful wooded acres in Virginia. Amazing! After exploring and talking through furniture placement and decorations, we spent the rest of the afternoon talking out on her wrap around front porch. I love Naomi so much and I loved every minute I got to spend with her!

After picking up Naomi’s kids, we drove back to the city and picked Ken up. Naomi, and her kids were fantastic sports and were willing to drive us around to see a bit of the city at night. She was even patient with me when I wanted to jump out of the car and get some night shots of the Lincoln Memorial. She then drove Ken and I into Georgetown where we had dinner reservations at Filomena Ristorante, a delicious Italian restaurant. (I still have dreams about the salad I ate there! It. Was. So. Yummy!) The night was beautiful as we took a romantic stroll together through the city.

Friday morning we both got up and moving. I rented a car and drove down to Quantico. I was thrilled that they let me on base and it was so cool to see where I had lived 22 years before – what was still the same and what was different. I had forgotten how beautiful that base was with tons of trees, the Potomac River, and rolling hills. My old neighborhood was totally changed -- they had even redone how the roads were! But the PX and my old schools seemed exactly the same. I was sad to see the old Officer’s Club pool filled in. I had so many memories there. All in all it was just fun to drive around and remember. I must admit, I even had a tear or two in my eyes just thinking about all the people and experiences I had while living there that did a great deal to make me who I am. I was so blessed to have that time there and that I still have friends from my life then.

I picked up Ken from work and we took a beautiful drive down the Potomac River to Mount Vernon. We loved spending the afternoon strolling the grounds and learning more about George Washington. A couple of years ago I read 1776 by David McCullough and I recall how many times Washington talked about how much he loved Mount Vernon and longed to return there. Walking around the beautiful grounds and seeing that stunning view of the Potomac River I totally understood why he would want to be back at his beloved Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon

After the wonderful afternoon at Mount Vernon we got in the car and started driving up to Philadelphia. Neither Ken or I had been then before and we were really looking forward to seeing the sights. We stopped at a Cheesecake Factory in Delaware for a delicious dinner. I am always amazed by all the trees back east! Out here in the west you can often see restaurants from the freeway, but we would have been up a creek without navigation on our phones. We also used that navigation to find a theater and stop for a late night showing of Harry Potter. With our delays we rolled into Philly about 2:30 in the morning.

Over the next couple of days we saw the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross' home, Christ Church, Benjamin Franklin stuff, the US Mint, and Independence Hall. I loved seeing all the historical sites and I was ever more appreciative of our nation's humble beginnings and her Founding Fathers. We were also able to get some last minute tickets to see Miss Siagon at the Walnut Street Theater, one of the oldest theaters in the country. We were even able to cross having an authentic Philly cheese steak off our bucket list. :)

Besty Ross house

In front of Independence Hall

In the very room the Declaration of Independence was signed!

It was a fantastic trip and it was so good to spend time together! I can't imagine a better companion for both this adventure and my life journey. I love you Ken! Happy 15th anniversary -- here's to many, many more.

(More pictures to follow...)