Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Little Trip to D.C.

When my proposal to speak at the National Council of Teachers of English was accepted last August, Beau and I went back and forth about whether he should go along or not. We had barely started this housing adventure and were not sure where we’d be with decisions, let alone where we’d even be living. But when hotels by the National Harbor (where the conference was at) filled up fast and I didn’t really care to stay downtown by myself, I nudged Beau to grab a plane ticket and be my date. The timing wasn’t good, we were just getting over the cold and flu bug, Beau had a hundred health care appointments scheduled in the weeks before and after, and we had a million housing decisions to make when we got home, but we went for it and never looked back. 

The weekend was just what we needed. We’ve been so caught up in the speed of our life right now that it seems whatever is not essential is put to the side to accomplish just what we need to get by. Projects for class, open houses at daycare, flooring for the house, and laundry, diapers, and meals take precedent over the things that are most important; namely, our relationships with the people who matter most. Beau and I have been moving in opposite directions it seems and it felt so nice to meet in D.C. for a few days, together. We laughed at how easy it felt to pack for just the two of us, how nice it felt to be on the other side watching young families make their way through the airport with little ones, and made a vow to drag out our meals as long as possible, eat as much seafood as possible, and converse about adult things instead of superheroes and transformers. I couldn’t wait to revisit a city with so much to see, to introduce my history buff husband to the rich story of D.C., and eat our way through each neighborhood of our nation’s capital.

We got to our hotel in the late afternoon on Thursday and got all dressed up in order to blend in with the young executives on Pennsylvania Ave. We were just blocks from the national mall and made our way to the monuments just as the sun was setting. It was the absolute perfect time to see the mall. We marveled at the size and stature of the Washington Monument, solemnly took in the World War II monument, and ended on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, watching people from all over the world take in this iconic piece of our history. The sun had casted this golden hue on everything, and the sun soaked memorials reflected off one another to create a breathtaking view. We sat on the steps of the memorial for a while and talked about MLK, Abraham Lincoln, and Forrest Gump before making our way to dinner.

We walked arm in arm down Constitution Ave., stopping to take in the massive buildings all lit up for Christmas and passing several secret service agents along the way. It wasn’t until we crossed the corner by the Eisenhower Building that we came upon the White House itself. Pennsylvania Ave. was blocked off in front of it, and there were several news reporters and other very important people showing their security access tags before a gate opened and allowed them in. We finally realized that we were standing there an hour before the President’s controversial and highly-covered immigration reform policy was announced. It was pretty exciting to be so up close and personal to the center stage of it all. 

We ended Thursday night dining amongst the big wigs at the Old Ebbitt grill just blocks from Capitol Hill. Happy hour was just coming to an end and it was obvious we were surrounded by lawyers, politicians, and up and coming executive interns who had gathered to hash out the day’s hot button issues over martinis, white wine, and whiskey on the rocks. We tried to fit in, but our pork belly taco order instead of Oysters Rockefeller probably said otherwise. We dined over gin and tonics, hot bowls of clam chowder, parmesan crusted trout, and osso bucco before making our way back to our hotel. 

Friday was my conference day, but we celebrated a successful presentation elbow deep in snow crab in Georgetown on Friday night. After a welcoming 50-degree day the day before, the temperatures Friday night felt much more like home. The cabbie dropped us off at this seemingly little dive and we made ourselves at home for much of the night, hosting competitions as to who could get the biggest piece of crab out without breaking it, making fun of how ridiculous the other looked in their plastic bib, and watching Lebron take on the Wizards at the Verizon Center, just a block from our hotel. 

We spent our last afternoon in D.C. as tourists, exploring Arlington National Cemetery and spending most of the afternoon perusing the Smithsonian Institute. I donned over the first lady exhibit, could have stayed in the Julia Child exhibit all day, and made sure to get a peek at Harry Winston’s Hope Diamond at the Museum of Natural History. My favorite part of the day, though, was when our cabbie dropped us off for lunch in front of twenty food carts right outside the Washington Monument. We each ordered something we had never heard of, sat on a park bench next to a family of hungry pigeons, and listened to a young man play amazing percussion on a set up of five-gallon buckets. It was exactly the kind of big city appeal I crave every now – exciting, high energy, and spontaneous. 

After getting all kinds of smart at the Smithsonian, Beau discovered a brewery in the same block that I discovered an Anthropologie, so we went our separate ways for an hour and met back at Gordon Biersch for dinner and drinks. We shared garlic fries and lobster rolls, IPAs and sangria before retiring to our hotel for an early night. 

It was a lovely little weekend away, but boy did I miss the babes! Looking forward to shifting gears now and preparing for the holidays at Mom and Dad’s, as well as one little lady getting awfully close to one.

Monday, November 24, 2014

To the new owners of our house...

on closing day...

**I wrote this letter weeks ago, when our house was still full of us.  After a series of unexpected turns and events since, our closing date was put on hold until today.  It's been a slow, excruciating process selling a home and the stress has in many ways overshadowed the emotions of leaving this house I love so much.  That is, until today.  I dropped the kids off at daycare and spent one last morning there, sweeping the floors, packing up a few leftover belongings, and readying its surfaces for a new family about to move in.  And it wasn't until I drained one last sink load of water, wiped that counter one last time, and stood there in the middle of that empty kitchen that I completely lost it.  All by myself with tears running down my cheeks, I moved in and out of each room one last time, saying goodbye and feelings so overwhelmed.  The baby's room, our bedroom, that kitchen, and Cruz's upstairs nook.  I've been saving this letter until this day, the day I could finally breathe.  And there I was, breathless.  Nothing can prepare you for the last time you close the door of a house you brought your babies home to.    


I've never sold a house before and am not sure if this is proper protocol, but I feel there are some things you must know about this this place you will soon call home.  It's weird handing over the keys to something that seems so tangible, yet is so much a part of our identity that it feels as if we are giving you a piece of ourselves and we don't even know you.  I personify things until they become real to me and this house has become another family member for the past eight years.  We started as strangers, but it didn't take long to realize we would soon be lifelong friends.  We started with a makeover, giving him new life and new purpose.  Then, we shared our dreams with him, and he stretched and expanded in ways we never imagined, perfectly enveloping us into a safe, nurturing place to plant our seeds and watch them flourish.  He opened his doors and provided comfort and love to new babies, to new friends, and to strangers, always showing off his simple and inviting charm.  He's seen us at our best and he's seen us at our worst, listening to our cries and keeping our secrets.  He knows things, this house, that no one else knows, and has been a part of our story in a way that has impacted who we are in so many ways.  Our roots are thick here, entwined under a firm foundation that has been our home for almost eight years and at times, when I really stop and let it sink in that we soon won't sleep here anymore, I feel like I'm abandoning a big part of who I am.  But at the same time, I know we're ready for a new story.  For bigger spaces to grow, new territory to roam, and new stories to write.  We will take so much of this house with us, but its foundation, its firm structure and unique charm wait for you, ready to be just what you need it to be.  I pray you find as much joy within its walls that we have and that you plant your own roots beneath its surface, adding to its history in a way only you can.  

But since he can't talk, I wanted to do him the honor and share a few of his most prized attributes with you, as well as a few of his limitations.  I believe we call that character in the housing world. :)

1.  Be sure to spend many summer afternoons in the backyard.  The big Maple provides the perfect amount of shade during those hot afternoons, as well as the perfect branch for a tree swing.  Its leaves will fall very late, making for a cold rake in November, and its helicopters will fill your driveway, your shoes, and your kitchen floor every spring.  But his shade is worth it, we promise.

2.  If you are need of hot water fast, use the bathroom sink instead of the kitchen.  The kitchen takes a good ten seconds to get hot, which makes for impatient babies who need a bottle or a face washed.

3.  Get to know your neighbors, Kathy and Jim.  They are the best people and their own kids both live out of state, so they're always looking to adopt local children and grandchildren.  Talk baseball with Jim, and do him a favor and shovel his driveway every now and then.  His knee is bad and he will return your good deed tenfold, promise.

4.  Our neighborhood has the absolute best route for after dinner walks.  If you head north up the street and turn left, the entire neighborhood border is approximately one mile.  It's the perfect distance to tire out a baby or get some much needed conversation with your spouse.  And it's the perfect neighborhood for trick-or-treating.

5.  If you've ever considered gardening, there's something in our soil that does wonders for tomatoes.  They will grow taller than the deck rail and you will have more than you know what to do with.  The next door neighbors love them, and will likely repay you with cilantro or a fresh home brew.  

6.  We've left a stack of firewood in the garage and I hope you take advantage of the wood-burning fireplace from time to time.  Pile blankets on the floor, put on a movie, and pretend you're camping under the stars.  

7.  There's a creak in the floor board right as you walk out of the door to the baby's room.  Keep that in mind as you tip toe your way out in the middle of the night.

8.  The bathroom is small, but can fit two adults and two kids snugly, but productively.  Trust us, we do it every morning.

9.  We hope you love the kitchen as much as we do.  Fill that four-shelf pantry with lots of food, the wine rack with lots of blends, and those over-sized drawers with utensils you'll only use once a year.  There is full functionality in there and we hope you take advantage of every square inch.

10.  Water little imaginations in those bedrooms upstairs.  Fill the built-in bookshelf with pages of adventures to explore from the window seat that overlooks the street.  It gets a little chilly in the winter months, but makes for the perfect excuse for flannel sheets, twinkly lights, and extra cuddling.  I love those rooms and will miss the light, the dormers, and the adventures that always seem to await.

We wish you all the best as you settle into your new digs and hope you find as much joy as we have here.  Welcome home.  

Monday, November 17, 2014


"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2014"


Cruz: We've started our second full week at Mom and Dad's.  Things started off well, until we all got stuck with the flu bug.  It's been a rough week to say the least, but we've been remedying with Grandma's book collection, board games, and Jordan and Taylor's old toys.  This boy's been amazing through this transition and I am so very proud of him.

Mila: Finally back to school today after nearly a whole week out for the count.  This past week, ironically the first week at Mom's, Mila has decided she's more of a stander than a crawler.  She's exploring, too, and is into everything she shouldn't be.  She loves Mom's greeting card drawer, the wick candles under the TV, and the kitty food!  We have plans to do some baby proofing as soon as we're all feeling better!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mila is Double Digits!

Ten months old is hard for me to type.  In the whirlwind of our life events right now, our little lady just keeps growing and getting closer to one!  She turned ten months old our first week at Mom and Dad's and she was unfortunately sick for most of the week.  She had a fever, a stuffy nose, and a lack of sleep and routine and it was wearing on all of us to stay the least.  She's perked up, though, and we are hoping and praying that's the last of it for a good while.  Like until we are settled in our new house while!

I love these pictures of our sweet girl.  The much too early arctic blast was looming last weekend and Mom and I took Mila out on our last warm day to snap a few pictures.  Mila was a ham and it took all of about two minutes to get these.  While warming up cars and bundling up babies definitely adds another layer to our morning routine, I do love how sweet she looks in all her cozy knits.

A few of our favorite stats of Mila's 10th month...

//Mila has transitioned from crawler to stander this month.  She now pulls herself up to everything.  I am not ready for a walker quite yet, but I have a feeling it's going to be here before we know it.  Last night, Beau and I caught her standing on her own by the fridge for a good five seconds, staring at us with a panicky look on her face.  She's definitely a girl about the whole thing, a little more fearful and dramatic when her landing isn't as smooth.

//Mila loves to dance and started clapping her hands this week.  Anytime she hears music or any sort of beat, she gets this really serious look on her face, puts her head down, and starts rocking to the beat.  She takes her dancing very seriously.     

//We started playing peekaboo, patty cake, and some signing for "more" this month.  She loves when you put a blanket over her head and say "Where's Mila?!"  She's very observant and has proved to be a quick learner, picking up on sounds and movements quickly.  

//One of my favorite new milestones this month was giving kisses.  She doesn't exactly blow kisses, but mimics the gesture anytime someone plants one on her by smacking her lips together in response.  Much to me and the daycare girls' disappointment, it seems this little habit was short lived as we can't get her to do it anymore.  She's working on the real thing, though, and it's only a matter of time before we get big wet slobbery kisses on the mouth!

//Mila has moved away from purees to much more "big kid" food this month and she continues to be a big fan of pretty much anything.  Her favorites are chicken, carrots, toast, my canned peaches, and applesauce.  She is showing a greater disinterest in her bottles lately, too, reminding me this baby stage is definitely short-lived.

//Mila is highly observant and mimics everything we do.  Her eyebrows turn in and she immediately tries to figure it all out.  The other day, Mom checked her temperature and Mila grabbed the thermometer from her.  She put her head down and stuck that meter right up to her forehead to check it by herself!  If I pat Cruz's back, Mila pats his back, if make a fish face, Mila makes a fish face.  Monkey see, monkey do.  

Happy TEN MONTHS, little monkey.  We love you, sweet girl. 


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