Contrasting Days

November 9, 2016

This photo was taken yesterday when we spent the day in Baltimore eating crab cakes, blowing glass, rolling down hills, and seeing art made out of food. It was a great day with my mom, my kids, and one of Noah's friends. It was sunny and we were savoring every minute of it.

This morning is dreary, rainy, cold, and scary. The election results will have a direct impact on our family.

Thirteen: Ryan and Noah

October 10, 2016

These goofy boys have been cracking me up since they were second graders in Sicily. Ryan's family moved to the DC area this summer and needless to say there have been plenty of sleep-overs, silly songs, ridiculous memes, obnoxious dabbing, gaming, texting, puns, and even some nostalgic beyblading. There's something very special about military friendships and it makes me happy to see this one still going strong (here's a peek of them back in 2013). So hard to believe they are teenagers now. 

Our View

October 7, 2016

Lines and letters intersecting, twisting, and coming together in a collaboration between art and poetry; artist and viewers; mother and child. 

 We spent the afternoon at The Hirschhorn circumnavigating Linn Meyer's striking work, "Our View From Here".

Historical Bits and Pieces

October 4, 2016

We have been spending a lot of time immersed in the Colonial period: visiting a variety of living history parks/ national historic sites; reading journals, texts, and historical fiction; and working our way through the fabulous PBS "reality show", Colonial House. I have always been a voyeur and this recent historical immersion process has really been fascinating.

A Letter For Rosh Hashanah

October 1, 2016

Rosh Hashanah feels like it crept up on me this year, swirling in with the messiness of September and endless days of rain. It starts tomorrow night. Usually by this time, I will have stacked up a pile of holiday books, dug out our shofars, and have big bowls filled with apples as seasonal decor. But none of those things have happened yet, and they may not.

Time Traveling: Colonial Williamsburg

September 29, 2016

Phone Calls and Extra Batteries

September 11, 2016

Today marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11 and I find myself consciously shutting off news stories, avoiding dreaded images, or actively re-directing conversations about it. Previous anniversaries of this date have never really had much of an impact on me, but for some reason today felt different. And this evening it hit me. It has to do with my dad.

My dad was no where near the twin towers, on a plane, or any where near the Pentagon. On that September day, my dad was in south Louisiana and I was in Washington state. And yet he will always be apart of my memories on that tragic day. It was early on the West Coast and my dad called to make sure we were awake and aware of what was happening. He wasn't the first person to alert us, but he was the one I spoke with the longest that morning. We were on the phone together as the second tower fell. My dad seemed to quickly grasp that our country was about to go into an intense tail spin. In between trying to calm me down, he began to switch into survivalist mode. Trying to figure out ways we could stay in touch if the phones shut down or who we could each contact if we were in trouble. He wanted me to make sure we had batteries and extra water. His response sent me into a bit of my own internal tailspin with dueling emotions...comfort that someone seemed to have some ideas for a plan and fear that things were about to get much worse. 

I think today's anniversary hit me because it was a harsh reminder that I can no longer pick up the phone to call my dad when bad things happen. I feel a bit of guilt to think that my reaction today is about grief that isn't even directly related to today's anniversary. And yet, isn't that at the core of today? Reminders of loss, reminders of life continuing to happen, reminders of fear and uncertainty, and a reminder that we were all a bit changed on that day fifteen years ago. And perhaps most importantly our universal human need to be connected, comforted, and protected. 

Yaocomaco and Piscataway Tribes of Maryland

September 10, 2016

 This year we are plunging into a study of Early American History and planning to take full advantage of the plethora of local historical sites. And that is why Camille and I got up early on a Saturday morning; packed the car with sunscreen, water bottles, a pile of audio books; made two quick pit stops to get freshly made doughnuts and traveling necessities (Twizzlers and Doritos); and hit the road for Historic St. Mary's City. We were hoping to make it in time to participate in their Native American Discovery Day. And as we were making the nearly two hour drive there I found myself hoping that it would be worth the drive. As soon as we arrived, it was clear to see that it was well worth the drive.  

We quickly jumped into doing a variety of hands-on activities: fire building, creating pinch pots with local clay, carving soapstone beads, and making a pokean (Native American hacky-sack made with corn husks, feathers, and beads). We learned about the native plants and food sources. Shot arrows. Helped to build mats from reeds that were collected that morning to add to the rooftops of the re-created Yaocomaco witchotts (longhouses). St. Mary's City, the first capital of Maryland, was established on the grounds of a Yaocomaco settlement. 

One of the highlights of the day was watching the Tayac Territory Singers and Dancers, members of the Piscataway Indian Nation, led by Mark Tayac son of the current hereditary chief, Chief Billy Tayac. It was hard not to be entranced by their beautiful outfits and their voices singing in Algonquin Piscataway while drumming and dancing. The Piscataway were one of the most populous and powerful tribes in the Chesapeake Bay region north of the Potomac. It was an honor to see them sharing their history and culture today. Want to learn more about the Piscataway? Meet Naiche is a good place to start. 


September 4, 2016

I took a ton of photos during our time in Montreal and yet, this is the one I keep going back to. Don't get me wrong. We loved all of the fabulous museums, the delicious pockets of interesting neighborhoods, the bagels, the urban ziplining, the local radio stations, and the friendly vibe. But for some reason, this pic is the one that I am choosing from our time in the city. Nothing fancy about it with weeds growing through the cracks, a hodgepodge of tin and concrete, and umbrellas akimbo; however, it is also filled with pops of colors, interesting textures, and real-life grit. After our time in quaint Quebec City, it was actually kind of refreshing to be in a "real" city focused more on living than performing or charming. So glad we decided to do both Montreal and Quebec City for a bit of yin/yang experience.

August List

August 29, 2016

For Savoring: Your Life is a Poem
For Watching: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
For Birding:  How A Feeder Revived My Marriage
For Reading: Green Island
For Laughing: Flight of the Conchords Watch Penguins
For Playing: Machi Koro
For Listening: Tiffany Aching Disc World Audio Books 
For Examining: Art in Pond Scum
For Sampling: Taiwanese Junk Food

Canadian Postal Cheer

August 24, 2016

I went to Canada and fell in love with their mail boxes. Colorful and peppy, those cheerful depositories made me want to stuff them with encouraging letters and bills with pretty stamps. It's funny how traveling makes the mundane aspects of daily life so much more interesting in new places. Grocery stores in other countries are far more interesting to me than grocery stores at home. And now it turns out that mail boxes are, too.

And here's another thing those postal boxes made me think about. When I was a kid, sending postcards was a big part of our travel ritual. Selecting the perfect card for each recipient. Using scratchy motel pens to describe trip highlights to grandparents and cousins. Words and drawings spilling over the edges. A satisfying little stack of paper greetings ready to be mailed. I was actually pretty good about sending postcards all the way into my 20s and 30s. And I assumed that this travel ritual would continue with my own children. It seemed like a good way to push them to write while also maintaining contact with family many miles away. But as with most good intentions, it never really happens. Don't get me wrong. We keep trying. Or at least I keep trying. After careful deliberation, post cards always get purchased with specific recipients in mind and I always think that this will finally be the trip that kick starts a new desire to write personal notes and letters on a more regular basis. Sometimes they actually get written, but they rarely get sent and the reality is that I have a large box of postcards documenting most of our trips from the past sixteen years of marriage (any ideas on what to do with those?). And I can't even remember the last time we received one. To be honest, it is surprising that post cards are even still made and sold.  So here's to hoping that those cheerful Canadian boxes prompt a personal letter writing resurgence and may postcards continue to exist. 

Quebec City With Kids

August 23, 2016

Pack a soccer ball. Rent an apartment in the Old City. Eat poutine. Attend the Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France. Leave plenty of time for wandering and splashing in fountains. Eat crepes and chocolate croissants.Try to speak French. Get in line early for the spectacular (and free!) circus on Saturday nights. Stay for the fireworks over the St. Lawrence River. Stop to listen to street musicians. Fall asleep to the sound of horse drawn carriages tromping over cobblestone streets. Get up the next morning and repeat. 

Quebec City Charm

August 8, 2016

Quaint views, bursts of colorful flowers, and history oozing from her pores, Quebec City worked her magic on us and had me wishing we had several more days for wandering her cobblestone streets. We were lucky to be in town for the Les Fetes de la Nouvelle-France, but I also have to admit that some of our favorite moments were those that occurred away from the crowds.

Summer Reading

July 27, 2016

Figure Eight Island

July 23, 2016

Beach walks, summer storms, nightly viewings of America's Got Talent, Monopoly, good meals together, and lots of laughter.  We had such a good time visiting with Nana, Poohbah, Carol, Luca, and Yardley on Figure Eight Island in North Carolina. After spending our honeymoon here sixteen years ago, it is wonderful to return and share it with Camille.

Camp Bliss

July 19, 2016

This summer my kids weren't the only ones who went to sleep-away camp. Noah made the annual trek south to Mississippi for another memorable summer at Jacobs Camp. Camille wanted to give farm camp a try and that prompted me to start thinking about finding a camp experience of my own. 

So Camille and I packed our bags, loaded up the van, and drove north to the Hudson River Valley. The first stop was Sprout Creek Farm where Camille was all geared up to spend the week milking goats/cows, meeting new friends, and swimming in the creek. After helping her get settled, I headed thirty minutes up the road to Omega where I spent a blissful week doing yoga, taking fun classes (hula hooping! writing, drawing, etc), kayaking, and taking afternoon naps in hammocks by the lake. It was truly a week of deep renewal and rest. And so much better than my previous experience with summer camp which was a homesick and anxiety-ridden week with fellow 4-H members in rural Louisiana. 

Noah is still at camp and although his notes home are brief, they are filled with exclamation points and we can tell he is having fun. Camille can't stop telling us stories of her farm adventures and has been maintaining near daily contact with new camp buddies. And two weeks post-camp, I am still feeling the after effects of re-calibration and already day dreaming about a return next summer...

June List

June 29, 2016

For Listening: Hooray for the return of Invisibilia  
For Discussing: The Giver and Debatable
For Playing: Bring Your Own Book
For Summer Hiking: All Trails app
For Road Tripping: Are We There Yet? and Sisters
For Digesting: Finding Dory from an adoptee's perspective
For Planting: State Fair Zinnias 
For Considering: Letters of Recommendation 
For Exploring: Smithsonian Folklife Festival
For Repeating: Do The Right Thing

Steampunk Beach, Navarre 2016

June 25, 2016

This year our annual trip to Navarre Beach was a bit different: noisy,surreal, and steampunk. There were big machines, dredge boats, and a large rusty pipe running through the middle of the beach...all part of a Sisyphean task to enlarge this sliver of a barrier island. As a result, the water was murkier, the walk to the water was much further, there were lights and machine noises throughout the night, and there were periodic leaks from the pipe. Strangely, with all of that going on we had more Black Skimmers than usual swooping along the edge of the water and a huge Blue Heron who hung around our house each morning. 

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