Friday, November 2, 2012

What a bizarre week... but lessons learned.... and that's the America I love

 This time last week I could not have even guessed what the coming week would look like. The hype of Hurricane Sandy was all over the news, but deep down I didn't really think it could possibly be true. However, as the storm came closer on Sunday and the forecast didn't change much, I started to get slightly nervous.

On Friday I had purchased a new flashlight and found a store with batteries (after stopping by 4 that were sold out!) but I didn't really do any of the other preparations. I have a 72 hour kit, but I didn't really stock up on canned food and things that don't need to be refrigerated. Our apartment complex sent around a note with a list of things to do, one of which was to fill your bathtub with water for when the power goes out because this can be used to help flush toilets! That was a new one to me.

By the end of church on Sunday, basically everyone had been told they had off on Monday. The Federal Government, the DC metro system,... everything was shutting down. Everyone prepared to "hunker down".

Monday came. It was raining in the morning, but I went out to do some errands and the gym. It wasn't bad. But, by 2 PM, the wind was crazy as was the rain. My power flickered every now and then and I was so nervous I was going to loose it! I also didn't like the sound of the wind shaking the siding and the windows. But, on the other hand, I was really productive. I had lots I wanted to get done before the power went out and I did it! It was nice to know that I could just stay home. There was no reason to go out (even though I did take a risk and go to a friends for dinner... but they weren't too far away... and it was so much fun!!! However, the roads were SOOO deserted. It was weird to drive on them!)

The winds and rain were consistent over night and it was hard to sleep but I never lost power. I was so grateful for that! Everything was shut down on Tuesday too as there were downed trees, flooding and debris everywhere. It was also still raining and pretty windy. But, I was able to venture out on Tuesday afternoon and people were starting to return to life as normal. Wednesday - everything was back to normal and life moved on. I remember thinking as I was out doing errands on Wednesday and the sun was out... it was hard to believe the previous two days had been so terrible.

It's so sad to hear about NY, NJ and CT which bore the brunt of the storm. I can't even imagine what they must be going through to be without power still, have their roads flooded for days/weeks, and some have truly lost everything. I feel very fortunate and blessed. And, I did learn a lesson - as also taught in the scriptures - If you are prepared, you shall not fear. I could have been better prepared... and then maybe I wouldn't have gotten as nervous as I did on Sunday and Monday!

As I mentioned, there were some local problems with trees and flooding. The majority of people in this area lucked out because we had many days to prepare and many took the warning seriously. However, some things could not have been done to prevent what the wind was capable of.

On a more personal level, I was shocked when I went to work and saw this (I knew about it... but it's hard to believe the actual destruction)
 Can you see the Jeep in that mess?
The tree was prob. 50-60 feet or more. 
I tried to get a picture with the whole distance but couldn't!
 The Jeep is a Grand Cheroke. 
It's quite large, but it doesn't look like it in this picture!
 You can't even see it in this picture... but it's in there!
 The trees in this area are SO tall! Everyone slept in their basements because of the sounds from the storm, but also because they were afraid a tree might fall on their house. And, from pictures of others, this can cause a ton of damage... a ton. So the family I worked for had a sleepover in their basement! Sounds like fun times for the adults, eh?
 Pictures of the Jeep with the tree gone
The damage was incredible. I can only imagine how loud the sound was when the tree fell, but it was at night and with the winds and the rain... no one heard it. 

I loved this Jeep though. It was so big and powerful. I felt very safe in it... and it had a lot of little luxuries :) The car will be replaced... and all is well. I am just more grateful that the tree fell where it did and not on one of the houses.

Hurricane Sandy was powerful. It left its mark. Lessons were learned by all who experienced it. In the end I am very grateful for how the Lord blessed me through it all... and my friends and family. Others weren't so lucky and I continue to pray for them everyday. I love how this tragedy in many areas of the east brought people together. We're in election season and that has been such a "dividing" factor among many... but when tragedy strikes... it doesn't matter who you're voting for, or what you believe, we're in this together. That's the America I love.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Makes me smile :)

A few things recently have made me smile  :)

My list could go on and on... but I'll start with the beautiful weather we've had recently (before Frankenstorm), the colorful Fall leaves, my experiment with cooking (and actually having it turn out OK!), and some opportunities I've had to help others recently...

But, these I actually got pictures of: 

Fancy Nancy coming to town! Totally brought a smile to my face. I wish we could have spent her entire time here together (and then some), but I treasured the time we had. It's so great how we haven't lived together for eight years (or something like that) yet not much has changed in our friendship and I love it!

This little girl. I had the privilege of spending a morning with her last week  and she is adorable. She's so good!! She would say please and thank you... pick up what she was doing before moving on to another activity... loved to laugh... and I loved how she would repeat some things she heard. For instance, the lady I work with said "Bye, Bye, Sweetie" when we were leaving and she replied right back to her "Bye, Bye, Sweetie" as she waved. It was adorable! I also loved her love for animals! Notice her giving a large tiger a hug! She's not scared at ALL! She also loved the gerbils and fish I showed her at the house we were at.
I went to a friend's birthday dinner the other night and had never been down on the Georgetown waterfront before. Most of this area had been washed out with one of the last storms (so I hope they fare well today) but I got to walk around a bit before we met up. It was gorgeous. The lights, the boats... just a really pretty scene. In the back of the picture below is the Kennedy Center.
This is a picture of the Key Bridge I cross at least twice a day... if not more! One day I am going to walk across it :) But, saving that for something special. Ha ha ha!
Life sure does have its challenges, but I feel very blessed to live in the area I do, to have a good job, and to have such amazing friends and family!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What have I been doing lately?!

 I am not totally sure where September went.... and now October... but it's been busy and fun at the same time!

I've been doing a lot... like just hanging out with this fun little girl :)

 Crazy! I don't know how she does it! But she is so strong and has SO much energy!!
For Meradyth's birthday... or as one of the many celebrations during her birth month... we went to Cirque du Soleil and it was A-mazing! I had seen one maybe ten years ago in FL when I was down there with my dad but I don't remember it too much. I am sure each year, or each group, does a different show, but the talent the performers have is incredible. How can they balance, juggle, and do the acrobatic moves so well?!! It is truly amazing and inspiring. They have such dedication and passion for what they do. Made me wish I had some talent in something :) Or, at least the passion that they have for what they do!
 It as right on the Potomac, so we had a beautiful view of the water and the sunset as we left!

 And, what's better than participating in the "Feed The Need" service project in the morning (pic below), then going to a show with some fabulous friends AND THEN off to the RS broadcast afterwards! Such a great day!
As mentioned above - "Feed The Need" - a multi-faith (is that what you call it when a bunch of churches get together to organize a service project?) service project  to benefit the local food pantry took place in the morning. It was a beautiful day for the outdoor event and I think it was a success! We had spent quite a bit of time getting local restaurants to donate bite-sized portions of food for a "Taste of the town" sampling... and participants would come and pay to get in and all the proceeds went to the pantry. We raised almost $10,000. Not bad!

There were many different ways to help out that day, but I got the job of directing traffic. Hence the bright yellow pinny... which was very needed as some of the cars and buses did not care to really slow down or stop when asked... so at least they could see me and not hit me as they sped by! 

It was a fun job though. I've always admired that famous dancing traffic director and wishing I had the guts to do his job!
 One of the best things that happened recently was the opportunity to attend the Kreeger Museum Open House! This might seem a bit silly, but for the past three years I have driven by this museum many times as it's located in the area where I work... and was dying to know what was in it! The kids and I called it the "secret museum" because you needed an appt to see it during the week and because the museum has high, thick walls all around it!

When I heard they were having an open house I knew I had to attend and it was awesome! This is a view from inside the gates :) The grounds were so pretty.
 And this is a picture of the gates that surround the building
Can you see how it just makes you curious... what's on the other side?!
 Well, the museum had lots of beautiful artwork, sculptures and other artistic features. It's an old estate turned in to museum. The back had a beautiful fountain area and it was just a gorgeous day! I was so glad to finally be able to see it!
 Another cool thing I did was participate in a town hall meeting with 200 other Virgina voters. Never done something like this before, but I am very aware that I am in one of the swing states and my vote definitely counts! So, when I was invited to participate, I gladly agreed.
 It was SO interesting. I sat at a table with people from all over the state... democrat and republican, married/single, old/young, wealthy and struggling to make ends meet. We discussed everything from medicare to defense spending...  I appreciated hearing the viewpoints of others, but if anything, it only confirmed my beliefs in who to vote for this fall
 We also got to take "votes" during the meeting to see how others viewed the issues. These little things were so cool!
It was a lot of fun and I felt more informed after it was over.  Only a couple more weeks to go!

So, overall, it's been a great few weeks. Definitely excited to do some more fall related activities in the near future before the winter months hit us!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Update: Let's simplify

So, I received a few questions to the recipe post on quinoa from a few days ago... and I also consulted with my step-mom (who was the one who made it for me this summer!) She passed on her recipe... which seems quite simple and possibly cheaper than buying all the veggies individually! I am a big fan of that and from having been a taste-tester... I know this is good!

1 package of FarEast Taboule
1 juice from a whole lemon
1 or 2 tomatoes & cucumber
Quart of Julianne Salad (in the deli counter... mixture of squash/red onion, etc)
Veggies from the salad bar
1 can garbanzo beans
Sunflower seeds
Fat Free Italian Dressing

Make the Taboule the night before and refrigerate overnight. Take the juice from the lemon and add it to the taboule the following morning. Chop the tomatoes/cucumber and chop up the Julianne Salad & veggies in to smaller pieces. Add these, along with the Garbanzo beans and sunflower seeds to the taboule. Coat with the dressing and mix together. Serve over lettuce.

Simple!! Like that
Very Tasty!! LOVE that!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Quinoa - How do you say it?!!

Quinoa. I've heard it pronounced so many different ways.... and it fascinates me how everyone thinks they are saying it correctly and will defend themselves AND seem insulted when you correct them... or indicate they might be wrong!

But, no matter how you pronounce it... it tastes yummy!
Filled with nutrients, low in fat, high in protein!

Especially in a cool summer salad.

I love when friends post new recipe finds on their blogs, so I thought I would pass along a new favorite of mine! I had it a few times this summer and LOVED every bit. Seriously - ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner some days!

I love that it's "light" on the stomach, but filling. I love that you're getting veggies and nutrition galore when you eat it. I love that you can make it with a variety of different combination depending on your mood... or really, what you have in your home. But, more than anything - I just LOVE it!

So if you want to try it too... here you go! The quinoa can be made ahead of time and refrigerated as well... another big plus! I am also going to list just "the start" of things you can include.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water/broth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup snow peas, corn, shell peas, celery, lima beans, black beans or green beans
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced thin... or zucchini, etc
  • 1/2 green or red pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 medium ripe tomato & avocado
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or basil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, almonds, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted cashews

Dressing: Here's a recipe... but you can just also use light Italian dressing from the store as well!

  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Options: Pinch of cayenne, garlic powder or fresh minced garlic, minced fresh or dried ginger


  1. Soak the quinoa 5 minutes in cold water
  2. Rinse thoroughly 2 times, pour off the water and drain through a large fine mesh strainer
  3. Place in 2 qt pot with the chicken/vegetable broth.. or just plain water!
  4. Cover the pot, bring to a full boil, turn the heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and set aside to cool
  6. Steam the carrots and green veg for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp, drain, rinse in cold water and drain again
  7. Chop the tomatoes, herb and cucumber
  8. Gently combine veggies, quinoa and dressing in a large bowl
  9. Cover and chill, or serve immediately
As I mentioned there are so many variations to this. I found some that combined feta, watermelon, mint and quinoa... then tossed with a honey dressing or balsamic vinegar. I also found a pesto/tomato one that looks yummy too! I'm excited to try some fall versions and maybe I'll post another recipe soon!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day weekend fun!

As my previous post indicated, for part of Labor day weekend I went to Nantucket, closed out their house, and took their car across ocean to the main land. I kind of volunteered to drive their car back because it gave me two days "off" from the kids and I knew I could stop and spend some time with my dad on my drive back. 

So, Friday night I traveled from Hyannis to Westerly and spent Friday night/Saturday with my dad and step-mom. Nothing too exciting... usually just very relaxing and this time didn't disappoint! 

I left their house on Sunday to begin my drive back to DC... but my friend Meradyth had come north to visit her friend from high school in New Haven, CT, so I stopped and checked out the Yale singles ward with her! Nothing too much to report there... BUT, after church we walked out and took this picture. The sign was placed so perfectly and I think the picture turned out well!

Mer posted it on Facebook with some message about starting her first year of undergrad... (she's my age and went to U of U... and graduated) but anyway... it was funny...

BUT, the funnier thing was that so MANY people believed that she was truly going to Yale and starting her undergrad program there! Ha ha!! Go Bulldogs :) She'll have a fabulous freshman year!

After church I drove back to DC. There were some major storms along the way but fortunately.... NO traffic jams! I made it in a sweet 5 hours or so!! It's a long drive no matter when you do it, but I was glad to really make good time!

On Monday, as one of the month-long celebrations for Mer's b-day, she, Miranda and I went hiking in Great Falls! It was so dang humid, but I am glad we did it. Very nice to be out in nature and fun time to just chat with them.

The falls are really pretty. We were on the VA side. The other side is MD!
 Just so pretty and calm and parts and then filled with rapids and rocks at others!

Happy Labor day and Happy Birth Month Meradyth!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Leaving the island once again... time for a top ten list!

My summer on Nantucket came to an official end yesterday. I returned with the kids to DC last Tuesday, but had to fly back on Thursday of this week to drive their car back to DC. So, I had about 30 hours on the island all to myself!

Just to give you an idea of HOW much I love the pool on a beautiful day, 8 of those 30 hours (over 2 days) were spent at the pool! I finished one book, started another, talked to some friends, ate lunch and swam my last two times in an outdoor pool for the season.

Ahhh- peace and quiet. A true treasure. 

Nantucket is an amazingly beautiful place. It has a special place in my heart. But, as I think about it, I wanted to come up with a top ten list of what I'll miss... and what I won't miss!

Let's start with what I won't miss!... in no particular order

1. The Stop & Shop parking lot, deli counter, checkout lines and basically every square inch of that place - It's a nightmare in the busy season. People and cars everywhere. Unless you go at 4 AM... you're never sure what's going to be in-stock and plan on waiting in line forever even if you just need a few items. 

2. Crowds - People, poeple, people... bikes, bikes, bikes... cars, cars, cars Everywhere!

3. Cobblestone streets - Pretty to look at... but terrible to drive on, impossible to ride a bike on, and treacherous to walk on!

4. Mosquitos - enough said

5. Sharing a bathroom with a 7 & 10 year old boy - No one should have to do that! Ewwww

6. Doing more loads of laundry than I care to think about - It's incredible the about of wash 6 active people can generate. 

7. Nothing ever dries out - It seems like nothing ever dries because of the humidity. Although I did remember the trick my mom has taught me when I was younger to put newspaper in my sneakers and that dries them out!

8. Having to get up earlier than I would like on the weekends - You can hear EVERYTHING in the house... so once the kids are up (which is early), I am up!

9. Just having my own space....

And, this is probably the thing I won't miss at ALL

10. Not having any friends to hang out with!! I truly missed that this summer. Thank goodness for cell phone to text and computers to email with!

On a different note... there are some things I WILL miss! (Again in no particular order)

1. Sunsets. So beautiful

2. Island time - Life's speed slows down on an island

3. The food! - Yes, I did cook a bit... I had a nice rotation of roast chicken, tacos, hamburgers, pasta and microwave chicken nuggets :) BUT, we also ate out a lot and the food there is like none other! So yummy and I LOVED it!

4. Nature - I loved our trips to the State Forrest, the Cranberry Bogs, the Bamboo Forrest and any of the dozen beaches. Nantucket does a great job of preserving its lands and keeping them beautiful!

5. The Nantucket Airport - Kind of an odd thing to make the list, but I LOVE this airport. Free, easy, accessible parking, free wi-fi, clean bathrooms... clean everything, it's only minutes from their house... and most of all... the TSA didn't give me a HUGE hassle when I realized my license was lost and needed to board my flight!

6. Anywhere you need to go - You can Bike! - Definitely nice to know you can avoid some of the crowds (as well as get more exercise) by biking to do your errands!

7. GHYC - a.k.a... my swimming pool and basically where I spent every afternoon with the kids! Honestly, I fell in love with this place. The GHYC has two locations. One is downtown and has the main yacht club, fitness center, and sailing club (didn't spend too much time there except for a few dinners including my birthday dinner)... The 2nd location is very near our house and has tennis courts, two swimming pools and a snack/lunch bar. I fell in love with the 2nd location! The kids love the tennis clinics, I love sitting by the family pool and watching them swim... while also getting to thoroughly enjoy sitting by the adult pool when the kids weren't there! I swam laps on an almost daily basis. The adult pool area was almost never crowded and just peaceful :) The food was great... the lifeguards were a lot of fun... there is simply nothing to complain about here! The pool/tennis club provided constant entertainment for the kids and its where all their friends gathered as well... so I got to know many of the other moms and nannies. It was our 2nd home and I couldn't have made it through the summer without this place!

The adult swimming pool... just me, the pool and the lifeguard!

8. The TWIG - This is what the LDS members on the island call themselves. They're not their own branch, but are part of a ward located on the main island. However, it's too expensive and difficult to get to the ward for church every Sunday... so we meet in a member's home. (It's actually a single male dentist who lives year-round on the island. During the year there are 6 people who attend weekly, but during the summer this numbers can skyrocket up to 10 or 11 (with nannies like me, other visitors, and extended family coming to visit, etc!) Even though I missed attending my ward, I grew to really value and appreciate these members. I am grateful for their friendship but also admired their dedication and persistence in still holding weekly "meetings" despite have so few members. Especially the one teenage boy who is still living at home. Admirable. Very admirable. 

9. My chair - I like to call it "mine" but obviously they own it!! You can kind of see it in this picture. The yellowish couch in the back is a couch with three seats, but the third seat is sofa chaise (?). Is that the right word to describe it. Anyway, you can just lie on it and sink right in. The perfect spot for reading and then napping... which I did quite frequently this summer! So comfy!!
10. Summer - This might seem kind of silly, but since I've spent the past two summers on Nantucket all summer, and the summer before that I was there for a few weeks... I've come to associate summer with Nantucket. And, while living on the island presents its challenges and frustrations for me, it really is a very pretty, relaxing and wonderful place to live... during the summer! (I don't think I'd want to live there from November to April!... but I'd like to visit one weekend just to see what it's like!) Leaving Nantucket means that summer is coming to an end. And, while that is exciting, it also means the lazy days of summer are over... and the schedules, stress and what-not of the school year begin!! Who knows what this year will bring... but I am just hoping for my birthday wish to come true!!! Please - oh PLEASE!!

Pictures as I leave the island: 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Some summer fun!

 A little update on adventures from the past month...

We had a few visitors while we were on Nantucket. The kids' cousin came for a week and I would have been happy to have her stay with us all year! She was such a treat! So polite, sweet and fun to be around! She went to bike camp with the kids, so this is a picture I took of her on her first day and sent to her mom.
Ava and Hadley got along so well! 
Ava's personality shines bright in this picture :)
 I took another excursion to Boston for a weekend... and even though I did a whole post on this plane last summer, I just am always amazed when I get inside that I can sit right behind the pilots and get to look at all the gadgets and gizmos they have to fly the plane! Luckily, my flights this time were in clear skies and it wasn't turbulent... totally makes a big difference on how enjoyable the experience is! But, still - zero leg room and it's SO loud the entire time!
 The weekend in Boston was so much fun! I got to spend lots of time with Holland. 
We even went on adventure to Cambridge and got caught in a huge downpour. But, thank goodness for Dave and bringing some umbrellas for us to all use!

In August, the kids took some breaks from camp. We had fun adventures every day and played lots (LOTS) of tennis. We were also frequent pool goers. Some of our adventures included bike rides to the state forest to look for be-bees; A 21 mile bike ride around the Poulpis loop with a stop along the beach and another stop for some ice cream; whale watching; and beach time too!

One of Ava's highlights is hitting the skate park. This time we went it was hotter than heck, but she doesn't mind wearing all her gear and pants if it means she gets to go. I melted just standing there watching her, but she's one cool girl! I love her confidence with this. She does it all by herself... and she's actually quite good for just turning 7!

As noted in a previous post, I celebrated my birthday on Nantucket. It was a beautiful day and just one of many nights ending with a beautiful sunset on the water... accompanied by yummy food as well!

I got to go home for a long weekend just after my birthday. Mer, being the awesome friend that she is, planned a birthday party for me and brought this amazing cake!

This is me (obviously!) before blowing out the candles!
Wish was made. I hope it comes true!!! I really, REALLY do!

Back to the island... on one of our bike rides to the state forest to look for (yet again) more bee-bees... Ava and Jed built a see-saw. I thought it was so imaginative and creative of them!
One of the weekends in August Nantucket has a huge sailboat race. Actually, all week long is called "RaceWeek" and is filled with different events. The day before the race I went to the docks to examine some of the amazing (and large!) boats. This week they also had brought in 2 "tall ships" that are a bit older and they offered free tours on one of them. This one was built in the 1800s but was cool to tour.
This motor boat was just one of the many that blew me away. It has at least 3 levels and a smaller motor boat stored inside it. I can only imagine what it would be like to travel on one. Although... I know I would get claustrophobic after a day or two...
More to come... summer isn't "quite" over yet!!