Tuesday, January 29, 2013

another spring-like day in D.C.

We've been very lucky to have had a couple wonderful weather days to go to Washington, D.C. this winter. Both kids had off Monday and Tuesday this week (semester break, I think) and we had planned this trip weeks ago...and it was in the mid-60's today! This after having a minor ice-storm yesterday morning, and we're supposed to be back in the 30's by Friday. Crazy mid-atlantic winters!

Our main reason for taking our trip today was that Tuesdays are the free admission day at the butterly pavillion at the Smithosonian Natural History Museum. You get to go into an enclosed greenhouse-like space with hundreds of butterflies loose in the enclosure. So cool! Girlie wanted one to land on her soooo badly, and we just barely got one to stay long enough for a quick pic...while I had one nesting in my hair almost the whole time! :)  My little guy (who turns 5 Monday...not so little!) didn't really like them landing on him. So of course they did land on him. Ha! Anyway, butterflies make for great photos in the middle of winter.

this one hung out on my ponytail the whole time!

They also had a temporary exhibit on Latin American Orchids...they smelled so very good! We felt like today was an oasis in the middle of our winter. There was also time to visit T. Rex and the other dinos, to see most of the other Natural History exhibits, and to hike down the National Mall to briefly stop in Air & Space (for birthday shopping, see boy turning 5, above), and to play in the childrens exhibit at the American Indian Museum (which ROCKS....full size teepee, foam block igloos to build, lots of other stuff for great free play while exhausted mama collapses on a chair).  A great day.

aaaahhh! we're being eaten by T. Rex!!!
coats optional!

My readers, you probably get tired of hearing about the Smithsonian from me (and especially the Natural History Museum!). But I never tire of it. It is truly a national museums of such amazing quality. So close to home. They are a wonderful blessing.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

what we've been up to lately

Since I haven't been as present in this blog this January, I thought I'd give you a little update on happenings around our household in the past few weeks, and a few photos to share. Honestly, it has been a fairly quiet January. We have all had our share of respiratory or sinus crud that seems to circle endlessly and never quite go away, but thankfully no one has been terribly ill, just annoyingly ill (well enough to work, go to school, and sick enough to not really want to do those things). I have vacillated between long hours reading on the couch and short hours of mad activity, housecleaning and organizing and other very "Januaryish" home activities.

One of our fun times lately has been for the girlie and myself as I am teaching her to use her very own sewing machine! After a brief try with a toy sewing machine that produced much frustration and very few nice stitches, I did some research online and after reading the review on the Ikat Bag blog, I decided to buy the IKEA Sy sewing machine. It is a real sewing machine that yes, my 7 year old can use. It sews like a dream and there has been not ONE moment of technical frustration from me or daughter. It is a little smaller than a full size machine, and very simple to use, not intimidating at all even for a beginner. I cannot say enough good things about it. It is pretty basic, which was actually a good selling point for what I wanted for her (and there is the fact that I didn't want to get her a machine that made me envious...since my machine is pretty basic too!). Our first project was sheets for her doll's bunk beds (that her daddy built).

We've also had a bit of snow this week, an inch here, an inch there, and not that much to speak of. It was, however, enough for the kids to get out in it and enjoy a few runs on our front yard hill with the sled, and for a snowy tromp down to the river in our neighborhood. Hopefully we'll get a bit more snow this winter, but it was a start.
see all the grass poking through? the kids didn't care!

snow angels!

ice at the river. cool shapes!

my bird feeder, one of my favorite Christmas gifts (the cats like it too!)

 Happy January, everyone! Stay warm and healthy!

an American Girl author

Yesterday our local library hosted a wonderful event with Valerie Tripp, who is the author of many of the American Girl Doll book series' (Felicity, Josefina, Samantha, Kit and Molly). If you are unfamiliar with American Girl, you must not have a girl in your life between the ages of 5 and 12, have a girl who has been those ages in the past 25 years, or have been that girl yourself. American Girl is an icon in the toy world and has been...since I got my Kirsten doll 20-some years ago, right up to today, when my daughter  (and her Molly doll) and I got to meet the author of so many books we have read.
Ms. Valerie Tripp, my girlie, and her doll Molly
Ms. Tripp was the honored guest and speaker at an American Girl Tea Party at the library today, and she was so friendly, approachable, and genuinely interested in all the girls that attended, it was easy to see that she was an American Girl herself, in her heart. She spoke to the girls (and their equally interested mamas) about inspiration, and observing the world around them, and the value of good hard work. And she took the time for photographs with every girl, and autographed books for those who brought them. We were even able to get my mother's Meet Felicity book signed as well (for she's an American Girl fan, too!). What a wonderful time we had, and what a wonderful experience for my girlie to learn so much about following her dreams and working hard for what she wants.
All the girls attending, holding up their American Girl dolls

Many thanks to our wonderful local library for organizing this great event! It was truly a delight.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a winter outing on a not-so-wintry day

I'm as tall as the Washington Monument!
The boy and I did a little outing to the Smithsonian this week, just to get out of the house and do something. I let him dictate our agenda once we got there; we've been to the Smithsonian's museums enough that he knows most of what there is to offer.

Which means that when we got there, we struggled to decide: Air and Space? No. Not today. Today we go to American History, to the exhibit tucked away on the lower level in a corner: the Machine exhibit. Batteries, generators, steam engines, belt-driven machinery, giant pistons. Everything that my boy loves. His New Year's resolution at school was "Learn how to fix machines". Ha!

Yes, thats me, upside-down in a crystal ball. Photo credit to the boy!
Amythyst crystals
After enjoying the machines (ok, he enjoyed, I just followed around not being able to add much to the discussion), we did wander some of the other exhibits. They have a new "FOOD" exhibit with a redesigned presentation of Julia Child's kitchen, which never ceases to inspire me. We walked through the vehicle area, and the Presidents. And then after lunch, we headed off to more comfortable grounds for me: Natural History. We visited our favorite dinosaur skeletons and wandered upstairs to the volcano exhibits before finishing up in gems and minerals.  A good day! Looking forward to going back with both kids in a couple weeks when the girlie has the day off school.

welcoming 2013...better late than never

2013 is my year of "diligence". It has become quite the thing to do, at least in the blogging world, to pick a single word to focus on each year as a form of New Years Resolution. And I wasn't going to do it. I wasn't going to join the crowd. But this word kept creeping back to me in my journalling and my reading in the past 2 weeks, and so I have decided not to fight it. gives me this definition of Diligence:
constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind.
And I think something is to be gained from the definition of Diligent, as well:
constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything; done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking.
Diligence is about doing what needs to be done. Taking adequate time and energy to focus on my children, my marriage, and my other relationships. Being intentional about what I am reading in books and on-line. Being intentional about spending time in God's word. When I am at work, working with all my heart. Using time wisely. Taking care of my home, feeding my family meals that are healthy and planned in advance. It is about making changes that stick, not resolutions that won't be kept more than a few weeks (if that).

Welcome, 2013. I look forward to a year ahead of growth, as I learn to be diligent in my life.