Things to Do - Grateful List (February 2014)


* Reading Divergent (not exactly great literature, but still fun to read)
* P (practically inhaling) the Magic Treehouse books
* Watching the Winter Olympics (Sochi) as a family
* Attending Orphie and the Book of Heroes at the Kennedy Center
* Watching Ender's Game for family movie night (though the end made P cry for an hour)
* Watching the Lego Movie in the theater as a family
* Checking out American Cool at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery
* Reading Sheila Kohler's Magic Man from The Best American Short Stories 2013
* Tolstoy's "gentlemen's problem" story in Childhood, Boyhood and Youth
* Listening to Quilt
* F's obsession with the Sisters Grimm series
* Reading The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) with the kids at night (and talking about the ridiculousness of "in")

* T and his friend, T, spending two hours in the Burger King tunnels

* Making fortune cookies with the kids
* Our juice fast from Puree Juice Bar
* Hector's vitamix margaritas at happy hour (lots of fruit made me full instead of drunk).
* Cayenne lemon water

* Fun new games from Think Fun
* The Waterlogue app

* Saturday night drinks with the neighbors
* T - "Do you want to pretend we're Indians that like marble runs?"
* Playing Rat a Tat Cat & Zingo with kids
* P to her friend, L - "your mom talks on the phone all day and my mom sits on the computer all day."
* T's love of the Swifter
* F and P sleeping together every night
* Jim and Val's return from China
* P writing reports (for fun) on Abraham Lincoln and dinosaurs
* Dinner/drinks with Shannon and Valerie at Rosa Mexicana
* Dan to P - "Don't worry, we'll sit down tonight and find a way to conquer the Rainbow Loom."
* T sitting on P's lap when he got his shots
* Walking the preschool rope for a Frozen playdate
* F making breakfast and unloading the dishwasher in the mornings, T dressing himself, and P making her own lunch
* Drinks til 3 am with Tyler and Jessie
* BBQing with Hector and Janeese
* P always reading books to T


F - a mom who is a great dancer, a really great family, school, that my teacher is having a baby, a nice house to live in and food to eat, that our bodies work to keep us healthy

P - my friends, books, going up a reading level at school, the Magic Treehouse, going to grandma's house, ice skating, Too Cute [tv show], the Puppybowl, everything, all my friends, gymnastics, Natalia, the carnival at school, that we all stayed healthy this winter

T - going to grandma's house, Coco, my family, the Olympics, when daddy's home, Jim and Val, Lemony Snicket, going over to the neighbors' houses, Natalia


Things to Do - Fail

(The pics are from St. Patty's Day (i.e. Snow Day #9)).

Random fact - late last fall, a real estate photographer hired me to work part-time. Awesome, right? We planned on training over the winter, so I could star shooting on my own when the spring real estate market became busy. My new employer knew I had a limited schedule and said we could work around my current commitments. It seemed, in many ways, like the perfect part time job.

Then came the winter - Arlington county canceled school for a total of nine days due to various snowstorms, which, at first, didn't seem like a huge deal as the snow caused most of the city to shutdown. But the kids also missed school because of teacher workdays and random "early release" Wednesdays (can anyone explain the point of an early release day to me?). It's one thing to explain you can't work because of a snow storm, it's another thing to say, "well, actually I can't work two days after the snow storm because that's also a day off." Or to explain that school is still canceled or delayed the day after said snowstorm despite the clear roads and sidewalks.

Basically, even though my new boss was willing to work with "my schedule", this winter I didn't really have a schedule, the pattern of our days became random at best.

Needless to say, the job didn't work out. I don't think my almost-boss (a mom herself) harbors any hard feelings and maybe in the future she will let me try again, but for now - it's a wash.

When I tell this story to people, everything becomes uncomfortable. Some people offer advice "Don't you have friends that could have helped?" [yes, but barely any of them will take all three kids, plus the job required flexibility and last minute scheduling, so I couldn't plan ahead]."Have you considered a nanny?" [the pay would have just covered the nanny's salary, leaving me with almost no net income]. P overheard one of these conversations and afterwards said, "so mom, you sort of failed, right?"

And I guess I did fail. I know a lot of super-moms would have made the situation work for them. I also know that I could have tried harder. I could have traded in more favors, begged more friends for assistance, hired paid help (even if such help came at an economic loss). But then again, I spent this winter with my kids - we sledded and watched movies and did art projects and played boardgames. Often on snow days our house filled with 6 or 7 children full of stories, dance parties, science experiments, paintings, and superheros. I hosted happy hours for our neighborhood friends. I blogged, took classes online, and had a decent amount of paid freelance photography work - I filled my days.

Of course, not all of these moments were wonderful. There were times I craved structure and felt overwhelmed by it all (do you have any idea how much food 7 children can eat?). I know I failed, but yet, I'm not sure how I would have anything differently. This is T's last year of preschool and right now spending time with him is my top priority, as cheesy as that sounds. Occasional babysitters aside, I don't want to hire someone to watch him for me, not yet. Eventually maybe, but not quite yet.

I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom, as I've written about previously. And I think there's so much guilt involved still. When I told people I had a job, it just felt so good to have people look at me like "wow, you've really done something with yourself", like I was in the club now, I mattered, I contributed, I was FINALLY a functioning part of society. Maybe it was in my head, but I still think it was real - they did, they looked at me like I was, well, functional.

And when I tell people I failed, the conversation becomes so awkward. I'm not exactly type A, but I've never gotten a grade less than a B in any class ever, I cried when I wasn't valedictorian of my high school (for WEEKS), I graduated from a top law school with honors - not that any of this matters IN THE SLIGHTEST, but, basically, I've never really failed in a work context before.

And yet, I had a good winter. I spent time with my kids.

When I look at the future, it seems like such a black hole - I know one day I need to work, I know my kids one day will move on - that their lives will stop circling around me, that I will become peripheral. The days are long but the years are short, and all the other various cliches. But, for now, I think (crazily) I'm okay with failing. I really think I am. Or maybe I'm just scared of missing a snowball fight.


Places to Go - Trying to Find Spring at Long Branch Nature Center (Arlington, VA)


I've posted about Long Branch at least two or three times in the past, so I probably sound like a broken record by now (what a funny phrase - how old must one be to even remember what broken records sounded like?). But as soon as the weather warms (or, should I say, for the one day of warm weather before another snow-filled cold spell occurs) this is our go-to weekday place.

A short path next to the parking lot follows the stream - so kids can throw stones in the water, collect sticks, and/or try to jump from rock to rock. Further, across from the water, a wonderful nature play space has a sandbox for playing, a rock pile for climbing, and a tree stump path for jumping (and/or drum playing). And the nature center is a quick walk up the hill.

If you feel like meandering further, the path next to the stream leads to a dog park and (eventually) to a huge field with a small playground. As far as adventures go Long Branch is always a win win - perfect for a short picnic lunch after school or for a few hours exploring outside.

For more info, click here. The Nature Center also hosts classes and family campfires on weekends.

Where have you been exploring lately?



Things to Do - Cherish This Day & Random Links

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On Monday Arlington county canceled school because of a snow storm. Then on Tuesday, we didn't even need winter jackets. I think I'm renaming this season Sprinter or maybe Wing.

T's decided to start mowing the snow, which seems to make as much sense as anything else.

HAPPY FRIDAY EVERYONE!! Now click on over to Cherish This Day to see lots of amazingness.


* 25 Arts and Culture Documentaries Available on Netflix streaming. I love a good Netflix list - we watched Bronies the other night and . . . well . . . I still don't get it. But Helvetica was really good.

* The weekend huddle - I loved this, so so true for our lives as well.

* NPR's SXSW mix. I'm obsessed with Streets of Laredo and Public Service Broadcasting.

* I want this book.

* This is our neighborhood, apparently our zip code is the most diverse in the country (which explains why I can never correctly pronounce the names of my children's friends, lots of nationalities all in one little grade school), I'm so proud to live in such such an amazing place.

* I don't have a bucket list (because it would never end), but I would love to celebrate Holi one day. Can't the US adopt some sort of colorful celebration for spring? What ever happened to May day?

* Awful Library Books. How did it take me so long to find this blog? HYSTERICAL!

* An app for speed reading. Has anyone tried this? I'm curious.

* A prison mural made with hair gel, sheets, and plastic spoons. So beautiful.


Things to Read - Five Interesting Articles From Around the Web (on a Mass Murderer, Seasons, Female Speakers, Funny Babies, and an Anti-Holiday Rant)

1. (A Mass Murderer's Father Speaks) - Okay, so this was DEPRESSING and also really scary. Andrew Solomon describes a man who knew his son was different (and the family sought help), but was never violent. Well, until he was.

“And talk about talkative: man, that kid, you couldn’t shut him up!” Peter said. . . . They would talk about politics. Adam was a fan of Ron Paul, and liked to argue economic theory. He became fascinated with guns and with the Second World War, and showed an interest in joining the military. But he never talked about mass murder, and he wasn’t violent at school. He seldom revealed his emotions, but had a sharp sense of humor. When Peter took him to see Bill Cosby live, Adam laughed for an hour straight. He loved reruns of “The Bob Newhart Show” and “Get Smart,” which he would watch with his dad. One Christmas, Adam told his parents that he wanted to use his savings to buy toys for needy children, and Peter took him shopping for them.

. . . .

Peter and Nancy, who remained amicable in dealing with their children’s needs, looked into special schools, public and private. Peter went to a meeting of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP) to talk to adults on the spectrum and to try to imagine a life for his son. He hoped that “eventually we could get him into GRASP and he would form relationships and maybe get married to somebody else with Asperger’s.” Nancy considered moving to a town fifty miles away, where the school system had strong programs for children with special needs, but concluded that the disruption involved would cancel out any benefits. She briefly enrolled Adam in a Catholic school that seemed to offer more structure, but that didn’t go well, either. Fox recommended homeschooling, arguing that the disadvantages of sending Adam to a regular school were worse than those of isolating him from his peers. From eighth grade on, Nancy taught Adam the humanities and Peter met with Adam twice a week to handle the sciences.

. . . .

Peter and Nancy sought professional support repeatedly, and none of the doctors they saw detected troubling violence in Adam’s disposition. According to the state’s attorney’s report, “Those mental health professionals who saw him did not see anything that would have predicted his future behavior.” Peter said, “Here we are near New York, one of the best locations for mental-health care, and nobody saw this.”

. . . .

"Peter declared that he wished Adam had never been born, that there could be no remembering who he was outside of who he became. “That didn’t come right away. That’s not a natural thing, when you’re thinking about your kid. But, God, there’s no question. There can only be one conclusion, when you finally get there. That’s fairly recent, too, but that’s totally where I am.”


2. (Seasons) - On Saturday the temps neared 70 degrees, then on Monday a huge snow storm caused schools to close for the day. So Zadie Smith's Elegy for a Country's Seasons really struck a cord with me this week.

"There is the scientific and ideological language for what is happening to the weather, but there are hardly any intimate words. Is that surprising? People in mourning tend to use euphemism; likewise the guilty and ashamed. The most melancholy of all the euphemisms: “The new normal.” “It’s the new normal,” I think, as a beloved pear tree, half-drowned, loses its grip on the earth and falls over. The train line to Cornwall washes away—the new normal. We can’t even say the word “abnormal” to each other out loud: it reminds us of what came before. Better to forget what once was normal, the way season followed season, with a temperate charm only the poets appreciated."

3. (Female Speakers) - Mary Beard's article on the Public Voice of Women really made me think (and cry). and think and cry. Even now, how everyone mocks "mommy blogs", but nobody ever takes a swing at daddy blogs (or maybe I'm just oversensitive on this issue).

"This ‘muteness’ is not just a reflection of women’s general disempowerment throughout the classical world: no voting rights, limited legal and economic independence and so on. Ancient women were obviously not likely to raise their voices in a political sphere in which they had no formal stake. But we’re dealing with a much more active and loaded exclusion of women from public speech than that – and, importantly, it’s one with a much greater impact than we usually acknowledge on our own traditions, conventions and assumptions about the voice of women. What I mean is that public speaking and oratory were not merely things that ancient women didn’t do: they were exclusive practices and skills that defined masculinity as a gender. As we saw with Telemachus, to become a man – and we’re talking elite man – was to claim the right to speak. Public speech was a – if not the – defining attribute of maleness. A woman speaking in public was, in most circumstances, by definition not a woman. We find repeated stress throughout ancient literature on the authority of the deep male voice. As one ancient scientific treatise explicitly put it, a low-pitched voice indicated manly courage, a high-pitched voice female cowardice.

. . . .

But the more I have looked at the threats and insults that women have received, the more I have found that they fit into the old patterns I’ve been talking about. For a start it doesn’t much matter what line you take as a woman, if you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it, it’s the fact you’re saying it. And that matches the detail of the threats themselves. They include a fairly predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder and so forth (I may sound very relaxed about it now; that doesn’t mean it’s not scary when it comes late at night). But a significant subsection is directed at silencing the woman – ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain.


4. (Life with a Baby) - And now for a (much needed) funny read - The Ugly Volvo's description of life with a baby had me laughing like crazy.

"9:40 Sit on the floor and clap, hoping to teach baby to clap. Baby will not clap. Go online and Google, “How old babies start clapping?” and read article saying they start to do this more between 9 and 12 months. (Baby is 11 months old)

9:43 Spend the next few minutes going, “Well sh*t, maybe there’s something wrong with the baby. He should be clapping more.”

9:47 Remind myself that he seems really well-adjusted and happy so maybe he’s just a late clapper.

10:05 Get bored of playing with baby. Attempt one of the things from overzealous to-do list. Baby immediately crawls out of my vision and begins eating dog food. I abandon list and pull the dog food out of his mouth. He becomes sad. I cheer up baby by pretending to eat his hands.

10:20 Baby and I look at and point to the fan for a while, going, “Where’s the fan? There’s the fan.”

10:40 Feed baby while listening to public radio. Halfheartedly debate calling in to the Brian Lehrer show and giving them my opinion on something related to the Superbowl for no reason other than wanting to talk to an adult."


5. (An Anti-Holiday Rant) - And finally, I found Kristen Howerton's anti-holiday rant both hysterically funny and completely correct. Please, let's all take it down a notch (not all the way down, just a notch) okay readers?

"This past Sunday was St. Patrick's Day, a holiday I had completely forgotten about until my oldest stumbled out of bed and into the living room at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night while we were watching SNL. "Can I help you guys hide the gold coins?" he asked. The WHAT? "The gold coins. I know the leprechauns aren't real. I know it's you, like Santa. So I want to help you. I can make the leprechaun trap, too."

We told him to go to bed and then looked at each other with exasperation. Gold coins? A leprechaun trap? Is he serious? When I was a kid we celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing something green. THE END. I had noticed that over the past few years, our kids were getting some grander ideas from school. But I didn't think that we needed to replicate these experiences at home.

Apparently, the children believed that we did.

All four of them woke up and came into our room like it was Christmas morning.

So. Many. Expectations.

All of which were dashed.

. . . .

Fellow parents: St. Patrick's Day is supposed to be a "phone-it-in" holiday. Yes, I've turned into a bit of a grinch, but SERIOUSLY WITH THE HOLIDAY OVERKILL. It used to be Christmas was the main event, but now it's as if every holiday must be at a Level 10. And if Christmas wasn't already hard enough as a parent, someone also decided that we have to move an Elf around every day, into creative tableaus? And then someone else decided that the Advent Calendar was A Thing beyond a simple religious observation and now involves some kind of gift each day leading up to Christmas?

And about a month after having survived that whole mess, we've got Valentine's Day, which has became The New Halloween, because God forbid you send a simple store-bought card. You'd better include some candy or your child will be shunned. Shunned! One of my kids came home with not just a candy from each class, but a WHOLE FREAKING GOODIE BAG from each student."


Things to Do - 12 in 12 (March 2014)

This month the 12th fell on a Wednesday, just like last month. So this whole project felt like groundhog's day. Or maybe that's just my life.

Oh well, Wednesday, March 12th was sort of ugh - after a few glorious days of spring-like weather, on Wednesday afternoon a cold front moved in and storms threatened (though they never really appeared). Wednesday night brought crazy winds and by Thursday the temps dropped to 30 some degrees - AGAIN!! We tried to make the best of it, but still, it felt gloomy, as do the corresponding photos. Some days are just like that.

Now click on over to Not-So-SAHM to see how her day went.

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6:30 am - Wake up IN THE DARK (I'm normally a late morning type of gal) to register P for gymnastics. These classes fill up in about 20 seconds, so managing to hit the button fast enough makes me feel superhuman. (Yes, that means that I think I'm a superhero).

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8:45 am - After walking the girls to school, T announces he's done with photographs for the day. Not a good start to the morning.

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9:15 am - Last night our neighbor gave T all of his old hexabug tracks (it's a little overwhelming). T is in heaven and forgets that I'm photographing him (yay?!)

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11:45 am - Meet up with a friend for lunch at Society Fair because Columbia Pike is awesome.

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1:00 pm - Soccer class in the bubble.

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2:00 pm - After class, T asks if I can take a picture of him with all of his friends. He does this every week. At least T know longer hates my camera.

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3:00 pm - My friend took the girls home from school because they had an early release day (WHY DO MY CHILDREN NEVER GO TO SCHOOL ANYMORE?), so after I pick them up we head to the library - P wants to learn all she can about Gabby Douglas.

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4:00 pm - I recruited P as my new work out buddy, so every day we do the 7 minute workout together (a great free app) and an ab workout. She's kicking my butt.

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5:00 pm - On Wednesday afternoons our middle-school neighbor babysits while I do errands. She's amazing. Today she built the kids a huge blanket fort in the basement.

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6:00 pm - I mange to read (some of) the paper before dinner. Is anyone else wigged out about the missing airplane? While I read, P hands me a letter she wrote me at school. Love.

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6:15 pm - I decide that we NEED to take the puppy for a walk before the storm rolls in. The girls scooter ahead, leaving me and T to deal with Odessa.

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6:30 pm - The rain starts during our walk. So P decides to dance. Of course.


Things to Make - Painting with Spices


Another snow day art project (yesterday was our NINTH snow day of the school year) - I sprinkled some spices into an egg carton (cinnamon, turmeric, red pepper, cayenne, etc.) and let the kids decide how much water to add for painting.

Their paintings turned out somewhat "gritty" with a red/yellow color palette, but the kids loved "mixing" the paint and smelling the spices (by the end of the project, everyone had dipped their fingers in to taste something). Easy peasy.


We spent a lot of time talking about smells.


T dipping his finger in to taste the spices.


Places to Go - Our Girls' Day at the Smithsonian American History Museum (Washington DC)


Two weeks ago, the girls had a day off elementary school while T attended preschool - the perfect scenario for mother-daughter bonding. After dropping T off, we headed to the Smithsonian's American History Museum. We arrived, around 10:30, to a completely empty space - amazing! Well, not for long - within minutes school groups filled every nook and cranny of the ground floor, so, in an attempt to beat the crowds, we hurried to the third floor, to check out the first ladies' ball gowns.


At first, there really is something awe-inspiring about seeing so many intricate, fancy dresses in one place. And, however you feel about the Obama family, Michelle's dress (in robin colored red) stands out quite a bit in a room full of neutrals (the girls were entranced). The exhibit also includes every (yes EVERY) set of White House china chosen by each first lady and, it's about this time, that I became really sad. Here I was spending a wonderful day with my daughters, and walking through display case after display case of incredible women memorialized as plate patterns. Maybe it's because I'm not really a fine china person (we don't own a set), but the fact that anyone might care that our current Secretary of State chose gold edged platters seems absurd. And sad.

I know. I know. The first lady's role (if they, indeed, have or need a role) escapes definition, so this room gives first ladies a "place" without overstating their importance. But still, all of these ladies did SOMETHING with their lives. Something, surely, more important than choose plates and dresses. How am I supposed to teach my daughters that women are more than the things they buy, when the nation's most famous museum doesn't necessarily present life this way?

In all fairness, after judging people's lives through plates, we meandered over to the American President exhibit, where several great men were immortalized through cheap mementos as well. But at least the Presidents' crap seemed to have some vague association with their lives (Lincoln Logs, "Teddy" Bears (after Roosevelt), various medallions and mementos.


The American Presidency exhibit features a section on the commander in chief's portrayal in the media. Apparently the 1964 film "Kisses for My President" fictionalizes a woman president who (of course) steps down as leader of the free world because she wants to spend more time with her children (WTF? I mean I'm a stay at home mom and even I feel this crazy statement of a women's "place" goes over the line.) A corresponding movie poster mocked her husband's role as "first lady" by showing him in a large silly hat.

And then F stood in front of the Presidential podium and a monitor helped her recite famous speeches of famous men and I thought I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL THERE'S A TUXEDO IN THE FIRST LADY EXHIBIT (will they rename the exhibit at this point? "First spouses" perhaps?).


Of course, this wasn't our whole visit - the girls stared in awe at Harry Potter's cape and Dominck Douglas's leotard. I stared in awe at the first apple laptop. The Smithsonian's wonderful American Plate exhibit reminded us that we eat a ton of processed foods now (I love that the original TV dinner is museum worthy), but at least American wine production continues to increase (go USA)! And we stared at Julia Child's kitchen and talked about her impact on American food.

Further, through the museum's learning cart program, we watched a cotton gin do its magic and received a bag full or real cotton seeds to take home and plant (for free!). We waved to Bert and Ernie. We discovered, through another learning cart on Civil War medicine, that onions help cure colds (as well as pickles). Basically, we had fun, as I tried to emphasize that all of this was just stuff, that the real stories are always much more complex, more interesting, than the objects themselves.


After the museum, we checked out Columbia Pike's new (awesome) coffee shop - Society Fair - where we played Jenga on couches that looked like they just arrived from the set of Friends and talked about how there's so much more to being a girl than picking out dresses and buying plates.


Things to Do - Snow Days, Part II


Of course, snow days are rarely spent entirely indoors . . .

HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE! There's a huge group post up on Cherish This Day right now, so click here to check us all out.


Thanks to my friend for taking the camera for a few minutes; it's nice to have pictures with me in them.


After two hours on "the slopes", I'm grateful for friends who provided beer in their front yard as we walked home.


Things to Do - Snow Days, Part I


Prior to last week, Arlington county canceled school six times because of snow. So when a new storm moved in last Sunday night even the kids lacked enthusiasm for more time spent in PJs, especially since school was already closed on Thursday and Friday for teacher workdays.

At first, much like the children, I couldn't find motivation to do much of anything, but then I realized that (hopefully) last week's storm marked the end of a winter spent (mainly) indoors. So I decided to photograph our days inside - art projects, sword fights, a full table at lunch (wow, 7 kids eat A LOT of food), fire trucks, books on the couch, songs co-authored with friends, etc.

And documenting snow days #7 and 8, really did make me appreciate them more. Though don't get me wrong, I'm MORE THAN READY for spring.


Nothing like one ipad and six kids, I probably should have just turned on a tv for them, but I hoped they'd become bored with the small screen and play for awhile.


Things to Make - Lemon Cayenne Water

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Remember how Dan and I went on that 3 day juice fast a few weeks ago? Well, for the fist day and a half, juice was sort of awesome (esp. because I didn't have to cook or do many dishes during that time) and then I missed food. I finally caved around 3 pm on day 3 (in my defense, it was a snow day, so rules were meant to be broken).

Anyways, I'm not planning on repeating the fast anytime soon (though perhaps in the future), but I did fall in love with the fast's chosen breakfast drink - lemon cayenne water. And now I drink it all the time. Apparently, Beyonce lived on only lemon cayenne water for 2 whole weeks and lost 20 pounds . I WILL NOT be following Beyonce's lead, but it does make for a nice mid-day "snack" (it also goes well with cookies). Plus, the lemon is rumored to help with "cleansing" and the cayenne speeds up digestion. You can also add some maple syrup for sweetness if you prefer.

The recipe is pretty flexible, so here's a rough variation:

INGREDIENTS: fresh lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.

1. Cut a half lemon into slices and squeeze them into a glass of water.

2. Drizzle the top of the water with two shakes of cayenne pepper (add more or less to taste).

3. OPTIONAL - add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup.

Yum. Seriously. Don't knock it until you've tried it. I especially recommend it if you're trying (like me) to kick a diet coke habit.


Places to Go - Discovering Family-Friendly Art and History at the Corcoran & DAR Museums (Washington DC)


On Saturday, we headed over to the Corcoran Gallery of Art for their (FREE!) Great Escape Family Day celebration. This was our first visit to the Corcoran with the kids in tow and let me tell you - they REALLY know how to throw a party. We arrived to a teenage a cappella group singing Old Crow Medicine Show's "Wagon Wheel" on the museum's steps (and doing a fantastic job). Once inside, we immediately received a bag and program, while in the main auditorium a huge group of children gathered around a circus performer. Upstairs, different galleries offered face painting, crafts, and a family photo booth. Period costumed actors "masqueraded" throughout the museum, accompanied, in one room, by live music.

Of course (because this is how we roll lately), my kids ignored all of child-focused activities, asking if we could check out the art instead. So we explored Alex Prager's Face in the Crowd exhibit (which closed on Sunday) and played the "art game" while wandering through various modern art galleries (in the game, someone picks an adjective and everyone tries to find an artwork that best exemplifies the chosen word). All in all, a wonderful morning (and don't let my photos fool you, the museum was packed, only the modern art galleries were empty). I'm not sure what the future holds for the Corcoran (the museum recently merged with the National Gallery of Art and George Washington University), but if they host another family day, we'll be there.


After leaving the Corcoran, we decided to spend some time on the National Mall and, while walking past Daughters of the American Revolution's ("DAR's") headquarters, the kids noticed a sign for DAR's museum and asked if we could go inside. Have any of you ever been here before? It's actually a cool (FREE!) off-the-beaten path destination. Upon arrival, we toured the museum's current exhibit on "Creating the Ideal Home 1800-1939" where displays focused on early tvs ("Mom, can you imagine only having 5 channels?") and vacuum cleaners that required two people to operate. The kids enjoyed attempting to lift a wooden bucket and a steel iron (somewhat ironically, this is the first iron my children have ever picked up). The exhibit was small and simple, but still a nice place to stop in for a few minutes.


We then toured (with a docent) the museum's "period" rooms, sponsored by various states. The rooms range between time periods and household income, thus offering numerous historical perspectives on the US experience. For example, the CA room focuses on turn-of-the century whaling, whereas the Texas sponsored room demonstrates German and Czech influence and decoration (I had a hard time photographing the interiors, but you can "tour" them all online here). Luckily, the docent knew the perfect details and stories to keep the kids entertained. And, the beautiful halls and library gave me plenty of material for photographs. The docent noted that in summer the museum opens up a third floor full of period children's toys and costumes, so we'll be checking that out in a few months.

Anyways, I don't usually think of the Corcoran or DAR as family destinations, but they both proved wonderful places to take the kids. And with the Lincoln Memorial so close, I now think of the National Mall's west end as a more dynamic place to visit.

For more information on the DAR museum, click here. And for more information on the Corcoran's family programing, click here.


Things to Do - Cherish This Day & Random Links


A few weeks ago, a good friend hosted happy hour on a beautiful night that offered some relief from the snow storms and freezing temps of winter. On the way over, it felt great to finally linger outside without multiple layers of clothing and one of the dogs pulling at me and the camera. Plus, in an effort to break out of my creative rut, I had rented a lens for the week (a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8) and enjoyed photographing our neighborhood from a wider angle (I normally shoot almost exclusively with my fixed Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L ,an absolutely beautiful lens but the inability to zoom in or out does become frustrating at times).

Usually, when taking photos, I hate that our streets our full of parked cars, but (perhaps because of the night's warmth) they didn't bother me in these shots, like us all the silent vehicles seemed like a necessary part of the place/the neighborhood/the night.

Now click on over to Cherish This Day and see what the rest of the group has been photographing lately.

Happy Friday everyone! Let's hope for a weekend free of storms!


* The Washingtonian's 2014 List of Washington DC's "Hidden Gems" - the museums section lists a lot of new-to-me places. Also, for local peeps, here's their list of the 2014 local James Beard award finalists.

* Amazon's List of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime, it's actually a pretty good list.

* One thing you MUST do in every state.

* 50 Amazing Finds from Google Earth.

* American Girl dolls used to be so much cooler.

* A ranking of all the Best Picture Oscar rankings. It's somewhat appalling how few of these movies I've seen.


Things to Read - Paul Meets Bernadette

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We've read some awful children's books this winter, I'm not sure if it's bad luck, or bad moods, or bad publishing - but there's some truly horrid stuff out there. Then we somehow discovered Paul Meets Bernadette, a true "light in the fog."

It's beautiful, it's short, it's funny. T laughs out loud every time (literally every time) Bernadette describes a tea kettle as an elephant and the tea cups as baby elephants. Honestly, it's sort of the perfect book, especially during winter, when much like the fish, you're stuck inside and need some imagination to pull you through.


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