Charlottesville, VA

Our last stop was 10 or so days near Charlottesville, Virginia (we were in Nellysford, specifically).  This is the city where I was born, and we were able to be there over my 18th birthday, which was quite fun.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

We arrived at the rental house (have I mentioned how much I love VRBO?!) at, oh, 9-ish on Wednesday, the same day we’d toured the Capital

*Important urgent update*  I can’t remember everything we did and in what order it was done.  We spent some days just chilling, so I will recap the highlights in the order I remember.

The first day (Thursday) we drove by the hospital building where I was born (the hospital has now moved), Dad’s old work building, and Mom and Dad’s old home.  We also stopped by the home of some of our previous neighbors, and my first baby sitter.  🙂  We also did the necessary grocery shopping.

Friday was my birthday.  I chose to spend it quietly at the rental, and not go anywhere.  Dad and the younger children went in to town to get the car looked at, because the brakes were squeaking.  (We were staying up on a mountain, which was a *little* rough on the car.)  I opted to stay home.  I believe I updated my “About” page.  I painted my toenails a cute red.  And I made some AWESOME grain-free chocolate chip cookies, a recipe that I had gotten from a good friend.  They were so good, the batter even was good (one of my tests to see if a recipe will turn out).  We made pizza for dinner, and I made this delicious grain-free pizza crust.  LOVE it!

It had been a rather warm day, and we had had the windows open most of the afternoon.  We also had the front door open, as there was a storm door.  When we were just about done with dessert, Mom looked up and said, “Noah, was that you?”

Noah was loading a dish in the kitchen.

“Did you make that noise?”

Noah was peeking around the corner toward the front door.  “No, it came from over there.”

Mom sent Drake over to look.  Drake took a quick look. “Dad?  You need to come over here.”

Dad quickly marched over to the door and slammed it.  As the front door was glass, we could still see outside.  Dad flicked on the outside light, and it revealed…


A good-sized black bear had smelled the cooking and had come around to see what was going on.  He had opened the storm door (yes, you read that right) and was standing on the threshold, ready to come inside, but he hesitated and had turned around, which gave Dad time to shut the door.  He stood up on his hind legs and put his paws on the glass.  And pushed.

I must confess.  I was pretty scared.  Yes, my knees were knocking.  So before you peg me as being brave, imagine me standing around the corner, knees knocking, asking if *just maybe* we should call the police.


We did call the police, but by the time the police came (they came quite quickly), the bear had left.  While we were waiting for them to arrive, Mom noticed that the lights in the van were on.  After asking everyone, it was ascertained that no one had left the door open.  When the police came, they told us that it was the bear.  The bear had opened two doors on our van, and had rifled through the whole thing. 

There was dirt and pollen all in the car.  On. Every. Chair.

There hadn’t been any food in there, but the bear had helped himself to a few Kleenex boxes, a water bottle, a cup, and the wipe container.  He had put a few rips in the back seat of the car.

Sadly, I GOT NO PICTURES of the bear.  But I did get photos of some of his damage.


One of the Kleenex boxes


Apparently he liked wipes




He didn’t get the top off 🙂

The next day we went to Monticello, which was quite interesting.  It has beautiful views.  Given, there are beautiful views EVERYWHERE in Virginia.  But Monticello had beautiful views.


Heading to Monticello – Blue Ridge Mountains




The sundial




A hallway that goes underneath Monticello.  Monticello is built on a mountain (Monticello means Little Mountain), and things are built on levels as you go down the mountain.  The roof of part of this hallway is the terrace that comes out of Monticello.  Off to the right are the old slaves’ quarters (not down the hallway, but off to the right in the picture).  It’s a rather interesting set-up.  Anyways, down this hall is the wine cellar.


LOVE the blue sky!


The gardens


Some local grape juice that we purchased.  It taste like raisins.  Very…interesting.  I’d get the purple kind next time.  🙂

The next week Mom took us to Montpelier (Dad was working).  Montpelier was my favorite of the three president’s homes that we visited.  It was the least recreated, but it is just gorgeous.  And the view.  Oh the view.  (You’ll see it below).


We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way to Montpelier.  I believe this is looking toward Charlottesville.


More mountains




Pansies at the Montpelier Welcome Center




The view from Montpelier’s front porch


If you look very carefully at the horizon, you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains.  They are 20 miles away.  B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.


Madison’s front door




In the gardens




Drake’s legs were sore, so he went to chill in the shade.  Meiling joined him.




On the way home

Mom took Noah, Meiling, and I to Market Street in Charlottesville to walk around.  It is blocked off so no cars are there.  It is chock full of cute little shops.


Market Street – The Mole Hole was a neat little shop


Mom loves giraffes.  🙂


When my parents lived in Charlottesville, they visited this restaurant often.  It was Sylvia’s Pizza then.  Now it’s Vita Nova.


We stopped at this little gelato shop.  It. Was. AWESOME!!!!


My ice cream.  I had a chocolate sorbet and a dulce de leche ice cream.  Oh my.  The dulce de leche ice cream was SO VERY VERY good.  I got one ice cream and one sorbet, so at least I was HALF good.  🙂


On the way home we stopped at a creek that ran along the side of the road, and I played with shutter speed.




On a walk with everyone


You’ve got to LOVE the view


King of the hill 🙂


This *officially* concludes all the posts about our trip.  I’m really glad that it’s done now, as I have some exciting things to post!  Well, I hope you enjoyed!



On to D.C. – Part 2

On Tuesday we went to Mount Vernon.  It.  Was. Gorgeous.  Mount Vernon is beautiful – the house is well kept, and the grounds are beautifully planted.  Also, the Welcome Center has an AWESOME museum underneath it, and we only got to spend a few minutes in it.

Wednesday we went to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capital.  The Library of Congress was beautiful.  They had a Gutenberg Bible there, which was really neat to see.  Also, they had some exhibits in the basement, one of which was about the Gershwins.  They had George Gershwin’s piano there!

Next we went to the Capital.  I really enjoyed the tour – seeing all the rooms that I had heard about and (risking sounding cheesy) only seen on T.V.  We were able to sit in the Senate chamber during one of the votes on gun control.  It was fascinating, at least for me.  Meiling didn’t find it that interesting, but she was such a good girl and sat quietly.  I was quite proud of her.  We were in the Senate chamber during several votes, which were so interesting to watch.  The senators were milling about, talking, and then it would be time for the vote.  The lady tallying the vote would look around the room, and the senators would just give a thumbs up or thumbs down.  Then, after a bit, she would read through the votes, and then start calling senators by name, and they would vote.  Then she would tally the votes.  It was interesting how almost disorganized it had appeared, with the senators in their groups talking, and the votes happening.

After we left the Capital, we drove the two hours down to Charlottesville, VA.

And now for the photos.


At Mount Vernon


Heading in




A walkway (wow, am I profound today!)


My boys


The view is amazing




Thyme.  I LOVE thyme.


The 8-sided wheat-treading barn


Library of Congress






This and the following photos:  The inside was GORGEOUS!














George Gershwin’s piano!


Walking to the U.S. Capital


The rotunda


The Jefferson Davis statue in Statuary Hall


I tried several views of the Capital, so bear with me.  It’s right up there with the Washington Monument.






First Stop: Plymouth, MA

Sorry for the long time (for me) without a post.  We attended the Family Economics last week, and this week we’ve had a cold going around our home, which I now have.

So, yes, I am sick *again.*  (I am starting to think that I just might have a sluggish immune system – I get sick with every cold that goes around, or at least I FEEL like I do!)

Anyways.  Back to the subject at hand.

On our trip East, our first stop was Plymouth, MA.  We rented a house right on the Cape, which was lovely.  The view out of my window was the ocean.  I could hear it when I was lying in bed at night.  It was lovely.

We arrived there late Sunday evening, unloaded the trailer, and headed to bed.  The next day was spent unpacking, grocery shopping, and settling.



The view from my window.  Lovely, eh?


Random shot from the car window


Everyone else was having fried chicken for lunch, and I had this – smoked salmon, cultured butter, and rosemary-olive oil cheese (I can’t remember exactly what type of cheese it was).  The grocery store we went to had all this awesome food – cultured butter, cheese, and fun meats.  You see what floats my boat!

Dad took me down to the beach, which was a 3/10th of a mile down the road.  We spent some time walking around, chatting, and I took plenty of photos!  Even though it was rather chilly, it was fun.  And you can’t get a landlocked Midwesterner that close to the ocean without her getting to the beach!









There was lots of water running and making pretty patterns in the sand








Ocean!  Please come home with me!








This one’s from the next day, when we all went down to the beach together




I decided to get up at 5 one morning to take a picture of the sunrise.  Meiling insisted that she get up with me.  We went downstairs, and sat on the couch to wait.  Meiling immediately launched into this whole story about how Noah took this picture of himself blah blah blah blah.  I just sat back and told her she had WAY to much energy for 5 o’clock in the morning.  In the end, we didn’t get that amazing of a sunrise – it just got gradually lighter.


The next three days we spent with the Heroes, History, and Hope tour.  It was wonderful to hear the pilgrim stories and to stand where they had stood.  The first day we visited many monuments and sites in Plymouth.  Thursday was spent visiting the dock where the Mayflower II would have been (it was undergoing repairs, so we didn’t get to see it) and Plimoth Plantation.  Friday we went to the Forefather’s Monument and the pilgrim museum – I can’t remember the exact name.


Plymouth Rock




First Parish Church in Plymouth – this was the original church started by the pilgrims when they arrived in Plymouth.  In the 1800s, I believe, this church adopted Unitarianism…


…and then some people separated and started the Church of the Pilgrimage, which is right next door.  The Church of the Pilgrimage – this photo and the next.




Pilgrim sarcophagus on Cole’s Hill




At Plimoth Plantation




The Forefather’s Monument – it was really chilly when we were there, so we only stayed for 20 minutes instead of the two hours we had been hoping to.



Just Got Back

We just arrived home this past Saturday from a long, three-week trip on the East Coast.  We spent a week in Plymouth, MA, 5 days in Washington, D.C., and 9 days near Charlottesville, VA.  It was a lovely trip, and I will hopefully be posting more extensive photo-posts soon.  But, just for fun, I took a bunch of self-portraits at different places we went.  Here they are!


You can’t let a Midwesterner near the ocean, without them making it to the ocean.  🙂


Smithsonian Museum of American History


George Mason Monument


Thomas Jefferson Memorial


At the Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space…


…with my bro


World War II Monument


At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing…


…again with my brother.


Mount Vernon


The Library of Congress


The Capitol




Blue Ridge Mountains




(If I look like I am only giving a partial-smile in some of the photos, it’s just because I am focusing on taking the picture and not enough on smiling.)


Fun at the Farm

Yesterday I went to a friend’s farm to learn how to make soap.  Well, that was the intended purpose.  And we did make soap.  But we did plenty of other things.  🙂

I got there at about 8:45 a.m., just a little late for goat milking.  I love goats.  I have wanted goats for awhile.  I love milking, but I have never milked a cow.  Just a goat.  I also like goats because they are smaller.  And their milk tastes fine if you handle it properly.  So I got to milk a goat for a little bit.  Mrs. O. also had some kids, and they were very adorable.  Two were pretty young, so they are little and very soft.  Another kid is being bottle fed, so it follows Mrs. O. around like Mrs. O. is her mother.  The kid’s name is Lindy.  She is also very cute.  I stood with the goats and pet them as they all gathered around me.  The two youngest kids nibbled at my skirt.  I also went up into the hayloft.  What is so special about the hayloft?  I could see Mrs. O. and the goats down below me while I swept up the stray bits of hay.

After the milking, we went in to make soap.  First we had to find all Mrs. O.’s soap making supplies, as she had them in different places.  When we had the buckets of oil out, we ran into a minor dilemma.  One bucket of oil wasn’t labeled, and another was labeled as two different things.  We spent some time examining the oils and trying to determine what they were.  This is important, because when you make soap, you have to use a specific amount of lye for each different type of oil.  If we didn’t figure the oils out, the soap wouldn’t work.  Just as we decided which oil was which, I went back to get another bucket of the coconut oil to see what it looked like.  Thankfully I did, because it turned out that what we thought was palm kernel oil was actually coconut, and vice versa.

Making the soap was actually not hard at all.  Most of the time was spent getting the oils and lye to cool to the proper temperature.  After that it didn’t take long.  We decided to scent it peach gardenia , and color the soaps pink.  Mrs. O. cut the bars today, and said they are lovely.  I can’t wait to make more.

Once the soap was in the mold, we cleaned up, then ate lunch.  After lunch we walked down to The Church.

The Church is an old country church just down the road from their home.  It is so close, you can see it from their house.  There aren’t any services there anymore, except for a memorial service there once a year.  Mrs. O. said that there hasn’t been a regular service for about 50 years.

Around The Church is an old cemetery.  We spent some time walking around in the cemetery on the right side of The Church, where the older gravestones are.  The oldest stone that we saw was dated 1871.  There were a few that only had initials on them, and we were guessing that those could be even older.

Then we went inside.  The pews are still there, and there is a big table made out of some boards set atop some pews for when they have a potluck.  There are two old pianos up in front, and I was able to play one.  It was out of tune and the keys stuck a little, but it was still wonderful.

After we came back, we (Mrs. O., Mrs. O.’s daughter Holly, and I) went for a ride around their property.  We were looking for a calf that was born a few days ago, but we weren’t able to find it.  We got to see anther calf, though, and the goats that they have out grazing in the field, and the sheep.  I shot a few pictures.

After our ride, we made some mocha milkshakes and sat around and talked.  Soon it was time for dinner, and I went home after the evening milking.

It was so fun.  Thank you so much for having me out,  Mrs. O. and Holly!  I can’t wait until we do it again!


Mrs. O. …


…making the lye mixture


The oils


Stirring the melted oils – Those are all the soap pictures that I took.  I will post more when she gives me the soap


Going to The Church – the dogs came with us


The Church


The front door


The graveyard on the left




Lots of old gravestones




These only had initials on them






Inside The Church – the pianos are one behind the other


The pews


The piano I couldn’t play




Up above, where you would usually put your music


Mrs. O. put this Bible there.  She said that she thought it needed to be there, just in case.


The piano I played






The ceiling – just thought you would like to see it


Up front


Walking out of The Church


Macy!  Meiling loves this dog. 🙂


The door – they tie it shut so it won’t blow open


There is a board of directors that still takes care of the building.  It is kept in great shape.


A barn across the way


And some trees 🙂


You have to love those gravel roads




Beautiful fields








The cows


The sweet calf




They have one tan sheep, for color


The goats that they have out for grazing (these are not the milk goats) coming to meet us


While we were leaving, the sun was setting



Reformation Day

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his ninety-five thesis on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.  This one act was the beginning of the Reformation, which led to a return to many biblical doctrines, such as the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.  Some of the rallying cries of the Reformation are:

Solus Christus – by Christ Alone

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

Sola Gratia – by Grace Alone

Sola Fide – by Faith Alone

Coram Deo – in the Presence of God

Soli Deo Gloria – to God be the Glory

Communio Sanctorum – the Priesthood of Every Believer

Post Tenebras Lux – After Darkness, Light*

I am inspired by reading the stories of these great men of faith (Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others).  I feel so blessed to be a child of God, and to be able to call these men my brothers in Christ.

Happy Reformation Day!

Soli Deo Gloria!

*These were taken from a paper compiled by Pastor Marcus J. Serven, Th. M., titled “The Rallying Cries of the Reformation”