For Now-

I have stuff to post, but for now, here are some photos from my California trip.  More to come!









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.







On to D.C.

Next we went to D.C.  D.C.  was a whirlwind.  There is SO MUCH to see there.  Let me repeat:  THERE IS SO MUCH TO SEE IN D.C.  If you ever get the chance, go.  If you don’t, make a chance, then go.  It was wonderful.

Anyways, we arrived at our hotel on a Saturday night.  We were staying about 45 minutes outside of D.C., in Herndon, Virginia.  (Yay!  We were now in my home state!  For those of you who don’t know, I was born in VA.)  The next day (Sunday) we went to church, then we went in to D.C. “to see what we could see.”  We ended up walking around a good bit, then we went to The Smithsonian Museum of American History.  Mom and I went to the First Lady’s dresses exhibit.  So many gorgeous dresses!  The boys and Meiling went to the American President’s display while we were looking at the dresses.  Dad didn’t want to go through the First Ladies’ Dresses exhibit again.  (He had accompanied Mom through that exhibit years ago when they lived in VA.)  We took a break to get some refreshments, and then Dad, Drake, Noah, and I went back to the American History Museum, and Mom and Meiling went to the Smithsonian Castle.  Meiling wasn’t really enjoying the exhibits.  🙂 

The next day we spent walking around D.C., visiting several monuments and memorials, The Smithsonian Museum of Air and Space, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  Lots of walking.  I’m not sure if I had a favorite part from Monday.  It was all pretty great.

On Sunday we got Thai food from a restaurant a few minutes down the road from our hotel.  It was great!  We ate there twice.  Their fried rice, garlic chicken – I need to learn to cook like that.  Oh. My.  Mmm….it was SO good.  And so very different from Chinese, which is really amazing.  It looks similar, and Thailand is so close to China.  But it’s totally different.  In a totally delicious way.

Anyways.  Now for the photos.  I split D.C.  into two posts, because there is so much to cover.


Going into D.C. – Drake, being Drake


The Capital




(Ha ha.)


The Jefferson Memorial


Washington Monument


The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (I think)




The Smithsonian Castle


The Capital


One of the inscriptions on the front of The Smithsonian Museum of American History


This exhibit was great!  I could have spent longer in there.  When I saw there was a food exhibit, I HAD to go see it!




Monday – the George Mason Monument




The Washington Monument – I LOVED photographing it.  And I took lots of photos of it.  So you’ll have to bear with me.


The following photos:  The Jefferson Memorial








Meiling gave me a dandelion…


…and I wore it in my hair for awhile.




At the Air and Space Museum


(Read the caption in the photo)  Somebody has WAY more patience than I do.






…and Noah


Oh look!  The Washington Monument!


The World War II Memorial, with the Lincoln Memorial in the background




On the Pacific side – I got a foot in my picture. 


This has to be my second favorite photo that I took of the Washington Monument.


Resting before going to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing – I’m not totally sure what’s happening in this photo


Drake, being his normal self


There!  A smile




We went out to Red Hot and Blue for dinner on Monday.  It was pretty good.


Next time…


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.)


Branson, Winter 2012–Part 2

I really need help with post titles.  They can be SO CHEESY.  Man.  I don’t think they even come close to qualifying for tacky (one of my favorite words).

Anyways.  Now for the rest of the photos of our trip to the lovely Branson, MO.

Where did I leave of?  Oh yes.  Saturday morning.

On Saturday, I woke up and was lying in bed for a while, and then I must have dozed off again.  Cause suddenly I looked around it was 11!  I have only slept in this late once before, and that was because I had stayed up until 2:15 with a friend (not sure if I told you that, Gloria, but I did sleep in that late).  So I exited the room, expecting to be immediately greeted with “Oh my!  Look who finally got up!  Sleeping Beauty!”  or something like that.  Instead, nobody said anything.  Dad and my siblings were sitting around the family room, eating breakfast and watching Animal Planet.  That is NOT normal.  At all.

I then went and made myself some breakfast, which was topped of with with not one, but TWO Pop-Tarts (ah, the awesomeness!).

Later, we all went to the Vigilante Zip Rider for the boys to ride the zip line.

You though I  would ride the zip line?  No.  Not at all.  If I go to an amusement park, I usually only go on tame rides, like the merry-go-round.  And I will only usually ride one or two rides.  I go more to take pictures.  🙂


The view from the observation tower, where the zip line that the boys rode is


Drake and his faces


All the zip line riders


“Make a scared face!”  Dad’s call  🙂


The challenge


Waiting to see the boys go


There they go!

The boys really enjoyed the zip line.  I’m glad they did.


This made me laugh.  Ha!  “A high speed cable ride with a sudden abrupt landing.”  That could make the ride sound unattractive to just about anyone.

We were planning to go back to our condo to have dinner before going to see Joseph, but there was such a line of cars going to Silver Dollar City (and that was the direction that we needed to go), that we just went out for dinner instead.

And I forgot to…but you probably know what I forgot (to take a picture of my food).


Waiting for dinner


Me and my Drake


Siblings.  Friends.  Partners in crime.  🙂


Window shopping (a few family members had gone to the other side of the window)


After that was Joseph – enjoyed by all.


The Sight and Sound Theater


Excuse the odd lighting

Sunday was spent quietly at our condo.  In the afternoon we went for a walk.  And I took pictures. 




Drake and Meiling had run ahead


Self-portrait time!  I need to work on pointing that camera.




The (second) observation tower.  This one wasn’t surrounded by glass.


The view


The other observation tower, where that boys had ridden the zip line


Meiling running ahead


Like father, like son


A flower, in December


Look!  They have weeds in Branson, too!  And I have a picture to prove it.  So there.

We also had chicken wings for dinner.

I LOVE chicken wings.  I know I have never ever discussed this extreme love here, but it is true.  I get so into eating them, and then end up making a TOTAL mess of myself (wing sauce all over my face and hands) and then my hands smell like wing sauce.

Dad always says that he likes watching me eat wings ‘cause I make such a royal mess.

But I just love wings, so I keep eating them and making a royal mess anyways.

We went home the next morning, after breakfast.

And that’s that.

Thanks for reading!



Branson, Winter 2012–Part 1

We spent a long weekend in Branson, and arrived home this Monday.  We went to a few shows, some of us rode a zip line, and we hung out.  It was a lovely time, just getting to chill together.

We drove down to Branson on Thursday, arriving around 4 p.m.  After unpacking and having dinner at Red Lobster, we went and saw the Chinese acrobats at the Shanghai Circus.  Very fun!

While we were at Red Lobster, I decided that it would be fun to take pictures of the food that I ate out at restaurants.  A fun thing to do for somebody who loves food, right?  Well, I followed this up by forgetting my camera the next day (which meant that I didn’t get any photos of that meal), and eating my entire meal at the next restaurant before I remembered that I should have taken a picture.  The third time I didn’t even think about taking a picture.  In fact, I didn’t realize that I missed the third meal until now.  I’m real great at remembering to take pictures of my food, eh?  I wonder what would happen if I tried to do a 365 – it would turn into a 100, if I remembered that often!  😛

On Friday, we went and saw Twice Adopted (it was great!) in the morning, then spent some time walking around downtown Branson.  We had lunch at a place down there, and I shared some AWESOME tomato basil soup with Mom.  I have to recreate that soon.  It was so good.  We spent the evening at our condo being together.

We also bought some Pop-Tarts.  Now, for all my trying to eat healthy, I LOVE POP-TARTS!  I so greatly enjoyed eating Pop-Tarts over the weekend.  Mmmmm…

Now for the photos.  I forgot my camera on Friday, for which I was most sad.  😦  Most of these are from Thursday, and a few are from Friday night.  During intermission at the New Shanghai Circus, Drake and I entertained ourselves with self-portraits, portraits, and random shots.  I sure had a blast with those, and I hope you enjoy them, too!




Waiting for food


I ordered the four-course feast, or something like that.  It was SO GOOD!  Creamy potato soup to start it off…


…and then a salad


The faces Drake often makes for me when I point that camera at him.






Love him – he’s just so funny


Meiling being funny – I’m not sure how to caption these






I think they speak for themselves


My main course, minus the shrimp, which I ate before I remembered to take a picture.  Sound familiar? 🙂


Dessert – a brownie.  It was very good, despite the fact that it had too much chocolate and caramel syrups


We drove through a Christmas light display before going to the Chinese acrobat show


Meiling 🙂




At intermission




One of those moments


Fun with the lights


Little Peanut hands


Toe shoes


Now here begins the random self-portraits




I know I said this before, but he is SO MUCH FUN










Rows of chairs, red ones specifically, are fun


Drake had a turn with the camera and took a few photos of yours truly. 🙂





Now, photos from Friday night.


Dad purchased this kit to mix your own chip flavors.  He likes chips.  I like him. 🙂


Drake, making his epic face


The chips, all ready to eat


Playing games