Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Flos do DC: A Photo Dump and Some Words

Before moving to the East Coast, the hubs and I swore we'd never be bored and we would pack our days full of things to do. Then every Saturday rolls around, the kiddo gets up from her nap and we look at each other and say, "What should we do today?" Yes, it is a bit different from being bored, but by the time we get out of the house, it is 3 p.m. or later, so many things are already closed.

A few weeks back, we decided to take some days off and head to Washington, DC. The hubs had never been there and it's been a decade + since I've been there. We hemmed and hawed on taking the little one with us, but we ultimately decided to leave her with her grandparents.

I am really good at planning trips. I am not really good at planning when to go. Case in point: We went to Vegas in April. The day we landed, it was the coldest day they had had since Feb. 17. The coldest days in two months, the day we get there. After 15 snow storms in PA, we get to Vegas and it was 54 degrees. So when we get to DC, it is no wonder that it is the hottest, most humid day of the year. And it should also come as no surprise that it was the last week of Harlow's school. Getting out the door was stressful, but we managed.

We took the train from the 'burbs to the city. So no driving into the city for a 9:30 a.m. train and our 5:00 p.m. arrival on a Friday. This was amazing, this train stop is about 8 minutes from our house and overnight parking is available a block or two away.

First, I had to leave this little love:

Then we waited for the train on a drizzly morning, but it wasn't too hot or humid yet. 

I'm on a train! If you follow me on Instagram then you've seen some of these images. 

I really don't know much about the Washington Monument. We didn't ride up to the top, but it is lovely to look at. Fun fact: our hotel was designed in 1839 by the same guy. I just love history and knowing that I am in a building that is almost 200 years old. 

Taking a pic of the hubs taking a pic of the White House. I remember seeing this as a kid and it seemed so much closer, no?

The Monument with the Capitol in the background.

The Lincoln Monument, this is always cool to see. Lincoln seemed like a pretty top-notch kind of guy.

Since we were so hot and schweaty, we didn't want any pics of our fronts and through this would make for a cool pic. The tourist who took the pic thought his finger would make a great pic. D'oh!

Me and Abe. Honest Abe. Schweaty Jennifer. 

While walking back to the hotel, we came across the Tropical Smoothie food truck. We ate there way too much when we lived in Las Vegas. This was the first one I've seen on the West Coast and we of course each ordered our faves. 

I am very brand loyal to Kimpton Hotels. One reason is the free wine hour they have from 5-6 p.m. daily. It was the perfect treat to a HOT and HUMID day of walking. Well, second perfect treat. Finding a Tropical Smoothie was the first best thing to happen. 

We stayed at the Hotel Monaco on7th and F. It is nearby a Metro stop, close to some great restaurants and Chinatown. Loved it. The decor was great, staff was wonderful and of course, the wine hour was perfection. 

The Capitol from the Newseum. The Newseum was fantastic! It was part history, part education, part entertainment. I loved it. Present company included, we are often so quick to blame "the media" and while yes that can sometimes be true, "the media" is also how we get our news and how we learn about the world. The sad part for me was re-watching some painful moments in history, particular the event coverage of 9/11. But the media brought us the news on that historic day. Being married to someone in the media, I see both sides of the debate: the public view and the media view. Never the less, this museum was great! 

I took my own turn at giving the hubs a run for his money on the "Anchorman" weather wall. 

It just so happened that one of my near and dear friends was in her hometown in NoVa at the same time. We were on the same study abroad program in Rome Italy in the fall of 1999. Yes, 1999, last century. This was the first time we've seen each other in maybe seven or eight years. She once came to Vegas to visit me, which it took me about five days to even remember it was that long ago. She still pretty much lives in Italy and comes back periodically. She is one of those friends who you can go years without seeing, months without talking to and when you see each other it was like yesterday. Can't go wrong with that! 

I didn't have my Spark on Thursday and I felt every bit of it. I changed that on Friday! This stuff is gold to me. 

I did then proceed to have a half-caff at Dunkins. After paying out the wazoo for breakfast on Thursday, we got smart and did Dunkins on Friday. 

Of course I had to pose and be silly for a minute. Like I said above, I love history. This hotel was built in 1839 and had these statue alcoves near our room and I posed.

We headed back on Friday, which worked out well. We were tired from walking miles and miles and miles around the city. It was humid and slated to rain. But before we headed out, we went to Captain White's at the Wharf (based on my local friend's suggestion) for the lunch. It took maybe 20 min to get our food, but it was worth it. So fresh, so affordable and so delicious. It was quite possibly the best lobster bisque I've ever had. Yes, it was hot and we had bisque. We had to!

After lunch we walked several blocks, trying to out walk the rain cloud that was headed in. It started to rain just as we flagged down a cab. We grabbed our bag at the hotel, made our way back to the train station and were on our way home to our girl! Who was home. Alone. Just kidding. My kind parents stayed with her and she had the time of her little life.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Up in arms

***This post has been sitting in my draft folder for well over a year. It covers a controversial topic and controversy isn't something I want to get into on this blog. However, after opening it up today and rereading, I am going to post it. I think that this was written shortly after the re-election of our current president and probably around the time of some heated gun control debate. I am not really sure of what the point the point of this was post was supposed to be. Obviously, in some way, I support gun control, education and usage.***

I try to stay out of political conversations and debates. Frankly, I just don't care what your political opinion or affiliation is. We are friends, let's leave it there. Unless of course we are on the same side of the topic. Right? Politics is the main reason why I don't like spending time on Facebook.

Anyway, there is a lot of talk over gun control right now and I feel that either way everyone is damned. If no one addresses it, then shame for not addressing it. If it is, then shame for it not being right, the right time or whatever.

My thoughts? I don't understand why people are up in arms about it. Get it? Up in arms? Arms? Anyway, in July of 2011, the hubs and I took a gun safety class. We took this class with the intent of learning how to use a gun for self protection, should anyone ever break into our home, and to buy one gun for this reason.

When we walked into the class, the first thing you do it pick up a prosthetic gun. For lack of better word, I called it prosthetic, because it wasn't real. It was rubbery or something. The instructors take note of how you pick it up and what you do with it. I am pretty sure that in addition to picking it up with my finger on the trigger, I probably pointed it right at myself or the hubs. That is what I see in movies: Put your finger on the trigger. Long story short, we spent all day learning gun safety, how to operate it, we learned how to use pepper spray, legalities of both and then went to the range to shoot.

My palms were sweaty, my arms were shaking but I did it. I pulled the trigger on a gun. I instantly felt empowered, strong and protected. I was still shaking, but the adrenaline rush I got from it was not something I expected to feel. People "like me" don't shoot guns. Whatever that is supposed to mean ...  I'm not a redneck? I don't know. I was just very resistant to the idea of guns.

We agreed upon and bought one. The hubs would occasionally take me to the shooting range for practice. What good is a gun if I don't know how to use it? And slowly, something started to change. I started to enjoy it.                        

Longer story short, we ended up buying more than just that one. And it has become more of a hobby rather than a form of protection. But you know what? It is done safely, we pay attention to what we are doing when we are doing it and it is all about following gun safety rules. Simple as that.

Here is my point: I don't remember being able to play with paints, markers and glue sticks in school if everyone couldn't use them properly and for their intended purposes. Think about it: bottled glue is not meant to be spread in a thin layer on your hand and peeled off once dry. We all did it, but got in trouble for it. Markers weren't meant for writing on the desks and when we didn't follow the rules, these items were taken away from us. So ... what should be done since we all (as Americans) can't seem to follow the rule with guns?

Would outlawing them and making us give them back solve things? Probably not. Are there people out there who use assault rifles for recreation? Yes, there are. Would I have had a different stance on gun control before taking that class? Yes, I would have.

So I will end this here: I hope that you all keep your minds and your hearts open.