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It’s been a long time – years, maybe? – since I’ve done a day-in-the-life style post.  I can’t even remember the last time, to be honest.  But now seems as good a time as any, and as luck would have it, #OneDayHH 2017 just took place.  So what better day to feature?  (For those not familiar, #OneDayHH is an annual social media event, hosted by Laura Tremaine of The Hollywood Housewife, in which participants are challenged to capture and share snapshots of an entire day’s activities.  It’s always in early November, and always on a weekday, because the idea is to encourage people to look for the little moments that are worth preserving in their everyday lives – not just the big events or particularly photogenic shots.)

Anyway, #OneDayHH took place on November 9 this year – a regular Thursday for me.  Here’s what I was up to.

6:20 a.m. Nugget is up and therefore so am I.  It’s a workout off day, so I try to maximize my sleep, since it has been so crummy lately, thanks to a bad cold going around the house (anytime anyone has a cold, it means less sleep for Mom).  I didn’t set my alarm, so I just wake up whenever my human alarm clock goes off, which is 6:20 today.  I get him out of his crib, change his diaper and let him play for a few minutes while I get ready for my day, until Peanut gets up and we go downstairs.  I set them up at the kitchen table with their breakfast and “Doc McStuffins” on the iPad, then make Nugget’s lunch.  He is getting soup, green beans, cheese, a blueberry breakfast bar, and homemade plum applesauce, plus a yogurt for his “second breakfast” once he gets to the nanny share.

7:15-7:30 a.m.  Back upstairs and it’s time for Nugget to get dressed for the day, which he does not want to do.  Peanut is already dressed and ready to go – as is the rest of the family.  I chase the lone holdout around his room until I finally catch him and wrestle him into sweatpants and a cozy long-sleeved t-shirt.  Then we’re all out the door together.

7:45 a.m.  Steve, Peanut and Nugget drop me off at the Metro station – I’m the first stop in the morning circuit.  They head onward to Peanut’s school and then Nugget’s nanny, and then Steve will go back home to work (he works remotely from home).  Meanwhile, I wait on the platform for my train into D.C.

8:15 a.m.  I’m off the Metro and back above-ground at Gallery Place.  Normally I would go straight to work, but I need to make a stop first.  In the hustle of getting everyone ready this morning, I forgot to eat.  So I head for Bakers & Baristas, the neighborhood indie coffee shop, to grab a quick breakfast to bring to my desk.

8:20 a.m.  In line at Bakers & Baristas.  I order a London Fog (half vanilla steamer, half Earl Grey) and a pastry to take to my desk.

8:25 a.m.  Tea in hand, walking to the office past a row of Capitol Bikeshare bikes.

Still 8:25 a.m.  On my other side, the National Portrait Gallery is looking lovely under the grey morning sky.

8:30-11:45 a.m.  I’m at my desk.  This is my favorite corner, which I decorated with some of my favorite pictures and mementos – Instagram prints, birthday party invitations, and Adirondack 46 mountain patches from the peaks I’ve bagged.  I can’t show you the rest of my desk, as it is (neatly) piled with confidential client documents.  Anyway!  I fire up my computer, read news alerts and emails, and then look over the pleadings in a case that I’ve just been pulled into – getting up to speed on the issues so I have a better sense of what documents are going to be relevant.  Three hours go by in a flash.

11:45 a.m.  I am starting to get a headache (something is going on with the generator, and it’s making our whole hallway smell electric).  I decide a pick-me-up is in order, and use my favorite teapot to brew some “Earl on the Beach,” a loose tea my BFF, Rebecca, sent me from her local tea shop in Virginia Beach.  (Later, I will be dismayed to discover that the brand-new replacement basket I ordered for my tea leaves has a hole in the mesh.  Grrrr!)  Back to my desk, and my reading.

12:30 p.m.  Lunchtime.  Normally I would walk outside to either pick up lunch or just get some fresh air, but today we have a CLE (that’s “Continuing Legal Education,” for my non-lawyer friends) program scheduled – and lunch is provided.  I eat a cheese and veggie wrap while listening to a presentation on best practices for crafting and managing litigation holds.  In my day-to-day world, this is very important and high stakes stuff – mistakes can be very costly, and we are extremely serious about getting it right.  I found the presentation really informative and interesting – good use of my lunch hour!

1:30-2:15 p.m.  I work on some administrative tasks that are not a lot of fun, but have to be done.  My headache is coming back, so I decide it’s time for some fresh air.

2:15-2:45 p.m.  I feel my headache coming back, and I think fresh air would help, so I decide to walk to the courthouse – might as well make productive use of the time – and pick up a form I need for the Virginia Bar.  (I am licensed to practice law in New York and Washington, D.C., but am in the process of applying for a license to practice in Virginia, too.  Virginia requires a huge stack of forms and documents, so I’ve been on a bit of a scavenger hunt to gather everything I need.)  When I get to the courthouse, I put my bag down to be scanned, and tell the security guard, “I’m here for a–” and before I can finish, she interrupts me: “Certificate of Good Standing?”  I laugh and ask how she guessed, and she said, “You were just too poised when you walked in here.  Usually people look nervous.  I though, either she’s here for Good Standing or she’s filing something.”  Ha!

I walk through the metal detector and down to the Attorney Admissions Office, where there is no line – so I am out the door, my Certificate of Good Standing in hand, in less than five minutes.  (For my non-lawyer friends, a Certificate of Good Standing is a piece of paper from the powers-that-be in a jurisdiction, saying that my license to practice law in that jurisdiction is active and current – meaning I haven’t been suspended from the Bar or gotten behind on my dues.  I need them for both of my states in order to submit to the Virginia Bar.  For New York, I have to write a letter and get the Certificate mailed to me, but for D.C. I have the luxury of just walking down the street.)  On my way out the door and back to my office, I look around at the courtyard, which has been improved since I was last here a few months ago.  I particularly like the quote: “All citizens are equal before the law.”  I think of Tuesday’s election results in Virginia and smile.

2:45 p.m.  I am back in my office, and I have a text from our sweet nanny.  Every day, she sends me the pictures she snaps of Nugget and I save them to my camera roll (one reason my phone storage is shot).  Seeing his little face always brightens my day.  Today she sends a bunch of pictures of Nugget with the other kid in the nanny share – they’re such good friends!  So cute.  I spend the rest of the afternoon working on my Virginia Bar application, including making a 30+ minute call to Virginia Bar IT Support.  Oof.  (They’re very helpful, and it turns out I alerted them to a problem with a hyperlink that could have impacted 500 people, so I guess that’s my good deed for the day!)  I spend most of the time drafting answers to the Character & Fitness questionnaire, update my scavenger hunt spreadsheet (where I am tracking the status of all of the documents I have requested) and chat with a partner who stops by my office just to say hello (so nice).

5:15 p.m.  I save and close my Virginia Bar application and head home.  I am not loving how dark it is, but I do like the pretty twinkle lights that the vendors have strung up in the Thursday afternoon farmers’ market that I walk through on my way to the Metro.  I always think I should stop and buy something, but I am always in a hurry to get home – today is no exception.

5:50 p.m.  I’m home!  Peanut and Nugget are finishing their dinner in the kitchen.  Every day when I walk into the house, they scream with joy – it’s the best way to be greeted, EVER.  Today, after they finish shrieking their happiness, Peanut goes back to the lolly she was working on, and Nugget asks for “uppy!”  Of course, at that moment, I get a work email that needs an immediate response, so I jump back on the computer and quickly take care of it.

6:25 p.m.  I take both kids upstairs to get ready for baths.  Peanut plays contentedly in her room, but Nugget – the Pisces – has to be involved in any activity that includes water.  Somehow, I manage to get the bath prepared.  He almost falls in (fully clothed) three times, but this is not my first rodeo, and my bathtub-dive-rescue instincts are sharply honed.  I bathe both of the kids while Steve is downstairs taking care of his own urgent work email.

7:10 p.m.  Both kids are clean and cuddled up in their coziest jammies (our upstairs Thermostat was on the blink yesterday, and it got kind of cold overnight – Steve fixed it, but I still wanted the added insurance of fleece pajamas).  It’s time to start winding down, but Nugget is in hardcore bedtime-avoidance mode – running around, wearing Peanut’s hat, and playing “picnic.”  Eventually I get both the hat and the basket away from him.  He’s not very happy about it.

7:25 p.m.  Ready to read!  Nugget chooses “A-B-C-3PO” for a bedtime story.  Usually, we do two or three – or sometimes more – but he did so much stalling that we only have time for one story tonight.  Fortunately, “A-B-C-3PO” is a long one.

7:35 p.m.  See?  Still reading.  It’s a really funny book that we all enjoy.  My favorite parts are the breaks I get every few pages, because whenever Darth Vader appears (quite frequently, as it happens) Nugget must sing the Imperial Death March, shout “Luke, I am your father!” and profess his undying love for the Sith.  After we finish the story, I tuck him in and Steve sings to him while Peanut and I start reading in her room.  We are reading Mr. Popper’s Penguins – a chapter every night – and after we finish our chapter for the evening, she gets to pick out a picture book.  Tonight, it’s “The Princess and the Pea.”

8:00 p.m.  Both kids are in bed, and I am downstairs and STARVING.  I heat up a bowl of homemade vegetable soup with pinto beans, and stir in plain yogurt for extra protein and creaminess.  Meanwhile, Steve shows me the treat he bought for us to enjoy after dinner.  Yum!  He sits at the table while I eat my dinner and we talk about our days.

8:35 p.m.  Couch time!  I cuddle up under my favorite blanket to finish The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.  I’m almost done, so I wrap it up after only a few more minutes of reading, then turn to Jane Gardam’s The Flight of the Maidens, which is out of renewals at the library.  About an hour and a half of reading and sipping the stout we are sharing, and then it’s time to turn in – I have early morning yoga tomorrow.

10:00 p.m.  Lights out!  All too soon, my alarm will be ringing and it’ll be time to get up and do it all again.

 

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Whew!  It’s been awhile since I put up a race recap, hasn’t it?  I can’t even remember the last time.  The past year or two, it’s been hard to run and train for races – I’m sure I make lots of excuses, but there it is.  I don’t love being away from Nugget for long stretches, even now – I figure there’ll be plenty of time for half marathons (and maybe longer races?) when he’s older.  And between job-hunting, planning a move, and then trying to get used to a new job (I’ve been at my current job for over a year, and I still feel like I’m learning the ropes) something had to give, and it’s been running.  But I miss the feeling of accomplishment that I used to get from training for and running races, so I have very gradually been dipping my toes back into the local running scene.  I’m not doing anything too crazy right now, which was why my “big” race of the year was a 10K – but what a 10K!

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The day before the MCM10K, I drove over to National Harbor to pick up my packet.  It was a total zoo, but somehow I made it in and out with my bib and mock-turtleneck (#RockTheMock).  Loud singing along to The Book of Mormon soundtrack on the way there and back was a big help.  Back at home, I laid out my “flat runner” – we’d gotten a heat advisory email from the race organizers, so I planned accordingly with a tank top that weighs less than a sheet of tissue paper.

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Race morning dawned clear and sunny.  It was actually a little bit brisk, and I was chilly as I waited at the start line, but I knew I’d be glad I had the lightweight tank on later (spoiler alert: I was).  Eventually, the gun sounded and we were off!  I got chills as I ran under the “Marine Corps Marathon” starting arch.  Maybe someday I’ll run through this arch on my way to 26.2.

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The full marathon course starts over by Iwo Jima, but the 10K starts on the National Mall – which is very nice, because the scenery begins immediately.  We ran past a line of Smithsonian museums, and before long, I could see the Capitol over my left shoulder.  (I hummed “dark as a tomb where it happens” as I ran past.)

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Rounded the corner, and headed down past the Smithsonian Castle and toward the Washington Monument.  I have really missed running local races around these streets.  It’s SO nice to be home.

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Hello, George!  I put my camera away and before I knew it, we were crossing the bridge into Arlington.  I didn’t get too excited at that point, because most of the 10K is run in Arlington.  We still had a long way to go.

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A good portion of the race (10K and I think marathon, too) is run on highways in full sun – hence the heat advisory and the warning to dress appropriately for the weather.  I was glad that I made the apparel choices I had – I was always comfortable and didn’t really feel like I was baking in the sun (I did hear later that a few people were taken off the course in ambulances due to the heat, so it was no joke).  There was also a fair amount of shade on the 10K course, which provided relief, and even when we were in full sun we could count on cool scenery – like the Pentagon.

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I could tell we were getting close to the end when I ran through this row of American and Marine flags, and I started to get a little misty-eyed.  I made sure to thank every Marine I saw on the course for their service – others were doing so, as well.

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Soon we found ourselves running past the marathon starting corrals – all empty.  It was surreal to see the corrals silent, with all the runners gone.  Maybe someday I’ll be standing in one, ready to race the full.

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And before I knew it – the end!  The last little bit of the course was an evil, heinous – extremely steep – uphill, so no pictures from that part.  I went through the finishers’ corrals, collected my medal, and found my cheering squad – Steve, the kids, and my mom.  It was hot, exhausting, and completely exhilarating and inspiring.

Are you a runner?  What’s your favorite race?

Hi, friends.  No fun weekend report for you today.  Steve was under the weather all weekend, so it was just me and the kids from sun up to sun down, and we were in survival mode in a big way.  On Friday afternoon, I took them to the library, both to get them out of Dad’s hair and also so I could return a book that was due back and get more that were on hold – and that was the best thing that we did all weekend.  They played in the children’s section for awhile, and we read a bunch of books and then picked a few for them to check out.  And then it was all downhill from there.  I spent the rest of the weekend arbitrating disputes over toys, pulling them off each other, putting them in time-out, and running errands.  Seriously, running errands seemed like a really relaxing thing to do because any time they spent strapped into their car seats was time that Nugget wasn’t pulling out fistfuls of Peanut’s hair, and Peanut wasn’t trying to gouge out Nugget’s eyes.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  The best thing we did all weekend was drop off a donation to the D.C. Diaper Bank, which made me disproportionately excited because it had been sitting in my dining room for way too long.  They were pretty decent on Sunday (see above: car seats), so I took them to the playground and it was a total disaster – tackling, hair-pulling, face-grabbing, the works.  So, yeah.  That was my weekend.

  
  

Reading.  One good thing I can tell you is – I did a lot of reading this weekend.  This week, too, but mostly this weekend.  Since the kids had to be separated a lot of the time (or it would mean the start of another round of the Hunger Games) Peanut spent a good amount of time playing in her room while Nugget played in his room and I sat in his chair and read as best I could while Nugget drove his trucks over my face.  It was for my sanity, really, but I justified  it by reminding myself that it is important for me to model reading for enjoyment so that the kids can see that.  (I do think that’s true.)  Anyway, over the week I burned through Little Fires Everywhere (which was incredible), Coronation Summer (really, really funny!) and The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (powerful and breathtaking).  Late in the week I started The Flight of the Maidens, which wasn’t long but sort of felt like a slog to me.  (It is beautifully written, so I suspect that the reason it felt like a slog was that I had a pending library deadline, so read it over other things I wanted to read more, and that always makes a book feel like work a little more than it otherwise would.)  I put it aside to read the very slim and absolutely stunning The Origin of Others, which I finished in just a couple of hours on Saturday morning (I just couldn’t wait), then went back to The Flight of the Maidens.  Finally finished that on Sunday evening, and I’m now about a quarter of the way through We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, the new collection of essays about the Obama presidency by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I’ve actually read a few of the essays already, because I read The Atlantic, where they were published, but I am re-reading them in the book and Coates’ writing is, as always, uncomfortable, thought-provoking and necessary.  (It was a very Coates weekend for me.  He also contributed the introduction to The Origin of Others.)  Anyway, I’ll continue with the new Coates over the next couple of days, and then I plan to pick up The Blue Castle for Naomi and Sarah’s readalong – I’ll have thoughts about it coming soon!  (Sorry no links to their blogs – something is going on with my WordPress and my link function is not working.)

Watching.  We had a family movie date on Saturday afternoon – starring Darth Vader, of course.  Nugget is starting to realize that Darth Vader is a “bad guy,” and I think he’s having some questions as a result.  He still asks to skip to the “Darth Vader parts,” but he also seems to be contemplating switching his allegiance to his new buddy, Yoda.  We’ll see!  Other than Star Wars, we have been watching a lot of Doc McStuffins lately, which I tolerate because Peanut says she wants to be a doctor and I think Doc McStuffins is the reason.  (Doc herself seems like a cool kid, but her toys set my teeth on edge – especially Lambie and Stuffie, both of whom make me want to bang my head against the wall.)  The kids have been alternating Doc with Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, because I’ve decided that it’s not too early for Christmas shows.  Especially George, who I can actually stand to watch on repeat.

Listening.  All podcasts, all the time this week.  Of particular note were the one-year birthday episode of Tea and Tattle, which had me searching for Chalet School books on Abebooks, and the latest episode of Sorta Awesome, all about boundary-setting for the holidays (always a good topic to revisit around this time of year, and something I’ve struggled with in the past – although I’m getting better at it).  I have to complain about my podcatcher, though.  I listen to podcasts on iTunes, and it got swept up in the latest iPhone iOS update, and – I HATE the changes.  It is so much less user-friendly now and I’m having a really hard time figuring out a new system for listening.  I might have to switch to a new podcast app – any suggestions?

Moving.  Pretty slow week and very slow weekend, although keeping Peanut and Nugget from killing each other is quite a workout.  I made it to power yoga on Tuesday and Friday, and that’s it – no Barre3 and no Saturday vinyasa.  With Steve being under the weather, it was just all I could do.  Hoping for a more active week next week.  Definitely need to get some more runs in as the Turkey Trot approaches.

Blogging.  I have a recap of the Marine Corps Marathon 10K coming up for you on Wednesday (belated, but there it is) and a day-in-the-life post, inspired/facilitated by #OneDayHH, on Friday.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  I know I have complained a lot about them in this post, but I have to tell you about one cute thing – Nugget has started calling Peanut “sweetie.”  It’s the cutest, funniest, darlingest thing.  I’m sure he’s heard us call her that, but it’s sooooooo much more adorable coming from him.  In the mornings, he’s usually the first one up, and she will come looking for people once she wakes up – and when she joins us, either in the kitchen or in Nugget’s room, he greets her in his squeaky little toddler voice: “Hiiiiiiiiii, sweetie!”  IT IS SO ADORABLE.  I die, you guys, I actually die.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Seven Days, Seven B&W Photos

Well, I’m guessing that most of my friends have encountered the latest social media challenge to make its way around Facebook and Instagram.  I’m not normally one to get into doing social media challenges; I rarely participate in Instagram month-long daily prompts and I usually roll my eyes hard at Facebook challenges.  But my friend Rebecca challenged me twice to do the B&W challenge, I figured I’d better go along with it, or she’d never stop.  😉

The rules of the challenge are: post a black and white photo every day for seven days; no pictures and no explanations.  Challenge another person.  I followed along and posted my photos noting only what day of the challenge I was on, and at the end, challenged my sister-in-law Danielle.  Now that I’m done, here’s the whole challenge in all its glory, with some more details about the photos and the processing, and at the end, a lesson I learned that surprised me a bit.

Day One

Place: Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California
Date: August, 2017
Camera: iPhone 6s Plus
Processing: Silvertone

I was really pleased with the way this one came out.  I snapped this picture on my phone as Steve and I were hiking the bluffs on Santa Cruz Island, and I liked it, but it was sort of a grey day and the views weren’t as dramatic as they are when the sun is shining.  It didn’t occur to me to process it in black and white (that almost never occurs to me) but I really like it.

Day Two

Place: Great Falls National Park, Virginia
Date: August, 2016
Camera: iPhone 6s Plus
Processing: Clarendon (Instagram) and Noir

I much prefer this picture processed in color.  It’s actually one of my favorite photos that I have taken while hiking – not that it’s the best or most dramatic, but Great Falls is my favorite place in the world.  I don’t feel like the black and white processing does the picture any favors at all.  Perhaps if I’d taken this during the winter, when Great Falls is pretty much black and white anyway, I’d feel differently.  But I remember taking this picture, and the whole day was a riot of color, and it was our first hike back after moving home to Virginia, and my cousin Jocelyn was there.  If there’s ever a picture that should be processed in color, it’s this one.

Day Three

Place: Pamlico Sound, Frisco, North Carolina
Date: July, 2015
Camera: iPhone (older generation)
Processing: Silvertone

Longtime readers may recall that when I recapped my 2015 summer vacation to the Outer Banks, I included a post with one sunset picture from each day of our trip that I had snapped on my camera and processed/shared on Instagram.  This was one of the outtakes.  I didn’t use it because I didn’t like the big dark expanse in the foreground.  I think the black and white processing has improved this picture.  Normally I would never process a sunset picture in black and white, because what on earth would be the purpose?  But I think the Silvertone filter gave the sky a really cool look, and I like the silhouette of the windblown tree.

Day Four

Place: Hall Ranch, Lyons, Colorado
Date: November, 2015
Camera: iPhone (older generation)
Processing: Rise (Instagram) and Silvertone

This was my favorite photo of the challenge – in part because I remember this hike as one of the happiest I’ve ever done (it was in Colorado with my family, my brother and sister-in-law, and we had such a wonderful time soaking in the incredible scenery and enjoying being together) and in part because I was surprised how much I love the black and white processing on this.  I think the layered filters really made it look cool.  I almost never process my pictures in black and white, and this one is making me wonder why.  (It also doesn’t hurt that when I posted it on Facebook, one of my mom’s friends commented that it looked “Ansel Adams-like!” – picture me blushing hard.)

Day Five

Place: Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Date: September, 2008
Camera: Nikon D5100
Processing: Mono

The only picture of this set that wasn’t snapped on an iPhone, this is also fairly early in my photographic experimenting.  I’ve always liked the pictures I shot on Skye, which has to be one of the most photogenic places in the world.  What you can’t tell from this picture is that the grass was almost electric green.

Day Six

Place: Fort de Soto Park, Pinellas County, Florida
Date: September, 2017
Camera: iPhone 6s Plus
Processing: Clarendon (Instagram) and Noir

Out of the seven black and white photos I posted over the week, this one got the most love from my Facebook friends.  I can understand why – it’s certainly dramatic.  I also think it illustrates that you don’t have to have a ton of skill to shoot a cool-looking nature picture (although skill would help) if you happen to be in the right place at the right time.  I was actually closer to this egret as it took off than it appears from the picture, but I’d have loved to be closer still.  Either way, I do really like this picture – the white bird against the dark mangroves, and the reflection in the water, I think are nice effects.  I also loved this in color, but it’s more attention-grabbing in black and white.

Day Seven

Place: Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, Santa Barbara, California
Date: August, 2017
Camera: iPhone 6s Plus
Processing: Lark (Instagram) and Noir

I wanted to end with a mountain, so I saved this one for the last photo.  I love the sky effect here – in reality, it was a brilliant blue, but it looks almost stormy with this processing.  Choosing a black and white filter was tough for this one.  Silvertone looked terrible, but I was really torn between Mono and Noir.  Steve liked Mono, but I thought Noir showed off the craggy mountain a little better and gave the meadow some glimmer.

So – I had a surprising amount of fun with this.  I’m really not a big joiner, but after Rebecca prompted me twice I thought if I kept ignoring her she’d kill me, and I found myself really enjoying the process of choosing a picture each day and then selecting the best filter to give it the effects I wanted.  And by the end of the week, I was feeling really inspired to play more with black and white processing, which I suppose was the whole point.

While I love photography, and I really enjoy playing with processing and filters, I have been really resistant to black and white.  There are a couple of reasons for this – one is that I think black and white processing is almost like cheating, because it forgives so many lighting and formatting sins.  It’s hard to process a picture in black and white and have it NOT look good.  I also think that color processing, while more challenging, looks far better when it’s done well.  (I don’t always do it well, but I am learning.)  Especially when it comes to landscape and nature photography, I’d much rather look at a really well-done color photograph than a black and white one.  But after last week, I think I learned that there is a place for black and white photography in my own albums.  I’ll definitely be playing more with this in the future.

Did you get pinged to do the black and white challenge, too?

A Project 24 Update

As my friends may recall, I’ve committed to Simon’s Project 24 for the year – meaning that I’m restricting myself to only buying twenty-four books All. Year.  Long.  This may seem easy, but I assure you it is not.  Anyway, it’s been awhile, so I owe y’all a quick update.  I’m pretty sure I’m still on track with Project 24, although I have gotten slightly disorganized about it and there’s a chance I might have forgotten a book purchase or four.  Here’s what I’ve purchased through today:

January

  • The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne (Folio Society)
  • The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)
  • Anne of Avonlea, by L.M. Montgomery (Folio Society)

February

No books!

March

  • Envelope Poems, by Emily Dickinson (The Gorgeous Nothings)
  • Mary Barton, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

April

  • Wives and Daughters, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks
  • North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

May

  • Anderby Wold, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)
  • The Land of Green Ginger, by Winifred Holtby (Virago)

June

  • Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome (Folio Society)

July

  • Before Lunch, by Angela Thirkell (Virago)
  • A Memoir of Jane Austen, by Edward Austen-Leigh (Folio Society)
  • The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Folio Society)

August

  • Father Brown Stories, Vols. I and II, by G.K. Chesterton (Folio Society) – out of print; purchased from Abebooks

September

  • After Many Years: Twenty-One Long Lost Stories, by L.M. Montgomery (Nimbus)
  • Sylvia’s Lovers, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print, purchased from Abebooks
  • Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Folio Society) – out of print, purchased from Abebooks
  • 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Washington, D.C., by Renee Sklarew and Rachel Cooper (Menasha Ridge Press)

October

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Illustrated Edition, by J.K. Rowling (Arthur A. Levine)

November

  • The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Sourcebooks)

By that count, I’m at twenty-two books for the year.  (The Chesterton stories are in two volumes, so even though they’re together in one slipcase, I’m counting them as two books.  And I’m counting the hiking guide, even though I really purchased it for the family.  I’m trying hard to be upstanding here!)  That leaves me with two books left for the year – I’ll probably purchase one more this month and one in December, since I don’t usually spend money on myself in December anyway and often find books under the Christmas tree.  It’s been an interesting exercise, and I’ll reflect more on it after the conclusion of the project, in a few months.  In the meantime, I’m off to peruse my wish lists and try to decide what to order next…

Have you ever done Project 24?  Did you survive?

 

Fall-back weekend before children: hmmmmm.  How should I spend this extra time?  I think I’ll sleep in and then go have a leisurely brunch.

Fall-back weekend with children: Please sleep past 4:00 a.m.  Please sleep past 4:00 a.m.  Please sleep past – dammit.

Happy Monday, friends.  How were your weekends?  We had a lazy weekend around the neighborhood, which was exactly what I wanted.  With all the excitement of Halloween happening last weekend and into the week, and with the busiest season of the year directly ahead of us, I really, really needed a weekend or two in a row with no plans and no commitments – and that’s exactly what we got this weekend.  On Saturday, we walked out to the library and farmers’ market, then stopped by the playground – the leaves are finally out! – and the fire station on the way home.  So – our usual circuit.  The furthest afield I ventured was a fifteen minute walk to yoga while the kids napped in the afternoon.  Added in a family movie night with pizza and Star Wars (Nugget’s first viewing! he shouted “THERE’S MY BUDDY!” every time Darth Vader was onscreen), and it was a pretty perfect day.  Sunday was even lazier – I don’t think I got out of my pajamas all day.  We did lots of playing, made paper plate turkeys with feathers listing what we are grateful for, some reading, and a bit of laundry and work so we felt like we’d been at least a little bit productive.  I felt a little under the weather on Saturday and worse on Sunday – I have a vicious cold in my throat and head, and I basically sound like Sexy Phoebe singing “Smelly Cat” all the time.  So a lazy Sunday at home was just what the doctor ordered.

  

Reading.  It was a good, productive reading week.  I finished Poems Bewitched and Haunted on Halloween – perfect timing!  It was loads of fun, a perfect Fright Night read, and made me want to read more poetry soon.  Then I turned back to Dark Money, which I had been plodding through slowly.  It’s one of those incredibly interesting and informative nonfiction reads that I think are very important – but it was also sort of dense and I don’t seem to have the wherewithal to keep track of all these shadowy foundations that are one step away from money laundering… in thinking about it, though, perhaps that’s exactly the point.  Yeah, food for thought.  Anyway, Dark Money was due back to the library on Saturday, and I was still fifty pages from the end, so I flew through the final couple of chapters while the kids played, and then dropped it in the overnight return box.  On Saturday evening, I turned to Little Fires Everywhere, the new Celeste Ng.  I’m about a third of the way through it and really enjoying it, so more next week, I’m sure.

Watching.  It seems we are straight-up re-watching Parks and Recreation, which is fine with me.  Duke Silver just made his first appearance!  On Friday evening, we ate takeout Indian food while watching Ann break Leslie of her fear of first dates through “bad date immersion therapy.”  Parks and Rec is definitely helping us hold it together as we wait for the next season of The Crown to drop on Netflix – not too long now!

Listening.  I’m back to podcasts as I take a little break from audiobooks.  At the moment, the “Read Aloud Revival” episode on the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report is in my earbuds, and it’s very interesting and informative.  (Further down, I’ll share the best thing I listened to all week – it’s my “loving” for this week, so read on.)  In addition to podcasts, I’m still playing the Book of Mormon soundtrack on repeat.  Less than two weeks to go until we will be saying “Hello!” to Elder Price and Elder Cunningham at the Kennedy Center!

Moving.  Sort of a slow week.  Sleeping has been really bad lately – it seems like the whole house is conspiring to keep me awake some nights, and this lousy cold hasn’t helped matters.  That’s making it hard to get up and out of the house for early morning workouts.  I made it to power yoga on Tuesday, but missed Friday, because Nugget was clinging to my neck from 4:30 onwards.  That made me sad, because the Friday classes are taught by my favorite instructor, who is moving to Africa in two weeks, and I’m trying to soak up as many of her fabulous vinyasa classes as I can before she leaves.  She also teaches on Saturday afternoon, though, so I made a point of going to that class, at least, and – I got into crow pose for the first time in years!  This is a big deal!  Jaimie – the instructor – came over to my mat and gave me Muppet arms.  Wahooooo!

Blogging.  I have a Project 24 update coming to you on Wednesday (spoiler – I’m on track, I think?) and on Friday, a fun photography post about a surprising thing I learned while doing the black and white challenge on Facebook last week.  Check in with me then!

Loving.  Best thing this week was a podcast episode!  As I’ve been working my way through my ever-neglected podcatcher, I listened to a pretty recent episode of The Mom Hour, all about things you can do to get ready for the holidays NOW, instead of waiting until December and making yourself miserable.  There were a ton of great tips – lots of common sense, but sometimes you need that, right ladies?  The Moms suggested writing thank-you notes and putting together your kids’ teachers’ gifts in October (this is revolutionary, and I will definitely be getting that task done early); scheduling out as much of your holiday calendar as you can in advance, down to the last trash pick-up day before Christmas so you will know when you need the garbage guys’ bonus checks ready; and making your Shutterfly projects ahead of time so you’ll be able to take advantage of Cyber Monday sales without spending that whole day making photo books (which I try to do anyway, but the reminder is good).  I was so inspired that I jumped right onto Shutterfly and started making Nana’s Brag Book 2017 – hi, Mom!  (Don’t worry; this is a gift she gets every year, so I’m not ruining a surprise – she knows it’s coming.)  The Mom Hour is my favorite parenting podcast, and I think this was one of their best episodes yet.  No one else can get me more inspired to be on top of my parenting game while simultaneously reassuring me that everyone feels like a flake at the end of the school semester.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

Happy fall, y’all!  I hope everyone had a great Halloween.  We kicked off the holiday season in grand style with Halloween festivities over several days.  Ready for the usual massive photobomb of a recap post?

Trick-or-Treating at Mount  Vernon

First up on the Halloween agenda was a new-to-us activity: trick-or-treating at Mount Vernon!  We are members, and have taken the kids to special events there in the past, but we hadn’t done this one before.  It looked like fun, so we signed up and on Friday after work, we drove down to the estate with… wait for it, wait for it

ALEXANDER AND ELIZA HAMILTON.

The costumes were actually Peanut’s idea – well, the Eliza costume was.  Back in September, she mentioned that she wanted to be “Eliza” for Halloween.  Thinking “Doolittle” – an Eliza I didn’t think she knew about, I said, “Eliza who?”  And with great scorn in her voice (is she five or fifteen?) she replied, “Mom.  The Schuyler Sister.”  Ohhhhhh.  Well, once I realized what she meant, I obviously thought it was a great idea, and some googling led me to a “Colonial Lady” costume on Amazon that was just the right shade of blue to serve as an Eliza Hamilton costume.  There was one left and it was her size – done!  And then, as I was adding it to my shopping cart, Amazon piped up with a “suggestion” – would I like a “toddler Alexander Hamilton” costume?  YES.  YES I WOULD.

Mr. Treasury Secretary Hamilton looked very handsome in his gold-trimmed black velvet I KID YOU NOT.

Our first order of business at Mount Vernon was to figure out where the candy was.  They gave us a map of the trick-or-treating, which helpfully plotted out the candy spots, but it wasn’t clear what the candy collection points actually looked like.

Some wandering and running ensued, but we eventually found the candy.  They had volunteers dressed in period costumes standing at various spots, with big baskets of candy.  The kids had fun spotting the actors and going from basket to basket collecting mini candy bars.

Sadly, Nugget no longer says “twee twee!” for “trick or treat!”  But he was pretty cute nonetheless.  A couple of times, he tried to weasel some extra candy out of the volunteers.  They were having none of it.  (At one point, after Nugget tried to reach into a basket and grab a handful for himself, Steve leaned over and said to me: “Hamilton doesn’t hesitate – he exhibits no restraint – he takes and he takes and he takes…”  Haha!)

Eventually, we found our way to Lady Washington, who was sitting by the entrance to the Mansion greeting her guests.  She interacted with the kids in character, and it was amazing.  To Nugget, she said, “You look like a handsome gentleman, in your coat in the new style.”  Ha!  I explained who they were, and she was all over it.  “Eliza!  I knew you before you were married!  I used to call you Betsy.  Betsy, do you remember, I was there when Alexander proposed marriage to you.  Alexander, you were quite a spiffy dresser!”  I was DYING.

She even let Peanut – excuse me, Eliza – hold her parasol.  I’m telling you.  DYING.

All in all, trick-or-treating at Mount Vernon was both hilarious and successful.  The kids came home with bags full of candy and Steve and I laughed at their costumes all night.

Lee-Fendall House Pumpkin Hunt

The Lee-Fendall House children’s party and pumpkin hunt was a repeat event for us.  Last year, we met up with a school friend for the party and everyone had a great time, so we decided to reprise the event.  It was a great event, just like last year.  Unfortunately, our gang wasn’t really up for it this time.  Nugget was feeling emotional about something (being two is complicated…), Peanut was straight-up belligerent, and her BFF was very upset that she didn’t win the costume contest.  BFF’s mom and I decided that we may have outgrown this one (even though it really is a terrific party) and should look for something else next year…

As you can see, no one wanted their pictures taken.

Last year, Nugget won the pumpkin hunt.  This year, Steve was encouraging him to “defend the title” and he gave it a good effort but…

Alas, we did not win.  Unless you count collecting dozens of temporary tattoos as winning, which – actually – Peanut totally does.

The costume parade was adorable, too.  Peanut and her BFF – the witch – had fun marching around and showing off their costumes.  But they were on the older end of the partygoers, and I think we’ll definitely find something for older kids next year.

Pumpkin Picking at Wegmeyer Farms

Back this summer, I made plans to meet up with a sorority sister – who I haven’t seen since graduation! – and her family to pick pumpkins at Butler’s Orchard, where we picked blueberries over the summer.  As our fall schedules filled up, it got harder and harder to coordinate, but we really wanted to make it work so that our kids could meet – she has two little girls, one a little older than Peanut and one around Nugget’s age.  It turned out that the Sunday before Halloween was the only day we could all do, so we planned to head up to Maryland then.  Unfortunately, that Sunday ended up being rainy and gross, and we called it off when we saw the weather reports.  But we still needed pumpkins, so we hastily rearranged some plans and headed out to Loudoun County, Virginia, to collect our pumpkins from Wegmeyer Farms on Saturday afternoon instead.  (It was just our family, as sadly, my sorority sis and her fam were booked up on Saturday – hence the original plan to go on Sunday.)

The pumpkin field was small, but was dotted with pumpkins of all sizes, shapes and colors – I’d never seen such variety at a pumpkin patch before!  It was simply beautiful.

The kids wanted to ride down the hill in the wagon.  I tried pulling them myself, but I couldn’t control the wagon – don’t let the angle of this picture fool you; the hill was STEEP.  So we called in the big guns – Daddy!

About halfway down the hill, we stopped and let the passengers out.  Peanut and Daddy continued walking down the hill to check out more pumpkins, while Nugget and I decided there were plenty of good options right where we were.

Nugget was a man on a mission – to find the biggest pumpkin in the field.

There were some gigantic gourds.  (You bet I coordinated my sneakers to our activity.  Doesn’t everyone?)

Nugget and I agreed on a reasonably large pumpkin and then Peanut returned to look for one more family pumpkin.

This one is huge, let’s get it!

I love this picture – it captures them so perfectly.  Mr. Personality and Lady Belligerent.

Back up the hill!

Up at the farm store, they had mums, small gourds, and cider donuts – among other treats.  We bought a “pink porcelain doll” pumpkin because they supported breast cancer research.

And we picked out a few small gourds for a little seasonal tabletop display, meaning that I have officially become my grandmother.

Pumpkin Preparations

On Sunday, we settled in for a rainy day at home.  My friend Zan had texted on Friday and asked if we wanted to get together for the football game – or, more specifically, for the guys to watch the football game while the girls hung out and chatted.  With our original Sunday plan having been rained out, we were totally up for some friend time.

Zan promised to bring a red lentil chili, so Peanut and I assigned ourselves the task of baking cornbread and gathering the other accompaniments – cheese, yogurt, and crispy onions (which I actually forgot to set out).  Once our friends arrived, we got down to the business of having fun.  The boys turned on football and the girls sipped bourbon, apple cider and rosemary cocktails (well, the grown-up girls did), ate chili, and baked pumpkin muffins with Peanut.  Such a fun day!  It’s always a blast hanging out with Zan and Paul – I’m so glad we’re all together in D.C.

On Monday, we brought our pumpkins inside for a sticker-fest.  One of these years we will carve the pumpkins again, but for now – stickers are a lot cleaner, safer and less hassle.  (I do plan to cut the pumpkins open and scoop out the seeds for roasting, eventually.  I won’t go without my roasted pumpkin seeds, even if we don’t carve jack-o-lanterns!)

Trick-or-Treating!

Finally, the main event!  On Tuesday, we dressed the Hamiltons up for another venture out on the town.  There is a street in our neighborhood that closes to traffic and turns into a big block party – the houses go all out with giant candy cauldrons, wild and weird decorations, lights, fog – the works.  We checked out the scene last year and obviously that had to happen again.

We started from the south end of the street this time, and it was a circus!

Refusing to smile for pictures.  Sigh.  Can’t win ’em all.

Eventually, after about thirty minutes of searching and exchanging text messages and bumping into several other people we know, we found Peanut’s BFF and her family – our trick-or-treating buddies.

The Hamiltons and their witchy friend had their game faces on.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Everyone loved Nugget’s costume, but only a couple of people actually got what the kids were without being told – I was surprised!  I thought that more people would catch on, given how popular the Broadway musical is – but a few did.  One kid shouted “They recreated Philippa Soo’s costume!” and that was the only person to get it based on Peanut.  Two people called out “Is that a little ALEXANDER HAMILTON?” when they saw Nugget, but he also got asked if he was Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Liberace.  We also saw (an adult) George Washington, who called, “Hey, you’re from… my period!” – to which I responded, “This is your right-hand man, Alexander Hamilton.”  Ha!  Once we explained to folks who the kids were supposed to be, everyone loved their costumes.

BFF’s dad had it goin’ on with his wig.

We went door-to-door collecting candy (and got enough to last the kids until Christmas!) until the sun set and it was legit dark – and with a wilting Founding Father and wife in the stroller, headed home to see if we got any trick-or-treaters of our own (we got two groups, for five kids total – an improvement from last year, when we only got one kid!).

Happy Halloween, one last tiiiiiiiiiiime… BOO!