Sunday, December 12, 2010

End of Summer Adventures - Part 4

Continuing with my series on our End of Summer Adventures (yes, I know it's December), I wanted to take you with us on our day trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

We could not have asked for a more perfect summer day.  Ok, maybe we could have asked for some slightly cooler temperatures, but by the end of our trip, we found a way to cope with the scorching humidity.  More on that later.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Our cat is weird.

Our cat is weird.  The evidence is as follows:

Fact 1: She likes to hide behind doors and wait for you to stick a finger or toy in the crack so she can attack it. 

Fact 2: When she feels that you are devoting too much time to the computer (never mind the fact that you have a 20pg paper due in a week, even though you've been procrastinating instead), she will lay on top of the keyboard until she has your full and undivided attention.  This is occasionally connected to the status of her food dish.

Fact 3: Her favorite napping place is on the back of the couch.  She doesn't mind if she slides down behind the couch cushions.

Fact 4: In addition to hiding in paper grocery bags, she likes climbing into the laundry hamper.  She specifically has an affinity for climbing into the bag that holds the dirty socks.  

Still, she is awfully cute.  I think we'll keep her.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

End of Summer Adventures - Part 3

**Editor's Note:  Yes, I know that Thanksgiving is exactly one week away, which means that summer is long since gone.  However, sometimes life gets in the way (read: kids and I are back at our respective schools), which means that blog updates get pushed back.  I promise I'll get everything updated eventually!

Continuing with our theme of visiting National Parks before the end of summer vacation, our next adventure took us to the Maryland side of Great Falls to the C&O Canal.  

For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to visit, "C&O" stands for the "Chesapeake and Ohio" Canal.  Take a few minutes to get your history on and learn something

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Annie's First Day

Well, we all thought that little Annie needed a night at the vet so that she could have a little surgery done.  Turns out she didn't need it at all, so we got to pick her up a day early!

We thought that she would need some time to get acclimated to each room in the house; we figured on one room per day.

Annie knocked that expectation out to approximately 3 minutes per room.

This adorable new member of the family explored the house... 

...jumped all over the piano... 

...and then settled down to allow herself to be fawned over by the kids.

This is one seriously happy, lovey kitty. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

New addition to the family

Meet Annie!

We've adopted her from the local shelter, but we can't bring her home yet.  Our beautiful new 2-yr-old orange tabby needs to get spayed first, so we'll have to wait four long days before we can pick her up from the vet.  We're really excited, especially since she is just about the sweetest kitty in the whole world!

Welcome to the family, Annie!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Way behind in my updates...

I know, I know - I've been horribly remiss in posting updates.  In between this and this, there's been a lot of this:

...and this...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Updated: School Boundary Study

Our local school district has decided to redraw the local elementary school boundaries.  We knew this was being discussed, but we were not informed that our childrens' school would be affected until the district released map pdfs yesterday.  Needless to say, we were quite shocked to learn that two of the three proposed changes include an option to move our neighborhood to a different school.  We oppose this change for numerous reasons, many of which are captured in another blog that my husband and I update infrequently.  However, we feel strongly enough about this issue that a very detailed post went up today in anticipation of my husband's attendance at a neighborhood meeting hosted by the district on Monday.  We can only hope that the district board sees reason... 

UPDATE:  My husband attended the "meeting" and provided a report of the proceedings along with the literature handed out at the meeting.  To say I am appalled at what transpired is a gross understatement.  You can read my post here if you're interested. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Experiment in Contest Baking

Ok, so it wasn't exactly the Gold Medal Flour Baking Contest, but I did sign up to enter a baking contest put together for the annual office picnic.  With more than 100 people in the division, I shouldn't have been shocked that there were 17 entries, but still - dang!  17 entries!  

Sunday, September 12, 2010

End of Summer Adventures - Part 2

Our next adventure took us to Manassas Battlefield, where I was determined to begin fostering an interest in all things military history in my children.  Some of my favorite memories as a child were of visiting Fort Macon and Fort Fisher with my grandfather.  (I'm pretty sure that those trips and our long talks about history and the causes of war were some of the major reasons why I joined the military.)  With those memories in mind, I wrangled the kids into the car and we headed off to Manassas.

Henry Hill, Manassas Battlefield - 55mm, f/5.6, 1/500s, ISO 200
The weather wasn't terribly fabulous that day, as we had the remnants of a tropical storm moving through.  The up-side was the improved lighting conditions that helped me avoid overexposed images (which had been a problem the day before in Great Falls).  So while the kids were having fun running all over the expansive open fields...

Friday, September 3, 2010

End of Summer Adventures - Part 1

With summer drawing to a close, my husband and I found ourselves staring at our calendars one day and came to one horrible realization: With summer camp over and the start of school two weeks away, we had no one to watch our two oldest children.  At 11 and 6 years old, we couldn't leave them at home alone.  So, with much grumbling and negotiating, my husband and I agreed upon the days that we would each take off from work to stay home with the kids.

It's been a busy summer for me and my husband; I was promoted at work and traveled internationally, while my husband attended a couple of out-of-state conferences and took on extra responsibilities at the office.  Our kids, however, weren't experiencing such grand adventures.  So I figured that if we couldn't afford to go someplace fabulous (like Europe!), I would at least try to be a good parent and take them to some of the amazing national parks that we have here in the D.C. area.

I won't lie - it was also a great excuse to try out my newest acquisition, courtesy of an award that I had earned at work.  After years of a rinky-dink point-and-shoot, my Nikon D5000 is a pretty sweet upgrade!

Our first adventure took us to Great Falls Park in Virginia.  We went early in the morning, even before the Visitors Center opened at 10am.  The kids weren't sure what to expect; I think they had a good time, though.  There were squirrels and grasshoppers and caterpillars and butterflies!!!  

Great Falls, VA - 55mm, f/14, 1/160s, ISO 200

Monday, August 23, 2010

Birthday Cake Goodness

WARNING:  This is a reeeeeally long post with a lot of pictures.  It will also cause insatiable cravings for chocolate that cannot be ignored.  You've been warned.

It all started with an indecisive Birthday Girl and a recipe that one of my favorite food bloggers (who, incidentally, has a fantastic name!) posted just in the nick of time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Beef Stew Goodness

A few of months ago, I went out to lunch with a coworker and two of our foreign liaisons at a small Belgian/French bistro near the office.  Since I'm not a fan of the very popular mussels, I decided to go with the Flemish Beef Stew.  Simply put, it was amazing.  It must have lasted all of about 2 minutes on my plate - it was that good.

Not to be outdone by a highly trained and experienced chef (and the restaurant's exorbitant prices), I decided that I would resurrect the Belgian Beef Stew recipe that I had discovered in a Cooking Light issue a couple of months prior.  I had not tried said recipe due to my husband's ridiculous aversion to all things beef stew.  I finally managed to convince him that my version wouldn't taste anything like the Dinty Moore version that he kept envisioning, and I was permitted to try the recipe.

I am so glad that I did!  This stew is absolutely amazing.  Go on, get thee to a grocery store and get the ingredients.  You will not regret the time and effort involved, especially if you serve it over mashed potatoes.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Unaccompanied Minor Travel FAIL

Today, my daughter traveled from Grandma and Grandpa's house back home on an airplane for the first time.  Grandma and Grandpa were terrific - they drove her from our house to theirs to spend the week, showed her a great time, then bought her a one-way plane ticket to come home.

Unfortunately, that's where the trouble began.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

From hobby to income?

One of my favorite hobbies is photography.  I'm certainly not a professional by any stretch of the imagination (I have friends who are), but I do enjoy taking pictures of my kids, my yard and my adventures in cooking/baking.  A few months ago, I decided that I really loved some of my pictures and that they might look halfway decent on the otherwise empty wall in my front living room.

I really love how this wall turned out.  One of my favorite photographs is featured in the middle:

Several other pictures are featured on either side, some from our yard and two from our trip to Massachusetts last October.

Every time I walk into this room (which is where my hubby is usually stationed at his computer), I stop to think about how proud I am of these photographs, especially since they were taken using the macro function of my tiny little Canon PowerShot SD1000.  I've thought about putting more of them up around the house, but I can't decide where to put them (it would look cluttered to add more in the living room, wouldn't it?).  A friend suggested that I should sell some of my photographs.  That thought has been stirring around in my wee little head for some time now, but I haven't actually done anything about it.

And then a sign appeared at the entrance to our neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can someone tell me why I do this again?

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit A is the pile of books (some from the local library, some from my personal library) that will be resources for the paper I'm writing on the Vicksburg Campaign of 1862-1863.

Exhibit B is the pile of readings that will be resources for the paper I'm writing on the threat to national security posed by cyberwarfare (incidentally, can someone please figure out whether it's "cyberwarfare" or "cyber warfare" or "cyber-warfare"?!?).

Take a second and consider the differences between the two images.

Did your immediate response sound something like, "Gosh, it seems like there are an awful lot of books in the first picture compared to the puny pile of mostly hand-scribbled notes in the second picture!"  Yeah, I said pretty much the same thing when I actually looked at everything piled up on my desk.  Such is the difficulty in writing on a topic of current interest that lacks authoritative research vs. a topic that has entire library shelves devoted to a single battle.

Just for fun, here's a picture of my handwritten notes for my paper on cyberwarfare (and no, I can't figure out why Blogger isn't allowing me to rotate the image):

Can someone please tell me why I keep choosing to study a topic that no one else seems interested in writing authoritatively about?  It's becoming increasingly difficult to recycle my own material and still make it seem fresh.  Seriously, when I have to run out to the bookstore to grab the one copy available of a book that was just published last week so that I can have an actual book in my bibliography, what does that say?

I'm starting to seriously reconsider my area of focus.  Maybe I should just get my M.A. in military history instead of cybersecurity policy?

I need a pep talk, stat!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

School, Hawaii and family - oh my!

So it's funny how life gets in the way sometimes. I've been meaning to post an update for ages, but never quite got around to it. There was this whole thing with the end of Fall semester (A's in all my classes!  3.7GPA!), my parents visiting for Christmas, a new job... I also went to Hawaii in February to celebrate (and sing in) the wedding of one of my best friends. Seriously people - wedding in Hawaii on the beach at sunset! Highly recommended. (Especially if I'm not singing, because then I wouldn't be so wigged out and fun could be had by all.) I also tried kayaking for the first time, which was also pretty fabulous.

Fabulous seems to be the word of the day, oui?

Oh, did I forget to mention the new job? Yeah, it's pretty fabulous, but it's one of those jobs that takes a long time to explain and then I can't really talk about it anyway. So... it's a fabulous job and I love the people I work with. The best part is that I get to go TDY to some amazing SE Asia countries this summer. There will be lots of pictures.  Guarantee.

With that, I leave you with this picture, taken just a couple of weeks ago in my yard: