Monday, August 27, 2012

A Ghostly Date Night (Sight Seeing Part 3)

Haha. Okay, not really. However Greg and I DID have a date night and it DID involve a Ghost Tour :)

After much interviewing we finally have a babysitter for the boys! So Saturday was a much needed date night for us! Yay! Was trying to think of something different to do.

An ad for a ghost tour in Old Town Alexandria caught my eye.

We decided to gobble up some sushi then do Alexandria's Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour. It was a very rainy day... in between dinner & the tour it poured down rain (so glad we grabbed the umbrella!). So we grabbed some coffee while we waited. Then the rain let up and it didn't rain for the whole tour. The tour was an hour long six block walking tour with a lantern carrying guide.

We didn't bother to take the camera with it being rainy and nighttime. But I'll try to find some pics online and link back to the locations we stopped at, we really enjoyed it! I would say it was about 85% History and 15% mystery/ghost.

First we started at the Ramsay House Visitor's Center, which was closed already for the evening so we sat on the porch out of the rain.

Then we went around the corner to Candi's Candies where we heard our first story about love that survived the Civil War that turns into a ghost story! This story has been featured on the Travel Channel!

The Carlyle House was a stop along the way!


Then we ended in the graveyard of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House (that held the memorial services for George Washington!)

Very neat! Made for a fun date night for us! Great way to see & learn more about the area as well! Now we want to go on more tours ;)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

H Family Sightseeing - Part 2

One day I was driving back from Target (yay I finally found one!) and passed a sign for the "Fairfax County 4-H Festival" for the upcoming weekend located at the Frying Pan Farm Park. It's a little away from us, but not too far from a Lowes... and we needed to go to Lowes.

Of we head that weekend morning, Lowes first, then to the 4H fair!

It was quite small (from the perspective of having Indiana Fairs in mind)... but they had animals, they had food, and they had rides! So we'll call it a fair!

The boys were very cute with the animals. Luke LOVED the horses! The big boys really liked getting to hold baby chicks and seeing the inside of a beehive!

After wandering around looking at animals, we had some food! There's something about expensive price fair food ;) The rides then opened up... Greg took the big boys on their FIRST Ferris Wheel ride. He said when they got to the top they all (including him) wanted to get down, but then enjoyed it! Luke and I had fun on the ground waving at them as they came around.

There they are on the way up to the top!

Amazing how many tickets it takes to ride rides... so they went on a kiddie one together, and then went on one separately... Evan picked the Whales... Jake went on a Dragon. A little girl was already seated up front but asked Jake if he wanted to sit with her for the best seat! Very cute!

It was a very HOT morning. Thought spending our last 4 summers in Texas we'd be used to the heat & humidity... but we were all done! Good morning though! Looks like there's stuff going on at this Farm year round and there's always a carousel and wagon rides, so we'll definitely be back I'm sure!


This weekend we went to Great Falls National Park to see the great falls of the Potomac River!

We used the baby backpack thing for Luke and let the big boys run/walk off all their energy!

Pretty sure Luke had no clue what we were doing to him!

He got used to it real quick!

He loved it and was just as in awe of the falls as the rest of us

The falls were IMPRESSIVE. Especially since it's only like 20 mins from us and literally the exit off the loop before this park is Tyson's Corner huge mall! There's 3 overlooks within an easy walk from the visitors center/parking (FYI entry fee into park is $5 per vehicle).

We even got a treat of being able to watch a kayaker go down one side of the falls. Then he'd go to one of the big rocks, climb up it, and do it all over again! Impressive as well.

Part of this park is the canal system built by George Washington, neat to think that he walked where we did over 200 years ago!
Our attempt to get a pic of all of us with an iphone ;)

The big boys and I climbing rocks

There's much more to see at this park trail & historic sites wise. But as always, food & naptime beckons ;)

Wonder what's next on our sightseeing list? I have my eye on Manassas Battlefield Park for this weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2012

H Family Sightseeing - Part 1

I've been slacking on showing you all the FUN stuff we've been doing as new residents in our area!  (So for you're viewing ease, I broke this up into parts... that way it's open ended and I can as parts as we go). I've tried to link up to the places I mention to help if anyone is ever interested!
We've decided to make a conscious effort to do as much as we can while we're here. Many reasons... first, Greg and I LOVE historical stuff! Second, his company is actually moving their HQ come 2014... so we know we'll only have a few short years here. Third, sure makes for some fun little family outings. Fourth, the more I enjoy these outings, the more I settle here (and therefore the less insane I feel, lol).

A few weeks ago we were once again saved by Greg's sister! She always comes to visit at just the right time. Plus with her, she gets our craziness... probably one of the few people that can just blend right in with us... and surprisingly enough keeps coming back for more. That's LOVE right there :) As when she used to visit in Texas, we always try to find fun new places to visit, eat, shop at, etc... so no different now!

We had a dreary & rainy weekend ahead of us, but we didn't let it stop us! First we went to the National Harbor located in Fort Washington, MD. I have to give credit where credit is due... two lovely ladies talked me into it (I was still in my cross country move haze). These ladies I've known for about 4-5 years, but have yet had the pleasure to meet in person. I've also met other mom friends I've met via this online moms group (like when we visited S in Texas on our way to New Orleans and during same road trip, on the tail end I met up with another mom friend S in OK).

Then I got to thinking... why not take a water taxi to get there? So that's just what we did! We took the Potomac Riverboat Company water taxi. After a bit of confusion (we went to office instead of ticketing counter - 3 blocks away) we just barely made it onto the boat! It was a great little ride over, only about 30 minutes. Everyone enjoyed it from the youngest to the oldest!

This water taxi makes a loop from the Alexandria Harbor to the National Harbor

Me & Luke enjoying the cruise

Big boys being big boys!

Then met up with my mom friends and let the kids play for a bit. We got stuck in the rain and were drenched, but all in all, the day got a thumbs up!

Strange statue no? His arms & legs are coming out of the sand as well

The next day we once again got wet and checked out the Smithsonian Natural History Museum! We were lucky enough to get a spot on the street in front of the Castle. Extremely neat, the look on the boys faces when we walked into the Dinosaur part was pure awe. It gave me tingles down to my toes to see them so fascinated. We definitely couldn't see it all, but certainly loved what we did see!

The Castle

Natural History Museum, wish we had much more time for it!

Then on Sunday we head to the monuments at the National Mall! Again, very special to share with the boys. They were both especially respectful at the Vietnam Wall. Jake asked why all those names were on the wall (I had told him in a way before hand, but it must of really been noticeable to him). I explain that these were the names of brave soldiers that became heroes when they died fighting for our country. I expected a million questions (as per the norm), but he just stepped up and leaned his forehead up against the wall with his little hands tracing some of the nearby names and closed his sweet little eyes. That was all. Simple as that, then he stepped away and he kept walking with us quietly. Wish I could have a pic of it, but it all happened so fast & I was too immersed in watching him to even think about reaching for the camera.

The tired parents at the Washington Monument ;)

The big boys being cute

Aunt M at her favorite memorial, with old Abe!

We parked in the Tidal Basin parking lot (right next to the paddle boats across from the Jefferson Memorial). I'm just sharing our tip that works for us... if you're traveling via car with kids & strollers this is a great place to park. It's free to park, it's a 3 hour limit. Which is perfect when you have younger kids & toddlers attention spans. Remember we're early birds, so we get there about 8:30am. It's one way, so we figured out that parking at the end when you get there is better than parking at the front. If you park at the front it's hard to get out because you have to wait on everyone that's waiting on a spot. If you park at the end, you're out in no time when the kids (not to mention parents) patience is wearing then.

Then we got the great idea... hey, Annapolis isn't that far away, let's go there for lunch! So off we go... I started googling & looking on Urban Spoon and found a place called the "Ken's Back Porch Cafe". First we drove to the Naval Academy, hoping we'd get to drive around, but since 9/11 you now have to park elsewhere but are still free to walk around. Luke had just finally fallen asleep for a little snooze, so we just drove around locally & headed to lunch!

The "OMG, Boats! Face"

It literally is a restaurant on the back porch of this building in a marina. Perfect atmosphere. You could tell it was sort of a local place, very much off the beaten path but elegant. Definitely can see why they tote it as "Annapolis' best kept secret"! Perhaps not exactly "kid friendly" as they did not have kid meals or anything (but are prepared for kids with highchairs & cups with lids). But they served this FANTASTIC stuffed french toast that was HUGE and all 3 boys split it. The adults all had something involving crab as we got to enjoy the not too sunny day with beautiful colorful boats rocking back and forth on the water.

Having an extra person, we tried for a family pic!

Again, it worked out really well, and it was another great sightseeing day!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Obstacles Abound!

Been really enjoying the Olympics! But I feel like we're having the Olympics of Obstacles around here lately.

We snatched this house up because it was the most move in ready home we came across. We're only going to be here a few years so we didn't want something that needed any renovating.

Well... it's been one thing after another around here. Obstacles Abound! Nothing that would mean this house is a money pit or anything. It's just every single thing we try to do, needs fixed, money spent on it, etc...

1. Found out yesterday one cannot use the outlet in the garage (Greg was using the blower to clean off the grass clippings) and the microwave in the kitchen (I was popping some popcorn for the kids' snack). Really? That's annoying.

2. We have a lovely wood burning fireplace, when I saw it, I thought how cozy! Then realized, wood burning fireplaces are dirty & stinky (especially a 40 yr old one) so chances are we won't use it. Didn't think about how just having a fireplace would stink up the house. We don't even use it... the whole house smells like we do :(

3. We moved our fridge from Texas... doesn't fit into the space in this kitchen. Even measures out right, but you can't open the doors. So.... we kept the one they have in here. No water filter, so I buy a Brita... the dang thing doesn't fit anywhere IN the fridge. It's the smallest big-looking fridge I've ever come across. I can't fit a gallon of milk anywhere in it... and the shelfs can't be adjusted. So we actually bought a cheapie fridge to put in the basement. Nice to have the extra space, but I can't believe at one point we owned 3 refrigerators. Sold our big one on craigslist for 10% of the original cost, yikes!

4. They have the house painted in nice neutral colors that I'm fine with sticking with for a few years. However, there's NO touch up paint and NO info on the paint colors. Well, the movers banged the heck out of all the walls and if we want to move ANY of the nails/screws that are here or IF we make a mistake when hanging something... there's no way to touch up. So now, repainting the entire house is pretty much in our future. I can't believe it.

5. The gutters are disgustingly FULL of leaves... we don't have ladders tall enough...

6. There was two HUGE Holly trees at each corner of the house. Found on home inspection that the roots are starting to damage the foundation. So we had both hollies removed, the tree guy said those were the most massive holly trunks he's ever come across. Now we have no front landscaping, it's August... we better get something done soon before fall. Eek!

7. There is a nice neighborhood pool. Took 2 weeks of trying to find out WHO to talk to about getting us a pro-rated membership for the last month (and had to pay new member one time fee, won't even tell you how much that was). Finally go there and I swear we just could of walked in and no one would of been the wiser. We pride ourselves of being by the book, but man.... HEY at least the kids are LOVING it. We've been going there for only 5 days and have already been SIX times ;) Took Ev's vest off yesterday for a bit and little dude can swim. I would not let him in the deep end without his vest... but I'm super proud of him!

8. Been craigslisting all the stuff that does NOT fit into this house. I can't even begin to describe to you these interactions. I really need to write something call the Craigslist Chronicles. Insane. Top it off we had to stay home much more due to people picking up or not showing up at all. One guy came came to get a HUGE TV in an escort! What? Then was shocked it wouldn't fit... again, What?? Then all the money I made off of all that... went right to Greg's car. The starter needed replaced.

9. The light in our shower was sooo dim. So we upped it in wattage, now the dang thing shuts off after 10 mins because it gets too hot. I can't shower in 40 wattage, I almost can't see. I need light!

10. These people were towel rack cray-zee!! There is over 4 towel racks in each bathroom. Way more than anyone could possibly need. Plus the bathrooms are so small, the boys whack their heads on the ends, I'm constantly hitting my arms, etc... BUT we can't take them down since without repainting the entire room.

11. Couldn't use both of our LG front loader washer & dryer here because the dryer is a gas hook up, and here it's only electric. So we did manage to get at least the washer in there & sell the old washer. The dryer is in the basement waiting until they can be reunited when we move in a couple years again. The dryer sounds like a freaking rocket. Also, on front loaders you're suppose to always leave the door open so that you don't get mildew, mold & funk. Well, since this is an itty bitty closet I have to always leave it open so the door can be open. Which takes up room the kitchen. I feel like my mind is going to explode.

12. We have a nice metal rack system for the garage. Can't put it up, because we can't find where the movers put the clips. They don't sell clips separately. You can't put these racks together without those clips.

13. So far in this move all but 5 boxes are unpacked... we have no garden hose, no ipod, and lots and lots of broken stuff. Sure we can fill this all out for the moving company, but just another obstacle to get through...

14. When we got the house we were impressed that the dishwasher was a stainless steel Bosch. You can definitely tell these are European. Nothing fits right in it. Our glasses are too high. The dishes too big, and we have to run a load after barely one day. There's no drying feature on it. So I'm left hand drying every.single.item. Sucks. Sorry, that may sound so "first world problems"... but having a 14 mth old grabbing at those wet dishes, and having to stand there and dry each one... is rather maddening.

15. Our driveway is falling apart. It looked nice when we moved in. Now it's a crumbling mess. I think it was a crumbling mess and they just had it seal coated... not fixed. So after only 3 weeks of using it, it's falling apart. Huge cracks, uneven, all the edges have lost at least 4 inches due to it crumbling away. So gotta add that to the list, and not just sealcoating either :(

I'll leave this at 15, I doubt anyone wants to read anymore. I just feel very defeated & overwhelmed.

Didn't even list all the stuff that HAS been fixed... Greg had to fix every single bifold closet door... each one was different from the other and needed a different set of stuff bought. We had to get an outdoor umbrella for our patio furniture. It was previously under a roof, but now out in the open the acorns were staining/ruining our stuff right before our eyes. He had to fix the dishwasher overflow/water tube. We had to get smoke detectors for each bedroom. We have the stuff purchased, but not done to seal the granite... these people never had the granite in the kitchen sealed.

I know it's not technically a MESS, but it all FEELS like a mess.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Up go the Kitchen Curtains!

Remember when a friend and I made my kitchen curtains for the other house last year? If not, you can read about it again, here :)

I put them up in the new (to us) kitchen yesterday!

I did it in the usual "mistreatment" manner.... tacks! I did put them up a little different, looking bit more pleated. It looks really good in the space, how happy am I to be able to reuse them so nicely!



Please excuse the peripheral mess... I'm not one to stage pics ... you're literally seeing one step at a time around here!