Monday, July 30, 2012

Back In Virginia - Round 2

Fortunately, we had an easy drive back to Virginia on Friday, July 6th and were able to hit the ground running as soon as we arrived and unpacked.

Throughout each year, we talk quite a bit about what we want to do when we are back "home" that summer. However, it always seems like when we are actually back in the U.S. and able to do it "all", we forget what we talked about and end up doing everything BUT what we wanted to. This year, right after we arrived in the US, I had the kids make a list of exactly what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go, who they wanted to see, etc. (Thanks to Michael and Sheena for the idea!). The list included activities for the time we would spend in D.C., NY and Miami. The kids were very thorough and, trust me, the list was quite lengthy.  However, it has been a great reference to use as we plan our days and I am happy to report that we have crossed most of the items off of the list. No one will be able to say we didn't do anything or go anywhere on our summer vacation, that is for sure!  After our return from NY, our plan was to stay with Kevin's mom for a few days and then relocate to Jim and Jan's home in Fairfax so we would be close to the kids' friends and the different activities that they wanted to do. 

Kevin had to return to Bangkok for a week so the kids and I dropped him at the airport early Saturday morning and then ran a few errands.  While we were in NY, a fierce storm ripped through the Metropolitan Washington DC area and caused quite a lot of damage with downed trees and power lines. In some areas, power was out for over a week!  For your lesson of the day...the storm was called a "derecho", a long-lived and straight-line windstorm that is associated with a fast-moving band of severe thunderstorms.  A derecho's winds are sustained and usually increase in strength behind the front of the storm system. The winds generally exceed hurricane force and can cause incredible and wide-spread damage. Unlike a hurricane, there is little to no warning that a derecho will hit and there is really nothing that can be done to prepare. While we were in NY, we were watching a golf tournament being played in Bethesda, MD. The tournament start was first delayed for clean up and then access was restricted to players only because of the tree damage and amount of storm debris on the course.  It was very eerie to watch the players on the course with no spectators and to see all of the downed trees on the edges of the fairways.  Several large tree limbs and one tree fell on our property in Fairfax (near - but not on - the house) so I drove over to take a look and meet the tenant and landscaper to discuss having the trees and storm debris removed.  It was shocking to see the huge pile of tree limbs in the front and back yards and we were very fortunate that our damage was limited and able to be quickly cleaned up.  A neighbor a few doors up the street was not so lucky and had a tree fall right across his car. Of course, the storm "vultures" were out in full force and we had quotes ranging from $525 to over $2,500 to complete the EXACT same work. Unbelievable.

After finishing up with the storm damage, we went over to Jim and Jan's to join in their 4th of July festivities.  Jan's two sisters & their children and some other friends & children were there so it was a very chaotic - but lots of fun - party.  Caitlynne kept the younger girls entertained and there were about 4 boys to keep Christopher occupied and happy (and out of my hair).

We lit a few sparklers when the sun went down.
In addition to grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, Jan also served grilled portabello mushroom paninis.  She brushed portabellos and red & yellow peppers with a balsamic vinegar reduction, grilled them, then sliced them into strips and arranged on multi-grain bread spread with goat cheese. The sandwiches were put back on the grill under a weight, warmed through and then served. Delicious!  Christopher really enjoyed them and has requested that she make them again before we leave.  

One evening, Caitlynne, Sydney (Kevin's brother's daughter) and Jan went out for dinner and then downtown to the Kennedy Center to see
The girls enjoyed getting dressed up for a night out and they all loved the show.

I won't go into too much detail as to how we spent our days in Virginia but I will say that we were on the go All. The. Time.  The kids had friends they wanted to see (a lot) & places they wanted to go (many), I had friends to see & some "business" to attend to so it was B.U.S.Y.  And, yes, a fair bit of shopping was done as well.  Kevin returned from Bangkok on Sunday, July 15th and has been working since so the kids and I have spent A LOT of time together.  

One day, the kids and I drove to the Inner Harbor of Baltimore to meet up with good friends of ours from Miami.  They were driving back to Miami after vacationing in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York so we thought we would spend the afternoon/night with them in Baltimore.  When they made this same "return" drive last year, they stopped in Fairfax for a few days and we were able to visit with them right before we left for Bangkok.  

The kids had a fun reunion...
 We went to the Seaquarium and watched the dolphin show after our tour.
The boys toured the Torsk submarine that was docked in the Harbor.
The kids went boating in the Harbor before dinner.
The "floral" arrangements outside the entrance to our hotel.  Very colorful and attractive!
Early the next morning, our friends continued on their (very long) journey South and the kids and I drove North to Buck's County, PA (just outside of Philadelphia) to visit with my college roommate and her family for the day.  We had a fantastic time - we went to their pool, visited at their home and had a delicious dinner.  As usual, the kids picked up like they had just seen each other yesterday (instead of a year ago!) while the adults were busy making plans for next Summer/Fall - Naval Academy football games and a "5338 Nebraska Avenue"/American University reunion. 

We also had the opportunity to go to a Washington Nationals baseball game one evening. Unfortunately, their "hot" (pitching skills, not looks) pitcher, Steven Strasburg, was not on the mound so that was a little disappointing but we quickly got over it.  The Nationals have had a great season (so far) and it was so much fun to be in the stands that night.  Hey, if the football team can't produce...

My favorite player, Michael Morse #38 (who, by the way, has been slamming in quite a few home runs lately!).
My favorite husband and son.
More photos of #38.  I thought Christopher could study these photos and get some tips on how to position himself in the batter's box.  Yeah, right.
Guess Who?!? Not much else to say about this photo.
Where else but in Washington, DC. would you be able to see Abe and George race around the bases?
Teddy Roosevelt actually won but I didn't get a photo of him!

Two left-over photos from our New York trip... Presenting my parents' cat, Sir Toby!  Such a cutie!
Next stop... Miami!

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