Thursday, February 25, 2010

In Memoriam . . .

Dearly beloveds, we are gathered here today in memoriam of yon Valentine's Day plant. We must bear the shock that death brings---especially poignant when in the rose of bloom.

In life, it gave of itself for the pleasure of others. Never seeking for self. And though its leaves have yellowed in shrivel haste, our memory lives on that we might have roses in March. And in April. And in May. And all the way to December, whereupon we can finally forget.

And though the tragedy strikes harsh, we find comfort in knowing it has moved beyond this cold, cruel world to the pastures of a better place. A kinder place. A place where black thumbs exist no more.

And thus, "I hold it true, whate'er befall; Despite outrageous valentine cost; 'Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all." -Alfred Lord Tennyson (with a slight adjustment by J.S. Johnson).

Rosebud Johnson
February 14, 2010 - February 25, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mount Vernon, part 2

As promised, more of Mount Vernon.

This is our proof we were there. Do we look cold? We were. This is at the end of the outdoor trail. We were ready to be done. But, despite the cold, we all had a good time.

But we all had our favorite parts:

At the very beginning, the boys were given a map of Mount Vernon. On the back of the map were nine puzzles to solve at the various locations. They promised a prize at the end if they were able to solve them all. London was very into it. He loved his map and was determined to get the prize. It turned out to be a smushed penny with a picture of Mount Vernon. Lucky boys!

In the museum, they had a children's center with a large dollhouse that had all kinds of intricate furniture. Brandt was enthralled. Redecorating, sending the dolls through the doors . . . that's all he wanted to do.

However, I did convince him to pause to play dress up. It wasn't easy, but isn't he super cute in his colonial ensemble?

In the kids center, they had animal puppets with a "button wall" (you can see it behind Brandt in the previous picture). Push a button to hear animal sounds. Khyah loved the pig. Maybe it's because the pig was pink like her.

Rick told me that his favorite part was Washington's tomb. But since you saw that last time, here is another something he enjoyed. This is the Scottish doctor of Mount Vernon. He told us of the three ways of becoming a doctor way back when:

1) Go to a small town where you simply know more about bandaging or whatever than anyone else.

2) Do a self-study program of your choosing, then go to a place that needs a doctor, and voila.

3) Become an apprentice under a town doctor for 7 to 8 years, and then you can be a doctor on your own.

Okay, my favorites were the view from the back porch of Mount Vernon, and Washington's tomb. However, I found this hilarious. It's like political correctness back in the day. It's not an outhouse. It's a "Necessary." How true it is.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Bun in the Oven . . . Literally

So I open the oven a couple of weeks ago and a bunch of smoke pours out. Fire alarm goes off. Something smells burned, but it wasn't the dish I was cooking.

"That's odd," I tell Rick. "Something must have spilled in the oven. Guess we'd better clean it."

But of course, I forgot.

Next time I'm baking, same thing. Burned smell. A little less smoke. Fire alarm. "Hmmf, we'd better clean it."

So fast forward to today. I'm about to bake some rolls for dinner and amazingly, I remember about the burn smell before turning on the oven.

I pull out the wire racks, and guess what I find pushed way to the back?

Yeah, it would be the black one. I just set the other one there so you could see what it was before it was sacrificed.

Point of the story? Finish your French baguettes in one sitting . . . because they are yum! (Assuming, you know, you don't burn it.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mount Vernon, part 1

We found out that Mount Vernon is FREE on President's Day, so since Rick happened to have it off, we took a little family trip. It was very cold, and we, in our hurry to get going, failed to bring hats, gloves, and boots.


I have to say, our kids were troopers. London had a billion and one questions, and Brandt found the muddy walkways fascinating and horrifyingly dirtly all in one. Even Khyah was happy being outside and with the family. There was so much to see and do, that we've already decided we need to go back (when it's warmer). But I won't bore you with too much of our adventure all at once. I prefer to spread out the torture over several entries. :) Well, at least 2.

The picture is a little crooked, but here it is, Mount Vernon.

This is the view from the back porch. Can I just say . . . WOW! Beautiful. When I grow up, I want a view like this from my porch, too. This was one of my favorite parts.

In the museum, they used the latest laser technology and based on his death mask, or something like that, they made this wax figure which is supposed to be as close a guess as they can make as to what he actually looked like. They had several of these at various stages throughout his life. This is as a young man when he was a surveyor, after he resigned from the British army.

My next favorite part (as morbid as it may sound), was his tomb. He died in 1799 at the age of 67. Even though we passed by it fairly quickly (it's towards the end of the outdoor part and we were all VERY cold), there's a spirit . . . a reverence that's hard to express. His sarcophagus is on the right, and Martha's is on the left. Behind the wreath of flowers is a black door that leads to the tombs of 25 of his family members.

This is actually called the "New Vault" that was built after Washington's death. In his last will and testament, he gave specifications for it's location and design, and willed that he be moved to it upon its completion. In 1831 (or thereabout), the move from the "Old Vault" took place. London wanted to know why the old one wasn't good enough. I guessed it was so that more of his family could be buried together, but it's just a guess.

This is a marker for the burial site of slaves who died on Mount Vernon. London really struggled with the idea that George Washington had slaves. And we really struggled to give him an answer. But I found it fascinating that in his will, Washington specified that after Martha's death, all the slaves that had been in his possession should be freed. That wasn't good enough for Martha. By two years after his death, she had freed most (I think most, not all, but I'm not sure) of the slaves who worked at Mount Vernon. You gotta love Martha.

Okay, last picture for today. Since this is a living history sight, they have period actors and actresses. Martha was answering questions in the greenhouse theater. She was really great.The most interesting tid-bit I learned from her is when she pulled a little corset out of her sewing basket. She said she saw babies of 6-months in herring-bone corsets. Can you imagine!? Thankfully things have changed.

So after we'd been listening for a few minutes, London looked at me with an uneasy expression. Why is Martha Washington still alive? So I explained how she was just pretending to be Martha. He gave me another weird look. Why is she pretending to be someone else? He was seriously weirded out. I tried to explain the whole living history concept, but it was lost on my 6-year-old. Oh well. It was still fun.

So next time, I'll share more pictures of us and what we liked best. Sorry if this felt like a history lesson, but I found it all fascinating!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

To Honk or Not to Honk?

So, we were driving at night. HUGE drifts of snow cover full traffic lanes. They blindside you at every corner. They fill half of every parking lot. But the snow is not the problem.

Blinker on to enter the Kohl's parking lot. Roll slow over the sheets of ice that cover the road.

But no.

Two people (no cars in sight!) are standing in the middle of the entrance. Apparently oblivious of the car (for which the entrance was intended; and which could cause them some serious bodily damage).

We stop. We wait. They don't move.

In the end, Rick flips off the blinker and heads to a different entrance.

Discussion ensues.

Me: You have a horn you know.

Rick: I don't like the horn. I think the horn is rude.

Me: It depends on how you do it. If you lay on the horn, of course it's rude! But if you tap, tap, tap, it's merely a way to say, "Excuse me. May I get by?"

Rick: Well I think it's rude.

Me: You, who drives ten inches from the next car thinks the horn is rude?

Rick: I drive in DC, so sue me.

Me: If you had any money, maybe I would. [Okay, so I didn' really say that.]

What I really said was: Hmmm, this would make a good subject for a blog. Let's let the masses decide.

So we ask you to end our perfectly civil "discussion" for us. Is it rude to honk the horn?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Khyah Doll

Khyah discovered Brandt's doll, and it was love at first sight. Aren't they cute?

A little love bite.

A little hand-holding.

And a little schlurbit.
I guess this means it's time to get Khyah her own doll. Twist my arm. :)

Snowed Under

We got 32 inches of snow from Friday to Saturday. They say there have only been 2 other storms in the last 60 years that compare to the amount of snowfall we got in such a short time. I went to the store on Thursday, and it was a madhouse! No parking. Crazy long lines. They went about halfway down the shopping aisles. And the same thing Friday morning. School was cancelled Friday and will be cancelled again tomorrow (Monday).

This is our parking lot. They were very good about plowing and snowblowing the walks.

Rick began the process of digging out our cars on Saturday. He worked all evening and got about halfway done. He finished today and is now groaning about his sore arms and back. We heard the sirens and watched an ambulance head down our street . . . apparently a man had a heart attack from too much shoveling. (!!!)

Khyah and I made a quick visit outdoors to take some pictures of London and Daddy. Rick insisted on taking some pictures of us. My face clearly says: "Why are you taking my picture, honey?" And Khyah's clearly says she LOVES snow and being outdoors.

London hard at work shoveling. He was outside almost as long as daddy. 32 inches is a school boy's dream, right?

You can see he has his work cut out for him.

The boys all decked out ready to go play. Note London's snow pants. They're about 3 sizes too small, but he didn't care. He was just happy to have pants that slide on the snow . . . that and the "rare color," as he called it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chocolate and a Little Valentine's Help

With Valentine's Day coming up, chocolate seems to be a favorite subject. It's like an unwritten law that you should give chocolate away to the one you love. Cause who wouldn't like chocolate, right?


My father-in-law practically lives off chocolate (or at least he likes to give that impression. But I'm on to him. Snickers are replacing the pure stuff). My own mother loves chocolate. Particularly dark chocolate. She used to keep a stash of Hershey's in her closet. My dad can down his fair share of a Special Dark. My sister always jokes about getting her chocolate fix. And my second son would eat it all day if I let him

And it's not that I don't like chocolate. Exactly. I just don't like PLAIN chocolate. Seriously, I can't eat it. Put it on something else, add something to it, and I can usually eat it, no problem. Even in brownies or as cake. Fine. But plain? My stomach just turns.

Every few years, I tell myself this dislike is just in my mind. That surely if I tried some really good chocolate, I would like it. I mean, who doesn't like chocolate?

But nope. I can't even make it through a square. I have to spit it out and rinse my mouth.

I can see you rolling your eyes. But alas, there it is. Now I personally don't mind so much, but my husband bemoans holidays such as Valentine's Day for this reason.

Being the sensitive, amazing husband that he is, he wants to do something nice for me for Valentine's Day . . . nothing expensive, but something to show me how much he adores my fantabulous awesomeness, ;) BUT, here's his dilemma:

Chocolate is so out.

Flowers die (that's from me not him). Not that I'd hate flowers, of course. But they die. And then I have dead flowers that I forget to throw away, sitting in a vase with brown, crusty water. And who want brown, crusty water?

I'm a plant killer. Black thumb. (At the moment this is literal, too, since my kids played with markers today. Big mistake.) Then I have a plant with brown wilted leaves and flowers that I FEEL GUILTY throwing away because it's like hiding the body. Plantocide. I keep thinking, if I add water it'll come back to life. Maybe if you're a plant whisperer. But otherwise it just creates mold. Just so you know.

I don't like jewelery. Yeah, I know. . . . diamonds are a girl's best friend and all that, but no. I don't even remember to wear my wedding ring.

Clothes would work if only he understood my complicated sense of style. ("These jeans may be the same brand, cut, and size, but don't you notice the different shading of dark blue?!")

Gift cards are too impersonal (his thoughts, not mine).

And what does that leave? So really, that's what I'm asking you. What do you suggest as a perfect Valentine's gift?