Friday, September 30, 2011

Lazy productivity?

Have you ever had one of those evenings where you intended to work-out, but then didn't feel like doing it so out of your guilt for not exercising you do something else productive? No? Yes? Well, that happened to me the other night. I fully intended on busting out my running shoes and jogging on our treadmill while I caught up on Days or Castle, but then my plans changed. Chris ended up going to a local community meeting, I caught up with both my brother and my parents on the phone, and before I knew it, it was 8pm and hadn't worked out. I didn't feel like jogging anymore, or doing anything really (except watch the Cards game), but I also felt pretty guilty for wanting to be lazy, especially since my "to-do" list is looonggg.

So, I decided to work on a small project that I just came up with over the last week. A project that, *gasp,* wasn't on my original "home" to-do list. See, we're going to make a more permanent calendar in our kitchen, so the calendar I got on sale from Paper Source last winter wasn't needed anymore. Plus, it was more "pretty" than functional. See what I mean . . . .

(Paper Source)

We can't really write much on the dates, so it isn't really working as a calendar for us. Boo. I didn't want to throw the calendar away, since it's pretty, but I didn't really want to hang it anywhere else in our house either... oh the dilemma!

As I was trying to decide what to do with the calendar, I also kept coming back to this wall in our house that has been bothering me lately:

I can't hold a camera straight.

It just seems so dark. No?

The black shelves, the shadows from our recessed lighting, the dark table, the dark greige walls, plus the sepia wedding photo with the black frame all just makes that wall so dark. It has been bothering me for a while when a light bulb went off in my head - I could swap the wedding photo for images from the garden calendar framed! And, I didn't even have to buy frames since I bought 4 silver Ribba frames from Ikea last year a while ago for our bedroom that I just haven't gotten around to using. (Of course, this idea also required me to find a new location for the wedding photo, and then a new location for some decorative plates. Needless to say this created a snowball effect and I decided we needed to move a lot more around besides the wedding photo!)

So, Chris and I picked out the prints we wanted to use and the other night (when I decided to not be too lazy and to be somewhat productive) I began to prep them to be hung. Luna wanted to help us pick out prints. . .

Gosh I love Ikea frames because they are so gosh-darn cheap, but man do I hate the hanging hardware that comes with it - i.e. the wire-across-the-back assembly you have to do. See below, ergh.

Not only do you have to add the wire and pick its height, but if you are hanging a grid of frames, you have to make sure all of the wire heights of your frames are even. Grrr. What we do for affordability . . .Anyway, once I put the prints in the frame, it was Chris' job to hang them. Since he likes math and all. And, apparently he need a lot of tools just to hang four frames . . .

And, to make a long story short, here's our finished product:

Voila! We both think it definitely lightens that wall up a bit and adds some of the red and turquoise colors that we have on our main floor. It might look a little busy, the verdict is still out, but I do know that those bookshelves are always a work in progress for me. Ask Chris, I am constantly changing what is on each shelf in the hopes that some day it will look perfect and balanced and still be functional and purty. (My expectations are high.) Oh, and our walls don't usually look a khaki color. The lighting in our dining room area at night casts strange shadows and makes the paint look funny in places. Stupid recessed lighting, someday we'll change that.

Here is each calendar image up close:

So, what do you think? Have you ever had one of those nights where you are surprisingly productive when you just wanted to be lazy?

And, by the way, my goal for Saturday is to FINISH our guest bathroom. Finally. Cross your fingers that this actually happens and that I don't get lazy or start working on another project!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hello? Anyone there?

Hello? Anyone there?

Yes, we are still here! As you probably noticed by the lack-of-new-posts going on here, our Washington life has been just a smidge hectic. I have not even had a chance to come up with a paragraph for a post, just ideas listed in "drafts." I figured though, that since this blog is about our life, that I should probably share with you all what we've been up to and just haven't gotten around to writing about . . .
  • If you follow national weather, you might remember that the weekend after DC's earth-shattering earthquake (pun intended), the DC area was also hit by hurricane tropical storm Irene. While our power never went out, we quickly learned that our roof was leaking. Right into our office. Sadface.
Ergh water damage.
  • Of course we contacted our homeowner's insurance to file a claim, but while the rainy season in the Midwest might be the spring, the fall seems more like rainy season in these parts because the rain kept coming. And coming. Soon, the drywall and insulation from the office ceiling started to *plop" onto the floor. And, then it molded. Yuck. (Don't worry, I quarantined that room so the kids wouldn't play in it!)
  • But, it kept raining. It kept raining to the point where our second-floor skylight decided it couldn't stand it anymore either and it started leaking too. Let's just say I walked into a puddley-mess in the dark one evening. Boo.
Stupid skylight.
  • So, we've had a couple of roofers come out and look at all of it, and, if you didn't guess it already, we need an entirely new roof. ERGH. Apparently a distant past owner of our house decided to put a new roof on top of the 90-year-old original roof. Nope, they didn't take off the original, just put it on top. So, we are going to have to take off the original and the replacement and then put down a whole new roof. That is, unless we like soggy drywall molding and puddles on our wood floors....
  • On top of the water drama at home, remember how I said that my office building was old, but that it somehow managed to be damage-free after the earthquake? Well, I spoke to soon. A structural engineer determined that our building needed to be vacated for at least a few months to repair damages in one wing. I spent an exhausting, and of course rainy, week moving our offices to a new space on campus. Now, we are learning to share space with another department on campus. Things are cozy.
  • But, thank goodness both Chris and I had some travel planned during those weeks to escape the natural disasters here. Chris went on a Bachelor Party weekend back to St. Louis (and, as you can guess, didn't take any pictures) and I went down to Punta Gorda/Sarasota, Florida to visit one of my bestest friends, Kelsey.
Kelsey and I at the Siesta Key Beach Drum Circle.
  •  We also traveled to Milwaukee, WI for a friend's wedding. Not only did we have gorgeous non-rainy weather, but we met a lot of great people, ate great food, and had an amazing time. The bride and groom did a great job planning everything - a trolley for the wedding party, a photobooth with props during the reception, bratwursts and fried cheese curds as a late night snack, and phenomenal music. Chris has such a great time that he let a new friend "kidnap" him (and his glass of beer from the bar) for a 2am boat ride to Lake Michigan .  . . Congrats to the Bride and Groom!
On the trolley! Well-before being "kidnapped".
  •  While the traveling was fun and a good distraction from the worries at home, we did have to come back to reality at some point, which is what we have been trying to do for the last two weeks. Work is kicking my butt, while school work is kicking Chris' butt. To top it off, a road bike that Chris bought less than two months ago to ride around the city on got stolen from the bike rack on campus while he was in class last night. Yup, the thief just snipped the cable.
  • Two weeks from tomorrow though we will be escaping reality again to go on our "honeymoon" and I. cannot. wait. Until then, there is still a LOT to be accomplished (and hopefully I'll find some time to share that with you all soon!).

By the way, I just thought you should know that it is raining as I write this. Nothing perks me up more than water these days. . . (where's the sarcasm font when you need it.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tourist Tuesday: Pentagon Memorial

In light of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 this past weekend and my thoughts on this mile-marker, I decided that today's Tourist Tuesday would be about the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial here in Washington, DC.

I'm sure everyone has included Ground Zero or the World Trade Center site on their "must see" list when visiting NYC ever since that fateful day, and rightfully so, it's truly breath-taking in magnitude and sobering in reality. I'm not sure though that anyone thinks to include the Pentagon Memorial on their "must see" list when visiting Washington, DC, do they? My family has visited countless times, and I can't even remember if I have taken them to it, have I? I'm sure it just gets forgotten amongst the numerous other memorials, sites, museums, and attractions this city has to offer, but I don't think it should be forgotten any longer so I've decided to tell you about it.

First of all, yes, you can visit the Pentagon Memorial. I guess because it's at the "Pentagon" it has an elusive aura about it, but it is actually fairly simple to get to. All you have to do is hop on the metro - on the Blue or Yellow line - and get off at the Pentagon stop, which is only right across the Potomac River in northern Virginia. Then, follow the signs around the building to the Memorial. Easy, schmeezy.  (Although, it is probably a half-mile walk around the Pentagon. It is the world's largest office building after all!)

While the Pentagon itself is massive, the Memorial is smaller. You really don't need much to understand what happened, or to make a statement.

Courtesy of NewsHour, via Flickr

The Memorial was dedicated on September 11, 2008, shortly after Chris and I moved to DC. It was actually one of the first memorials we visited as new residents to this area and it was the first time I had visited a 9/11 site. The first thing I noticed was its proximity to the highway. I could only imagine the confusion of the those on their morning commute watching a plane flying so close overhead and watching it crash directly into the side of the Pentagon. The next thing I noticed was how intentional and informative the site was designed. Each "wave," as I like to call them, represents a person that was killed in the attack, whether on the plane or in the Pentagon. Each wave is placed within an "age line" indicating their birth year. So, not only do you truly see the magnitude of the attack from the quantity of people memorialized, but the age lines humanize the waves by showing the range of ages of those that died, from a toddler to the elderly. You can't help but think of those that died that were born the same year as you, or your parents, or your friends. You can't help but realize that these people were just like you and I.

The "waves." Courtesy of jjgardner3, via Flickr

Lastly, the water flowing under the waves and the trees planted in the area are a great reminder that life goes on and that the memory of those that perished will live on through all of us. Standing in the shadow of the repaired Pentagon, you really get a sense of the chaos and loss that took place there that day. But more importantly, you get a sense of the passage of time and the peace that that has afforded us. It is a sobering, thought-provoking, memorializing, and inspiring site, and one that I think everyone should include it on their next visit to Washington or their next stroll around the city.

If you can't make it to DC in the near future, the Pentagon Memorial has a great website that I suggest you visit: It has pictures and biographies of those that died, an interactive map of the site, photos and videos, FAQs, and even an audio tour.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Never Forget

I might be almost two days late in posting about 9/11, but I have this urge to share, to get my thoughts off my chest.

10 years ago yesterday, Chris and I were both coincidentally in our AP American History classes when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Chris was taking a test, I was working on a group assignment about the American colonies. I vividly remember the teacher next door, the swim coach, bursting into our classroom's doorway and stating that "a plane flew into the World Trade Center." I don't remember my teacher's reaction, or my classmates' reactions, but I do remember that I thought it was just a small private plan. I thought it was some kind of prank, just like those pilots who try to fly under the Arch. My high school-mind could not even fathom something so horrifying happening, so of course my initial reaction was to think it was a stunt...

Even though the magnitude of that announcement didn't register in my mind at that moment, I still have vivid images in my head of that day from that moment on - the notes I was taking in that class, walking to my art class behind some seniors discussing what kind of plane it was, watching the shock on my french teacher's face as our class watched the towers fall on her tiny television, and then sitting in near silence at P'sghetti's after school with friends - not ready to go home, but not having anything to say - only then beginning to comprehend how much our lives would change.

Every day, whether we realize it or not, we are reminded of the events that day. Every day our lives are different because of those couple of hours. It's difficult to wrap my mind around that concept, and I am no longer 16. It's hard to imagine because after a decade has passed it's hard to even remember what life was like before that day... But then, just this past week, I realized that I have to remember what life was like before that day. I have to remember because when I finally do become a teacher I will most likely be teaching students who do not remember life before 9/11. I might be teaching an American history class just like that one I was sitting in ten years ago. Unlike me though, my students will only know a life without the Twin Towers, a life of terrorism, a life of war. It's incredible to think about how 9/11 will impact their lives, those in the generation born afterwords. Because of them we really can never forget. We can never forget all of those that lost their lives that day, never forget about those fighting and dying every day since, and never forget how our lives instantly changed. It is our responsibility to never forget that we must move forward to make our lives and world better for the generations that will never remember 9/11/01.

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