Archive for October, 2013

Whenever life changes, I become particularly aware of the last times I experience things I did frequently before. Moving is a particularly strong motivator of these feelings, as physically relocating changes so much of what you do day to day.

Moving week has sneaked up on me this time, and I almost forgot to pay attention to the things in my routine that I’ll do for the last time. I reminded Bart on Sunday that it was the last time we had to drive to church from Maryland; our new house will be about 15 minutes closer now and won’t involve crossing a bridge or state line. I also am counting down the days that I commute to work via my current route. My new commute will be in a completely opposite direction, and while it’s three miles longer than my current route, I should make it much faster, as it’s mostly interstate and parkway (with the big caveat that I do my commute on off-times, or else it would be hopeless with traffic). I’ll no longer head north to go home, passing not four school zones, a large traffic circle, five speed cameras, and 44 stoplights (not even joking; I counted them up). I may miss driving down 34th Street/Reno Road, as it was a surprisingly serene and calm bypass of the craziness of the District, but I will never, ever regret it if I never go through Kensington or the intersection of Connecticut Ave. and Bradley Street again in my life. Ever.

I usually cherish the last things I do around our home before we leave: last meal, last night sleeping there, last walk through before handing in the keys. But I feel strangely detached about our current house, lacking the usual sentimentality associated with our routine activities. I’m sure this is due to the fact that it’s a rental, though it was more tied to the fact that we knew it was going to be temporary. When we rented as a young couple before buying a house, we didn’t necessarily intend to move at the end of our lease. It turned out that way a few times, but we settled in each time and made it a home. This time, we knew we intended to buy and didn’t plan on being there any longer than we had to. In that way, I never formed the attachment of “home” with this house. It’s grown on me some over the year we’ve been there, but all of the old, annoying features of it made me long for a place to call my own.

The sentiment I lack about leaving this house will be more than made up for by the verve with which I shall embrace the first things in the new house: first meal cooked on the gas stove, first dinner party, first DIY project, first house guests. I’ve been unsettled for nearly a year here, but just in the last two months our new chapter of life in DC is starting to form; having our own home is one of the last pieces cementing our feeling of finally belonging here.

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This weekend was the 100th anniversary of our church, Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, VA. We’ve only been members for two months of those hundred years, but we were happy to take advantage of such a momentous occasion by celebrating with the congregation this weekend.

To commemorate the anniversary, the church hosted a special service on Saturday evening. There was a dinner followed by a celebration service afterward. There were probably over 500 present and past members in attendance. We “sang through the decades,” starting in the 1910’s and singing beloved hymns and songs through the years, and a former interim pastor gave the message. In the foyer, there was a table full of memorabilia and pictures from the history of the church.

One of my favorite pieces of history was a personal letter from Ronald Reagan to a former beloved pastor, Rev. A. W. Jackson, congratulating him on 50 years of ministry.

Seeing all these memories that people have held onto through the years briefly made me want to hold onto every scrap of memorabilia I owned in case it is meaningful to someone in the future. However, I quickly got over that….packing your entire belonging two times in twelve months will cause you to purge mementos you never thought you’d part with. But maybe I don’t feel so bad keeping the things that really are special to me.

Staying together as a church for any length of time is quite a feat. Churches are filled with sinners saved by grace, not perfect saints. Trials and tribulations buffet those who follow Christ, and Cherrydale was not exempt from some rough patches. However, God has blessed them and continues to use them in the local and global community. The fact that they are still vibrant, active, and Spirit-filled is what drew us there in the first place; hopefully we will contribute in some small way to Cherrydale’s legacy for the next hundred years.

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Today marks eleven months since our move from Colorado to Washington, DC. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly a year.  Eleven months gets overshadowed by the impending one-year mark, but there’s still a lot to commemorate. Our biggest achievement has, by far, been buying (or almost buying, as we haven’t closed yet) a house. However, we’ve still accomplished many things, fun or otherwise, while here.

So far in 11 months I/we have:

  • Had dinner with actual friends from church.
  • Played a violin special during the offertory last Sunday.
  • Gone to an event for a local charity.
  • Weathered both furloughs and a government shutdown.
  • Listed two items for sale on Craigslist.

We have not:

  • Officially closed on the house.
  • Sold anything on Craigslist.

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As a federal employee, the last eight days have been interesting, to say the least. I was actually recalled to work, as my position falls under a new bill that provides services for the Armed Forces during this time. While I’m certainly thankful to not be spinning my wheels, it’s still frustrating to see so many others doing so. While I certainly have my thoughts about the matter, expounding on my views of the situation is beyond the scope of this blog post, but as a person with a sensitive spirit and a desire for peace and not conflict, I can generally say of the situation that my hope is for a swift resolution for the common good.

While all this uncertainty persists inside the Beltway, the contract on our house just a few miles away is quickly drawing to its conclusion. In a mere eight days, we are set to close. It has been interesting to reflect on this transaction, especially compared to the purchase of our first home. I remember feeling excitement and anticipation during the whole contract period with the first house. This time, there was a flurry of paperwork for about two weeks at the very beginning, but after that, except for packing, I feel like I almost forgot we were buying a house. Just in the last three days, however, it began to shift back to oh-yes-it’s-happening mode. It’s finally close enough that we can now book our moving truck, set up new utilities, pack most of our stuff, and attend to the final paperwork.

Naturally, with one’s first house, there is all kinds of naive excitement about how to design and decorate your new place to make it your own home. Amidst all the paperwork and checklists, we eagerly picked out paint colors and made lists of things we wanted to do to the house. While I’m technically doing all these same things now, it is with a much more subdued, mature, and thoughtful demeanor (does that mean I’m getting old? Wait, don’t answer that). We won’t be rushing into the house with paintbrush and screwdriver in hand like we did last time; instead, we plan to move in and get settled before making too many changes. The house itself is different in many ways from our first one, and I believe it requires more thoughtfulness and foresight to decide where we want to go with it. Since it doesn’t need major renovations, we don’t have much to immediately tend to and have the luxury of focusing on the overall feel of the place, turning it into our own home.

One thing that didn’t exist when we bought our first home was Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest, how I have conflicting feelings about thee. While it’s inspiring and addictive to see pictures of high-end decor, there comes a point in ever Pinner’s life when she realizes that her home is never going to be like the great designer showcases featured everywhere she clicks. Even Bart, who isn’t on Pinterest all that often, commented yesterday while perusing decor ideas with me, “nobody’s house actually looks like this.” My paradigm also shifted after finally being under contract on a house and mentally trying to apply Pinterest ideas to that specific space. While I might love photos of a modern, industrial style, my 1960’s ranch is never going to be a soaring loft in an old warehouse.

My recently remodeled, traditional galley kitchen is never going to be a giant farmhouse kitchen with a pantry and expansive center island. So, while Pinterest can indeed provide inspiration, one has to be careful to set her expectations appropriately. (For what it’s worth, you can probably say the same thing about every area of Pinterest; cooking, fashion, parenting, weddings, fitness, etc.)

Another source of inspiration for me, be it good or bad, has been DIY blogs. While researching questions about updating older homes, I stumbled upon this vast sub-genre of web information. We are DIY addicts, and we did a large number of projects in our previous home. It’s been a year since we moved, and reading these blogs has me itching to get our hammers and paintbrushes back out. Again, what one person does with his home isn’t exactly what needs to happen in mine, but generally the information and can-do spirit is very inspiring for our new blank canvas.

So, instead of letting the internet bum me out about the things I can’t change about the house, I’ve decided to let it inspire and motivate me instead. I look forward to embracing the truly unique features of this house and boldly accepting the challenges of fitting a modern lifestyle into a home that was built before flat-screen TVs and personal computers.

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Virginians love their vanity plates. Or maybe it’s just that there is such a high density of people here that, even if the percentage of unique license plates here is the same as in other states, I see an extraordinary number of them around. Whatever the reason for their ubiquity, perusing the vast array of clever–and sometimes stupid–phrases has become a bit of a hobby while driving around town.

There are well over 200 available license plate themes offered by the state, and most of them very affordable at just a few bucks per year, making them the perfect backdrop to a witty vanity phrase. You could show your pride for the local professional football team (never mind that they actually play in Maryland):

You could support finding a cure for breast cancer (apropos for the month of October):

There’s the ever popular Gadsden Flag, particularly provocative here around the Beltway:

You can even live it up in Margaritaville every day; cheeseburger, anyone?

Naturally, since I’ll be headed to yet another new state and getting yet another new car registration, it’s time to hypothesize about getting my own fancy, personalized tags for my car. I’m never actually serious about getting a vanity plate, but thinking of my own clever phrase is a fun activity anyway.

Something nerdy is always a good place to start. I’m sure obvious choices like “HBAR” and “PHOTON” are probably already taken. Something a little more specific to my interests would be interesting. Bart suggested “TICTOC.” Or, there’s my personal favorite, “GHZ PHD.” I do have other interests, too. I could go with something like “KNITTR” or “BLOGGR,” though I bet those are already taken.

As you can see, it’s probably good if I don’t go with a vanity plate, as my ideas apparently aren’t all that stellar. However, I’d love to hear your clever ideas: what would you suggest as a vanity plate for me? If you were going to get a vanity plate, what cheeky, shorthand phrase would you get? What’s the best or worst vanity plate you’ve ever seen?

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Buy all the things!

What do you do when in two short weeks you will be moving an entire household full of stuff from one house to another? Go buy more stuff, naturally.

Instead of packing or anything productive like that, Bart and I set out for the mall on Saturday morning for some retail therapy. Now, this shopping trip wasn’t totally gratuitous; it turns out that some needs for a few items are coinciding with our move this month. For instance, we both need a couple of clothing items for fall. But most importantly, I need a birthday present, and Bart needs to know what to get me. So we spent some time looking at a couple of items I have on my wish list to narrow down what I particularly liked. Definitely high priority.

If anything, Bart and I have earned a few new items this week. Since beginning to pack a few weeks ago, we have diligently sorted through our belongings and made some decisions about things we didn’t really need to haul with us to the new place. We did this in earnest before leaving Colorado, but we realized after moving that there were still many items we would be better off without. This has been particularly true in the kitchen. I’ve collected a lot over the years, particularly since cooking is kind of a hobby for me. And while I mostly make strategic and reasonable purchases instead of splurging on kitschy gadgets, I have a few things I really don’t use enough to keep. This wasn’t a big deal in Colorado, as I had a pretty big kitchen, but the kitchen in our new house is much smaller, so I felt motivated to streamline things.

While I definitely didn’t need to reward my honing with more kitchen gadgets, Bart and I did decide that, after eight years of marriage, it was probably time to lay to rest some bedraggled kitchen textiles.

We felt like we earned these new ones.


Similarly, after a couple years of constant wear, I’ve worn out my two current pairs of jeans. I replaced one pair a few months ago, but I was still in need of another pair. After trying on about a dozen in other stores with moderate damage to my psyche, I finally found a pair of designer jeans at a discount store that seem made just for me. Ladies (and gents, too, I’m sure), you will understand that when you find a pair of jeans that actually fit, you do whatever it takes to make them yours. I’ve never had a pair of so-called designer jeans before, and I’ve been curious to try a pair to see if they’re worth the hype (I’m a little skeptical, but we’ll see). While I felt a little bad about the price, they were way below retail, and Bart pointed out that as much as I wear jeans, it’s a good investment to get some I actually like. So, with his encouragement, I took those bad boys home with me. Unfortunately, I’ve already packed my sewing machine, because (like every pair of jeans I’ve ever owned) they might be a touch long.

Bart and I had such a great day. We didn’t care that we were totally ignoring a house full of empty boxes, though I did churn out a few more boxes full of kitchen stuff tonight. I told him that even if I didn’t get a birthday present and the day were totally overwhelmed by the move like it was last year, I’d look on this day and count it as fun enough to be an actual birthday celebration. Of course, if I get today plus my actual birthday, that’s even better.

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It’s hard not to blog about the 1000 lb gorilla in the room, so here goes: as of today the government is shut down, and I’m furloughed yet again. However, this time I don’t know how long it will last. It could be just a day or two (most likely), but it could drag on for weeks like it did the last time in the 90’s. In the meantime, I’ll just be chilling at home, taking one day at a time, sleeping in and packing and cooking and crocheting and hanging out with my awesome husband and a cuddly dog. So, that’s that. All the righteous indignation I might be able to dredge up would be pretty useless, so I’m channeling my energy elsewhere.

However you slice it, it’s still October, and that means it’s now my most favorite month of the entire year. It seems that I’ve been doomed to have it overshadowed by packing and moving for two years running, and we’re throwing in a government shutdown this year; however, I won’t let that stop me from enjoying it. In between the cardboard boxes and paperwork, I plan on making yummy fall food, eating too many candy pumpkins, taking pictures of changing leaves, and blowing out my birthday candles at the end of the month. Who knows? We might even host our first visitors to our new home before the month is out. Whatever this October brings, I’m thankful that I’m alive and able to enjoy it.

Psalm 2

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