Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Tonight was Mac's last game of the fall baseball season. Thankfully (and I say this as a parent and not a player), there are no playoffs in the fall baseball league here. 

The Lugnuts have not enjoyed a winning season, but they have enjoyed a winning attitude. We parents have commented throughout the season that even when the team was losing (and often losing spectacularly), they seemed to be having so much fun. There was always encouragement being given on the field and from the dugout. And I wish you could've heard all the fun and laughter they shared in the dugout. 

Their primary coaches, a young husband and wife team newly pregnant with their first child, often seemed more upset with the losses and errors than the children. I hope once their child is born and grows up, they'll value the sportsmanship and team camaraderie more than how many W's the team accumulates. 

We're not all going to produce a Derek Jeter, but we can all work to produce a human being who, throughout his or her life, can learn the art of being a valuable teammate at home, work and society and who knows how to win and lose graciously. That, to me, is the true value of little league sports. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Tonight Leo got his first home bath. 


He's possibly slightly cleaner than he was before the bath, but I don't think he smells clean enough to make all that effort worth it. 

I was definitely wetter than I was before his bath, but it's doubtful I smelled any cleaner. 

It is 





to keep the dog in the bathtub, get him washed and rinsed, towel-dried and then sort of blow-dried. 

I thought the dog shampooing places were expensive before, but now I'm pretty sure they're worth almost every penny. 


Leo has discovered shadows. His reaction ranges from furious barking to attacking to chasing the shadows. He just can't figure out what they are. 

At Mac's football game tonight I stood in the glow of a light that cast my very long, very perfect (down to my hoop earrings) shadow. Leo went wild. If I moved my head, he pounced. If I took 2 steps, he crouched and attacked.  

This went on for a long time. Longer than most would've found it engaging. 

We are so easily entertained around this joint. 

10-25-14 to 10-26-14

I flew down to South Carolina for a quick overnight trip to attend Camp Meeting. 

If you've never been to a Camp Meeting, it's very hard to describe. The one my family attends started 220 years ago as a Methodist revival in the days of the circuit-riding preachers. Then and now families gather in rustic cabins with pine straw on the floor and no electricity or plumbing. There are still church services three times daily during this one week of the year but it's also a wonderful celebration of family, friends and good food. 

It's one of my favorite events of the year and the one I miss the most when we're overseas because there is simply no way to duplicate or even attempt to imitate Camp Meeting. 

I'm so thankful - so incredibly thankful - to have had these 2 days there. 


Because we're dog owners now and I've gone back to work, we've had to put a dog walker on the family payroll. 

Our dog walker lives in our building and she loves Leo. I mean LOVES Leo. 

In much the same way toddlers get daily notes from their preschool teachers about toilet habits, behavior, and food intake, I get a daily text from Liz. 

Proof that my dog walker is better than yours:

So happy and thankful we have Liz in our lives to help with Leo

10-20-14 to 10-23-14

It's remarkable how utterly exhausting this week, my first full week back at work, was. If I could've gotten in the bed every night at 6pm, I probably would've. 

Every day starts at 5:30am. Showers get taken, people get dressed, breakfasts get made and eaten, Leo gets walked, lunches get packed and we all get out the door at 6:55am. 

6:55am used to be a magical time at Casa Story.  Everybody left, and I enjoyed peace and quiet with the Washington Post, Matt Lauer and a cup of coffee. 

Those carefree mornings are but a warm memory now. 

The job's going well enough, and for that I'm thankful. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Today we hosted a bbq (that was planned before we knew the forecast called for a blustery high temp of 57, which on our rooftop was more blustery and wind-chill-colder than that). So most of us sat inside while Jimmy tended the grill outside. 

We were able to visit with our dear State Department friends from Brasilia days, private-sector apartment complex buddies from São Paulo, and two contractor guys Jimmy worked with in Afghanistan (and their wives).  Once again, I'm reminded of how precious this life we lead is when we can meet up with such a diverse mix of people from different points in our married life. I wouldn't trade it for anything. 


Mac tried out today for a travel baseball team. There's really nothing more nerve-wracking than watching your child try out for something. It's really an intense time of intensive prayer. 

There are no bad players who try out for travel ball. Mac held his own, but so did everybody else. As Jimmy said, these U12 boys played better than the JV team Jimmy coached 17 years ago. Tough competition. 

We shall see how it goes when the results come out in the next few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed!

10-15-14 to 10-17-14

Security briefing, waiting for a badge in a process that made the DMV look efficient, a new badge, early mornings, metro rides, new people, proving yourself once again like you have to do every two years, shifting desks, exhaustion, self-doubt, a thousand applications for which you need access, a new pack of sticky notes. 

Another new job. That's my life at the moment. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


After a slight delay, I am starting my new job tomorrow.  So today I gave Jimmy and Mac my last day of freedom to clean our apartment from top to bottom. Things are getting ready to change around here as I don't intend to work full-time and be the chief cook, housekeeper, and laundress around this joint. 

The apartment is spic-and-span, which will last until tonight when we get back from Mac's football game and a million little astro-turf bits come off of Mac's cleats. Which will freak out my OCD tendencies and I'll feel compelled to sweep and mop. 

I told Jimmy and Mac that we would next clean as a family and the cleaning would be to my standards and not theirs, which means we'll end up somewhere between a frat house and a sterile operating room. 

Here's hoping for more OR and less Animal House. 


Today we were all home for the Columbus Day holiday. Between a trip to the mall where we watched a movie and ate lunch, grocery shopping, and being lazy, Mac did a couple of science experiments he found online. He made invisible ink (it worked!) and a lava lamp (sort of a dud but it's kind of-sort of like a lava lamp without the light and without the big globules).  Like any good scientist, he labeled all his work:

We also celebrated the first anniversary of our humongous tv. (Remember last Columbus Day when Jimmy had to buy the big tv that day and had to get it home that day?  The day when Mac and I got left behind at Best Buy because we couldn't fit in our car with the tv and the tv took priority? The day that Mac and I ended up buying a fish at the pet store next to Best Buy while we killed time, waiting for Jimmy to come back and get us?)  Well, that tv is a year old and we had yet to utilize its 3-D capability, so tonight we rented a 3-D movie. It was pretty incredible. 

A good day was had by all. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Today I would like to tell you about two things that will change your life. But only if you live near a Costco and a Trader Joe's. If you don't have those stores near you, then sorry, your life will not be changed.  But if you're living without Costco and Trader Joe's, then you probably want to move anyway. You know, for greater fulfillment in life in general.  I'm thinking of your quality of life. 


The first life-changing item is this:
Remember last Christmas when I made those pretzels with a caramel square melted on them with chocolate drizzled on top?  

Well these are 100% better. No, 1000% better. 


Jimmy and I picked these up on our trip to Costco yesterday because we were shopping hungry. Boy, are they yummy. We agree that the name is stupid and we would've chosen something different, but whatever. They're the most delicious combination of thin pretzels, dark chocolate, caramel and sea salt. Heaven right there in a decadent treat. 

We found these babies on the row that seems to have all the packaged cookies and candies for Christmas, so I really hope this is not a seasonal item. That would be bad, bad news. 

The second product, which I don't have a photo of and which is actually two separate products, is/are the bags of ready-made pizza dough and tubs of pizza sauce sold in the refrigerated section at Trader Joe's. 

We ate at our friends' house the other day and they served what looked and tasted like homemade-from-scratch pizza. They shared their secret: TJ's pizza dough. 

How have I wasted an entire year living a 10-minute walk from Trader Joe's, never having seen those little bags of dough for $1.25?  I'm so mad at myself. 

We "made" pizzas for supper last night. By "made", I mean I took the bags of dough out of the fridge for 20 minutes, sprayed some Pam on the baking sheets, spread the dough out, spread all the pizzas with TJ's delicious and thick pizza sauce (1 tub of sauce easily covers 1.5 pizzas and that's using a lot of sauce), and topped each of the pizzas. One was cheese only, one was pepperoni, and one was salami, caramelized onions and red peppers. Yes, I know 3 pizzas for 3 people is too much. We have 1.5 pizzas to eat later. 

Run, don't walk, to your nearest Costco and Trader Joe's. 

You're welcome. 


We woke up to a cold and dreary day.
Sort of a stay-in-your-pajamas sort of day or at least a stay-in-your-pajamas sort of morning until you decide to go shopping because nobody else had that original idea to do indoor activities on a cold, dreary day. 

Leo and I curled up to watch Thursday night's episode of Parenthood.  I am so bummed that this is the last season for the show. I'm such a sucker for family dramas with a little comedy thrown in. Always some tears shed (or a lot this week with Zeke's open heart surgery. Wow. Need the kleenex during this episode), a lot of poignant moments and always some humorous bits. Why can't these shows last forever?  If I ran a tv network, I'd put shows like Parenthood and Brothers and Sisters and Modern Family (for levity) on a continuous loop. 

Here are some pictures of our morning. Leo wasn't terribly interested in watching tv 

(Sleeping with his paws in the air. Puppy love...)

(Got all our clickers at the ready)


(Switching positions)

(I can't quite find the right spot.)

(Let me try this way.  Mmmmm)

(Oh, now this is perfect.)

So even though, it looked like this outside, we were snug as a bug in a rug inside.  

Very content morning...

Friday, October 10, 2014


Do you know what this picture 

And this picture 

Well, they mean that today I changed out my closet from summer clothes to fall and winter clothes. 

Sniff, sniff. 

The fall I don't mind, but if that horrible, breathtaking (in a bad way) white winter comes quickly on its heels, I may have a complete breakdown. 

Stay tuned. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Two photos of the day:

Why are all these people (including me) lined up to get in to Costco at 10:00 on the nose?  Are they going to run out of toilet paper and free samples?!?!?

My sweet baby dog is trying to help me book an airline ticket. 


Today's walk around the neighborhood took Leo and me by this house, which is more than ready for Halloween. Creepy. 


I'm happy to report that Leo welcomed us home with open arms. He was well cared for by friends in our building but seemed very happy to see us. 

He and I enjoyed a wonderful walk around midday. The weather here is spectacular right now.  I love autumn. 

10-3-14 through 10-6-14

Jimmy and Mac flew home and we spent a wonderful fall weekend with my mom and family to celebrate my grandmother's life. 

Some photos from my Granny's yard...

A character-rich gate 

"I come to the garden alone..."

From Granny's yard

Jimmy and I spent Sunday afternoon at the corn maze. We took our nephews through the maze and this girl's still got her magic corn maze touch. We completed the whole thing and found all the checkpoints, with 2 young kids in tow, all in 30 minutes. Oh yeah. 

On our flight back to DC, we were lucky enough to see the captivating views of the South Carolina Lowcountry. It never gets old. 


I flew home today in preparation for my grandmother's funeral.  Without Jimmy and Mac there, it was a great opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with my mother at my grandmother's house.  I'm grateful for that time.


So the job....

I have been hired by a third-party contractor to do contract management work at an office in the State Department for which I have worked before.  I am very grateful for the job - it's awfully expensive to live in the DC metro area on one salary with a growing child and a new puppy - and I know (and like!) some of the folks in the office where I'll be working.  It's going to be a good thing.

Today I went and signed all the documents and papers that are necessary to start a new job with a third-party contractor.

Signatures make it official.


Thursday, October 2, 2014


In Memoriam


It looks like I'm going back to work. 

Hurray. Yay. Can't wait. 

I hated all that free time anyway. 


Mac was invited to a birthday party today that involved a trip to the baseball stadium. The kids went to the last Nationals' regular-season game of what's been a banner season. They sat just above the Nats' bullpen which Mac thought was wonderful. AND Zimmerman pitched a no-hitter which was the proverbial icing on the birthday cake. 

For good friends, for good baseball and for good weather, we are truly thankful.