Saturday, April 7, 2018


We had friends join us for the first time for Thanksgiving last year, and basking in the success of that experience, we figured we might as well up the ante and should travel together too... so we settled on going to Jamaica together at the end of January :)

We met up at the airport, where our girls had some in-depth conversations (about the bar menu) with a robot outside of one of the restaurants while we waited for them to arrive.

The flights were thankfully uneventful, and the girls even saw it as a special treat to have their first-ever layover (more planes = more betterness, apparently). Since this was also more flight-time in a day than usual, I gave Josie some Dramamine for the first time. It worked like a charm, since she didn't throw up at all, and she even took a little nap (with her hands politely clasped on her lap).

Then we arrived in Jamaica. We did an all-inclusive resort for the first time ever too, which is a bit of a departure from our normal travel style, but our friends convinced us that it would be worth it to not have to worry about anything, especially with the kids being so little still. And although I did feel a little over-indulgent about the whole experience, it was really nice to not have to deal with getting in the car, deciding where to go, etc. Instead, we just sat around the various water features, had more juice and fruity drinks than normal, and enjoyed ourselves.
[Josie's out there somewhere]
[Our little corner of the waterpark]
[Looking the other direction - not too crowded! ;) ]
[Lunch overlooking the ocean]
[Audra loved these lamps in the hallway outside our rooms, and asked for a picture with each of them]
[Pool overlooking the ocean]
[Quality picture of 3/4 of the girls]
[That's a bit better ;) ]

This archway basically became our homebase at the waterpark. It was secluded enough that we could leave our stuff there all day without any problems as we came and went, but not too secluded since a bar was just to the left of the yellow tubes in the picture below, and the lazy river is to the right (I was standing on the bridge over where the water slides came out).
[After getting through some residual stress/grumpiness the first day, I was a much happier and more relaxed person again ;) ]
[I dunno]

We eventually ventured down to the beach, which the girls were happy about but the adults grumped about a bit, between the sand getting everywhere, the sun beating down seemingly so much more, and the seaweed and rocks in the water. But the girls had fun, and luckily it wasn't too far away from everything else, so we jumped around between the beach, pool, and waterpark throughout the day.
[I have no idea what Audra was staring at, but she was transfixed]
[Ryan needed some sun protection, so he borrowed my shirt and Josie's hat - 
Josie found this hilarious]
[Audra building a sandcastle]
[Sun going down on another beautiful day]

Despite being out in the sun all day (and not really sleeping in), the girls were still doing well enough in the evenings that we were able to go to the after-dinner entertainment each night... although I guess they were properly motivated since they love seeing live music and magicians, and getting to run around like crazies :)
[Josie sassily explaining life]
[The girls had a front-row seat to the magic show...]
[...little did we know that that was so they would have a shorter path to get onstage ;) ]
[The girls with their tissue paper before the magician connected it all together within his mouth]

And after four days in the sun and warmth and water, it was time to head home. Audra kicked it off by falling in the suitcase, which she was not very happy about

We ate at a Cool Runnings-themed restaurant at the airport, where the kids gorged themselves on beige food and Audra insisted on using a fork and knife with her grilled cheese... naturally.
[Audra fake sleeping]
[I finally gave in and let the kids watch some movies on the flights - it's just too hard to entertain them when I'm trying to fight off getting sick myself. They have no complaints about this.]

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Fall/Winter Catch-up

Last picture dump before I hopefully start posting more timely again...

[Josie finally got another haircut... this is what her hair looks like (mostly) straight]
[Audra got a haircut too :)]
[Audra's face while incredulously saying "Pencil?!" is my favorite thing ever]
[We went to an animal park in November. The girls were pleased.]
[Feeding the budgies... there were hundreds more where those two came from]
[There was also a drive-through safari park]
[Josie seems pretty unconcerned with the giant horns inches from her]
[My mom and one of the (many, many) llamas... before we realized they were kind of jerks]
[Also a jerk? This bison, who stole my bucket]
[The next day, we went to the Natural Bridge. I took this picture in the morning before we left our hotel, plugged in the address to drive from our hotel to Natural Bridge.... then realized this picture is literally of the parking lot at Natural Bridge. Doh.]
[Pretty walk on the way to the bridge]
["Do you see the bridge yet?! No? How about now? Still no? Huh."]
[I took Josie to Ford's Theatre for a little history on a day off from school]
[Almost 10 years after I started listening to them, I finally went to a Tegan and Sara show]
[They were playing one of my favorite albums in full (The Con), 
at a gorgeous new venue in DC (The Anthem)] 
[It was a great show... although the energy was pretty different from the shows I normally go to, and I was so confused about what to do with myself since I haven't been to a seated show since the very first concert I ever went to 25-some years ago (for the record, it was The Beach Boys, with Da Yoopers opening)]
[Our fig harvest for the year!]
[Another day off from school, so Josie and I went to the Udvar-Hazy Center (part of the National Air and Space Museum). I asked her to hop up on the giant ball so I could take a picture of her... and this is the pose she immediately went into :-\]
[Watching the planes come in]
[Thanksgiving at our house... my mom brought the moonshine, naturally]
[Kids' table!]
[Skipping ahead to Christmas - Josie was pleased with our new tree...]
[... Audra was a little less so]
[But she came around after a few hours ;)]
[The kiwis after some dormant pruning... the deer got to the one on the right for the few days the deer fence was down, so we'll see if it comes back next year. My bet is it's dead :( ] 
[The fig, after some heavy pruning... note all of the little figs at the top that didn't manage to ripen before the first hard frost :( ]
[Visit #2 to the National Museum of African American History and Culture... a beautiful start to a day that frankly was heavy and emotional, but so powerful and thought-provoking too]
[This was the picture and caption that particularly gutted me during Visit #1, when I was holding my own dear child in my arms trying to answer her questions and help her understand how powerless the mothers were in being able to protect their children]
[Contemplative Court waterfall fountain]
[Audra's drawings of people are pretty adorable]
[Josie Claus]
[Raggedy Ryan?]
[Audra's first time eating a PB&J sandwich... I believe this was my attempts at having her eat some toast (ref the BRAT diet) since we were all quite sick with the stomach flu over Christmas... wee!]
[Audra "helping" me recover when it was my turn to be laid out by the flu] 
[She also did my hair... so nice! ;)]
[Then it got so cold that our driveway was apparently pushed up several inches because of the frozen groundwater beneath it]
[Hello, space heater, my old friend (since of course our heat wasn't working properly then either)]
[I don't know.]
[I actually did the girls' hair...]
[...which is apparently a momentous enough occasion that it warranted pictures of the final product]
[And then Josie turned around and struck this pose. What are they teaching them at school nowadays?! Because this is certainly not something she's learning at home (ref all of my awkward pictures)]
[Audra, as usual within inches of me, wherever I may be]