This was stretching across our neighborhood after the storm just now.

You can *almost* see the double rainbow happening just above it, too.



My Walk to the Subway

There were interesting clouds over the Native American museum yesterday evening when I left my office. So I took the long way home, walking down the Mall to another Metro station, to see what the sunset was doing to the other landmarks.

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My giant coffee mug was originally a fruit bouquet holder. Very practical. I think all bouquets should come in coffee mugs. Vases are so useless.


Martin and I woke up this morning not by the sound of our alarm clock, but of the monsoon blasting buckets of water at our windows. For a moment, I actually thought I was in a car wash.

Proof again that DC can’t do anything mildly, not even spring showers.

It was so loud!!! The wind wasn’t even that bad. It was just the intensity of the downpour. Fortunately, it’ll calm down before too long. I feel for those who left vehicle windows open.


Exercise in Futility

It’s a gray, rainy day, but I’m glad to see buds on my tree and the temps are nice. Spring is finally here!

Trying to spring clean with three children in the house is a massive exercise in futility. I do pat myself on the back, though, for pulling myself out of bed with the idea I could be successful and get stuff done today. One should never lose hope, right? Continue reading

Storm Sleepers

Miss C and me

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] A [/dropcap] giant winter storm system rolled over the Washington DC area last night. In  areas north of us, it snowed, but for the most part, it was just rainy and *crazy* windy in the DC metro area. And when I say crazy, I mean CRAZY.

Before I lived here, I never thought much about the wind. But in the past two years, five friends in this area have had giant trees fall onto their homes or driveways because of the wind here, destroying property and requiring two of them to move out of their homes temporarily while entire walls and roofs were rebuilt. Our own trees took a beating from the derecho and slew of hurricanes, and we’ve lost entire tree limbs, as well as a few of the smaller trees around our home after they toppled over.

I find it fitting that in an area with such a transient population, not even the trees have very deep roots here.

Given this history, wind makes me nervous. And last night’s wind reached up to 61 miles per hour at nearby Dulles Airport, knocking over trees, street signs, and causing power outages. Even the lights at the Capitol were knocked out.

Needless to say, it was a crazy night, and no matter how much I tried to convince myself that the sound of the branches ripping against my windows was soothing, I was not going to sleep any time soon. I was convinced that at any moment, one of our gorgeous trees was going to smash through the roof and into our bedrooms.

To keep my mind off that idea, I surfed the Internet. Tried to read a book. Kept pulling the curtains back to check on the trees in my yard, repeating some Ani DiFranco tunes in my head.

“Buildings and bridges are made to bend in the wind to withstand the world, that’s what it takes. All that steel and stone is no match for the air, my friend, what doesn’t bend breaks, what doesn’t bend breaks…”

Eventually, I got up and checked on the kids. I didn’t want to wake them, of course, especially since it took the girls a little bit longer to fall asleep. Both of them were unnerved by the howling gusts of wind. They remember the damage from other storms. I wasn’t surprised to see them snuggled up together in Lola’s bed, a book open at their feet where Miss C had read stories to her sister to calm her down.

I quietly tip-toed to Jaz’s bedroom to check on him. I first looked out the window, eyeing the trees and the neighbors’ sports flags and basketball net flapping around. Jaz was sound asleep, curled up under his Superman blanket. I tucked it tighter around him, and then slowly tiptoed out the door and into the hallway.

Where I nearly tripped over Miss C.

I’ve written before how my kids give me heart attacks at night. That was a heart attack. I hadn’t heard her get up to use the bathroom, but she was on her way back to her room. Just as I opened my mouth to say something to her, a huge gust of wind blew against the house, rattling the windows and siding of our house. Miss C’s eyes grew big.

“Are you okay?” I asked her. She lifted her shoulders in a shrug, but another gust of wind hit the house, and she instinctively stepped forward to me.

“This wind is scary,” she admitted.

“Do you want to come hop in bed with me?” I asked. Her face broke out in a smile and with much more energy than I expected, she bounced into my room as if that was the original plan. Martin snored like a lump on his side, so I snuggled up beside him in the middle as she took my usual corner.

“Remember when you slept with us all the time?” I asked her. “You were this little body that completely took over the bed. And now? You’re almost as tall as me, and just require a corner. How does that work?”

She laughed.

“I know. You guys couldn’t kick me out,” she said.

And it’s true. In fact, it used to be a big disagreement between Martin and me. I never minded having her sleep with us. Growing up, I always felt safest snuggled up between my Mom and Dad, and it broke my heart when I deployed, knowing that Miss C would be jumping into our bed, expecting two parents, but not finding me there. It really bothered me. When I returned home, I refused to even argue with Martin about it – Miss C could sleep with us any time she wanted.

And for a few months after I returned home, that was nearly every single night.

Miss C and me in 2007

Eventually, though, she grew to prefer her own bedroom again, and then we moved into our current home, and she got my old bunk bed, which she looooved immediately, and that was pretty much the end of the family bed arrangement.

Except during thunderstorms.

If it was loud and violent enough, I knew that I would wake up in the morning to find an extra body buried in the blankets alongside me.

And yet, even that stopped, too.

I just didn’t realize so much time had passed since then until last night. As we listened to the wind blow around us, we talked about different storms, and how I was terrified of thunderstorms right up until the summer she was born, and I had to convince myself it was time to be the parent, and parents aren’t scared of storms … she already heard the story a hundred times before, but didn’t mind at all that I shared it again. Only this time, I admitted to that I was still nervous about the storms, obviously.

“I can’t sleep either,” I told her. ‘I worry too much about the trees and keeping you guys safe.”

She turned her head and smiled at me.

“Well, then, let me talk to you now, too,” she said. She recalled some of her favorite storm memories, and the funny stories I used to tell  her to distract her. As she spoke, I scratched her back like I used to do until she stopped talking and was softly snoring, finally at peace with the wind outside.

Not surprisingly, I fell asleep quickly, too.

Good Life: Don’t Count the Minutes, Count the Laughs


I’ve been counting a lot lately.

I’ve been counting the number of winter storms, the amount of ice and snow dumped upon us each round, the number of snow days and delays from work and school, the hours trying to keep three kids and three pets entertained and active, and the number of weeks left until spring and summer.

At first, the snow days were awesome. Sledding. Hot cocoa. The sweet excitement of falling snowflakes. More time to clean up the house. More time with the kids. Yet a dozen winter weather events one right after the other can really kill the buzz.

As I wrote last week, we’re done with the snow. Yet as I type this, DC is getting another six inches of snow and ice dumped on us.

Throughout all these winter storms, it quickly — very, very quickly — became obvious that any attempt to clean or organize this house was a colossal waste of time because three children cooped up so many hours for so many days eventually evolve into a explosive whirlwind of energy that disrupts and destroys any order around them.

So what are two frustrated, winter-weary parents to do?


Over the weekend, we pulled out the gorilla suit.

Our first floor is laid out like a loop through the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room. While we normally don’t allow the kids to run around, we’ve laxed the rule lately and have jumped into the ruckus ourselves.

Usually, I assume the role of Monster, chasing them and grabbing them into a brief tickle fight before letting them go. More times than not, I sound more like a dinosaur than a monster, but just as long as I’m loud and pop out from various corners, the kids  get a good laugh.

Over the weekend, though, as I made a lap, I tapped Martin on the back as he sat working on the computer. I didn’t say anything, but just pointed to the kids who were rounding the corner up ahead of me.

No words needed. Martin got up and slipped down into the basement. I grabbed my cell phone as I passed it in the kitchen.

By the time the kids rounded the corner again chasing me, a huge gorilla leaped out at them, beating his chest and lumbering toward them.

It was hysterical.

Miss C dropped to her knees, laughing. Lola froze in place, unsure of her next move, and began to scream. Jaz, who was carrying a vacuum attachment as a sword, immediately ran into my arms, screaming as well.

Meanwhile, Martin jumped around, waving his arms and grunting like a primate.

The girls quickly recovered from the surprise, and cautiously approached their Dad, assuming gorilla behavior themselves. After a few reassurances from me, Jaz pried himself loose from my legs, and carefully swung out his sword in front of him, protecting the both of us from the advances of the monkey crew.

It was so much fun! For the next hour or so, it was us against the gorilla. And while outside it was raining and cold,  we were laughing and playing all the way up to the kids’ later-than-normal bedtime.

The gorilla made an appearance a few more times over the weekend, too, even sneaking up on an unsuspecting Ashley as she made a sandwich in the kitchen.

One of the recommendations on the Good Life poster is not to count the minutes, but count the laughs. To me, this means to focus on the quality of the time one spends together, to not focus on the clock or calendar so much.

Of course, I’ve still got my sights set on spring and summer, and the promise of sun and Vitamin D, grass, warm temperatures, humidity — yes, humidity.

But I’m also really, really trying to appreciate that this is all time for us to be together, and to use it well. It’s a good reminder to shift my perspective and think of the ways I want my kids to remember this time. Hopefully, the kids won’t notice that this house is a wreck, and their parents are stressed by the lack of order and routine.

Instead, I hope they will remember that their father took them out in the snow at every opportunity to shovel and build forts, and their mother let them rent every animated movie they ever wanted to see.

And that we spent evenings chasing a gorilla.


Rosy cheeks from helping her dad shovel the driveway. Six inches over ice. Niiiice.


Snow Be Gone

The Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument, if you can believe me.

My Dad made an observation on Facebook after I posted yet another gripe about the constant snow around here.

I shared the photo above, one I took as a passenger since Martin drove me to work. Folks seemed to be extra cautious this morning. Of course, there was typical morning volume, but visibility was an issue, and those overpasses froze up pretty fast. Lots of police officers and some salt trucks were out. The reports were saying it was going to be clear today with flurries (a dusting!) beginning tomorrow.

This was a real surprise.

So I posted, and complained.

“Julie,” he posted, “I think you are turning into me. A snow-o-phob.”

This is the man who refuses to go out and drive if there is any chance of snow. It’s family folklore, the time he saw a single snowflake on his windshield and decided to drive Martin to the airport eight hours before Martin’s flight because my Dad didn’t want to risk being on the roads when it snowed. Continue reading