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Adventures in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Reading List

More for me than all of you, I am drawn to share my most recent reading list.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins - Written entirely in free verse poetry, this book wins the award for thoroughly surprising me at the climax. I haven't been blown away by a book on both an emotional and intellectual level in a long time; it makes me really respect the author and how she approached this book.

Looking for Alaska by John Green - I wasn't surprised by this book as much as I was entranced. Having previously read An Abundance of Katherines, I was expecting it to be much funnier; but I enjoyed it anyway.

Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead - I will be the first to admit this isn't classic literature, but for reasons beyond me I find one or two of the characters captivating enough to keep me reading into book four of this six part series. It is definitely teenage melodrama, but fun and fast to read with some interesting twists.

Speaker of the Dead by Orson Scott Card - I rarely read more than a page of a prologue because I would much rather read the book and am afraid of spoilers or hints; but when this one said it was meant to be the first book in the Ender series, I read it with different eyes. I enjoyed and was challenged by Ender's Game a week or two ago and so sought this out to see what else happened in this universe. I was pleased to see both renewed and fresh themes. It reminded me of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, but less graphic and more invested in building multiple characters.

The Giver by Lois Lowry - I avoided this book from the time it first came out and was touted at my elementary school book fairs because of the creepy looking guy on the cover and because I kept confusing it with Gary Paulsen's The Winter Room; which I read maybe one or two chapters of and could never continue. As the book went on the author seemed to either have run out of time or lost their voice ... I can't explain how I feel about this one yet except to say that it is bewildering. Tone and structure are well employed and then ... nevermind. I can't say anything else without giving it away. It's considered dystopian (which I learned tonight is apparently the opposite of utopian) but to me it just seems like a more bearable version of postmodern literature. Am going to try the next book in the "series" (same time frame, different place and characters) to see if my theory about the actual writing pans out when compared to other pieces by the same author.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green just became available for me through the digital library and then I've got more to read about vampires to wrap up that series (though killing off one of my two favorite characters is only forcing my hand with one more book ... five and six depend on good writing).

After reading four books in five days, you'd think I'd be burnt out - but I'm finding that I like escaping into these stories and trying out other worlds. In some ways, the surgery recovery time brought me back to the reading I love. I just need to find a good source for book recommendations. Our school librarian told me the other day how she secretly disliked kids just picking books in a series and reading straight through and only reading those books (she loves all reading, as a note, she just wants them to diversify). However, as I mostly enjoy doing that same thing, I'm not sure I can ask for her book suggestions for awhile.

Do you have any good novels I should read? Obviously, I lean towards young adult fiction, but as long as it reads well, I'll read just about anything. :)

Love always, ~Heather

Afternote: That was my 500th published post! It seems like both a lot and so few at the same time.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear 2014, Consider the bar set. Love, 2013

2013 was a pretty big year for us.

January. We packed up what seemed like 90% of our stuff (but later we realized was only about 70%) and staged our house in Landsdowne to sell.
Yeah, we have WAY too much stuff.
 February. Lorien and Steve got married in Hawaii! In addition to exploring Oahu we took a side-trip to the Big Island and visited Volcano National Park, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Our house sold (for more than asking price!) and the builders broke ground on this house in Ashburn.

Dinner cruise! We saw a whale and fireworks over Honolulu.

Overlook on our first morning.

Sunset on the Big Island.

Who knows where? It's all a windblown paradise!

Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

This was also pretty much everywhere.

Plane ride home, very relaxed.
March. Spring break found us driving to south Florida to visit our grandparents; and then rushing back because my commitment to coaching club volleyball insanely involved most of our weekends - including Easter. Oh yeah, and we celebrated our first wedding anniversary!
Grandma & PopPop looking good!

Framing is done for our condo!

This is Easter at Capitol Classic volleyball tournament. I made my players (14s) an Easter Bunny paw prints scavenger hunt that was taped all over the conference center of the Gaylord conference center at National Harbor. They gave me rabbit ears.

April. We closed on the Lansdowne house and moved into a basement in South Riding. Upside: I could walk to work. Downside: we lived near my students and I couldn't go anywhere in my pajamas.
At least it was spacious; even if every inch of the place smelled like curry.

We spent as much time as we could visiting the "dirty house."

Can you name that field?
Hand on Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. Be jealous.
In the locker room. Do NOT step on the logo.

Awesome girls chilling on a statue.
My team helping me with the countdown for days until Travis comes home.

As the days went by, the numbers appeared everywhere.

Even the family got in on the action at A & J's baby shower in Pennsylvania.
 May. Travis got back from Afghanistan! Took my first trip to Pittsburgh with the NVPremier Extreme team. Our house got walls and brick and siding! And we kept living in a basement.
Reunion with Eowyn in Fayetteville.
June. Another month in the basement. I went to my first professional conference (on education) and RJ survived the first month of my really extreme diet.
The Little War Twins play at the Velvet Lounge. Such entertainers!
July. Fourth of July on top of the theater and then we finally got to move in to our new house! It was a busy month of moving everything in and then heading up to Ocean City, New Jersey for a family reunion.

August. Our first family came to visit (which got things put together a bit faster) and we made it possible to park in the garage the night before the new school year (goal accomplished!). RJ also got a giant piece of HD art for the family room wall in celebration of his birthday.

September. School starts and Freedom volleyball season takes off. We make our first mortgage payment on the house and decide it is still worth every penny.

October. I reach the 2/3 mark on the weight-loss mission when I officially hit 50 pounds less than I was in June. RJ discovers the newest member of our family, so in ....

November. Raleigh joins our family! He is introduced to his first bit of extended family as we host Thanksgiving. We see the Little War Twins in concert on Black Friday and then enjoy the rest of the long weekend admiring our house, which thanks to guests is finally "finished" (only 2 boxes in the house!).

December. RJ took me to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra to start off our holiday season. We celebrate together by sharing an awesome advent, slowly opening our presents each week, Christmas Eve with RJ's side, Christmas in our pajamas and then making dinner for our neighbors (despite a serious altercation between Raleigh and their youngest daughter).

Altogether, we have a LOT to be thankful for in 2013. Also, we can definitively say that 2014 has some pretty big shoes to fill.

Love and wishes for a great new year in 2014,


P.S. Yes, I will upload pictures from the second half of the year soon. :)


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Traditions

For all of the holidays Richard and I have spent together, this past Thanksgiving (and now Christmas) have really seemed like the first.* I think a huge part of it is finally being in our own home and getting to prepare together. However, I think the larger part is that we are starting to make our own traditions.

This year, I loved opening presents a little each week of advent and just saving Christmas day to relax and enjoy each others' company. I loved hosting neighbors for our prime rib feast on Christmas day, connecting with the family on video chat, and going to candlelight services on Christmas Eve. But most of all, I loved how Christmas felt like Christmas again.

In the hustle and bustle of moving or coordinating sharing a kitchen with roommates or making plans to split time between "mine" and "his" traditions, it stopped feeling like Christmas. That feeling in your heart like you want to laugh or cry - and maybe you do - because you are just so happy you could burst; that is what was missing. This year, instead of being relieved that the stress is over, I am just looking forward to seeing my house back in order. It's like this holiday season was the launching point for the rest of our lives.

I had my first Christmas Eve since I could eat real food without seafood this year. It was startling to me both that it happened (unexpectedly), and that it did not ruin the day. While I don't intend to turn my back on family traditions, there is some peace in knowing that I'm less attached to the act than to the people I am with.

As a note, not everything went swimmingly (because it seems like I'm bragging a bit!, and it wouldn't be a holiday with me without some calamity): the chocolate pie got left until much too late and didn't set, so it was like a weird pudding with crust; the smoke alarms started going off just after our company arrived and they all had to be disconnected because we couldn't cool the house down with the roast in the oven; the dog had three accidents in the house and has so far eaten a dozen snickerdoodles and a full loaf of italian bread off of the counter; and I got the wrong size pajamas for RJ to wear on Christmas so he had to wear pajamas from last year (or more?).

For all that, the things I'll remember are: the generosity of my husband to me and to perfect strangers, the kindness of neighbors who forgave our dog biting their four year old in the face four days before Christmas, and the love and warmth that it feels like to feel like a family (and not be the kid or niece, etc.).

It's still Christmas for a few more days and even as I take down the decorations a little earlier than Epiphany, I know it's going to feel like Christmas in our house for a long time yet.

Here's to wishing you and yours a fabulous Christmas season.

Love always, ~Heather

*The only exception being the 4th of July which is always special to us. First time meeting his mother, getting engaged, celebrating with my parents, and this year on the roof at the theater ... have we really been together 4 Fourth of July's?!?

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Monday, November 11, 2013

A New, Alliterative Adventure

As I sit here in my fabulously messy house, I can only think of how exorbitantly lucky I am to have it and all the random bits making the mess.

The busted volleyball on the floor is evidence of a wonderful season with the Freedom Eagles and my utter fail at making a ball soft enough for our new dog, Raleigh, to play with. The volleyball bladder is in fact soft enough, but he wants nothing to do with any toys that don't have food in them.

The random kitchen tools on the coffee table are from my recent trip to the store to get supplies for Thanksgiving. We're hosting our first real holiday and didn't really need a carving fork, potato masher or pie slicer (honestly, won't most of the stuff in my kitchen double in those roles?) but for some reason, it felt like this Thanksgiving needed appropriate tools for big jobs; like turkey, mashed potatoes, and pie!

The fabric scraps on the kitchen table will soon be placemats and table runners and things to put under hot dishes. Random cardboard bits are packaging from the decorative fork and spoon - each 3 feet tall - that did not, in fact, get "Command Strip"ped to the wall, because I swear those things only work for other people and/or on cinder blocks in my classroom.

My grading is in the Relay for Life bag. My coat(s) are on the backs of the dining room chairs and the end of banister. RJ's sweater is on the couch and the Halloween candy is still in a basket on the TV stand. And I love it.

I love this house and all the messy bits because it is mine and Richard's (and apparently Raleigh's, too) and our lives are here. We don't have a ton of friends here yet, though the neighbors seem promising. We haven't even finished unpacking yet (which is likely because I am terrible at getting rid of stuff). But we will. For both. And probably in that order if my history repeats itself.

Our home in Ashburn - this suburban house factory of a town in the middle of the fastest growing county in the country - feels more like a home tonight than ever. So, with that, it is time once again to change our adventure to Adventures in Ashburn. I don't promise a million posts or to stop using semicolons or to even stop writing in fragments combined with run-on sentences. I do promise an adventure, what I hope will be many loves and few angers, and a new chapter to this small piece of the blogosphere that has already seen posts from a handful of states and two countries.

To our new adventures in Ashburn.

Love always, ~Heather (and company)

P.S. - If you got this through a feed you previously subscribed to and want to keep reading me ramble, please just say hi in the comments. I am seriously considering changing the web address to something that makes more sense with the new blog and don't want to lose anyone on the way. :)

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Million Years

(in blog time)

I know it has been ages since I posted. Basically, coaching volleyball this fall, teaching 8th grade science, and planning a wedding have really been a time suck. Luckily, I haven't felt entirely disconnected because I occasionally get a chance to check out my Google reader and I've also been working on some other blogging projects.

There was the quick ditch effort to put together a page for the JV volleyball team I was coaching and more recently, the blog I created for our wedding. It occurred to me the other day I could have kept it all in the same place and just renamed this space Adventures in Wedding Planning. But, that doesn't really seem fair to Richard and I'm not sure I want the whole family reading 6 years of my ramblings when they stop by to see where we are registered.

So if you're interested in checking out what is going on with the wedding planning, visit whenheathermetrichard.blogspot.com. It's where the writing will probably be until about April. Unless I get a random surplus of spare time, which seems a bit unlikely.

Miss you, little corner of the blogosphere. ~Heather

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