The Big Green Monster Machine

 

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What a whirlwind!  We’ve been on a 3 week going and coming and going again.  Reconnecting with long time friends, seeing great sights, chilling, revisiting old haunts and just living it up.  The five of us going in different directions, coming together and hitting the ground running.  To me, it feels like summer has come and gone, even though our homeschool doesn’t really start for another couple weeks.

We’ve experienced great firsts and made many memories.  After visiting my brother and his family in Michigan, and my guys hanging in Florida for a week at a conference, we all met back home just in time to pack my oldest off for his Sophomore year at university.  Not much of a breather and not a lot of time to get too emotional!

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I’m so grateful for a positive experience for him.  It is true.  A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.  And, a mom is truly happiest when her’s are thriving and doing well.  My goodness!  I couldn’t have dreamed or hoped for better for this child!  Anyway, life doesn’t have to be free of challenge and struggle to be joyous.

We did experience a first.  Not my favorite of firsts, by any means.  We had to say goodbye to my oldest and leave him behind as the rest of us flew off to Cali.  It was a work trip with a hefty dose of vacation fun thrown in.  Not our usual type of vacationing, but this hasn’t been a usual sort of summer, either.  We’ve NEVER not vacationed together!  We do family vacations.  I’m not sure a mom is ever really ready to have an MIA on vacation (unless, of course, you think vacation is only a vacation without the kiddos!).  This momma doesn’t, and this wasn’t my original plan.  But, I have to say, I did okay….but please, don’t make me do it again any time soon!  This child had to move in early due to some new responsibilities on campus and it just couldn’t be helped this time around.  Anyway, we all missed him, and were glad to see him and our much loved fur baby when we returned.

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I did learn something along the way!  What’s better than having fun and learning something along the way?  Sometimes, you just have to throw caution to the wind and ride the big, green monster machine!

Visiting my brother isn’t something I’ve been able to do in quite some time.  Visiting his home and family earlier this month was great fun!  He and his beautiful wife live in a bucolic setting in Michigan and showed me the very best time!  Now, his approach to fun (he is a guy, after all) is on a different scale than mine.  I’ll get to that in a moment!

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Growing up he and I saved our money to buy a go kart.  It was red and had a bright orange safety flag—my favorite feature as a kid—that flapped in the breeze the faster we went.  We lived in a subdivision, and I know we didn’t go too terribly fast.  It felt great as a kid.  Keep in mind, it has been a few years since I’ve plopped myself down in anything that resembles a kart.  My brother has gone big on the karting action.  He and his boys have a big, lime green dune buggy.

On, a small side note, he let my 11 year old daughter drive the big green dune buggy.  The only driving experience she has ever had is driving the motor cars at the Magic Kingdom.  You have to press the gas pedal all the way to the metal to get that sucker to move.  Yeah.  You see where I’m headed with this!  You know, hearing his recounting of zooming off over the hills and the terror it struck in him, brought some crazy sisterly happiness and satisfaction to my heart.  Sheer awesomeness!

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Somehow, I managed to not make it onto the passenger manifest until the very end of our stay.  I wasn’t in any need of speed, whatsoever.  But, when your younger brother says, “Sis, please ride it,”  gosh, golly.  I stepped on and made him swear not to do any daredevil stunts or endanger my life.  We hit the trail and rounded the lake.  Bugs flying and sun setting.  And, what a thrill!  It felt like being a kid again.  I’m good at being sewn up and walking straight.  I do serious and responsible well.  I manage my life and make calculated risks.  (Is that really risk?)

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And, you know, gosh darn it!  Everybody needs a spin on a big green monster dune buggy at some point in their life!  Let the wind fly, eat the bugs, jump the hills and make the wild turns.  Watch the sun set and realize the amazingness of it all!  Let your hair down and abandon some of that adultish reserve.  Maybe you don’t have that problem.  Good for you!  Me?  I needed the reminder from that big green dune buggy.

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Thanks, baby brother, for helping me to free up a bit!  You’ll never guess!  The next morning before leaving, I asked for another spin on the ‘ol green monster!  That twilight ride was amazing.  I needed another fix before hitting the road in more sensible transportation.

I’m so glad I did it.  Sometimes, baby brothers can know best!  Really.  Just sometimes!  Here’s what I think!  You need to go find a big green monster of some sort.  Not literally….unless you just want to, of course.  Take some time to bring back the wonder and the child-likeness of letting go and letting your hair down.  Occasionally, we need the reminder that life is dull if we don’t open up to adventure.  Try something new.  Get out of your same every day rut.  Go live!

Here’s to great summer memories and adventures.  There is some time left before the days get shorter and the rush hits fast.  Go out and make the most of this one beautiful life!

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Oh! Say Can You See?

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I think I have gypsy blood.

I always love a good road trip.  I have to admit, living in Virginia makes it possible to have some grand road trips!  What better time to head out than the Fourth of July.  So much history and beauty surrounds us, right here in America.  Living near the historical triangle and all points north and up the east coast, we have more opportunities to see and do epically cool stuff than we have time for.

My kids have “done” the DC tourist thing for the last 7 years quite faithfully.  So, they are a little tired of the museums.  Monuments and the White House are always cool.  But, in a quest to find more chill sights, we relaxed and explored our way through this weekend.

Our first stop was our favorite local DC restaurant—Tortilla Coast.  It is situated near-ish to the Capital. We usually stop there for lunch when we first hit town.  Such amazing Tex-Mex.  Nothing really beats it for two thumbs up!  We couldn’t help ourselves and stopped by The Supreme Court and The Library of Congress buildings.  Thought we would just say hello!  They are just up the street from Tortilla Coast.

Tortilla Coast - June 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)

Tortilla Coast – June 13, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO)

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The US Supreme Court building

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The Library of Congress building

This time around we opted to stay outside DC and at the National Harbor.  This was a great choice for us.  Being we aren’t the “rough it” type, and I have never met a tent I liked, the hotel had the requisite pool and jacuzzi and plenty of room to roam and relax.  We had a great view of the Potomac and plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from.  We even stopped for ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

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National Harbor

It was nice to sleep in and move at a leisurely pace.  We did some swimming and reading and chilling in the jacuzzi.  We rented bikes in Georgetown and road the Crescent Trail.  We are finally at the age with the kids where we can all ride safely and at the same pace.  This was a definite do-again for us!  We would like to take advantage of some trails closer to home—where we don’t have to rent bikes, but use our own.  It is always fun to experience something together as a family and realize we all would like to do it again.  The trail gave us opportunity to take some fun photos and enjoy the natural beauty of the Potomac.  We biked six miles and returned just in time to avoid the downpour that held off for us!

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Crescent Trail, DC

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Crescent Trail rest stop

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Sunday morning, after sleeping in, we had our Starbucks and loaded up.  We saved Annapolis for the end of the trip….some of the best for last!  What a beautiful old city!  Historic Annapolis is a gem.  I am in love with historic towns and their uneven, imperfect streets and houses.  This was a first for us and we  loved this place.  And, what greater time to visit such a place than the Fourth of July weekend.  Flags and bunting waved proudly from front porches and street lights.  We experienced First Sunday, which is a local arts festival held on the first Sunday of each month during the summer and into the fall—live music and artisans lined the old brick paved street.  Note to self:  it isn’t a Farmers Market.  I was kindly disabused of that notion by one artsy artist.

Anyway, we ate lunch….the children dined on hamburgers from each restaurant this weekend, except for the italian meal…they had pizza!  For a local feel, we ate at the Rams Head Tavern.  Very nice people; great food!

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Lunch stop in Annapolis (TripAdvisor, photo cred)

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Stroll through Annapolis

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I’m a sucker for historic homes, so my Honey found one for us to tour.  Apparently, several signers of the Declaration of Independence called Annapolis home.  We visited The William Paca House and Gardens and enjoyed the walk around the neighborhoods.  The stories these old brick paved streets and generations-old trees have witnessed and could tell!  The families and their stories fill these homes.  I am in love with Annapolis; it deserves another trip.  I think I will!

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Photo cred: Joshua McKerrow, The Capital Gazette

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The William Paca House and Gardens

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Some natural beauty, The William Paca House and Gardens

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Governor’s Mansion, Annapolis

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Life is made up of moments.  We live far from family and so we make moments with our little family.  I looked on Facebook and Instagram and saw the family get-togethers and the fun memories being made.   Make the memories and have the experiences!  And, they don’t have to be Pinterest worthy to be amazing!!  People seem to be happier with experiences more than stuff.  Take time to create that timeless bond with those you love.  One of our favorite ways is through road-tripping.  And honestly, you don’t have to go far or blow wads of money to make it happen.  Find what works for your family.

My two youngest kiddos have discovered a love for photography.  That was a fun addition to this trip.  These pictures (except for the pics of the restaurants and William Paca house) were taken by them.  It made for a fun, new way of discovering the world (aside from the squabbling over the camera!!).

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We were missing our oldest this time around.  I guess those days are coming.  I’m not feeling like I’m very good at sharing, but I will keep working on it.  Thank goodness for Face Time, because Mommas don’t like having any of their loves out of pocket!  But, I know, the memories we have made over the years will hold him tight.  Here’s to the next road trip and gypsy blood–I’m already plotting one!

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