Fall wrap-up

Here’s a quick look at recent adventures I’ve been meaning to post about. Thought I’d wrap all of this up so I can get to what I really want to write about: My day at the White House earlier this week.

Besides the marathon, October was full of fun stuff!

I attended the Mount Vernon Wine Festival with Jenny, Tricia, and Tricia’s mom, whom we affectionally call Lulu.

Potomac view from Mt Vernon lawn

Angie invited me to join her at a conference in Las Vegas. I’ve never been there before and enjoyed touring around each day while she worked and then rubbing elbows with notable attorneys (and Joe Theisman!) during the cocktail parties each night.

Bellagio fountain

me, Joe Theismann, and Angie
Hi Gary! (Check out those SuperBowl rings!)

Angie's winnings
Angie had great luck – she won even more after this!

Next up: a trip to New York City and Baltimore with Tricia I dubbed my “Victory Lap” since it was the week of the marathon. What a whirlwind: we attended a taping of Late Night with David Letterman on Halloween. Harrison Ford was one of the guests; he told a joke so inappropriate they had to start over! Afterwards we had dinner with Tricia’s mom and aunt and then we saw the Broadway Show Pippin. It was excellent!

Late Show

skating at Rockefeller Center

9/11 Memorial

Central Park

And the real reason for the trip: a few Matt Nathanson shows! Here’s our Matt-related Instagram Halloween Costume:
Instagram!

He and his band dressed up and performed a few songs as the group Poison:
"Poison"

And when we posted a selfie…
On the train headed home after an awesome adventure. We like that you again liked us liking you, Matt. Rock on!

We toured around DC when our good friend Gary visited. I’m so glad his time here coincided with Veterans Day.

upload

Arlington Cemetery Amiptheater
The Arlington Cemetery Amphitheater

Earlier today.

November also brought my birthday, and with it: a visit from Rachel and a Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers concert!

Somehow, after last night's birthday shenanigans, we still managed to sip some tequila. #cantinatour13
We attended a Mexican Moonshine tasting (Roger’s tequila) even though we were feeling the effects of some birthday celebrating from the night before.

#cantinatour13

Later in the month, Big D and I took a trip to Oklahoma to visit family and to see the progress on his Shelby Cobra – its a work in progress that’s almost complete.

D and Mark hard at work

Untitled

Love this sign.

And before I knew it: Thanksgiving snuck up on us. We celebrated with Big Ds family in Kokomo, Indiana, where we kicked off the holiday morning with a 5K.

David & Kerry finishing

Thanksgiving 5K finishers

If the 20° temperature didn’t keep us from running, it sure wasn’t going to keep us out of the hot tub!
always making me laugh

As usual, there was plenty of card playing, napping, and laughing.
End of a long day.

Kerry, me, Peggy & Richelle

Thanksgiving '13

And that brings us to Christmas! I can’t believe its only a week away. Some sights so far:

Starting to stick!
Our view of last week’s snow (a letdown after what was predicted!)

Surprised myself by finishing the wrapping and packaging. Just need a few things to arrive in the mail - even when I needed to be ready this early in Germany I never was.

Old Town Alexandria hosts a Scottish Walk – its a Very Big Deal (which I did not really know.)

Scottish Walk

Scottish Walk

Stay tuned for a Christmas related post from the most famous house in the country! But for now: holiday wishes from our house to yours!

upload

Pheidippides died at the end…

…but I managed to run my third marathon!

I was inspired by the events at the Boston Marathon earlier this year and running the Marine Corps Marathon was my way of saying, “We won’t be afraid on the streets of our own cities, you jerks!” (though I called them a much more colorful name…)

DailyMile says I ran 182 training miles – a lot more than while preparing for two previous marathons, but not even remotely close to what is recommended. Life (and laziness) got in my way. Knee pain at the end of the training season made me wonder if I’d be able to complete the whole distance.

But, thanks to my very generous family and friends, I raised more than $1,700 for Team Fisher House. I couldn’t let everyone down – there was no backing out!

The expo was fun:
Miles & me at the Expo

Carey and Isabelle joined me for the team dinner on race day eve:
Me, Carey & Isabelle

Isabelle left a fantastic note for me in my hotel room:
Found this fantastic note in my hotel room this morning. Thanks, Isabelle! I'm going to look at it when I need extra pep in my @marinecorpsmarathon step!

And if you know me at all, you’ll know that hearing U2’s Breathe while the sun rose over the District got me in the right headspace on the big day:
They're playing U2. I'm sure it's just for me!

30,000 people set out on the course:
MCM Start Line

Family and friends leapfrogged all over the city to meet me at miles 16 and 19. I missed them at 23 because I was ahead of schedule (sorry, guys!)
Big D & me

and Jym ran with me from miles 19 to 23.5 (THANKS, JYM!)
me & Jym

I started doing mental math at mile 23 and realized that not only was I ahead of the sweaty schedule I had in my pocket, but I would set a Personal Record. I had to walk the last mile and a half or so. And since the Marines are a cruel bunch, the final .2 miles are uphill. But the team coach was there to work her motivational magic (THANKS, STACY!) and before I knew it…

taking the hill

26 down, .2 to go

My friend Jenny was kind enough to volunteer with the team and then stick around for an extra hour to see me finish:
finishing!

My success was an occasion momentous enough that Big D had a genuine smile (forget you’re seeing this photo – it’s Christmas Card material!)
Big D & me at the finish

But what’s much better than finishing a marathon is having friends like these:
at the Finish
Jenny, Jym, Carey, James, Isabelle, Big D, me, Tricia, and Lee. 

Thanks again to everyone –  your generosity supported an amazing organization, and you motivated me. When I turned my phone on at the end of the day, my mailbox was bursting with your sweet messages and reading them that night made me cry.  Just saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough.

my splits I may or may not be wearing my @marinecorpsmarathon medal with my pajamas right now...

Greatest Generation

I joined the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Spouses’ Club recently and was thrilled to learn they support Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, D.C. at no cost to the veterans. I joined their Facebook group and thought, “Hmm…I should greet veterans someday.”

Yesterday, The National Park Service closed all of its parks, including national memorials, as a result of the government shutdown. When I heard about the veterans who one way or another, got through the barriers and toured the WWII Memorial (as well they should!) I drove to the Memorial, but arrived after they were gone.

Shutdown, Day 1

This morning, I did not miss out.

The crowd was a mix of greeters who often gather, school kids on field trips, capitol hill staffers, and members of congress. I was a bit nervous since nobody seemed sure that the veterans would actually get into the Memorial and more barricades were in place than yesterday. Honor Flight representatives passed out American flags while we waited, journalists gathered, and I met a lovely woman who is furloughed from her job at the Department of Justice.

Waiting to welcome veterans to the WWII Memorial

Eventually, I overheard somebody tell Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (both of Missouri, and yes, I had to Google them when I got home) that “The park rangers will take a coffee break at 10:30” just in time for the arrival of the busloads of veterans and their escorts.

WWII vets

The crowd clapped, gave the veterans their flags, shook their hands and said, “Thank you for your service” again and again. One gentleman was overwhelmed at the crowd, the reception, and what I imagine was his first glimpse of the Memorial. When he started to cry, so did I.

Honor Flight veterans

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
I won’t mention my personal politics, but I was happy to hear Michele Bachmann say “Every day there’s a shutdown, we’re going to be here to make sure the veterans get in. There’ll be some members of Congress here to make sure they get in.” She was clutching yellow caution tape that I’m guessing she took down from the barriers…(this is me, biting my tongue.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)

My new friend and I were asked to carry cases of water into the Memorial – it was an honor to be inside at the same time these heroes. I chatted with one man who landed at Utah Beach a few weeks after D Day.

Another was surprised by his granddaughter who arrived with her baby. Seeing the generations pose for photos was touching.

Heartland Honor Flight of Kansas City

So many of these men reminded me of my dad and his brother, two WWII veterans I miss terribly.
Dad, me, Uncle Robert

This amazing group survived World War II and the Great Depression, but unfortunately even they can’t hold back the passage of time. And our world will change when they are no longer with us. A little over a decade ago, there were around six million living WWII veterans; by the end of this decade (with a few hardy exceptions) they will all be gone. Sooner than we think, this unique, inspiring generation will be no more.

More pictures from a remarkable morning are over on Flickr.

An article about the day’s events is on Huffington Post.

Now it feels like home: Angie visited!

And what a great visit we had!

We spent Wednesday night on the couch snacking on charcuterie, guzzling wine (thanks to Big D’s very generous pours), catching up, and laughing until it wasn’t Wednesday night anymore.  After coffee and the Today Show (some people have hobbies, Ang and I have Matt, Savannah, Natalie, and Al…) we met up with Tricia and were off for a day of sightseeing.

US Capitol Visitors Center

US Capitol Rotunda
I was thrilled to finally see the Rotunda.

After a late lunch, we walked through the tunnel to the Library of Congress. I’d visited once before, but taking a tour lead by an enthusiastic, knowledgable guide made a huge difference. Maybe it really is the most beautiful building in Washington?

Library of Congress

I've gotta get a card. #DeweyDecimal

Library of Congress

The details of the architecture, decorations, and artwork are intricate and fascinating – I can’t wait to visit again.

Next up: The Pentagon! My good friend Jenny works in a muckety muck Protocol Office there and was kind enough to give us a personal tour on her day off. THANKS JENNY!

Photography is prohibited other than this one spot:
Ang

making a point

IMG_0451

I loved seeing the Army Hall. We walked right past the office of the Secretary of the Army! And we strolled by the Chief of Staff of the Army’s office, too. Who knew they’d have fancy doormats!? Visiting the September 11th Interior Memorial and Chapel was especially poignant.

After all of that touring we needed refreshments, of course. Angie perfected the Ruby Red Lemon Drop Martini recipe, a drink we discovered in Chicago this summer.

I wish Angie was always here! #RubyRedLemonDropMartinis

As much as I loved our adventures, hanging out in the courtyard and sipping delicious concoctions was definitely a weekend highlight.

We shopped, ate, and drank our way through Friday.

Saturday morning had us up while it was still dark as we made our way to the Mall for the Navy/Air Force Half Marathon and 5 Miler.

Good morning! #nofilter

Tracy, Angie & me
It was great to finally meet Angie’s friend Tracy and to snap this photo at the finish line.

We rounded out our time together with more cocktails (of course) – can’t wait to spend time together again soon!

More pictures from our weekend are on Flickr.

Market Trifecta

Silly me, I thought when we left Europe that markets would be few and far between. I couldn’t have been more wrong – we hit three today!

The morning started out just a few blocks from home, at the Alexandria Farmers Market:

Alexandria Farmers Market

Alexandria Farmers Market

Next up was the Eastern Market / Capitol Hill Flea Market in DC:

Eastern Market

Eastern Market

Our last stop was the Maine Avenue Fish Market:

Maine Ave Fish Market

they were wiggling
These blue crabs were wiggling!

Maine Ave Fish Market

Maine Ave Fish Market Maine Ave Fish Market

We’ll be dining on fresh food, surrounded by vases of fresh flowers for the next few days. Join us!

Reunited and it feels so good!

One great thing about the Army lifestyle is the friends we meet along the way.  An equally terrible thing is that eventually, we all say good-bye to each other when its time to move to the next duty station.

It seems too good to be true:  our very good friends from Germany just moved less than two miles from us – our new neighborhood is their new neighborhood!

Tricia and I have been to eight countries together in the three years we’ve known each other. I think it’s funny that we just snapped our first photo together in America last week:

Our first time together in America!

She and her husband Lee got here just in time to help me retrieve Fletcher from the vet and kept me company during his first week of recovery from major surgery.

IMG_0070

Last night Big D and I corralled the dog and headed over to their house for dinner. It was just like old times: great food and drinks (potent margaritas, and we had too many!) lots of laughs, and for the first time ever: a total dessert failure!

We were trying to make these:

Things started out as planned:
not our best dessert effort

And it all seemed to be going fine:
not our best dessert effort

But somehow (perhaps the aforementioned drinks?) we ended up with these:
not our best dessert effort

And this:
Not every dessert plan works out.

Messy and ugly, but they tasted great!

not our best dessert effort

Today, while our dudes relaxed (read: slept off the previous night’s drinks) Tricia and I walked a few miles of the Mount Vernon Trail.

Jones Point

Jones Point

Its great to be in the same city with our friends! Who knows what trouble we’ll get into here?

Alexandria