Archive for August, 2008

I *heart* and the Dogwood Tavern

I got a FREE sofa from that I LOVE! Now the Bohemian room looks like a posh hotel lobby, and I love it. Check it out:



It’s kind of sage green with gold swirlies all over it. It has a slight sheen to it (it’s kind of felt-ish-y fabric) which made it hard to photograph…


Then, it being Friday night, Mike and I decided to go out to eat and begin our exploration of the myriad restaurants in the area. We drove down to Broad Street, which is a trendy, historical, renovated “Park Avenue” type area of Falls Church. We saw a restaurant that looked to be just the right amount of “cool” and “yummy” and pleasant, and so we went. It was called “Dogwood Tavern.” And now I love it, and so does Mike.


First of all, I think it’s fate. You see, we sat outside because the weather is SO beautiful. And the umbrellas over the tables match our new curtains at home! Check it out:




They also had really pretty hanging flowers and beautiful wrought iron gates that led in and out of the bricked-in courtyard where we sat…



We got two appetizers, and salads for dinner, and everything was delicious. One of the appetizers was Mac and Cheese with Virginia Ham in it. It was homemade style and delicious! Both of our salads were great, too.


Aannd… they have live acoustic music on Thursdays through Saturdays!


This place is pretty darn close to our house, so I’ll know we’ll be back soon.


…Loving Virginia…


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Right now I am writing this “blog” from my work laptop in Word, because I am at my office and have nothing to do and no internet with which to do research. (The internet will finally be set up tomorrow.) So… this was my solution. Pre-blogging.


Ok, I’ve told some of you about my strange office setup (there is a formerly outside wall that is really an inside wall, but not to us on the 3rd floor – but to those on the 1st floor, who we look down on through our conference room picture window like monkeys in a zoo). It’s weird. The only way to describe it is through pictures.


But first, let me preface the pictures with another strange thing. Not only is this formerly external wall now an internal wall to the 1st floor office (but not an internal wall to our 3rd floor office even though it reaches all the way up to our office, providing us with a view of our 1st floor friends from our conference room and kitchen), but the wall also used to serve as a billboard of sorts.


You know those old brick buildings that had stuff painted on them as advertisements? Big cities are full of them. Well, this is one of them.


It has an old coca-cola ad on it which is bright and cheerful. It’s so old that it is advertising a coke for 5 cents. Yes, this wall is OLD.


Here’s the kicker, though. It says at the bottom “Relieves fatigue!” and at the top it’s supposed to say “Delicious! Refreshing! Drink Coca-Cola” but instead it says “Delicious! Refeshing! Drink Coca-Cola.” I don’t know for sure how old this ad is, but it cracks me up that it’s been wrong for so long!


Here are some photos of the typo/weird wall thing:







I am here at the office to babysit the contractors who are decking our rooftop terrace. I’ll take a picture once it’s done. I am the only employee here, and the only person in the building. There are two workers out there making a deck.


So, without non-internet-necessary work to do, and no internet (I even tried stealing some neighborhood wireless connections, to no avail), I took photos of the office in general. Yep, I’m THAT bored.


I call these “Visual Rhetoric: My Office is My Muse”…



This is me, in MY office





The view from my office window




Still my office…





Still the view from my office…






The view from where our writers will sit





These stars are all over DC. They were used in early construction. They help hold the walls up!






My umbrella in my coat/umbrella rack







Even my goldfish got so bored, they began to canoodle.



Before my photographic debut, I read three skuzzy magazines that our facilities manager gave me this morning when I took over for her as babysitter. Let’s see, “Life & Style,” “People,” and “Star.” Nice. Classy. Educational. Informative. Legit. Hmmmm… well, now I know all about how Shiloh Jolie-Pitt and Suri Cruise compare to one another in looks, upbringing, and favorite toy. I will never get those 4 hours back…



The phones don’t even work here, so my only communication is via my personal cell phone which, as we all know, has about a 10-minute-per-month plan. So I sit. I take dumb pictures. And I wait for the deck guys to finish.


Oh, interesting highlight. Our building manager came by and his buddy thinks I look Greek. He’s Greek, so he should know. He gave me the card to his son’s Greek restaurant in Vienna (very close to Falls Church), and I told him I’d try it out. So…Opa!


That’s the extent of my excitement.




Insert cricket noises here… chirp.


Oh, I’ve mastered how to look angry and apathetic at the same time. You may wonder why…


Well, on the metro, if other people are any indication, that’s how one is supposed to look on one’s commute both to and from work. I tried to capture the “mad at the world” look at home. It’s close to the real thing (as in, I’m better at it on the Metro, but my rendition at home isn’t too shabby)…



But I created a “Commute Music” playlist and listen to it on my ipod, so oftentimes I forget to look mad and catch myself smiling. *GASP* I know, I know. But who can help smiling while listening to “Dream” by the Cranberries (it’s the song when Kathleen Kelly is on her way to work in the very beginning) or “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes??


Oh, the deck is finished – here it is:




New Pictures!

Getting more settled in…


Our Master Bedroom is done…


And so is the middle guest room, complete with no furniture whatsoever! Haha, I’m calling it the Bohemiam room…


And the second guest bedroom is done too, with its one piece of furniture (our futon). 



And, finally, a random pretty scene I saw while driving. Much different from Florida! That’s an evergreen there with the bright flowers.

That looks like my car, Topanga, in front of me here, but it’s not. I was driving the truck, and Topanga was safe at home. 


The end.


Mike’s Take – Two Week Sprint

It seems like life goes much like the economy with rises and falls, sprints and mere strolls.  I don’t believe that I’ve had a crazier two week period than the one leading up to our move and I’m going to recount it here.  We’ll start with Thursday, July 31st.

Thursday (7/31) – Laura and I flew to DC from Tallahassee to house shop and for Laura to interview at the company she now works for.  This included a 60+ minute drive to Stevensville, MD for her interview.

Friday (8/1) – We saw a number of houses throughout the Virginia area, including our current place.  Laura had an interview in the morning with her former company in Reston, VA.  In the evening we went to Texas de Brasil for dinner in Fairfax, VA and then spent the evening walking around DC looking at the White House, Washington Memorial and World War II Memorial – it was the first time for Laura seeing all three.

Saturday (8/2) – We put most of our life savings down as a deposit on our new house, aye yi yi.  We then went to the National Zoo with Lindsey and Ivan and then head down in Tysons Corner with Adam, Mike, Lindsey and Ivan.  The evening ended with my first Wii experience at Adam’s place – I must have one!

Sunday (8/3) – At the ungodly hour of 4:30 a.m. we woke up to fly back to Tallahassee.  I would have loved to spend more time on Sunday, but I had a business trip.  After some delays, we arrived in Tallahassee about noon.  We grabbed lunch, got home, I changed and packed for an overnight trip.  I was at work by 1:15 p.m. and left for Orlando at 2 p.m. with some co-workers.  Got into Orlando around 7 p.m. and met up with our contract staff, set up our meeting room and retired to my awesome room on the concierge lounge floor at the Renaissance Orlando.  One of the perks of scheduling the meeting was a fruit and cheese platter with a bottle of wine waiting in my room!

Monday (8/4) – I had my 2nd biggest event of the year for my job.  We conducted a statewide workshop that was focused on strategically organizing training and exercises that we do around the state.  It was my baby and something I had been pushing for almost a year.  It went very well.  But the day also included a trip back to Tallahassee and that meant arriving home after 10:00 p.m. and then completing the last assignment of my college career – an online, open book, multiple choice comprehensive exam.  Honestly, at this point, I didn’t care about much except a B- to graduate.  I got a 78, and then found out a day or two later that the exam would be curved…gotta love graduate school!

Tuesday (8/5) – The day was spent wrapping things up and setting up for the biggest event of my year, the annual Governor’s Tabletop Exercise.  I spent the day over in our Emergency Operations Center making sure all of the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed.  Our fearful bureau chief spent the day trying to nag as many people as possible – he expects us to fail, and people wonder why I left that job…The evening was enjoyable as we had a going-away Happy Hour with Laura’s work folks at Rubie Sky.

Wednesday (8/6) – I arrived at work at the bright hour of 6:00 a.m., yay!  The next two hours were quite eventful and productive in ensuring all of the final details were in place for our exercise.  The morning began with our Bureau Chief coming up to me and starting the morning off questioning my boss and I’s ability to successfully coordinate and pull off the event.  I had had enough – there were a number of other events leading up to this.  I looked at him and said, “(Name Edited), we have this under control.  All of us know what we are doing and this is going to go well.  You need to have confidence in us, we know what we are doing.”  His retort – “You need to shut up!”.  What a great way to start the day…but it had it’s benefit, he didn’t say a word to me for almost 3 hours.  Around 9:00 a.m., I ran into him in the hallway and he said, “Things are going well” and I responded, “Uh-huh”.  He then said, “I was wrong, you were right, you had it under control”, I said thanks and went on my way.  Vindication is great.  Part of the problem with the bureau I was in is that no one was willing to cross him when he was out of line.  I understand the respect for leaders, but there comes a point where if you never say anything you’ll be walked over for all of eternity.

The exercise itself went off beautifully.  I shook hands with the Governor and Lt. Governor on their way into the event.  Everyone had positive things to say about how it went and both of our State’s top executives were happy – mission accomplished.  When I finally retired to my office in the afternoon, our director came by and thanked me for the work done on the exercise, told me how well it went and gave me a challenge coin which the reserve for special accomplishments in the division.

That evening we went over to the Travis and Jennifer’s to play rock band and hang out.

Thursday (8/7) – This was our last day of work.  I had lunch with some of my co-workers.  We had dinner with Jes, Josh, Bryan, Rachel, Lois, Erik and Lori.  Through out the week prior there was also a lot of packing going on.

My parents arrived late Thursday for the weekend.

Friday (8/8) – My dad and I got up early to play Southwood, a local country club golf course.  It was beautiful.  The weather held up and the course was great.   I shot an overall dismal 111, but can’t wait to play the course again, it was wonderful.

We spent Friday afternoon packing, cleaning and hanging out.  We had make your own chef salad Friday night and watched the opening ceremonies for the Olympics.

Saturday (8/9) – Another early morning for graduation.  I walked for at the ceremonies for my Master’s Degree from Florida State.  All of the Icardi family was there as well as Laura’s parents.  We went out to Mozaik for lunch afterward.  It was highly disappointing.  Don’t go there, you’ll waste your time…

We did more cleaning and packing on Saturday, which was followed by a final round of disc golf at Tom Brown.  I shot a 53…from the back tees…and missed about 5 putts for 2s and made 3-5 2s as it was – best round, ever.  We then ordered pizza and hung out with Jill and Michael at their place, watching the Olympics, because our place was a wreck.

Sunday (8/10) – We went to the early service at Four Oaks and said our good byes to a number of folks.  I’m not sure there is a better all-around church than Four Oaks.  If you live in Tallahassee and don’t go, I ask why?, GO! Joking :), well not really, I mean if you’re not actively involved in a church, go there, otherwise, you can ignore the run-on sentences.

We had lunch at Fusion, which was pretty good.  Lois and Grant joined us.

I then spent over an hour at U-Haul to get our truck.  That may have been the worst run operation ever.  Now, provided they were busy, but it was terrible. The guy pulled up my reservation, spent 20 minutes getting it ready, came back, did 10 minutes of paperwork and had the wrong total.  It was $150 more than it should have been.  I protested, he tried to explain incorrectly why it was wrong until we realized they had the wrong tow package in the computer. Annoyed he spent another 20 minutes getting the truck ready and finally came back and we were on our way.

We had a group of wonderful folks help us load up the truck.  Thanks to Jeff, Drew, Jessica, Michael and Jill.  It made life a lot easier having extra hands.  We drove the truck with Laura’s car in tow to her parents to stay the night and have a “last supper” of sorts.  

My  brother joined us on our travels to help with driving and unpacking.  It was a major blessing in the whole process.

Monday (8/11) – Getting an early start, we were moving by 8 a.m.  I was concerned about the 55 mph limit that the tow dolly listed, though I found it was merely a suggestion.  We stopped about 30 minutes north of Jacksonville for a quick lunch and then got back on the road.  About an hour later I get a call from Laura informing me that Matthew didn’t want to leave Florida and instead of driving north, had gone back south toward Jacksonville.  Mind you he waited until he saw the Welcome Florida sign before waking her from a nap to question his directional capability. 

This detour turned out to be irrelevant in the long run.  As I entered South Carolina I began to observe truckers passing me and staring – never a good sign.  I looked in the rear view mirror to see chunks of rubber bouncing behind.  I pull off and find the back wheel of Laura’s car absolutely decimated.  After putting on the spare and backtracking about 15 minutes I made it to a Walmart who quite quickly changed the two back tires and Laura and Matthew joined me there – having finally caught up.

We finally made it to our hotel at 10:30 p.m., 14.5 hours of traveling wears on you.  When I got to the room it was warm and I  turned the thermostat down to 70 without thinking.  Come to find out Laura and I were fine under the blankets in the bed, but Matthew slept under a single couch cushion on a bare pull-out couch mattress.  In fact the kid had on 2 pairs of socks and jeans…ooops, forgot to turn up the air and find sheets…

Tuesday (8/12) – Another early start and we arrived in town, rather uneventfully, around 1:00 p.m.  I found out that the tow dolly can actually withstand speeds approaching 70 mph.  Upon arriving at our new place, before meeting the realtor to get our keys – I wanted to drop the truck off, I’d had enough of driving it.  We find a pair of cleaning ladies still tidying up, most of the landlord’s stuff still in the house and her cat.  We met our realtor, had lunch and returned to find all of that stuff still there, minus the cleaning ladies.  A bit frustrating, we had to wait until 4:00 p.m. until we could really move in.  It took the three of us about 1.5 hours or so to unload the whole truck at which point we basically collapsed from exhaustion.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed, but those two weeks were about the craziest I’ve seen.


Hello, Virginia

Mike and I have moved to Virginia. We left on Monday morning and got here Tuesday afternoon. I will write this blog as bullets because I am so tired:

 Monday’s Highlights:

·         Favorite quote: (From Matthew, who offered to help us make the drive/settle in, and then fly home on his own dime – wow). Matthew was driving. I was sleeping.

o    Mathew: “Laura…?” *pokes me*

o    Laura: “urghngg?”

o    Matthew: “I’m sorry to wake you up, but I have a bad feeling we’re going in the wrong direction.”

o    Laura: “Why?”

o    Matthew: “Because we just passed a ‘Welcome to Florida’ sign”

·         hahahaha…. to be fair, it wasn’t entirely Matthew’s fault. But that was funny… “I have a bad feeling…” hahaha…

Highlight #2…

·         I fell asleep again only to receive a call from Mike (driving the moving truck which was towing my car).

o    Mike: “We have a problem”

o    Laura: “What?”

o    Mike: “Your car’s tire is no more”

·         My back tire had shredded/blown/died a horrible death. Mike had to change the tire to the spare (while the car was still hitched and in tow), and we had to go to Walmart to get new back tires (since the other tire was bound to do the same soon).

·         Who thinks it’s strange that Mike and I had to spend hours at Walmart on two trips we’ve been on recently (see NC Vacation post)?? Weird…




Highlight #3…

·         South of the Border = THE MOST sketchy exit/tourist trap/truck stop area EVER. The pictures are all I can do to explain… (We only stopped here because I had to pee really, really badly…)



Tuesday’s Highlights:

·         When we got to the apartment, our landlord, Helen (who has been living here), had not moved out all of her stuff yet. In addition, the cleaning crew was here, and I was able to use broken Spanish to get them to let us inside just long enough to put my guitar inside before we waited in the hot parking lot for a few hours while Helen moved out.

·         Helen got there a while later with a friend and moving people and was very apologetic and friendly, and got out of here pretty quickly.


Since then, we have settled in and done some fun stuff:

·         The kitchen is done – totally settled in. The contact paper that WAS in our cabinets was not only 70’s-tastic but also disgustingly grimy. I replaced it. Check out the hideous stuff:





·         The dining room/living room is settled in. Yay for new curtains!





·         The bedroom is getting close, so no pics yet…


·         On Thursday I met with my new work people in Maryland. I get a work laptop – hooray! I will also be workling from home Monday-Wednesday of next week, which is kind of fun.


·         We went and played miniature golf last night at the course that is on the corner of our townhouse community and the main road. It was super fun!


·         Today we went into DC to sightsee. We hit the National Archives and the Holocaust Museum.


So far, that is all. I am SO tired because my body will not let me sleep for more than 6 hours at a time. I woke up the other morning at 6:45 without an alarm, and I was WIDE awake. I actually thought someone was playing a trick on me. This was before we had curtains up, so the sun wa shining brightly into my window, and I thought “*yawn* Ah, what time is it, about 9?” – then I checked my cell phone and watch and was astonished at how early it was. But I was up. I finished contact-papering the kitchen, made a grocery run, and unpacked all before Mike and Matthew got up.


I will try to write more at another time – and sound more awake. But I am happy so far – this is really fun, and I’m loving the area. But I’m too tired to gush. {insert excited jabbering here}



Going Away

Hi friends,


My work threw me a very sweet surprise Going Away party tonight. Appetizers and drinks at Ruby Skyy..

They made me feel so loved. No other office or team can or will ever compare to them… 


Jackie = My Living Diary

I tell her everything, go to her for advice, bug her with all my problems… and she always makes me feel significant. She’s amazing.


Mandy = A Kindred Spirit

I will always remember the business trip when we ate at Sweet Tomatoes and talked for a loooong time about our similar religious views and ethics. 


Liz = My Work Mom

She trained me, taught me, and has let me cry on her shoulder numerous times. 


Jesus = Boss Man (oh, and friend)

Best boss ever. Also a good man. He makes me laugh and encourages me professionally.


Alyssa = Friend

Alyssa gets me. We’ve learned a lot from each other personally. She’s a great person.


Pam = The Good Shoe Lady

Man, those shoes are cute. Pam is like sunshine. We’re not close, but she still cares about me. That says a lot about a person.


Linda = Hard Worker, Fun Lady

By day, she is super-professional-woman. By night, she is super-fun-crazy-lady. Ok, ok… she’s also kinda fun at work too. 🙂


Renee = Unexpected Funny Comment Girl

She’s sweet, hardworking, patient, and quiet spirited. Then – BAM! – she shocks you with her quick wit and humor and sends us all rolling, laughing at whatever comment she has made. Best student intern/does everything person, ever!


Mark and Robert = Remote Managers and Fun Guys

I don’t interact with them much, but it’s been a pleasure working with them both for different reasons. Mark’s passion is truly unwavering; Robert’s so much like me… it’s scary….and awesome.


And finally….Janet = Singing Lady

My fellow song-writer, the brightest spot in the office, our southern belle. She sang my Going-Away toast. And because I love her THAT much, I deleted the video from YouTube. 

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GPS = Chap Stick (Virginia Trip)

I know it’s not just me. You use Chap Stick, and next thing you know – you’re addicted. Your lips stop making their own oil, and Bam! You are a Chap Stick junkie.


Mike’s graduation present from my parents was to split the cost of a GPS with us. We got it in time for our trip to Virginia this weekend. We flew up on Thursday morning and rented a car (actually, a small SUV) which I drove the whole time because of the fact that I am 25 and thus do not incur extra rental fees like Mike would.


Now I want a GPS implanted in my arm. No, really.


Ok, getting on with our trip. I am so tired (we got up at 4:45 this morning) so I am copying an email I sent to some of you already. I’ll add more at the bottom, so you people who read the email already…. keep reading.


Thank you all for your prayers! Mike and I got back from our weekend trip to Virginia/DC today and are sooooo tired. But we found a place to live!
It’s a three-story townhouse – 2000 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths and 2 half baths, hardwood floors, carpeted bedrooms, a big kitchen, and a fenced-in backyard. With that many bedrooms, I expect each of you to visit us (at the same time!) The location is in Falls Church proper, a much sought after community in the DC area. It’s minutes from two metro stations, and even has a community pool. There is a small creek just yards from the townhouse that Bailey will love to play in… All this, and it was still within our budget.
This house is MORE than what we prayed for – we are very excited about what God has provided, and we thank everyone for your prayers and support.
On a related note, I had two interviews for three positions while we were there. One was an external company (not my current employer) who emailed me 2 hours after the interview to say that I was the most highly qualified applicant thus far out of 165. They had three more interviews to go but promised to call me on Monday. The other interview was with my current employer, for two different positions. If I got one, I would transfer and maintain all my benefits and seniority. They told me on Friday that they would definitely hire me – but for what, we’re not yet sure. Looks like I have a decision coming soon! We hope to use multiple offers as leverage to get the best possible position/benefits/location/salary. Keep on praying!
Here is a link to see pictures of the townhouse. It’s for sale, but we will be renting it. We didn’t find it through this realtor, but through Steve Fred with Coldwell Banker – a mixture between “Da” and “Howard Shockley” for those who know one or both of those men. He’s great.
And now, for some pictures!!

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