Archive for December, 2008

An Icardi Christmas

This year was an Icardi Christmas year, and they all came up to Virginia to spend one whole week with us! I LOVED having a houseful of family members here.

On Tuesday (the 23rd), Mom, Dad, Timothy, Natalie, Mike, and I all went into downtown DC to visit the newly re-opened, renovated American History Museum – part of the Smithsonian.

We took the Metro into town – I’m not sure if this was Timothy and/or Natalie’s first subway-type ride… but it might have been.



Natalie and I were trying to look tough… don’t know exactly what my face is here.



Mike suggested that we do an Icardi Top Chef marathon all week. Each night, a different person or team made a dinner that had to include an appetizer, entree, and dessert. The entree had to include a protein and two vegetables; or a protein, a vegetable, and a carb/starch. We never did vote on a winner, so I’m going to try to add a poll here – Icardis, only, please!



This is the night that Matthew and Stephen cooked – their salsa was amazing!



On Christmas Eve, we all went downtown after a Christmas Eve service at church, and this guy downtown had this HUGE dog called a Newfoundland – he let me pet the dog, called “Goliath” – he weighs 180 pounds!! I want one.



Later on, Timothy offered for Natalie to jump on his back. I know this picture is terrible, but you can tell how much fun they’re having, which I love!


Another fun picture of my siblings!





This is Stephen “helping” me break up my bread for my stuffing. He’s hitting Matthew with it. He and Mike both turned on Matthew. Good thing I had the sense to send them outside before they broke everything in my kitchen!




Aw, Stephen is moonlighting as Santa! This is Christmas morning:




Bailey turned 3 years old 2 days after Christmas. Everyone told us he would calm down around that age, and he has! The last few weeks have been a dramatic change in him. He poses for pictures much better now. 🙂




My turkey was AWESOME! I cooked the entire Christmas dinner (with lots of help, of course), and it was my first time hosting and cooking a holiday/meal. It was kind of a big deal for me, and I kept waking up at night needing to make lists for the past 2 weeks. It was all worth it when my turkey came out golden brown. This is Mike assessing the turkey as he carves it. I love his “Hmmm” expression!




Look at that juicy, yummy turkey! Brining = awesome. I basted it every hour, too.




The turkey was so tender that when Mike lifted him out of the roasting pan, the wings fell off! See:




It takes a village…to carve a turkey…




Matthew looks so focused here. And, um, kinda creepy. Haha – just kidding, Matthew!




All of the food on our kitchen bay window sill, otherwise known as the buffet:




My grandma would be proud of my gravy! It looks dark, but it was sooooo yummy!






I love this: Timothy playing PSP and Risk at the same time – talk about talented!




Natalie and I almost-kinda matched on Friday, because we both have impeccable taste! Plus we both got Starbucks mugs for Christmas, so we couldn’t resist a picture:



This is Bailey engaging in the “Dying Cockroach” pose whereby a gullible and soft-touch family member rubs his belly. He’s wearing the scarf that Mom and Natalie knitted for him. He looked so cute in it and actually seemed not to mind it at all!




See what I mean about Bailey calming down? He slept with his head on Dad’s foot, and he let me take about 10 pictures without moving or freaking out. Ah, calmness!




Back-updating – Lois was here!

Lois was here a few weekends ago, and it was SO fun! I took off early on Thursday (Dec 11) and all day Friday (Dec 12) to hang out with her. Mike Walsh was still in town (partially on purpose in order to see Lois), and we also got to hang out with Adam too. The whole gang was together again! I don’t know when that will happen again, since Walsh is moving to California soon and we’ll be spread out over 3 different states. We crammed in as much as possible while Lois was here, getting almost no sleep but taking lots of pictures! I posted more pictures online on Facebook, but here are some of my favorites which help highlight our time together…

On Thursday, Lois flew in and Walsh and I picked her up from the airport. We went inside to greet her and met each other at the top of an escalator. We hugged a lot, and I told her that I had no intention of letting her leave to go back home, ever.

On Friday, Lois and I went downtown to go ice skating at the rink by the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture Garden. I’ve been ice skating before, and so had Lois, but it has been a loooooong time. Needless to say, we both started off a little slow, but we got the hang of it. This photo shows us both trying to keep our balance:




“The Sculpture Garden” is a loose term, as there are a ton of sculptures throughout a very wide geographical area. This fountain was not an actual “fountain” in that it didn’t hold water. The blue on the bottom was made up of bright blue, semi-transparent rocks. The part up top was made out of white-spray-painted twig-thingies, and the whole thing was sort of a permanent winter fixture. It was so pretty!



As Lois and I walked downtown, we came across this hideous statue. I channeled my inner “America’s Next Top Model” to invoke this angry stance. When I imagine a 15-foot-wide spider, it’s easy to look outraged.



Here’s a fun story where Lois got in trouble! This sign sat about 15-20 feet away from the above spider statue. It’s tiny, and not at all obvious or apparent to the casual passerby (like us). As we rounded the corner and saw this spider monstrosity, Lois ran up to the spider and hugged it. A woman working in the Gallery (inside) came running outside (yes, RUNNING) and yelled (yes, YELLED) at Lois, “Don’t touch that spider! There’s a sign!!! …blah blah…” Now, at that very moment, I had stumbled upon the sign and called out to Lois “Don’t touch it!” but it was too late. She was already being chastised by a very angry middle-aged woman in a security uniform. I told the lady “It’s ok, we just saw the sign. We won’t touch it again” – but she just kept on yelling and carrying on as though we tried to spray the thing with Raid…

You know that story, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? Well… “If You Give a Woman a Security Uniform and Night Stick…” Ummm, yeah…



Lois, at my suggestion, being snarky:




Mike got off work early and metro’d up to meet us downtown. We decided to go to the National Zoo, so we hopped on the Orange line toward Vienna, switched to the Red line toward Shady Grove at Metro Center, and rode up to Woodley Park to walk the mile or so to the zoo. I love the zoo – it has at least 3 different species of bears there, one of which I got friendly with:




This is post-zoo – we were the last people out of the zoo before it closed to the public. Our entire time there had been very cool, because we were almost the only people there, and got to wander, and run, and do whatever throughout the entire thing. By the time we left, it was dark.



That night, we made our own pizzas for dinner. Adam came by and ate with us, and we went to bed really late.

The next day, we (Mike, me, Walsh, and Lois) met Adam at his house and drove into town. First, we went to Eastern Market where I took absolutely no pictures (I know, I’m lame) partly because it was soooo cold and taking pictures means taking your gloves off!

We ate at a cute local mediterranean place near the metro and made friends with our waitress. She joined us as we all ragged on Adam, as usual. Good woman. 🙂

Then we headed up to the National Cathedral. Unfortunately, the main level was closed and public tours were suspended due to a tickets-only concert that day. We still got to explore some of it, though.





I love this picture of Lois! (Except my red-eye thing wouldn’t work)



The main level was closed to the public, but visitors were allowed in to the bookstore/gift shop (which makes me think of Jesus tipping the merchants’ tables in the Temple, but whatever), and the store has multiple exits which lead to some inner hallways of the massive cathedral. We snuck off to explore, figuring someone would stop us if we went too far.

Somehow, Walsh and I ended up together and found a spiral staircase that was very narrow and kind of dark. Neither of us could resist a little adventure, so we started up the staircase to see where it led. We got to a landing where a wrought iron gate marked off another spiral staircase. A sign said “Thou Shalt Not Enter. Thank You. -Management” but the gate was unlocked. Walsh and I looked at each other, smiled, and opened the gate. We started up those stairs, and it got darker and darker. But it seemed the music that had been piped into the gift shop speakers was getting louder. We pulled out our cell phones for light and kept climbing. We finally reached the top, and realized it had led us to an attic-level storage area/crawl space behind one of the window openings which looked down on the main cathedral sanctuary. No glass, nothing – we could see straight down and saw (and heard) the concert! There were hundreds of people sitting in the pews and a dozen or more choir members singing in a circle facing each other (this is a choral technique used to blend the sound and remove attention from any one choir member). So Walsh and I huddled behind cobweb-y boxes and whispered and laughed as we peered over the boxes out the window, taking in the concert and trying not to get spotted. We finally headed down so that the others wouldn’t wonder where we were. Troublemakers we are, Walsh and me. Troublemakers.


This is out in the gardens of the Cathedral:



Mike helped me climb up onto this wall, then walked away as I scurried up the rest of the way. This photo looks like he’s saying “What? I have no idea how she ended up there…”



That night, we went to see the Monuments downtown since they’re really pretty all lit up. It was so cold that we ended up barely making it to any, and got precious few pictures (remember – gloves!), but I do like this picture of Lois and I hugging for warmth:



It was so nice to have Lois here and for her to see our new place. One night we had the chance for just her and me to pray together, and the time was just GOOD. It was quiet and calm and very… good. It felt like home.

Lois practically had to threaten us to actually take her back to the airport to abandon us, but she promised to visit again (with Grant this time).

Next blog (coming soon) = Christmas and the Icardis!!!

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Mike loves me

When Mike’s family came to our house in Tallahassee for the first time, it was right after we got married, and we were still moving in/unpacking. Their visit was my motivation to get everything unpacked and settled in. But, of course, I freaked out a couple days before, convinced that the house wasn’t ready and overwhelmed with everything I had to do. I finally broke down crying as I said “We’re not ready; this place is a mess because we don’t have a filing cabinet, and I need eucalyptus!!” *hiccup.cry.sniff*


You see, I had read in some “helpful” magazine that dried eucalyptus can help a home smell, well, homey. Plus, the guy in “You’ve Got Mail” gets some because he wants his apartment to “smell mossy.” Somehow, in my feverish homemaking, I had convinced myself that my home was incomplete and unfit without eucalyptus. Oh, and a filing cabinet. Just what every new wife wants…




Mike was great. He calmed me down and took me to Target and then to Michael’s to get a filing cabinet and eucalyptus branches.

Incidentally, none of this frenzied breakdownishness should be a reflection on my in-laws. In fact, my mother-in-love tells me all the time not to clean or do anything when they come, and she actually means it (unlike many mothers-in-law). She and the rest of the family don’t care about that. But I like them to see that I’ve made a good home. Mom is always encouraging me in that way, which means a lot.


Anyway, that’s just a funny story to illustrate how I get whenever company is coming.


As Mike and I prepare for Christmas, we have guests coming (Lois was just here last weekend), and I’ve been a little crazed. Mike and I have been emailing back and forth to organize our grocery lists, shopping lists, and to-do lists. Here’s a snippet from our last exchange:


Me, to Mike: I think that covers it. I still might go a little crazy… I’ll try to be civilized, but if I break out in a cavewoman rage, just hug me. 🙂

Mike, to Me: Virtual hug…


He is so great…


Everyone must watch this.

It’s John Piper, on the Prosperity Gospel. It’s less than 3 minutes long, and it is very good.



Christmastime and Snow in DC

Mike and I have decorated for Christmas!


The dog is not camera shy.




I made “soldier cookies,” a Garment family Christmas tree night tradition!



img_4021We also went out to dinner for Mike’s birthday on Saturday. He’s 23!



Then, on Saturday, we went into Downtown DC with Mike Walsh and Heather Stewart.


it snowed!!!



Walsh: “Oh, c’mon, it’s not that cold outside”

{we all walk outside and it’s snowing}

Laura: “So there”



Those dots are snowflakes!



Mike is Walsh and Heather’s bodyguard.






Not to toot my own horn, but I love this photo!



…and this one.



The happy couple with their Starbucks




13 Bananas wandering the streets of DC? Why not?!



We are being eaten. Mike looks perplexed.



I *heart* Mike.



This is funny.



Mike looks so intrigued…



I love having another photographer (Heather) with us… because she shoots photos of Mike and me in thought…



Snow on the truck bed.



These look kind of like hippie band shots to me…








That’s Mike and me behind all that snow!





This might be round #2 of Starbucks. We went twice. Yep. It was that cold.




Walking home. 


Funny News Articles

As work is slow, here are some more things that have engaged my time:

A News of the Weird Classic (December 2000) : A New York Times dispatch from India highlighted the growing problem of intra-family frauds in which one member claims a living relative’s land or wealth by swearing to the government that the relative is dead. According to the Times, the “deceased” had finally begun to fight back. An advocacy group, the Association of Dead People, helps aggrieved citizens figure out how to prove that they are alive, which can be difficult, given India’s slow-moving bureaucracies. The association’s founder said that he personally had tried to authenticate his existence by public actions such as running for office, filing lawsuits and getting arrested, but that he nonetheless remained officially dead. [New York Times, 10-24-00]

A woman being interviewed for jury duty on a murder case in Bronx (N.Y.) Supreme Court in October asked to be excused for the reason that she was once murdered, herself, by her husband (but had somehow been revived by a doctor). (She was dismissed from the jury, but on other grounds.) [New York Post, 10-8-08]

In a recent report of DUI excuses in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, a 56-year-old woman had asserted that, though she had been drinking, her driving was not affected because she had remembered to keep one eye closed so as not to be seeing double. [The Local (Stockholm), 10-30-08]

Facing a state budget crisis in July, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fired about 10,000 temporary and part-time workers and ordered the 200,000 permanent employees to be paid only the minimum wage of $6.55 an hour until the legislature passed a crisis-solving budget. However, a week later the State Controller John Chiang pointed out that state payroll records could not be changed to accommodate the cut because they were written in the antiquated COBOL computer language, and virtually the only state employees who knew the code were some of the part-timers Schwarzenegger had just fired. [Sacramento Bee, 8-5-08]

In August, a 78-year-old woman apparently misread the signs at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, Sweden, and placed herself on a baggage belt, which led to a chute, but she was only slightly injured and did not miss her flight. [Agence France-Presse, 8-27-08]

In April, Tommy Tabermann, a member of Finland’s parliament, submitted a bill to require one week’s paid vacation a year solely for romance, to counteract the country’s alarmingly high divorce rate. [Bloomberg News, 4-17-08]

Howard Shanholtzer was arrested in Garden Grove, Calif., in May in connection with stolen security cameras. Figuring that police might be looking for his white Mitsubishi pickup truck they probably saw on surveillance video, Shanholtzer allegedly stole another pickup, but for some reason, it was another white Mitsubishi. [Orange County Register, 5-24-08]

A new stand appeared at the Corvallis (Ore.) Farmers Market in the last week of May, manned by Jeff Oliver, 21, lifelong resident of Oregon. His “Meet a Black Guy” booth let him mingle with shoppers and have their pictures taken with him as he tried, he said, to promote racial understanding and break stereotypes. “Corvallis is not a very diverse place,” he said. [Corvallis Gazette Times, 6-1-08]

Unlike their American counterparts, debt collectors in Spain are legally allowed to humiliate deadbeats in front of relatives and neighbors, and are thus quite successful, according to an October Wall Street Journal dispatch from Madrid. One collector’s employees make flamboyant house calls in “top hat and tails” and another’s are dressed as Franciscan friars, and yet another collector sends bagpipe players to announce the debt to the entire neighborhood. One debtor hurriedly paid off his daughter’s wedding tab when the collector found the ceremony’s guest list and began billing each attendee for his or her “share” of the debt. [Wall Street Journal, 10-11-08]

Not Ready for Prime Time: What started as a “strong-arm” street robbery in Warren, Mich., in October, ended when the victim turned out to be stronger than the perp. When it was over, the victim had gotten his money back, plus $30 of the mugger’s as the man fled, according to a police report in the Macomb Daily. [Macomb Daily, 10-9-08]

In Bristow, Va., as a woman stood nearby with her car running, early one October morning, a stranger jumped in and started to drive off, though the woman’s 6-year-old daughter was still in the car. The incident ended quickly, though, as the child kicked the man, pinched him, and screamed until he bailed out and fled, according to a report on WRC-TV (Washington, D.C.). [WRC-TV, 10-8-08]

A plumbing error in October at the annual Grape Festival in Marino, Italy, stymied the traditional hook-up in which white wine cascades through the famous fountains in the center of town. Instead, water continued to run in the fountains, but “10 to 12” nearby homeowners must have thought it glorious divine intervention, briefly, when they opened their taps and found white wine flowing freely. [BBC News, 10-8-08]

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