Thursday, July 30, 2009

Life after Garmin.

Oh the Garmin. I thought it was exactly what I needed for a cross country move. It proved fairly helpful as we drove from Kansas to Virginia (even though we were on I-70 about 90% of the time), and I was sure it would be helpful as learned to navigate northern Virginia.

On the 4th of July I woke up to a broken car window and no Garmin. I live in a ridiculously saf
e neighborhood, but there has been an increase in theft related to Garmins and I had left my car on the street. There were many other things that they could have stolen. Cash, ipod accessories, so on...nothing. They left all that alone and just took the Garmin.

My friends rushed to the rescue, pulling me back from the dangerous precipice of "WHY did I move to this forsaken place?" and pushing me onward. Eventually we got ourselves together, unpacked a little in the kitchen and moved on with the holiday. We headed into DC to go shopping in Georgetown for a little while.

This is where I discovered I was dressed like a dude. Standing in Banana Republic, I looked at my cargo sh
orts and white polo in the mirror and exclaimed to Abbey, "How come no one told me I looked like a DUDE?"

Abbey replied, "You were having a rough morning." Nothing more because that said it all.

I have the best friends in the world. They helped me pick out a new, feminine shirt at Banana that I wear frequently and get tons of compliments each time. Here we are in Georgetown, one of my favorite DC neighborhoods. And note that I no longer look like a dude.

Life after Garmin has been a delight. Without the crutch I've learned the roads and have my bearings. I also google map everything before I go. I still get lost, but getting unlost helps me so much more than a Garmin with a voice telling me to take u-turns. This map shows my route to grad school each day (B). I go so far west that I get to see the rolling mountains of Shenandoah Valley. This makes me extremely happy each morning! Mountains! Hurray!

Because I love to suggest reasons for visits, the Shenandoah River Valley is full of wineries, bed and breakfasts, parks, hikes, shops and folk life festivals. I'll let you borrow my car, but we'll have to print off a map.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pasta People.

Tomorrow is Sol's "golden star" birthday. He will be 29 on the 29! We celebrated both July birthdays tonight with dinner at Pasta Mia. It's located in Adams Morgan in DC, and I ate there the first time in 2006 when Tara visited. It was just as good as I remembered. We all love Italian and have fond memories of Italian in Boston's North End.

As an aside, I'm really glad Tara and I are still friends. When she visited in 2006, she waited in line 45 minutes for pancakes, 45 minutes for Pasta Mia and tie-dyed t-shirts in my dorm room with me. If you visit, I plan to show you an equally awesome time, without the tie-dye.

We arrived at the perfect time. We got a table easily and the lady of the house (her husband is the only chef) loved Baby Finley. He did NOT love Pasta Mia. It was very hot in there, and we took turns walking around with Finley.

The food was awesome. I had gnocchi with spicy tomato sauce and a delicious house salad.

Rachel had ravioli with seafood stuffed inside. So creamy and rich, and really stuffed with seafood. Cheese is NOT optional. Substitutions are not allowed. Pasta Mia is a pasta machine.

I kind of wanted what Sol had. Fusili with italian sausage and spicy tomato sauce.

And when I was full, Finley and I people watched outside. I swear he was happy until Rachel came outside with the camera. I like this picture even though he is fussy because he looks like he has his arm around my neck and he can hold his head up like such a big boy!

It was no Giacomo's. But Rachel, Sol and I gave it our approval for DC Italian. Finley's opinion doesn't count yet. We'll ask him when he can say more than "WAH!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to Back.

In Kansas City, my friends and I loved to watch the Bachelorette. And it is all Lindsay's fault. She didn't have cable when she moved into her apartment, and she would come to watch it at apartment 404. Erica and I tried to do our own thing, but we got sucked in to the hype. Soon, we also blocked off Monday nights to watch the Bachelor or the Bachelorette.

Last summer, it got a little out of control. When there were only 12 bachelors left, Abbey (a closet fan, we discovered), Erica, Lindsay and I "picked our ponies." I am not ashamed. We each had three bachelors that we ro
oted for till one found true love. It was Jesse, one of my bachelors.

Note: true love on TV rarely lasts. However, a win is a win.

This year, the game was back on. Erica got married and outgrew such mindless boy watching. We brought Lauren V. and Raegan into the circle, and five of us picked our ponies. Tara introduced us to OHCH's blog and all the behind-the-scenes gossip we needed. I made a color-coded google doc to keep up with all the action. I moved, and the fun continued.

Baby Finley and Rachel watched the finale with me tonight. Let me just say, thank you Ed S
widerski, for bringing me the trophy again. I may have stole you in the draft from Lindsay, but you were mine. I rooted for you when you left and when you came back. I always believed in you, and thanks for making me a winner.

Oh and yeah. I hope it works out with Jillian.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hedgeapple Green.

Warning: This post is kind of long. Rachel informed me it is too long for her to read. But I know you want to see the pictures, and I want to explain them. Let's start with the before...

Erica, Abbey and I picked out the paint while they were here, and it took Abbey and me a couple of days to paint. The color is Hedgeapple Green, and it is an exact match to a color of Mary Carol paint from Nell Hills. I had Home Depot match it, and we used Behr's kitchen/bathroom paint (now discontinued).

I am posting a few different photos to try to give you the post view of the color because it sort of changes with the light. The way the house is built into the hill, the window is grass level to the backyard. Belle checks on me when she in the backyard, and if she really wants to come in then she sits in the window well.

The black bar is very in according to Vicki Graham. We found it at Ikea, Sol installed it, and I use it for recipes whenever I'm cooking. The black granite countertop really sparkles. I also love the open cabinets because white
dishes and my collections of glasses make me happy. Most of the things in this kitchen were included because they are happy things.

Here is a bigger picture of the area. So much great counterspace! Last night I prepared and froze almost two dozen North Carolina peaches on these great counters. Most of the yellow and green accessories I purchased when I was here in March because I knew already the color of my kitchen.

I have a cute little breakfast area directly across from the sink. I brought the oil cloth with me from Pryde's in Westport to cover up an old office table. The chairs are also from Ikea - real wood for only $15 a piece. When Abbey was here, we ate at the new table with Rachel, Sol and Finley. I made everyone sit with the chairs like this because that's what they do on TV. I don't care if they do it because there is a camera on the other side. If it is good enough for How I Met Your Mother, it's good enough for me.

Come visit. I'll feed you at my kitchen table, give you some frozen peaches, and we can admire the Hedgeapple Green.

David and Goliath.

I have met my Goliath. At six feet tall already, this giant is figurative NOT literal. But I feel about the size of David, armed for battle with only a slingshot and a couple of pebbles.

The job search has been difficult and rather fruitless. I interviewed for two jobs in Arlington without securing a position. The district where I live is also where Rachel teaches. Fairfax County is a huge district with an unbelievable number of schools, students and teachers. To give you a bit of comparison, Fairfax is bigger than Olathe, Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley and KCK combined.

I would really like to work in this district because it is close to home and where Rach works. Additionally I found a team at George Mason of other teachers who live/work in this area, and I think we would be a good fit for the duration of the program. Yesterday I found out that all the openings I applied to were filled. I was indignant. How did I not even get an interview? My friends and family surrounded me with phone calls of support. Surely these principals were crazy!

This morning I learned there is more to the story. I applied to a school close to where we live, and I was very persistent with the principal. I finally received some sort of a response from administration, and even though it is kind of bad news, it is comforting. Here's what she wrote...

Thank you for your inquiry and follow up email. I have nearly 100 applicants at this point. You may have noticed I pulled the ad from the web. I am sorting through resumes and inquiries in an effort to interview candidates whom I feel are best fit for our school.

My Goliath is all about the numbers. I'm standing on the battlefield with my few pebbles, and I know people believe in me and are backing me up. I'll keep loading my slingshot and sending out the resumes, and I have faith that where God needs me he will put me. David didn't walk around killing big men to practice for Goliath, God used him where he needed him. Please pray that God will use me where He needs me. 100 applications
doesn't overwhelm me, and in an odd way it sort of comforts me. I am not deficient. I am up against a huge number of applicants all struggling for a job in this crazy time.

I was flipping through a book Candi gave me today and found this Chuck Swindoll quote. Pretty perfect actually.

"There is only one you. God wanted you to be you. Don't you dare change just because you're outnumbered!"

And here's something that makes me smile and laugh every night - trying to get this little guy to smile and laugh. Finley is 3 months old already!

***For more on how to use literally correctly, please watch How I Met Your Mother: Season 3, Episode 8.

Monday, July 20, 2009

George Mason Day 1.

I loved my first day at George Mason yesterday. (This post is real time, I promise to return to the Fourth later.) The professors and program model are a PERFECT fit. We were given an hour for journaling about three people, moments and ideas that have influenced us in our journeys as teachers. I had so much to say that I didn't get to finish in the hour, and I still need to elaborate on the ideas. As I reread it tonight, I wanted to share what I wrote about one of the most influential people in my teaching life.

Best to start with mom. She says teaching skipped her generation, but that insatiable love for life long learning did not. As a kid, we learned every day. Summers were stuffed with camps, classes and museums. Kenneth recently told me he would like to raise his kids the B-Roe way. Others have suggested Mom write a book on parenting. I think that what she did was so natural that it would be a very short book. Her enthusiasm for exposing Lauren and I to the world around us was a by-product of her own upbringing by teachers. To my mom, it was normal to read everywhere, to travel with your parents, and for parents to embrace the role of their children’s biggest fans. It is why, years after her days as PTA president at our schools were done, Mom jumped into an official PTA mom at my own urban middle school. Seeing Mrs. Luhrs at sporting events, picnics and on field trips was as normal as seeing Miss Luhrs. Teaching really didn’t skip a generation, it merely took an unconventional role in my mother’s life.

(The picture above was taken at the seventh grade picnic at NWMS. We cooked over 100 hot dogs and brats for the students and teachers!)

Let's Start at the Very Beginning...

So much has happened in the past two and half weeks, most of it worthy of a blog entry (or two!) So let's go back to the beginning and start with the road trip from Kansas to Virginia.

My mom was very very nervous about things fitting in the Pilot. We needed to fit in a fancy barn window, Belle's new crate, and a bags for four girls. We packed most of the things the night before so that we could meet Erica, Abbey, and Tara in the Panera parking lot at 7:20 am. Mom was intensely relieved that things fit so nicely. So well indeed that we could see out of the back gate.

Erica and Abbey surprised me with t-shirts. They were truly a labor of love. Each shirt said: 1 Honda Pilot, Four Friends, One Dog, and 1,084 miles to Washington, D.C. And they each had nicknames on the back. I didn't realize that I called each of my friends specific names consistently until they showed up with their t-shirts. Tara - Ween. Abbey - Pal. Erica - Friend.

We look tired because it is so early in the morning. My dog looks tired because I drugged her.

First day I drove the whole way, just to see if I could. We made it in record time to Indianapolis, probably because we ate in the car so we didn't have to leave Belle alone. First day drive was boring. The midwest is flat. In Indianapolis, we ate a great dinner that Dad, Tracy and Bonnie prepared for us. Then we had one of my favorite desserts, Mrs. Lyon's Dessert. It's so yummy.

Day two was beautiful. I broke down and slept through Ohio. Nothing much there. Then I drove again. We saw Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia on the second day.

The view through the hills was beautiful. We tried to be speedy, but the miles were longer. We had to make more stops. I make more stops than the average driver probably because of my addiction to diet Coke. We arrived in Falls Church about 5:30 pm, and we unpacked enough so we had somewhere to sleep. Unpacking would take the next two weeks, but it is finished NOW! I was so lucky to have all of them along for their conversation. We were also accompanied by endless mix cds and plenty of laughs. Along the way we learned that Tara is sort of a fatalist and has figured out ways we could all die at rest stops and by our GPS. Seriously, according to Tara, your GPS could kill you. We kept track of yellow cars, firework stands and number of Starbucks. It was a perfect kind of road trip with your best friends.

Up next: Fourth of July weekend in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

About Victoria and FAQs.

I moved to Virginia and started a blog, victoriaINvirginia. Then my bestie Rachel and I became obsessed with the internet. We started designing blogs, then found a spot on Etsy to sell sweet invitations and party supplies, joined twitter and learned twelve more ways to love the internet. No one internets like Rachel, and I'm glad I got to learn from her.

Now I'm back in Kansas with my trusty sidekick Belle. She's a crime fighting dog I met one rainy Wednesday in October 2007, and we have joined forces to fight bunnies, squirrels and eighth graders. We both enjoy watching tons of tv, my human best friends (who own several of Belle's dog best friends) and traveling across the country together in my Honda Pilot.

Things that I do that Belle cannot include traveling with my family and sharing meals with my mom and sister. Belle can't cook, bake, read, study or plan parties, but I like all those things. I hate the word edifying, but I do aspire to be a better human being because through Christ all things are possible.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy the places, people and the food. Oh, the food.