The Drums of War?

I read an interesting fact the other day about how the newest batch of high school freshman (b. 1999) do not remember a time when we, The United States, weren’t engaged in conflict with Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m not sure why the piece of information surprised me, seeing as how the wars have been a presence during my entire adult life (I was a college freshman on September 11th) thus far. Falling in love with an Army cadet at age 18 means that my entire post-high school existence has been somewhat determined by our involvement overseas.


So when I hear the word war, it doesn’t make me think of news reports with footage of our military. The word being flippantly thrown around doesn’t conjure up images of other people making sacrifices while my life continues as normal. And war certainly doesn’t make me think of yellow ribbons and Old Glory flying high.

War makes me think of death. After all, war is flag-covered coffins being unloaded off of a plane at Dover AFB. War is a family being handed a folded flag by a white-gloved soldier. War is tears. War is separation. War is dirty. War is expensive. War is a word that should only be used when absolutely necessary. So are those the drums of war we hear? For the sake of our country, I hope not.


One Year Here

Earlier this month, we celebrated our one year anniversary of Clay being stationed at Fort Belvoir. We haven’t hit same milestone in our house just yet because we spent our first month in the area staying in TLF (temporary lodging facilities) but for all intents and purposes (<— I think I wrote that correctly), I’m declaring us one-year residents of the area. So sit back and get comfy in your chair because I’m going to take a walk down short-term memory lane and showcase some amazing aspects of living in the Washington DC area.


To start – Fort Belvoir is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. With a history beginning during World War I, the post is full of grand historical buildings and meticulous grounds. I always appreciate it’s beauty when on post.


When we arrived at Fort Belvoir, the approximate wait-time for on-post housing was two years, which means that finding an off-post rental was the name of the game for us. And oh my goodness did we ever strike the jackpot. Seriously. We scooped up our place the day it hit and found ourselves in a court surrounded by a mixing bowl of military families – every branch of service is represented! Our neighbors are wonderful, the children spend countless hours playing in the courtyard, and I even play Bunco now (how is that for a military wife stereotype?). A couple of families have already PCS’ed since we arrived but more military families have moved in…it really does feel like we live on post.


I still can’t get over how close we live to our nation’s capitol. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the empty streets during the Jingle All the Way 8K, despite being 9 weeks pregnant, and just had to stop to snap a picture in front of the US Capitol. Even though the building houses a completely inept Congress, the architecture is quite impressive and I can’t help but feel a swell of patriotic pride when standing on the mall and facing east.


We’ve only attended one professional sporting event, a Washington Nationals  game, but hope to knock off a couple of others (Wizards? Senators? Redskins?) before we leave.


We also went to our first (and likely only, apparently we’re not that in demand for the DC social scene.) book release party for The Outpost. The patio at the Newseum was the highlight of the evening (aside from seeing old friends, of course) with spectacular night views of the city.


We fell in love with Old Town Alexandria. Unfortunately we’re unable to afford to live there at this point in our lives but we’re definitely eyeing a couple of places when we inevitably return later on during Clay’s career. We’ve had one of our best adult-only meals ever in Old Town at Hanks Oyster Bar and if it were more kid-friendly, we’d likely find ourselves there weekly. So it is probably better for our wallets that it is a date-night only place for now.


I love living in an area that so many people wish to visit. Family and friends have popped in and out during our first year and we’re always game to show them the sights, even if the thought of going to the National Museum of Natural History causes me to break out in hives. We’ve learned when to avoid the National Mall (school holidays and summer weekends), the Metro (early morning during race days), and love the district during the winter months.


We especially enjoyed Christmas in Washington DC. In fact, last Christmas marked the very first time we hosted the holiday at our place since getting married almost 9 years ago. We chose to spend our 8th anniversary wandering around the National Gallery of Art and admiring the lit trees that lined the streets while I battled nausea and extreme fatigue. Seeing as how I won’t be pregnant for our 9th anniversary this year, I’m looking forward to planning an evening in the district that doesn’t involve sucking on Jolly Ranchers and locating the nearest restroom.


Northern Virginia is home to some gorgeous parks, such as Great Falls Park. One of the first things we noticed upon moving to the area is the number of people participating in some form of outdoor recreation, whether it be running, biking, kayaking, team sports, etc… There is no excuse not to participate because there are countless trails, plentiful opportunities to rent the necessary gear, and  fantastic views.


The military ball we attended in Crystal City last year was far and above the grandest we’ve attended during Clay’s career. Unfortunately due to the sequestration, the Army decided to cancel upcoming balls so it is unlikely we will attend one this year. Only time (and apparently money) will tell if we get to experience another one during our time in Washington DC.


I’ll close this post with the best drink I’ve had yet during our time here – a Pineapple Coronarita at Virtue Feed & Grain in Alexandria. I’m still in search of the best beer and the best wine…bring it on!


We’ve only scrapped the very tip of the Washington DC area iceberg during our first year here…I can’t wait to see what the second one brings. Hopefully more delicious drinks, fabulous food, gorgeous views, and epic good times.

Just a Regular Weekend

Our weekend was fairly typical – Friday night involved grilling out and finally watching Zero Dark Thirty after the kids went to bed. Overall film verdict? Eh but the last third was pretty good. On Saturday morning I finally got my hair highlighted and cut after foregoing the routine during the pregnancy. The thought of committing that much time to sitting still without having to throw-up was just too much to handle. Four hours later, I emerged with blonde hair, no split ends, and a slightly bruised ego (let’s just say that the hairdresser was not impressed by my attempt at cutting my own bangs).


We spent Saturday afternoon scoping out Wegman’s in Fairfax. Always an overwhelming experience, we somehow left without eating and buying everything in sight. But we decreed that a weekly Saturday morning trip is in order from now on…it would be a crime not to take advantage of living within 30 minutes of one of the best (if not the best) grocery stores in America. And there is beer. Lots and lots of beer. We ended the evening at our friends’ house for dinner. Morgan let me borrow her Moby wrap to use with Violet and while I still haven’t mastered the learning curve (is there a certificate program out there for noobs like me?), I’m able to wear her while drinking a glass of wine…that has to count for something, right?

Yesterday was very low key – church, frozen yogurt, and the pool. And for the first time since college, we watched the MTV VMA’s. Well, sort of. Thanks to the magic of DVR, we were able to skip the youngin’s we didn’t recognize (like, at all) and watch a few choice performances. Like N’SYNC. All 20 seconds of it (poor Chris Kirkpatrick…bless his heart). We also watched (in horror) the performance of the spawn of Billy Ray Cyrus and just about died from second-hand embarrassment. All I could think was, “Oh Miley. Honey, no. No. No. No.” 

I enacted a new wake-up routine this morning and so far, so good. My goal is to wake up before both kids but seeing as how Violet is only six weeks old, I’m still pretty much at the mercy of her schedule. My long-term goal is to wake up early enough to squeeze in a run but right now, that seems downright laughable. I am not exactly sprite when I pop out of bed nowadays. Someday. Someday.