October 31, 2010

halloween 2010.

Halloween 2010
My wish was to dress them as Thing 1 and Thing 2
from The Cat in the Hat.
My wish went down in flames.
Teddy took this soldier thing very, very seriously.
We walked up to the main drag with friends.
All the stores and restaurants gave out candy.
Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill
We saw some great costumes!
Then it was back home to pass out candy.
Happy Halloween!

October 26, 2010

one last shot.

One last picture from our visit to the farm.  I saw a beautiful display of mums on our way out and I asked the boys to sit among them as I snapped a few pictures, none of which turned out.  The very last click of the camera was this shot.  Teddy said to me, "Mommy, take one more!  Look at me!"  And he sat there with his huge teethy grin from ear to ear.  I almost didn't take it because I had already started to put my camera away.  So glad I did.

October 25, 2010

guess what we got this weekend.

And I'm telling you - she's a beauty!

October 23, 2010

i don't understand.

Why is it that every year at around this time the boys start refusing to go to the bathroom alone?  I just don't get it.

What is so spooky about a little powder room?

October 22, 2010

triple b farm.

A drive in October to Triple B Farm is a tradition in our house.  This year the boys learned that when you have a grandpa and a grandma who spent their earliest years growing up on farms in America's Heartland, a hayride isn't just a fun and cutesy jaunt through a field.  It's a learning opportunity; a time to pass down a bounty of knowledge to the next generation!

Okay, boys, do we have any farming questions?

Why, yes, Papa.  What is that?

Well, young man, let me explain this as simply as I can.  Listen carefully, now over there we have . . .

Papa shared lots of information with them, and with great enthusiasm.  If the man could turn one of his grandsons into a farmer, he would be beyond thrilled.  Honestly, I probably would too.  We all have dreams for our children and grandchildren, don't we?  His other dream would be for one of them to be a Nascar driver.  He'll have to look to one of the other 102 little boys in our extended family, because so far there is no interest here.  Unless, of course, there could be a camo car built in the form of a military tank.  Then Teddy might give it a second thought.

Then dad told me to take a picture of this Vermeer hay-making thingamajig for Elayna.

It's not just all fun and games on the farm.  Okay, so maybe there are a few games.  Just a few.

Inspired by the hayride, later that day dad showed George how to make miniature hay bales out of grass.  I walked into the kitchen unaware as to what was going on, but my OCD noticed the little bits of dead grass all over my kitchen counter and the two of them whispering and trying to hide what they were doing.  (They know me and my "issues" well.)  All it took was for dad to say something about how he used to do this when he was little for me to be won over, and with clear conscience ignore the grass bitties intruding upon the tidy recesses of my brain.  Then they put the bales into the back of George's John Deere tractor and instructed me to take pictures.  Parents aren't the only ones who get to relive their childhood - grandparents do too.

October 19, 2010

don't even think about touching my huggie.

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.

October 16, 2010


We went to a haunted barn today.  George LOVED it.  Can't you tell?

October 13, 2010

in disguise.

If you look really, really hard, you just might see a small boy.  He blends in with the background.  You probably can't even see his shoes either.

October 9, 2010

the acklins and the west wing.

A college friend of Kevin's is working in the West Wing of the White House and the last time we saw him he invited us down for a personal tour.  And I won't even get into this guy's resume because it would blow your mind.  And I won't even get into how completely sweet and down-to-earth he is despite the mind-blowing resume.  All I will say is if he represents the behind-the-scenes brilliant minds pushing ahead our nation's policies, we're in the best possible hands.  I will start sleeping very well at night; thank you.

Jon and Kevin
They both went to Haaaavad.  They both played hockey.  One was once embedded as a journalist with the Marine Corps in Iraq.  The other was once mistaken for Conan O'Brien on a live episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  I'll let you decide.

So this is where we started.  A series of two Secret Service check points.  And they aren't called the Secret Service for nothing.  Ask them a question about their training and if you're lucky they will just throw you a smile.  It's a secret - duuuh!

Kevin and the boys at the first gate.

At the second check-point they gave us these badges to wear.  We had to return them at the end of our tour.  Jon joked that maybe the credentials are ugly on purpose so they don't all end up in scrapbooks.  So I took this picture of George wearing his, coaching him on how to hold it out to the camera meanwhile holding up a member of the White House staff who was standing behind me.  I apologized to her and she said, "No, not a problem, this is a moment.  Definitely get the picture!"

Through security and walking over to the West Wing!

Here we are in front of the side entrance to the West Wing.  This is where I had to turn off my camera.  No photography allowed inside!  Just inside the doors and to the left is a small hallway leading to the Vice President's office, and to the right is the mess hall on one side and the Situation Room on the other.  And no, the palate-o-green was purely coincidence.  I'm not that nuts.  You don't believe me, do you?

Heading inside the West Wing!

We saw several offices and rooms, but of course the highlight was the Oval Office.  I wasn't allowed to take any pictures of the Oval Office so I pulled this AP photo off the internet.  I wish I could have taken one myself but as nice as the officer on guard next to the door appeared, I'm sure he could have taken us all down with his pinky finger.  We were allowed to poke our heads through the door to the left on the back wall, though.  Can you see it?  The President's desk is the same used by President Kennedy.  Through the windows behind the desk I saw playground equipment the Obamas had installed on the lawn for their youngest daughter.

Kevin and the boys outside the front entrance of the West Wing. 

Then we made our way over to the Brady Press Briefing Room.

Jon pointing out the President's residence as we head over to the briefing room.  More importantly, you might notice that Teddy's shirt is now untucked.  While standing outside the Oval Office he suddenly needed to take a pee.  Of course, right?  Thankfully there was a bathroom right there in the hallway, but the shirt never made it back into his pants.  Remember - we don't get out much.

James Brady is a former White House Press Secretary who was shot and subsequently paralyzed during the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981.  The briefing room is named in his honor.

Front row seats.

You might notice the Purell hand santizer dispenser on the right.  I'm telling you they were all over the White House.  Subtle hint, I suppose.  You know, clean your dang hands you grubby people.  It's just the little things I spend too much time thinking about.  Does Purell know about this?  Who actually refills the dispensers?  They were in every hallway.  Nevermind.  Back to the press room.

Jon, Kevin and George looking at the podium area. 
Teddy looking for bad guys.

I own this place.

Kevin and three leprechauns.

One last picture in front of the White House.

Testing.  Testing.
I don't know why but this is my favorite picture.

After the tour we walked over to a hotel to grab a bite to eat with Jon.  We sat outside, just to the left of this picture.  It was such a beautiful night.

Then we returned to our hotel where I soaked my feet (running a mile in heels is not good) and took this picture of the room's stately decor.  Mr. Washington gave me the creeps just a bit.  Not sure how I felt about the old dude staring at us all weekend.

The next morning we met more friends for brunch, but before that we did a quick driving tour to check out a few of our old haunts.

Here we are driving up Independence Avenue with the Capitol building to the left and the Rayburn House Office Building to the right.  I have to say I really miss Capitol Hill.  It was a very exciting place for a Midwestern gal in her twenties.
Rayburn House Office Building
When I worked there streets were not barricaded, folks chain-smoked in their offices and others brought their dogs into the cafeteria.  The good old days.

The United States Capitol Building
I once (as part of my first job on the Hill) gave tours of this building to constituents who were in town.  It's a good thing that my incoherent ramblings about the architecture, design and history of this place were, in fact, free of charge.  Also, it was here that Mr. Acklin stole me away from Iowa.  As interns we would run paperwork to the cloakroom then hide out in the back row of the House floor for hours at a time and were responsible for other tasks of high importance to the daily functions of our federal government.  The good old days.

East Capitol Street
Driving past the Capitol, we turned right onto East Capitol Street.  I love the old row houses here - each one unique and colorful.  10 blocks down East Capitol is Lincoln Park - home of our first apartment.  And in typical young, Washingtonian fashion (okay, broke Hill staffer and poor law student fashion) we moved into an English basement on 11th Street, NE.  It was here that we learned the phrase, "If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog."  Within months we found Mr. Wilson.

First apartment

Then we drove around the corner to check in on our first home - a condo on 12th Street, NE.  We tell each other at least once a year that we wish we never sold it.  That pretty much concludes our tour.  By this point the boys were complaining they were hungry and that we weren't doing anything fun for kids.

First home


Other things we saw while in town:

Washington Monument

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Do you see the camo shorts Teddy is holding?  That morning we disagreed on what he was going to wear.  Obviously the "soldier" wanted to wear camo, and when I said no he asked if he could at least carry them around.  What's a mother to do?  So he happily carried a pair of camo shorts all over the National Mall.  In front of the Air and Space Museum he spotted this handsome group of men and women of the U.S. Navy.  He wanted to show them the shorts.  What's a dad to do?

The National Archives
(No photography allowed in there either!)

Ford's Theatre

The other little punk.  The end.