Meet-ups, Ikea visits and a spy museum!

top secret group

Christine and me

Since I’m here in DC and I know a lot of bloggers and readers who live around here (Hi Shanee and Christine and Carrie!), we decided to organize a meet-up at a local coffee shop in Alexandria. Thanks to the tip from Kris.

skinny houses

Alexandria is such a cute neighborhood. It sort of reminded me of home, with the houses super close to each other and the coffee shops, parks and little delis all in walking distance of each other. The shop owners even give out dog treats to the patrons who have dogs which is TOTALLY just like home.

St. Elmos Coffee Pub Cheesetique

We stopped at a little cheese store called The Cheesetique. We do not have cheese stores at home, what a shame. It was such a cute little shop. Troy told me to pick out a bottle of wine to take home to their house for dinner but I was so busy chatting with my new friends and making sure Bug didn’t knock over something breakable that I got distracted and before I knew it everyone was moving on to the ice cream store down the street and I forgot about it. My loss! I could have had a thirty dollar souvenir bottle thanks to Troy. Oh well. It probably wouldn’t have packed very well in my suitcase anyway.

8 dollar chocolate

They also sold eight dollar candy bars! That’s almost as expensive as back home. Just kidding. I really liked the paper they used to wrap these candy bars. That paper alone probably cost a buck a sheet.

me in a window with cheese ice cream kid

I love discovering little neighborhoods like this and hanging out with web buddies. I know everyone thinks it’s scary to meet people off the internet but I have found that they make the best kind of friends. We so often have the same interests and same sense of humor no matter how far apart we live from each other. I know… you’re rolling your eyes at my sappiness but it really is true. That’s how I met Bethany after all. And now she’s flying me across the country to unpack her house!

IKEA Vision starsky and hutch

Which by the way is 80% done! It only required about five trips to IKEA to get there. Just kidding…only three trips, I think. We probably need to go at least two more times to return stuff that didn’t work out.


One of those trips was to meet Mamalang who couldn’t make it to our blogger meet-up in Alexandria. Ikea is such a great place to meet friends. You can stroll around and talk while your kids live it up in Småland. Bug LOVES Småland these days. I know Toby is going to kill me when I tell him I dropped Bug off at some random playland in the middle of Washington DC to be watched by complete strangers but actually Småland is super safe and you pretty much have to show your passport and a DNA test just to get your kid back.

backside of the Capital Building

The next day (I think, I’ve sort of lost count of the days) we went back to Washington DC to visit the Spy Museum that I’ve been wanting to see ever since Bethany told me about it two years ago.

Spy Museum lightpost monkeys

I was really looking forward to taking some super cool spy photos for my collection but guess what? They don’t allow photography in the museum!!!! I was bummed. But I guess it makes sense. They probably couldn’t charge as much admission if bloggers like me revealed all their secrets and there were some documents, like a real letter from George Washington, that could not survive flash photography. It was a disappointment but we still had a pretty good time. It wasn’t the most kid-friendly museum and I probably would have spent a bit more time if I didn’t have a little person exclaiming they were bored every five minutes but I’m glad I went.

The museum was divided up into several parts. Most of the parts were devoted to different times in history and the different kinds of espionage and intelligence that were used. I really liked the stories about female spies. But what stuck with me is that all the stories both fiction and non-fiction pale in comparison to reality. Because a real spy never tells their secrets. Or at least not all of them anyway.

on the stealth

Bethany and I did sneak one stealth photo from Bethany’s camera in her purse. I know, tsk tsk…but it was a spy museum after all. They were practically daring us.

spies take a peek

At least we got some cool spy eyes photos outside.

stealth ninja moves

And of course some stealth ninja moves…

Speed Tourism and Ladies’ Night at the Pottery Studio

sugar cube sculpture

After the Natural History Museum we walked briskly through the sculpture garden, which was pretty neat. There was a giant sugar cube sculpture and a silver tree and some chairs stacked up really high. There were a lot more sculptures too but we were on a schedule so we rushed by.

chairs walking through the sculpture gallery

silver tree

Catching the Subway to Paris

Of course I had to take a picture by the scale model of the Paris Metro sign that I have been to in real life.

chomp! ice cream?

By then we were starving so we stopped by a hot-dog cart for a quick lunch. Except Bug suddenly decided she doesn’t like hot dogs and was given an ice-cream sandwich instead. She’s getting away with all kinds of spoiled behavior during this vacation. But then again, so am I.

kidlets at the Lincoln Memorial

We crossed the street to the Lincoln Memorial and took lots of pictures of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting Pool. The funny thing about the Lincoln Memorial is that it’s really big and impressive. They have a sign up that says to be quiet and respectful. You sort of feel like you’ve entered a church with the cavernous stone walls rising up over your head. It’s cool and quiet and filled with whispering people. So when you yell out for your kid to stop running away from you and pose for a photo, you sort of feel like someone who farted really loud in church and it’s embarrassing.

but I don't want to go tahdah!

paper crane

By then we were running pretty late for our scheduled events for the afternoon but I really really wanted to see the Vietnam Memorial since I remember when it was built. I remember reading long articles about the artist’s reasons and inspiration behind it’s design. It’s just as interesting and impressive in person and I’m really glad we took a moment to walk down and really experience it.

Vietnam Memorial

finding names

Bug played her favorite game of finding all the H’s. The wall was actually hot to the touch since it sits in the sun so it was a tricky game for her to touch the wall but not “burn” her finger. It wasn’t really hot enough to burn you but you know how kids can be sensitive.

B & B

Then it was back to the Actuallys’ for an hour of unpacking and some more putting-together-of-furniture for Troy. Then Bethany and I headed out for a “Ladies’ Night” at her old favorite pottery painting studio. (The kids stayed home with Troy for a fun-filled movie night.) Of course we had to stop on our way there for Starbucks so we would be at our optimum creativity levels.

Also, it’s 7 Days again so we snapped a few self-portraits. If you’ve been following my flickr feed, you’ve probably been wondering why there was a sudden explosion of pictures of my ugly mug. Now you know.

Maryland Ladies Night

painting girls

egg art IS BREWING

I finished up the ceramic egg I started the other day. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s fired. It looks soft and pink now but if I remember right I think the banding stripes are orange and pink and the pink I mixed with something else so it might turn into this awful mauve. Who knows. That’s the fun of pottery painting, you just never know what you’re going to get in the end.

And that’s that! Much more to come though!