Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back at 2009...

January - Received an award for "20 Outstanding Women You Should Know" for my work in Guatemala. Mother Maria from the Hogar also visited in January for the FIRST time and it was awesome. Soooo much fun and definitely a highlight for 2009!

Celebrated my 25th birthday in Guatemala with the children and nuns of the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage. A fiesta complete with firecrackers, balloons, presents, chocolate cake AND carrot cake, and lots of Guatemalan fun!
I completed my 1st year of law school and enjoyed it but decided it wasn't for me. I met some great friends and had fun at the Barrister Ball, debating in class with....well...everyone (didn't find anyone with my same views! Ha!), gaining an addiction to coffee, and the unforgettable Clint Travis rap song "Janutis".... good times :) My law school friends and I formed a softball team called the "Ultrahazardous Bus Jumpers" but my season was interrupted by a hospital stay after I almost lost my leg to a MRSA infection from the softball field. But, it turned out all good and I still have both legs :)

Went to South Carolina - Columbia, Charleston, and Kiawah Island - with my mom's side of the family for my uncle's 50th birthday. I loved the beach and being with everyone, even though it was a looooooong drive!
My mom, sister, and I went to New York City for the 1st time and we ate at Tavern on the Green. It was a long-time dream to eat there and I'm so glad we did it this year since they are now out of business! Booooo! We shopped until we dropped in Chinatown, Times Square, and all over the city. What a fun girls trip!
At the suggestion of Mother Maria and Mother Ines, I attended a FEE seminar - Foundation for Economic Education. I learned a great deal about Austrian Libertarian ideals and met some great friends in the process.
To continue with my traveling theme, I went to Michigan with my aunt's family. The most serene place I know! My family has been going to Petoskey, Michigan ever since I can remember and it's just one of those places where I know I can fully relax and just enjoy myself. It was fun vacationing with their family because my cousins and I all get along so well and we laugh and joke the entire time. By this point in the summer I was diligently job hunting and needed some R&R!
In 2009 I decided it was time to get serious about playing golf. I'd dabbled in it for a couple summers but decided now that I was entering the workforce it was time I learned how to play for real. So, I received a set of golf clubs for my birthday, bought an adorable pair of golf shoes and some golf polo shirts, donned a stylish pink and white golf glove, and hit the links! Ask my dad and he will even admit that I play surprisingly well for having just taken up the game! Ha! Can't wait for the weather to turn nice again.
I moved to Washington, DC in September to start my new career in non-profit international humanitarian work. Something I have a real passion for and enjoy doing. My job is stressful at times and rewarding at others, but no matter what I am learning a great deal about responsibility, diplomacy, compromise, and compassion. I do everything from answering phones to meeting with congressmen; the mundane to the unordinary; domestic to international. Hardest part of 2009 was saying goodbye to my parents and sister after they moved me into my first apartment in DC.
I had so much fun in NYC during the summer that I returned in the fall and met a group of girls from Guatemala and Honduras for an exciting weekend vacation. Most of us had never met one another prior to the trip but we had corresponded by email, so it was neat to finally meet. We went salsa dancing downtown NYC and made fun of the "art" in the Modern Museum of Art!
A big event in 2009 was my older brother's wedding. First of my siblings to get married! I was a bridesmaid and loved every minute of being part of their special day. Many joyous and blessed years to Craig and Megan!
As if I hadn't done enough traveling, I rounded out the year with short trips to Baltimore, MD to see Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley in concert, and not too long after that went to Virginia Beach to splash in the ocean.

You know, 2009 probably held the most changes for me out of all the years I can remember. I went from a law student living at home to a career woman living in a big city all in a matter of months; gained a sister-in-law; dated part of the year and had fun being single and hanging out with friends the other part; discovered I HATE sushi; traveled approximately 12,940 miles total for all my trips; moved apartments within 3 months; and learned to trust God more than I ever have and take one day at a time.

2009 had its ups and downs for sure, but I wouldn't trade anything. I live my life with a "no regrets" attitude because it doesn't do any good to lament on the bad; if I spent time doing that I might miss something really good right in front of my face. You can't be afraid to close your eyes and jump every now and again....might work out and it might not but you know what? It doesn't matter. Life is too short to be wasted sitting on the sidelines watching.

So here's to 2010! Carpe diem!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

My favorite place in DC

The United States Botanical Garden now ranks as #1 on my list of favorite places in DC. It reminds me of being in Guatemala among the banana trees and jungle foliage. Ah I love it! I actually stumbled upon the garden by accident after parking near it. The outside temperature was so cold that I decided to cut through the building to get where I was going just to avoid being outside as much as possible, and lo and behold, I ended up "cutting through" the gardens for 45 minutes! The Christmas motif was stunning - bright colored ornaments hanging from the ceiling and adorning a magnificent tree, train sets running all over the place, and amazing sculptures of all the monuments and important places in DC made entirely from tree bark, twigs, and pieces of wood! There are also multiple levels of catwalks throughout the gardens so you can get different perspectives of the plants from various heights. I didn't have time to try them all out but I will most definitely be going back soon!

Friday, December 25, 2009

My office....well, not really

I was in a meeting the other day in this boardroom overlooking the Capitol building. It was the first time I'd ever been in an office quite like this, and I have to say, I greatly enjoyed it. There were leather place mats for each person so as not to damage the gorgeous table when writing, the chairs were very comfortable leather, swivel to get the full effect of each person talking no matter where he/she was sitting, and the! To be sitting in a room with panoramic views of the Capitol Building - to know that as decisions are made in my boardroom, decisions for the country are being made just a stones throw away - now that is powerful stuff. The only thing I'd like to change is the next time I'm in a boardroom of this magnitude, I'd like to be sitting at the head of the table :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't say ewww until you've tried it!

Today was my work Christmas luncheon and it was at a fantastic Belgium/French restaurant. I've never eaten that type of food before - except for Belgium waffles and French toast, but I've been told those don't count - so I was excited to try something new. I ordered the most delicious Flemmish Beef Stew made with a dark, Belgium beer reduction sauce. Words can not describe the fabulousness of that dish! I'm now on a mission to find that recipe and try it myself.

But, anyways, I deviate from the point of this post. The most delicious part of lunch was dessert (are you surprised??), which consisted of a hot apple tart with beer ice cream. Yes, you read that correctly - BEER ICE CREAM! The apple tart was just so so, but I really ordered it for the ice cream. I've never heard of beer ice cream, so figured what the heck, might as well give it a try at the Christmas lunch :) It definitely had a distinct beer flavor to it...almost like fermented yeast mixed with brown sugar.

So, to sum up my day --- beer stew and beer ice cream. Let the holiday parties roll :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow photos round II

Another beautiful day in DC! With the sun shining bright and the snow glistening, I bundled up and headed out for what turned into a 4+ hour adventure of photographing adorable dogs dressed in their finest sweaters, making a snow angel on the front lawn of the Capitol Building, and enjoying the finest sights in DC.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sing to the tune of Jingle Bells!

Dashing through DC,
in snow up to my knees;
'Or Capitol Hill I go,
tripping in the snow.

Pink Wellies all the rage,
no dogs still in their cage;
Kids are running round and round,
laughing cheerful sounds.

Ohhhh.... DC snow, DC snow,
blizzards coming thru;
Get your car quickly off the road,
or it surely will be towed.

DC snow, DC snow,
I've got my skis in sight;
Mittens, hat, scarf, and coat,
just glad I don't own a boat.

Now tomorrow's a new day,
church then outside to play;
Hope the sun stays in,
a snowball fight to win.

The coffee's steaming hot,
all presents finally bought;
Time to sing a Christmas song,
this poem's getting long.

Ohhh.... DC snow, DC snow,
I wish my family knew
without them here I'm feeling blue
but I'll be home so sooon.

DC snow, DC snow,
so pretty and so fluffy;
I'd stay outside all the time
but it makes my nose kinda stuffy.

Written by me :)

Don't eat the snow if it's yellow....

DC got a little bit of snow last night, so I thought I'd share some pictures.....actually, the snow is more like 15" deep right now and it's still coming down. The mayor declared a snow emergency, so what did I do right away?? Bundled up and headed outside for an adventure! I walked about 8 or 9 blocks around town snapping pictures and talking to other crazy people who ventured out. I think DCer's are friendlier when there is snow....normally everyone is too busy rushing here and there to stop and chat but today, there was a certain camaraderie in the air. A good ol' fashioned snowstorm is all it takes to bring out the midwestern friendliness in the stuffy easterners :)

Oh and yes, those are semi-buried cars in the first picture. We got a lot of snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's time to pull out the checkbook!

One week from tomorrow is Christmas, which means it's time to stop thinking about what you hope to receive and start thinking about what you can give. Do something different this year...skip the long checkout lines and forgo searching all over town for an item that will be returned on the 26th. As you snuggle into your warm bed tonight, think about the 33 million orphaned children in the world who will spend Christmas without families, without presents, and without much hope for their future.

You can't save all the children, but you CAN do something meaningful for 67 orphans in Guatemala. The Hogar Rafael Ayau orphanage in Guatemala City ( is very special to me and I love the children like they are my own kids. My sister was adopted from the orphanage in 1999 and since 2003, I've been traveling to Guatemala a couple times a year to give back to the place that gave me the best sister in the world. The Hogar is run by the most amazing Orthodox nuns who, along with a wonderful staff of nannies, care for the children from newborn through young adult. The children have all their basic needs met, plus they receive an education and attend church twice a day. But as terrific a place as it is, the Hogar is still an orphanage in a loud, dangerous city.

This Christmas, take out your checkbook and give a donation to the Hogar in honor of a loved one. Or, better yet, when asked what you want for Christmas, tell the person you want a donation made to the Hogar Rafael Ayau Orphanage in Guatemala. A new orphanage on beautiful, safe, quiet Lake Amatilan is being constructed for the children, but progress can't continue without money. The Hogar receives NO government funds, so the children and nuns are counting on generous donors! Please visit the Hogar website to make a donation (

Check out the children's photos above to see some of the adorable orphans your donation will help....then do something about giving them a brighter future!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Living the DC Way....Russian Style!

For the past 3 days (and for the next 1 and a half days), I've been entertaining for business a delegation of Russian child welfare officials from all over Russia and Siberia. They are in the States with a cultural/professional program and the organization I work for is hosting them - planning meetings, coordinating legislative conferences, and showing them the cultural side of DC....which to them (much to my delight!) means checking out as many shopping malls as possible! We had plans to tour the monuments at night on Sunday, but when the delegates saw it was rainy and cold outside, they decided they would rather shop.....and shop we did :)

Those who know me, know that I LOVE to shop. After diligent training from an early age by my mom, I can spot a sale item across the store, memorize a mall directory after only one trip, and navigate crowded parking garages like nothing. What can I say; I'm gifted. Anyways, for the past year or longer, I've been wanting a pair of "Wellies" - rain boots. But I've never found a pair that really called out to me...until now. I saw these plaid pink ones - only one pair left and it was my size!! - so I grabbed them and headed to the checkout counter. I was hoping to get the boots in a bag before the Russians saw so they wouldn't think I was a completely nutty American, but to my surprise, they all saw my boots and loved them! The youngest delegate (age 25) was like "You're Russian! That's such a Russian thing to buy!"

And so, I bonded with the Russian officials over a pair of pink, plaid Wellies. There's something to be said for cross-cultural shopping in promoting peace :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Thank you to my grandma for sending me this hilarious card! I miss my kitties at home but hope to get one soon in DC. My apartment technically does not allow animals, but I plan on writing a proposal to the management company lobbying for why I should be allowed a cat. Allowing an orphaned, gentle, quiet, old cat to live in this place is much different than allowing a rowdy, smelly, barking, young puppy. I believe the quasi-lawyer in me can put forth a highly persuasive argument such that I will have a cat by February :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas treat time :)

The closer we get to Christmas, the more my apartment begins to smell of wonderful holiday baking aromas. Love it! Today I decided to make some traditional family candies and even managed to put a tasty spin on them...maybe it will become my own traditional Christmas candy :)

Both candies start with a pretzel base and both are topped with delightful red and green M&M's, but the middle part is what makes them so snazzy! On the left, it is a Hershey Kiss Hugs and on the right it is a Rolo (caramel and chocolate). Preheat the oven to the lowest temperature setting - usually 170-180 degrees. Place pretzels on a cookie sheet and top with a Hershey Hug or Rolo. Place in oven until semi-melted -- watch carefully!!! Remove from oven and top with M&M. Let dry completely before packaging in air-tight container.

**WARNING: You won't be able to eat just one :)

Trading Water for Electricity

I saw this display today and reached for my camera right away. It's a water fountain but instead of actual water, it's a changing lights display that just looks like running water. Clever, yet odd...I suppose it saves on water, but is that really a savings? Fountains just recirculate the same water, whereas electricity does not just "recirculate" to keep powering the display. I'm guessing water would have been a better choice...

Friday, December 11, 2009


I have the best co-workers! Although my office is small, I work with some wonderful people and they definitely make the days more interesting and fun. Today, for example, was "Celebrate Friday" day... a.k.a. a delicious lunch of BBQ and giant carrot cake :) This was the first time I had BBQ in DC because apparently it is not as popular as it is in Ohio. We have a "City Barbeque" or "Shane's Barbeque" on every corner back home, but here in DC, BBQ means opening a bottle from the store. BBQ is more than just a's a way of cooking that infuses any type of meat (chicken, pork turkey, roast beef) with spicy, sweet, smoky, tangy, flavorful mouth-watering deliciousness. Mmmmm... it fills a house or restaurant with a draw-you-in aroma and everyone instantly becomes friends. Bonding happens with BBQ. Back home, one does not "grill out" - we "BBQ"- and today for the first time since moving to DC, I found a place (thanks to my awesome co-worker!!) that brings a little midwestern cooking to the east.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Santa in the Suburbs

What is wrong with the above pictures? Can you tell what month it is? NO! We have 16 days until Christmas and I'd venture to say less than 5% of houses are decorated. No outside lights, no Christmas trees in windows, no wreaths. Nothing! It's disgusting! I have three theories about this ridiculousness:

1. People who live in the city are too busy working to decorate, or
2. City living is expensive, so all money is spent on rent leaving nothing for buying decorations, or
3. The city has a high theft rate.

I wish I had a house in the suburbs just for December so that I would be surrounded with Christmas festivities! There are some beautiful Christmas light displays outside DC, which naturally leads me to three more theories:

1. Suburbs are filled with families and having children around makes adults more apt to decorate, or
2. People in the suburbs are not such tightwads with their money and deem Christmas lights an acceptable way to spend money, or
3. People are just happier living outside the city limits.

I feel like I have more Christmas decorations inside my little apartment than all the houses in my neighborhood combined. Maybe if I'm still living here come next Christmas, I'll institute a Christmas lights display contest for the entire city (guess I'd probably have to call it a "holiday" lights contest) and put a little spice in city-dwellers lives!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Booeymonger vs. Boogeyman

I ate lunch at a new restaurant today in Georgetown. Driving down one of the side streets looking for a parking place near the bank, I stumbled across "Booeymonger" - naturally I wanted to stop because I thought it said "Boogeyman" and any restaurant named after a fictitious nightmare has to be interesting. So, I found a place to park, went to the bank, and then walked 5 blocks only to be disappointed when I re-read the sign and realized it was not in fact Boogeyman but rather Booeymonger. Lunch just didn't taste as good as it could have :(

Monday, December 7, 2009

Book my plane ticket!

Who wouldn't want to go to Australia after seeing this adorable embassy Christmas display?!?! I can't decide if the guy is surfing or snowboarding....makes more sense to surf in Australia, however, based on my superior knowledge of kangaroos from almost being trampled by many in the "Walk with Kangaroos" zoo exhibit (good idea; terrible execution!) I don't think they hop on water - Jesus, yes; kangaroos, no - and clearly there is leash attached to the last one. So, that makes me think the guy is actually suppose to be snowboarding, which raises a whole new set of questions - do kangaroos like cold weather? Do their large feet and tail act like natural snowshoes so they don't sink in the snow? Why is the guy snowboarding in shorts? Why is only one kangaroo pulling the guy and the others hopping free? Washington DC is full of mysteries!