Saturday, January 30, 2010

Something to think about...

Yesterday I had to deliver some papers for work to a building smack dab in the middle of downtown DC during the lunch hour. As I waited in my car for further instructions from my office before delivering the documents, I had the opportunity to observe many businessmen and women rushing around buying lunch from street vendors or grabbing carryout orders from restaurants. This was Friday, which in my office means casual dress, so I just had on nice jeans and a shirt, but the downtown population clearly did not observe casual Fridays - men were wearing suits and ties; women skirts and blouses. I sat there and watched for a while as people ran down the street holding a briefcase in one hand and talking on their cell phone with the other all while trying to hail a cab, and thought about whether or not I wanted to be one of those people someday.

In theory, who wouldn't want to have an important high-profile job, a corner office as big as an apartment with breathtaking views of the city, an assistant to handle phone calls and daily schedules, a luxury car with a prime parking spot, and a big fat paycheck arriving in your bank account every two weeks....I certainly wanted all of this at one time. I worked in downtown Columbus for a summer wearing a business suit everyday, rushing around the city on my lunch hour, attending important business meetings with leaders from around the world, yadda yadda....it was fabulous and I loved every minute of it. But then I grew up a little more and started looking at the quality of the lives around me outside of their jobs.

The reality is that you can't have the above high-profile life of an executive AND an extracurricular/family life. If your work life really is all that I described, then you're not working an 8-5 job; you're putting in more like 60-70 hours a week. And when you do that, you don't have time to spend with your family or pursue leisure activities and hobbies. So, it comes down to this....would you rather have a glamourous work life and a non-existent or half-way decent remainder of your life, or would you rather have an ordinary work life and a thriving family life with time to pursue hobbies and fun things you love? Might seem like an easy question because of course the politically correct thing is to choose family over work, but is it really that easy? I mean the allure of a fancy sports cars, wearing a power suit everyday, and having everyone know your name is a pretty big attraction. Then again, going home to an empty house every night, missing every family event, and never having time to do the things you love really stinks.

I pondered this question over and over in Guatemala because living at the orphanage, I didn't have access to internet, phone, or tv, so I had lots of time to think about life...that in and of itself is both good and bad! Ha! But I came to the conclusion that I prefer to enjoy life and not make work the focus of everything. As long as I have a roof over my head, food, clothes, family, and friends, I am all set. Who cares that instead of a penthouse with a view I have an apartment with bars on my windows, or that instead of wearing the latest fashions from Paris I'm wearing jeans from GAP?! And you know what?? I intend to use every vacation, sick, and personal day my work has to offer this year to go someplace fun and experience something new! I don't need to wear a suit to work everyday and spend my lunch hour rushing around the city for food. I like casual Fridays and I like bringing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work.

And that my friends, is something to think about :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mmmmm Key Lime Pie


I used to think my favorite pie was strawberry rhubarb.... until I ate a little slice of Heaven known as Key Lime pie. It's a very close call, but the Key Lime is slightly edging out strawberry rhubarb especially because it is topped with meringue. First time attempting to make Key Lime pie and I think it turned out very well :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fore!

Time to start polishing my clubs and putting together my golf outfits for the season! Yes, it is still January, but temps were in the 50's on Sunday so I decided to break out the clubs and find the nearest driving range. It turns out there's one just about 10 minutes from my apartment! Excellent! I did surprisingly (and I do mean surprisingly!!) well for my first time out this year. I was consistently driving the ball 150 yds for the most part in a straight line, and I only ricocheted two golf balls off the inside of the tee box. I spent more time at the driving range last spring and summer than I did on a golf course, but that's only because every time I asked one of my brothers, my dad, or my grandpa to take me golfing, they would pass me off to the next person claiming they didn't know enough about golf to teach me....pretty sure my dad felt sorry for me and that's the only reason he caved and took me to an actual course, right dad??? But I showed them and even got my dad to admit I did better than he thought I would :) So, I'm picking up where I left off last year and hitting the links with 5 goals in mind for 2010:

1) Practice at the driving range at least once a week to improve my game
2) Try out all 3 golf courses in DC
3) Play in one of my company's golf outings
4) Teach 3 people how to golf (or find 3 people who already know how to golf...apparently people like to play golf in groups of 4, but I've yet to figure out why)
5) Go on one vacation this year that includes playing golf on a nice course....maybe overlooking an ocean, or mountain view....something pretty

I'll keep everyone posted on my progress but in the meantime, all you Ohioans who laughed at me last season (you know who you are) get ready for the CPGA....yea that's right, it's only a matter of time before the LPGA renames the organization after me :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

4 more checked off the list

WWII Memorial

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Museum of American History

This was the first weekend in a long time that the weather was decent and I didn't have anything planned, so I decided to check a few more things off my "DC to-do list." Saturday, I went to the WWII memorial, 2 Smithsonian museums - Natural History and American History, and the Holocaust museum. My legs were ready to fall off by the end of the day!!

The WWII memorial was very neat but I was a little annoyed at all the school tours visiting and the kids being so loud and irreverent. It was evident they couldn't care less about the history and meaning of the memorial. My grandpa fought in WWII and my grandma worked in an airplane factory, so I was there to honor them. What's really cool about the memorial is that you can look up the names of people who fought or contributed to the war effort on computers. I found both my grandpa and grandma on the list...and then held up the line of people behind me trying to take pictures of their names without the computer screen glare! Ha! I'm so proud of them and I intend to go back to the memorial one evening after work when there aren't so many obnoxious kids around.

The Smithsonian museums were great, but again, really crowded....and it's not even prime tourist season! Yikes! Can't imagine what this city is going to be like when the cherry blossom trees are blooming. The Natural History museum definitely fed the science geek in me :) I was in my element surrounded by ecology, anthropology, geology, biology, oceanology, etc. The more "-ology" the better! (FYI...the suffix "ology" means "study of"). The American History museum had some very cool exhibits, such as Julia Child's actual kitchen, pictures of holiday storefronts throughout the years, and of course iconic items from movie, television, plays, and musicals. I almost started jumping up and down like a little kid when I saw Kermit the Frog! I was staring at my childhood!! I even dressed up as Kermie for Halloween one year....those were the days.

Then I went to the Holocaust museum....should have done that first so I wouldn't end the day on a sad note. It was a good museum full of important history but I was slightly disappointed because of all the hype and rave reviews it has received since opening. I was expecting more hands-on exhibits or real items and artifacts but instead it was probably 90% pictures and words describing the pictures, or just posters of words. Lots of reading, which was difficult because of course everyone was pressed against the walls trying to read the posters. I will say that it was nice to see the reverence on everyone's faces as they moved through the exhibit and not a single cell phone rang!

So, it was an eventful Saturday and I would definitely like to go back through the Smithsonian museums when they are not so crowded!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Irony at the Smithsonian

I went museum hopping today (more on that later) and discovered the irony of all ironies....an insect zoo sponsored by a pest control company! This was inside the Museum of Natural History....makes me wonder if Orkin provided the exhibits as well???

Chic Accessories

The weather broke 50 degrees today, so I decided to go out for a bike ride and finally use my adorable basket my cousin gave me for Christmas. It is especially perfect because DC just enacted a new law charging 5 cents for every plastic bag at grocery stores and places that sell food! Outrageous! But now I can shop in style :) So, I hopped on my bike and made it from my apartment door to the sidewalk when my chain came off. Thankfully, dad taught me how to remedy that situation many years ago, so I expertly put the chain back on the spoke and then away I rode like the wind with my basket on the handle. I went to the post office and picked up a care package from my mom (love you mommy!!), placed it in my basket, and proceeded to Eastern Market where I bought ingredients for lunch. The lady tried to put my items in a bag and charge me but I just said "no, no, I have my own" and was on my way. I love that basket! Not only does it look stylish with any outfit, it's also practical....not often you find an accessory that's cute AND useful :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Favorite Pics








Graeter's, take note!


Just to show you how ridiculous the cost of ice cream is in the US, I took a picture of an ice cream cart inside one of the Guatemalan malls. But first, take a look at the top picture....brilliant! See the pre-scooped balls of ice cream?? Ingenious! No messy ice cream scoops or yucky buckets of ice cream that need changing out during the day. Instead, a customer walks up and asks for 2 scoops of ice cream and bam! The worker simply grabs 2 scoops, plops them on a cone, and the order is complete. As someone who once scooped ice cream at Graeter's, I have a deep appreciation for this efficient means of distribution. Way to go Guatemala!

Now, look at the second picture and there you will see the price for a "cono," which is a cone of ice cream with 1 scoop. It says Q8.00 meaning it costs 8 Quetzales. The exchange rate is currently 8.1979 Quetzales to $1.00, so a scoop of ice cream in Guatemala is about 94 cents and a cup only 83 cents!! Now, I'd like to point out the current price for a scoop of ice cream at your local Graeter's shop - $2.69, which is 286% more expensive!!! I do believe it's time for an uprising in the States against over-priced ice cream! Who's with me?!?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Girls will be girls

The girls room at the Hogar makes me feel so much better about my apartment :) Although I suppose to their credit it's the mess of 6 girls compared to my mess, which is mine alone. Ha! The girls were anticipating my arrival in their room to deliver presents, so they were all trying to find pretty outfits. It was about 7pm and those who were in pajamas changed into church dresses just to show me! Awww such sweet little girls! So easy to overlook their mess....makes me wonder if I should just wear a church dress all the time when people come over?!?!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The new playground!


video
(Samarise and Miguel - click on the PLAY button for the video)

The Hogar received a magnificent new playground donated by a mission team. Truly a great thing for all the kids to play on and enjoy. There is a climbing wall, swinging steps, several slides, a ladder, and plastic bongo drums! Amazing! Definitely a favorite of many kids is the bongo drums....it goes right along with their love of singing and performing :)

Divino



I have to share the story of "Divinio" at the Hogar. This little 3-year old guy's name is actually Emanuel and he and his sister are being adopted by wonderful friends of my family - very exciting! But the funniest thing about him is that he prefers to be called "Divino", which literally translates into "Divine" in English. He is absolutely adorable, charming, funny, and he knows it!! When all the children were running around playing and I wanted to get Emanuel's attention, all I had to yell was "Divino!" and he immediately ran over to me smiling and said "Si?"

Love it!

video
(Click on the PLAY button for the video!!)

You know you've made it big in the music world when even children living at an orphanage in a Third World Country are singing your songs! Introducing the newest cover band for the Jonas Brothers..... Andrea, Franchesca, and Isabel!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where to begin??





How do I put into words my life the past 5 days?? I don't know where to begin except to say that anyone reading this who has been to the Hogar knows what I am feeling right now. With each trip to Guatemala, life changes just a little bit...

So, instead of writing one long post about my trip, I think I'll break it up into several posts because I have many photos to share. This post will just be a quick overview of the 5 days and some general pictures.

I left DC at 7:10am on Wednesday and arrived in Guatemala City at 2:30pm. I spent the next 5 days eating black beans, rice, tortillas, pancakes, peanut butter, a tamale, onion soup, lentils, jello, Guatemalan cookies, and rabbit meat, with 64 precious orphans, 5 like-minded missionaries, 3 fun friends, 4 furry dogs, and 3 amazing nuns. I played soccer, raced up and down slides on the new playground, chased giggling toddlers, played a game of UNO with the senoritas and other missionaries, built a tower of blocks and pretended to cry every time it was knocked down, attended church 7 times, and laughed, smiled, danced, prayed, and sang more times than I can count.

I left Guatemala City on Sunday at 3pm and arrived back in DC at 11pm, exhausted but renewed in mind and spirit. Hope you enjoy the stories to come!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Love at first sight...


Have you ever had one of those long, tiring days at work and all you can think about is going home to veg out and watch tv, but then something happens that makes you forget all about the work day? Something that makes your heart skip just a little and a smile creep onto your face without you knowing? It happened to me while driving home from work and absolutely made my day....I had the privilege of driving next to a sleek black, Nissan 370Z coupe. It was the most beautiful car I have ever seen...low to the ground, sporty, smooth lines, powerful motor, 5-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels....wow. I saw that car and all I could think about was how I would give one of my kidneys to drive that beauty. I oogled the car the entire way home....funny part was that the guy driving it clearly thought I was oogling him! Ha! I didn't even see him but certainly eyed his car :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Frozen legs, but worth the gelato :)

After hearing that a friend had gelato for lunch one day, I decided to search out a gelato store on my way home from work, and lo and behold, I came across "Dolce ZZa" - an Argentinean gelato cafe. Yes, I do realize the temperature in DC has been no higher than the 30's, but it in no way shape or form deterred my craving for gelato....and I'm glad it didn't cause it was delicious! The beauty of gelato is that you get to choose 2 flavors for even the small size dish! Normally, I would think that such a benefit as multiple flavors would only come with a larger, more expensive size, but I guess the inventors of gelato were generous folks who realized the delightfully tasteful pairing of more than one flavor. Anyways, I chose coconut and pistachio as my gelato pairing and it was very yummy.

The only problem with my who gelato escapade was that I didn't take into account evening traffic through DC. Dolce ZZa is located just a few minutes from work, which meant I still had to drive about 30 minutes home. Not so bad except traffic was very heavy this evening and I ended up going the wrong way from Dolce ZZa and crisscrossing the Potomac River over every single bridge that links Virginia and DC. I began getting a little worried about my gelato riding in the seat next to me, so I put in on the passenger-side floor and turned on the floor air-conditioning. Well, the combination of plummeting outside temperatures and air-conditioning in my car made for a chilly drive home! By the time I arrived home, after 1 hour, my legs and feet were sooooo cold....but the gelato was still frozen! My plan was successful!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's Official!

I am now officially a Washingtonian, after spending 2.5 hours at the DMV and spending all of my disposable income for the next 4 months. I now have a DC driver's license, residential parking permit, DC vehicle inspection certificate, and last but not least official DC license plates. It really is the most absurd system I have ever encountered, but I'm beginning to realize that's par for the course here. The license plate says it all - "Taxation Without Representation" - and oh my goodness did they tax the heck out of me for having an out-of-state title, tags, and license. Geesh! Just to illustrate what I'm talking about, here's a rundown of what car owners in DC go through when moving from a different state:

1. Apply for a temporary parking permit----this gives a person 15 days to park without getting a ticket; you then have to apply for another one if you haven't gotten DC plates after 15 days, but you can only apply for 2 permits within 12 months.

2. Get the car inspected at a vehicle inspection station, at which time a sticker is placed on your front windshield...only the beginning of the many stickers that will litter your car!

3. If car title is not in your name, get it transferred----this means you also need new car insurance.

4. Go to a local DMV where the fun really begins. Required documents: current drivers license, passport, social security card, bill with local address, car registration, car title, proof of vehicle inspection, proof of DC insurance, and DC car registration forms.....and reading material cause the lines are loooooooong!

5. Wait, wait, and wait for your number to be called. Then present all the paperwork to a gruff worker who mumbles and gets upset when you ask her to repeat what she just said. Then take a driving eye exam by placing your forehead on a disgusting eye machine used by who knows how many people (and get a mean look from the worker when you ask to clean the machine first).

6. Pull out your credit card and watch as the worker maliciously grins as she adds up the total cost of your visit, which consists of: drivers license (included in the cost is a driver education fund fee despite the fact that I never took a class in DC and don't care to pay for others to take the class), car registration fee, car inspection fee, residential parking permit fee, car title fee, and a title excise fee based on the total value of the car (which is significant unless you're driving a vespa!)

7. And finally, wait to get your picture taken for the drivers license....and wait for it to be printed.

So, I am a Washingtonian today, but not by choice. I was perfectly happy retaining my Ohio drivers license and Ohio license plates.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Capoeira Class

I think one of my greatest fears is someday lying on my death bed thinking back over my life and realizing I didn't take advantage of all the opportunities that came my way. So, whenever something comes along that I haven't tried, I tend to jump at the chance and give it a shot. My newest quest - Capoeira; an Afro-Brazilian fighting style of art that combines martial arts, dance, and music. Participants in capoeira either play traditional Brazilian musical instruments, sing call and response songs, or spar in a ring using aerobatic moves to attack/evade the other person. Pretty cool, huh? My friend in DC is dating a Brazilian guy who teaches capoeira and she asked if I wanted to take lessons with her. So, I figured why not and signed up for the class. It's twice a week for 2 hours each class. The first hour and a half or so is spent learning the capoeira fighting moves and the last half hour is where we learn the play instruments and do call and response songs. We also learn some Portugese words in the process!

Well, my first class was Tuesday and it was amazing! Of course I am still having trouble moving today and my head throbbed all day yesterday from spending so much time doing cartwheel flips and attempting to walk on my hands during class, but overall it is a fun experience and I'm excited to keep practicing and learning.

Check out this YouTube Capoeira channel to see just why I might be so sore from my first class :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQPm_24uo44

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's 3 Kings Day!

Today is January 6th, a.k.a the Feast of Epiphany, a.k.a. 3 Kings Day, a.k.a. Donuts and Money day! Germans have a tradition of making homemade donuts today and placing a coin in some of them. It is good luck to get the money, which means lots of donut eating :) Since I'm not home today to enjoy my mom's delicious donuts (she makes the best ones coated in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar and she even makes the little donut holes!) she sent me money to go buy a donut. I planned at the beginning of the week to walk to Dunkin Donuts by my apartment after work but then I went to Starbucks for hot caramel apple cidar and discovered miniature SPARKLY DONUTS! They were beautiful sitting behind the glass case and I decided right then and there that if the 3 wisemen had brought donuts to Jesus, they would have done it in style with sparkles, so I would celebrate with a sparkle donut in their honor today. 3 cheers for Jesus, the wisemen, donuts, and being German!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Let's call a spade, a spade and quit pretending!

I'm stepping up on my soapbox, so if you don't want to hear it, I suggest you stop reading right now. Otherwise, keep reading and be educated! It's January 3, 2010 and just how far have we come from the era of the civil rights movement? Not very, and here's why:

I flew US Airways from Port Columbus (yeah that's right, I'm exposing the airlines and the airport!) to Reagan National today and was just seething by the time I sat down on the plane. Keep in mind I've already gone through security and am now sitting at the gate to board. So, a US Airways agent comes on the loudspeaker at my gate and says "We are now boarding flight blah blah for Washington DC...we will board by zone numbers blah blah...and we ask for your cooperation as TSA agents will be randomly searching passengers as they board the aircraft." Okay, not a big deal, I understand doing that with the most recent threat and all. But what proceeds to happen next is what I'm on my soapbox about. US Airways and TSA's idea of "random searches" is nothing more than racial profiling at it's best! I stand in line to board and watch as 4 white businessmen board the plane without so much as a blink in their direction. Then, TSA agents one by one pull off to the side every non-white person and pat them down head to toe and check their carry-on bags. As this is happening, more white people board the plane. I counted 2 white people who were searched and I'd like to add that those people were ONLY searched; not patted down and their carry on items were no more than simply opened and glanced through not even moving the items inside. Basically, TSA was sprinkling in a couple whites so they can say they also searched whites. I'm still simmering about this! If TSA wants to implement extra security measures that's great. More power to them. I don't mind being additionally searched at the gate. But for US Airways to say they are "randomly searching passengers" and then search ALL the ethnically-diverse people, no, I don't think so. That is racial profiling and I wish I looked exotic enough to be searched so that I could tell those people exactly what I think of their "random" sampling. And for those of you who think it's okay to only search non-whites since "those people are probably terrorists" well let's bring it down a notch and put it in perspective ~ you think that it's okay for my sister from Guatemala to always be patted down and searched solely because she has tan skin and must be more dangerous than a white person traveling? You're thinking - "Well that's different." Nope. There's no difference.

US Airways and TSA - you want to search only non-whites? Go ahead. But don't pretend it's a "random search" of passengers. If you think your sampling method is just fine, then stand behind it and call it what it is - racial profiling NOT random sampling.