10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your D.C. Vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

our 10th anniversary

Last year, we went to Disney World for vacation. This year we need something more affordable, so we are going to Washington, D.C.!!!!

Alan has been after me to write a post about how to save money and hassle on a D.C. vacation for a while now because it’s something we loved. When we lived in the D.C. area, we had so much fun taking our friends and family around to see the monuments and Smithsonian museums.

So I finally got around to it. I wrote an article for Monterey Premier about Saving Money and Hassle on a Washington, D.C. vacation.

Here’s a snippet:

#8. Most importantly, buy a Metro pass, and you will be fine.
The Metro is a perfectly safe form of transportation, and it is the most affordable way to do D.C. There are even buses that run between Metro stops that you can hop on with your Metro pass.
I used to walk around D.C. with my Metro map, but now that everyone has smart phones, you can give your Google Maps app a good work-out on this trip! Which leads me to my next tip…..

#9. Download the Metro app!!!……..

Click here to read more!

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on your washington, d.c. vacation

10 Tips to Save Money and Hassle on Your Washington, D.C. Vacation


Inauguration Day Feelings and Thoughts

Inauguration Day Feelings and Thoughts

Were all of you glued to the Inauguration Day coverage, as I was? I couldn’t help it. I just had to watch.

I feel optimistic. I do. I’m interested to see what happens. The Obamacare thing makes me a little nervous. I hope they make sure they have all the people with a health care plan that is dependent on the changes Obama made are taken care of. The group with pre-existing conditions and low-income are a fragile group.

It was exciting to watch the inauguration ceremony and to see all the former presidents there. I’m sort of addicted to reading books about former presidents and first ladies. As in, I’ve read tons. You wouldn’t believe it. (My favorite is Abraham Lincoln, and my favorite First Lady was actually a First Mom: Rose Kennedy)

Was Laura Bush there today? I didn’t see her, but I was proud of Hillary Clinton for being there in her former first lady role.

Oh! And Melania’s beautiful blue dress! She is going to be such a fashion icon.

I’m a conservative, but I still felt a twinge of sadness to see President Obama make that final wave. I’m a terribly sentimental person. I know. I loved how Michelle Obama took up the cause of the military wife.

And don’t bother with the political talk here because you know that’ s not my thing, and I don’t have much at all to say about it. It’s like when I say “Roll Tide,” and then people expect me to understand football. Look, y’all, all I know is Bama wins. But ugh, with politics the lines are so much blurrier. I vote for who I agree with, but I’d rather talk about what they were wearing. Politics just isn’t my thing.

They make such a big deal about President Obama’s legacy, but his legacy is a big deal already, whether we liked his policies or not. He was the first African-American to become president of a country that enslaved African-Americans, a country that only 75ish years ago didn’t even allow black students the same privileges as whites.  We had a long way to come. We still have a ways to go.


Watching the inauguration took me back to the 5 years we lived in D.C. I remember the thrill of getting to tour the White House and the Capitol and just the general excitement of living in our nation’s capitol. How we loved it.

We used to live on Bolling Air Force Base, where they park Marine One. It was this surreal chapter of our lives where we could just hop in the car and check out the latest Smithsonian exhibit. Man, I miss that!

I’m hoping I can get Alan on board with a mini-D.C. vacation this summer. Alan, what do you say? How I’d love to see my old friends and walk that mall again.

For today, I had the HOT MESS blog hop feature on my calendar, but it feels kind of silly to talk about being a HOT MESS on a day as important for us as Inauguration Day.

I’m still hosting it, of course. It’s just in a separate post.

I want to share with you an excerpt from what I think was the most powerful inauguration speech ever given, because as Alice said in the Return to Wonderland movie, “We can’t change the past. We can only learn from it.”


Abraham Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural snippet:

“….Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Poignant words. Justice. We do pay for our wrongdoing, and America paid for hers. And now we learn from our past and move on.



The Old Blog: How I wish they could fix Xanga.

One day, back in 2007, my friend Chrisynda paid me a visit. That was back when Joshua was a baby. Well, Chrisynda got on my computer and showed me all these things that had begun the last few years that I knew nothing about. She introduced me to three very important modern advances: MySpace (remember that?), Facebook, and our friend, Jennifer’s, blog. 

I was floored! Here was this website where I could find all of my old friends. I became a Facebook junkie. 

And Jennifer’s blog? That was also a break through. I was happy to learn that Jen and I had had our first babies just a week apart. I was less happy to learn that he could crawl and walk way before Joshua could. The first born lives under so much pressure. Joshua began walking at 12 months and crawling at 9 months. I felt like he was so extremely behind, with the crawling. HA!! JD didn’t crawl until 10 or 11 months, I don’t even remember, and I wasn’t really worried about it. 

Jennifer’s blog was on xanga.com, and I was so impressed that she could write, post pictures, and upload videos, to share with her friends and family, all in one place.

Fast-forward a year. Alan left for Iraq, and I wanted a way to share with him all that he was missing with our precious baby boys. I decided it was time to start my own blog. That was 2008, and I’ve been blogging ever since. I was an instant blogaholic. I just loved all the praise I would get from family members, “We are loving these Xangas, April, keep ’em coming.”

I blogged, privately, for 5 years. I bailed on Xanga when they started having difficulty, and how I wish I’d backed up all my work because now it’s awfully hard to retrieve. The whole platform came tumbling down just months after I jumped ship. The videos of my babies are long gone. The pictures and words are there, but the background is altered from what it used to be, so you can’t actually read the words. I have to work pretty hard just to save those old thoughts.

My mission: I have got to retrieve those xanga.com blog entries before they are gone forever. It’s rich with memories of Joshua and Caleb as toddlers, and I just can’t let that slip away. Look for a “Xanga” tab soon, where I will be archiving those posts onto this site.

Here’s one to get us started:

April 5, 2010

Mount Vernon

Let me know if these pictures work or not. I’m trying the easiest method first.

The photo above is of people listening to a woman talk about George Washington. The brick building is his tomb, and he is actually buried in it.

These are photos from our Mount Vernon trip. It’s all of 15-20 minutes from our house. Tourist season has hit FULL speed. To get into Washington’s mansion there was an hour long line…we decided to not torture our children and ourselves with that and opted to just see what else Mount Vernon had to offer–plenty!

The boys were so excited to find a “cow”. I called it an ox. Alan wasn’t so sure. Anyone know? I assumed ox b/c it was big, and the lady on the hay ride told us Washington used mules and oxen.

Another exciting day! We took the boys to Target and purchased bicycles and a wading pool! We are so ready for summer…

The boys and I took a walk by the river to the playground over there this morning, and I was amazed to notice the view down there. My parents took a walk on the Potomac every night of their visit, and I’ll be sure all future guests get to see it. Sitting on the bench at the playground I looked across, and I could see George Washington Masons Temple, Reagan Natl Airport, Alexandria skyline, the Pentagon, Arlington skyline, the National Cathedral, the Washington Monument, and the Thomas Jefferson Monument, along with the rest of the DC skyline. Pretty cool.

We also went to the thrift store on post today, and I found the newest looking baby stuff I have ever seen in a thrift store: boppies, strollers, a playpen, and a bassinet all in perfect condition! I wanted to buy it all………but then I reminded myself that –hello– I am not pregnant, nor am I about to be. But one day, I believe I will be again b/c we both would like to have another. : ) Don’t worry, Dad, I will thoroughly verse new doc on my previous difficult births…not that we’re even there yet, b/c we’re not.

I have my first confirmed houseguest for the summer. My college roomate Nikki and her family (husband, who she was dating in college, so we already know him–plus two little girls). She’s arriving July 13 and staying four days. How exciting!

Oh! Cute story from Easter. We were leaving a playground with Fort Belvoir friends, and Caleb had followed Serena around the whole time. Caleb just begged and begged her to hold his hand, and she told him no. So Joshua asked her if she would hold his hand, and she said yes. Poor Caleb, but he was not to be discouraged. He kept asking and asking and asking and asking (meanwhile she’s holding Joshua’s hand all the way back to Keara’s house), Caleb put his little hand out there, and pointed at it with his finger, “Hold my hand. Hold my hand.” So cute! Finally I couldn’t take it anymore, I said, “Serena, will you hold Caleb’s hand b/c it will make him so happy.” She said sure, and walked the rest of the way home between my two little boys. Then she said, “So Joshua, do you want to stay over?” “Sure!” “Can Joshua stay over at my house tonight?” “No, Serena.” “Okay.”

This afternoon we returned home from the thrift store (where I proudly left without purchasing thing number one! : ) ), and to my horror I discovered James and John (neighbor children) playing in a new wading pool out front. Oh my boys wanted to be a part of that so bad! But Caleb was in bad need of a nap, so I explained to them that we don’t invite ourselves to swim in other people’s pools and we will buy one of our own….hence the 6:30pm Target trip tonight. Later on I did let Joshua play with them at the pool, but he did not have fun. James and John are big splashers, which Joshua hates, and no matter who or how many times we asked them not to splash Joshua, they continued. Joshua finally splashed James a few good times, and James said, “Stop. That’s cold.” It didn’t last long before Joshua willingly came home. And again, the SOABRs are moving to Burma in May…

(SOABR= super obnoxious annoying bell ringers)  —Editor’s note:  I was new to the whole kids’ friends thing. It was hard because my children were still too young to play unsupervised, so every time they wanted them to play, we all had to go out. I had a lot to learn.

Oh! New quote I like: “The Almighty has His own purposes.” –Abraham Lincoln.

One more thing! Status report on Alan. He pulled some muscles in his back that has been VERY painful for him this last week. You know it’s bad when Alan slows down! He’s doing slightly better, but he’s just still not up to full strength. Apparently they know it’s muscular as opposed to spinal if the pain does not travel down your legs. That’s probably common knowledge, but I didn’t know that, even with all the back woes I had last year. Of course mine is all up and down my leg, and that’s how they knew it wasn’t muscular initially. Pray Alan feels better! We need him and his back! Plus he has a long plane ride Saturday, and as those of us in the back pain club know, that can be real torture!

The People Make the Place


Caleb’s remarkably good drawing of Elephant and Piggy, of the Mo Willems books. Elephant says, “I’m scared.”

I thought this picture was perfect for that nervous, excited but sad, feeling that you get, just as you are about to move. We are four weeks out from the longest distance, most emotional move we’ve ever made.  This will be our 8th move. However, this is the very first move where our little boys are old enough to really get it.  We’ve been in the area for 5 years and in this house for 3.  We had NEVER lived in the same house for three years before! Saying good-bye is going to hurt this time.


the boys, 2 years ago

this yearDaniel and JD, last week



Anyone who has done even a little bit of moving around will tell you that the people are what make the place.  If you have an amazing community of friends, you can weather Siberia together and be perfectly happy.  If you’re living with a crooked bunch of questionable folks–Paradise itself will not be habitable.

So if people make the place, then this little D.C. suburban neighborhood has been a little piece of Eden for our family. We live on a street where the parents all socialize over our chain link fences, while we pull weeds (only don’t look too closely at my neglected gardens…), our children run from one house to the other giggling and carrying on, and I know when one of my kids stray, one of my neighbors will step in!! We have a neighborhood school, a park, and a pool.  Our kids all play on the same basketball, soccer, baseball, and swim teams.  Some of us even go to the same churches. It’s like a small town, in an urban area.


I made them wash the car–they loved it! I’m doing that more often.



Look, Mom! A slug! Oooo, Mom, are you scared??



“If I flick it (the slug) off, can I immediately go inside and wash my hands? Ew!  I touched it!  I touched it!!”



Joshua and Caleb both started kindergarten here. Daniel took his first steps here. JD was born here!  Geesh, I’m going to miss this place!

The people here are AWESOME, and that has just made all the difference. We have so many friends, we have so much in common, and they are all solid families with homes that I know I can safely send my children to.  I am just so thankful to have been a part of this!!!

Ok, you will notice I’m wearing the same outfit in a lot of these.  I had a little farewell lunch with some of my closest friends from our community this week.  These women, plus a whole bunch that are not pictured, are ALL incredible, and I can’t tell you how much I have learned from these gals. These are the “Park Moms” that got me through the birth of baby #4. They brought me meals, chauffeured my older boys, helped me with Daniel, and best of all–they were just there!! I will forever be a better person, just for knowing these wonderful women.

“17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

DCFriends DCFriendsCollage


Also, in defense of Betsy and me, we were pregnant in a few of those last photos!!

I’ve always felt like God put us here to provide a safe little nursery for our children to spend their youngest years. Do you know how you start your tomato plants inside so they get a solid start on life? While the weather is still too cold for them, you keep them warm and safe in doors. Once they are hardy, and the frosts are over, you take them out into the elements and plant them in the dirt.

Does moving out west mean that I am taking them out and putting them in the dirt now??  What if they aren’t ready??  Will we find another community like this one?? Ah, the timeless worries of a parent! Let’s hope I will find another nursery for them. They are all still so little. I mean, JD isn’t even walking yet.

I trust that we will be just fine.

I just remind myself, when I start to worry, “God will provide.” Where he leads, I will follow. He hasn’t failed us yet.


matthew 6


So we say thank you one more time to our amazing friends, and not good-bye, because a.) we’re not gone quite yet, but also b.) we will see you again. And we press on towards the future, knowing that God is with us wherever we go.


East Coast to West Coast in Only 6 Weeks!

working hard

planning, planning, planning!

So much has happened this past week.  Once our military orders arrived, all systems are GO, GO, GO!  You know all those stereotypes about men?  You know what I’m talking about:  “When men are sick they lay down, but women keep working,” and other such derogatory thoughts our society has attached to our males?

Well, let me tell you, Alan blows all those negative sexist remarks out of the water.  That’s right.  I said sexist.  Everyone’s so quick to call female stereotypes ‘sexist,’ but making fun of men is perfectly okay.  What’s up with that? Maybe you haven’t noticed.  I certainly have.  Being the wife of a high type-A, thorough planner like Alan, plus being the mother of four little boys, makes me a little more sensitive to the negative things our society likes to say about our men.

My husband, sick as a dog, plus recovering from surgery, has gotten more done in the day he got ‘request for orders’ than most healthy people could accomplish in a week’s worth of time. Alan, you are AMAZING!!!

Want to know his secret?  This is how he got this move plan running so quickly:

1.  Before he even secured the orders, he got me the smartphone I wanted, complete with synchronized Google Calendars.  This is my Mother’s Day gift.  I love it.  I used up my whole data plan in two days.  Oops.  There’s a learning curve to these things! But with this phone, I can be a touch more organized.

2. He sat down with me and even managed to get my UNDIVIDED attention to discuss EVERY DETAIL of our moving plan.  You name it, it is planned for on the calendar.

My undivided attention is about impossible to attain! I am never doing less than two things at once, and I’m often doing more than that.  C’mon, ya’ll, there are four little boys here!

3.  He went down to the orders office armed with a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts.  Plus, he’d dropped by and schmoozed with those ladies in advance.  Ha! Good job, Alan!

4. He went straight from the orders office to setting up the shipment of household goods. He whipped out the Google Calendar and managed to get the exact dates we had planned for.  Success!!!



5. On Saturday, we had our Yard Sale!!  We got rid of tons of junk this weekend!  But actually, I may never do a yard sale again:  sunburn, people wanting to buy all of my stuff for $1, and Daniel playing tug-of-war with kids that were buying the toys he really never plays with.  No thank you!  Never again.

Everything is running like clock work! At least I can claim the Yard Sale accomplishment as my own.  Remember “The Great Clean Out”?  I have gone through almost every drawer and cabinet, so I’ll be taking credit for that part.  : )


When we rolled into DC, 5 years ago, it was just Alan, me, Joshua, and Caleb.


….and I was 10 pounds heavier…deployment weight.  Can any other military wives relate to the deployment weight??  What causes that?  Ugh!

But look how cute the boys were:

Awww!  That was back when they let ME pick out their clothes.

And we’re leaving the D.C. area as a slightly larger group:


How far we have come!

I can’t believe we’re only 6 weeks out from our biggest move yet!

Here are a few quotes from our crazy week:

It was POURING RAIN the other day, and I had to get all of the children into the car.  As I was buckling Joshua in, he said, “Mom, I will buckle Daniel in so you don’t have to keep standing out in the rain.”

*heart melting in my soaking wet spot*

: )  Thank you, Joshua, and that’s why you’re the one we’re going to send to college. ; )  (I’m just kidding.  Caleb often voluntarily unbuckles Daniel for me, so he will get to go to college too. Yes, that’s what you go by!!!)


and bringing the funny as usual….

Caleb walked into the kitchen and said, “Whatever you do, do NOT talk to the toilet.”

“Why not?” I asked him.

“Because, it copies you.”

Daniel immediately ran to the toilet and started shouting into it.

Just another day in the House O’ Boys!



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