Herbs Drying in the Window

Posted on 7/22/2014 08:00:00 AM

And yes, it smells fantastic in my kitchen right now.

My thoughts: 

Stuffed Bird of Hope

Posted on 7/20/2014 06:50:00 PM
A recent storm blew this nest and two robin's eggs from one of our trees.  The KingofHearts found them a couple of days later.   We're pretty sure that's not a Robin's nest, but it's an amazing piece of construction and fascinating, so we brought it in the house for the kids to inspect.  The KoH brought the eggs in a few hours later and handed them to me.  I didn't quite know what to do with them; it seems a shame to throw them out.  So not wanting them to break (because that'd probably smell unpleasant), I just put them in the nest.

The little, parentless eggs have distressed The Caterpillar greatly and even though we've explained that the little birds inside the eggs would have to have died in the days the eggs were outside unattended - before we even found them - she is still looking for ways to care for them, "just in case." 

I thought we'd gotten past the inevitable realization; I had a long talk with her yesterday.   But tonight, we found her saying a little prayer over the eggs and covering them with the plastic pieces the bird had woven into the bottom of the nest.  

"What are you doing?"

"Maybe if I keep them warm, they'll hatch. Maybe."  

I was sitting on the couch a little later and looked up to catch The Shortlings skulking around and whispering in hushed tones, which is never good. So I got up to investigate and found this:

I've struggled lately with my outlook on life and the world in general.   In recent years, I've become more and more conflicted between wanting to stay informed about the world around me and needing to stay sane because it's all just so damn depressing.  I completely stopped watching the news on television because I simply cannot abide any more anger and uncharitable opinions from talking heads and politicians who cut a wide swath entire groups of people with just a few stereotypical adjectives... as if they've met every one.  I've even sworn off reading the entire internet once weekly as is my habit because there just isn't much good out there. Facebook? Ugh. Facebook has just made me realize that most of my friends are jerks. But this picture above? This is one of the pros of having and being around kids.  They remind you that there is still some good in the world and if you work very hard, you can nurture it.  Because if a little girl can care this much about two little eggs, maybe we can all move toward caring about people some day soon.  OK, probably not soon.  But at least for now? This makes me happy.

My thoughts: 

What it Means Is We Better Not Forget Dinner

Posted on 7/19/2014 06:08:00 PM In:
"There are two ways to look at today: either we didn't feed our children lunch or we didn't feed our children breakfast.  Either way, I think that makes us bad parents." 

"We fed our children brunch. That makes us fancy parents."  

"I'll take it."

My thoughts: 


Posted on 7/18/2014 06:30:00 AM In:

The real discovery of our Blobfest weekend was not campy street festivals, nor tin foil hat and scream contests, but a new favorite artist.  While we were sitting in The Colonial waiting for The Blob to begin, The KingofHearts and I saw an advertisement on the screen for a nearby museum.  After we'd sucked the marrow out of Blobfest, we weren't hip on heading back home quite yet, so we took a little detour to check out this museum.  Neither of us had ever heard of Wharton Esherick before and we just wandered in on our way out of town.

As it turns out, you can't just wander in to the Esherick museum.  You have to make a reservation.  It says so at the entrance.  There was a lovely woman in the gift shop who explained and that's when we realized we'd walked right past the sign that clearly states such.  So we shrugged our shoulders and said we'd try to come back another time.  The girls let out an "awww," but that was about it - we apologized for being jerks who couldn't read a simple sign.

But she stopped us as we were going out the door and said, "Hang on a second, there might be someone who would be available to give you a tour right now, but it's only a chance.  Let me see if he can come over."

So she picked up the phone and a few minutes later, we were beginning our personal, private tour with none other than the curator of the museum and let me tell you, this place was a-mah-zing.  We weren't allowed to take photographs inside the house so I only have a few to share, but there's a nice virtual tour of the house here.  You should look at it, but more importantly, you should physically go there because those photos might be nice, but in person, it's an experience.  

Here's what I learned about Wharton Esherick.  He was a contemporary and good friend of Louis Kahn (who is one of my favorite architects), though their aesthetics couldn't be more different.  He tried to be a painter in the early 1900s and didn't have much success at that (though I do not understand why because what I saw of his early work, I loved).  So he and his wife moved to Pennsylvania to become subsistence farmers - or as the curator said, "to lead an organic life" - while he tried to sell his artwork. He started to carve frames for the artwork he sold and found more interest in the frames than the artwork, which eventually led him into a career as a wood sculptor that lasted the rest of his life.  He designed and built the entire house and all of the furniture in it.

This is the garage. THE GARAGE!
The original portion of the house was stone.  He added the wooden addition later but always felt the balance of the house wasn't right.  So he added that silo section when he was in his 70s.  That's not paint; he tinted the stucco on the outside of the silo to mimic the colors of the surrounding forest.

His sculpture is amazing and easily able to impress even the geekiest artist and/or woodworker wannabes, which coincidentally describes The KingofHearts and me to a tee.  He liked non-traditional lines and mimicking nature and finding the natural abstract form of whatever he was working.  What we didn't expect was how impressed by the place The Shortlings would be.  Every time the curator took us into a new room, he was met with gasps of awe and surprise from my kids.  They. Loved. Everything.  From the artwork, to the floor, to the carved wooden spoons and cutting boards in the kitchen.  The Caterpillar declared her desire to live there and offered to be the caretaker of the house.  The Dormouse asked how many years before she could come back and be a docent.  They both asked somewhat-relevant questions.  Most of the time, kids walk around without the sense God gave a goose, but every once in awhile they surprise you and this was one of those times for me.  About halfway through the tour, the curator turned to me and said, "Oh my gosh, I love your kids!"  I suppose it's possible that some of their interest had to do with being told they could touch the sculpture and a lovely gentleman who treated their questions like important matters and not just an irritant, but I can't help but think that it maybe, just a little bit, had to do with the beauty surrounding them too. 

The curator mentioned that if we liked the work and wanted to support it, one way we could do so - since they weren't able to accept our kids' offer of indentured servitude - was we could tell others.  So that is the purpose of this post today.  If you are in the area, get yourself to the Wharton Esherick house.   Tell them Winnie-the-Pooh sent you.

My thoughts: 

It Crawls, It Creeps, It Eats You Alive!

Posted on 7/16/2014 03:05:00 PM In:

I had a bad case of gottagetouttatown week last week and I've always been a bit obsessed with The Blob in all its iterations, but in particular, the 1958 original with Steve McQueen.  I think it goes back to watching all those Saturday morning B sci-fi movies in the World Beyond time block when I was a kid.  So last week, when I was reading The Internet for my umpteenth time and I happened upon a description of the street festival, Blobfest, and then realized that not only was it close enough to drive, it was also coming up the very next weekend, I was all, "Oh we're SO going THERE."

The KingofHearts just rolled his eyes, much like we did when I insisted we had to attend HonFest, or when I almost drove us off the road trying to get to Foamhenge.

Don't feel too sorry for him.  He may complain about my weird vacation destinations but he almost always enjoys them.  Almost.

So, as it turns out, The Blob was filmed in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, just a couple of hours from D.C. and the theater from that scene is not only still standing, but still in operation.

Each year, they sponsor a street festival and have special screenings of the film.  The big event of the weekend is the "Run Out," which recreates this scene:

They dress the theater up appropriately.

Or at least semi-appropriately.

We weren't able to be there on Friday night for the Run Out, but we did get to attend a screening of the film the next day.  Because bad, old movies are required education in the Underland household.

We sat in the balcony and got there pretty early so I was able to get this fantastic shot of the projection wall.

Which was featured here in the film:

Now, there's a plaque to commemorate it.

The Colonial theater is really fantastic and still has the old projection room equipment.

Then they let us go upstairs, where they had the resident Blobologist, who knows everything about the movie AND has the dubious distinction of knowing the recipe for making the Actual Blob, which he will not tell you, I tried.

He also knows how they were able to create all those awesome special effects like the one with this actual tiny set used in the film. 

Outside, they had the original fire truck on display.

And the Doctor's house still stands a few blocks up from the theater.  I'm sure the occupants of it just love having lookiloos hanging around on their street corner.

They also have a street festival with appropriately creepy vendors.

A tin foil hat contest,

a costume contest,

and a "Make Your Own Blob" table.

She's telling it, "Now DON'T eat anyone!"

This concludes this photoessay on Blobfest.  Now to put a few dollars in the therapy fund my children will almost certainly have to dip into when they tell this story in Group Therapy one day.  No one will believe them that their mother made them spend an entire weekend celebrating a movie filmed nearly fifty years before their birth, so hopefully blogs will still exist then for the photographic proof.

My thoughts: 

Rock Island

Posted on 7/14/2014 12:10:00 PM
Last weekend, The Music Man (the Robert Preston and Shirley Jones version) was on television and I forced let my kids watch it.  The Dormouse was fascinated with the opening number, "Rock Island" and declared it "early rap." I still cannot figure out whether this is wonderful or if hearing this statement from beyond the grave would cause Meredith Wilson to roll over in it.

This weekend, we took an old timey train ride on the Wilmington & Western Railroad.

The train reminded The Dormouse and The Caterpillar of the train from the "Rock Island" scene and they tried to sing the song but they only part they could remember was "Whaddaya talk, whaddaya talk, whaddaya talk, whaddaya talk, whaddaya talk."  That got annoying after awhile so I looked the lyrics up on my phone, then the three of us spent much of the rest of the ride trying to do all the lyrics in time without messing it up.  So if you happened to be on the Mt. Cuba Meteor this weekend, in the middle car you would have seen three girls, oblivious to the rest of the passengers, doing this:

And if you looked at the seat next to them, you would have seen one, extremely embarrassed KingofHearts, trying to look like he didn't know them.

My thoughts: 

I'm Raising a Freaking Genius

Posted on 7/07/2014 06:00:00 AM In:
I've often thought I should just run a voice activated tape recorder in the kitchen to catch all the errant words of wisdom that might be uttered there because I probably miss half of them as The Caterpillar and The Dormouse talk to each other while I'm running around attending to other tasks.  Then I could later transcribe them and use the wonders inside to stock this blog daily.  You know, like Nixon.  That worked out pretty well for him, right?  

Here's something I did catch from last night's dinner:

"Books are like movies.  They have pictures.  But the pictures don't move.  And there are words underneath the pictures."

My thoughts: 

Suck It, Pinterest

Posted on 7/06/2014 08:26:00 AM
Monica and I went to a friend's baby shower a few days ago and they were playing a game with clothespins where you got three clothespins when you walked in and if someone heard you say the word baby, they could take one of your clothespins and then they would have four clothespins and you would only have two.  And then if you heard them say the word baby, you could take back your clothespin.  Or if you heard someone else say the word baby, you could take their clothespin and get one back and then you'd have three again and this was to go on and on until one person had all the clothespins and then won what? I guess, the satisfaction of knowing that you're more tedious than everyone else at a baby shower.

This, however, backfired for them on us, because apparently Monica and I are not so so focused on talking about babies and neither of us ever said the word, nor listened for anyone else to say the word and then after a very long time of waiting for lunch to arrive, we each still had our original three clothespins.

At some point, I knocked a clothespin off my lapel one too many times, got sick of them all, and finally took them all off my shirt and Monica's shirt and began creating a toy for the baby.

Then we gave the clothespin horse a little food, just in case he was hungry.

Then the kid-like guests at the shower all crowded around and clamored for more clothespin animals so I confiscated all their clothespins too and gave them a giraffe:

 And a camel:

There were also unphotographed attempts at a worm, a snake, and eel and a cobra, which they all declared were "lame" or something, so I challenged them to create their own clothespin animals and stop relying on my expertise.  So they gave me a spider:

And a... well I do not know what this is:

And that's how Monica and I became the heroes of the baby shower because we entertained the kids for three hours.

Who says I'm not a creative genius?

Oh wait, I do.  I say that.

And these people.

My thoughts: 

The Calm Before the Storm

Posted on 7/03/2014 11:52:00 AM
And then Godzilla, Mothra and the LaserCat destroyed the city.

My thoughts: 

Coming in with the Golden Light

Posted on 6/28/2014 09:17:00 AM

I love these little Dreamtime strawflowers, not just because they remind me of that Kate Bush song and it's one of my all-time favorite albums, but also because they close up like little golfballs at night and then open in the day to this.  To touch it, it feels like straw, and you'd never know it was that pliable.  There's a metaphor in there somewhere, but I'm too overworked to find it.

My thoughts: 

Things Like This Make Me Happy

Posted on 6/24/2014 11:51:00 AM In:

My thoughts: 

Good Morning, Chrysler, How YOU Doin?

Posted on 6/21/2014 07:48:00 AM In:
I made a quick trip to Manhattan last weekend for a friend's baby shower and we stayed at a hotel just up the block from the Chrysler building.  I have an unnatural attraction to this building which I cannot appropriately explain. But still, it was comforting just to wake up in its shadow.

My thoughts: 

You've Been Schooled

Posted on 6/20/2014 06:18:00 PM In:
Caterpillar: "Dad, what rhymes with apple?"

KoH: "Hmmm... maybe... Crap hole?"

Caterpillar: "I was thinking something appropriate."

My thoughts: 

Black-Eyed Susan

Posted on 6/15/2014 09:00:00 AM

It's the Maryland state flower and yet for some reason, I have never been able to make them grow in my yard.  Perhaps buying them fully mature will help.  But just in case, I better take a picture now.

My thoughts: 

Uses for an Old Basketball Hoop

Posted on 6/12/2014 08:57:00 AM

The KingofHearts made this when we decided to get rid of the basketball hoop that was in tatters but then got lazy and never went to the effort to remove the pole from the ground. He made the hooks on the forge (one of the forges) in the backyard and we bought some pots at Target, he cut holes in the bottom of them and slipped them down over the pole.  And all those little pots scattered around on the ground? Tiny currant tomato plants in them, which I have many plans for this summer.  I love it.  It almost doesn't look like an weird metal pole randomly stuck in the front yard, right?   Finally that forge habit is starting to benefit me, Me, ME.

My thoughts: 

That's here. That's home. That's us.

Posted on 6/11/2014 06:50:00 PM
This little bit of prose, written by someone who has more facility with language that I will ever hope to obtain, has come to mean a great deal to me and I was reminded of it recently.  I thought I'd give you a break from my disjointed, brain dump style of writing and let you read some really important big ideas.  The impetus for this was the following photograph, taken by Voyager 1 just as it reached the edge of our solar system. Carl Sagan asked for this... and being Carl Sagan, I guess, he got what he wanted.  NASA complied.  Voyager 1 turned its camera around and took this picture of earth - the farthest picture ever taken of our planet.

Here's what Carl had to say, contemplating this picture:

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.

- Carl Sagan, 1994

My thoughts: 

Playing Favorites

Posted on 6/10/2014 06:34:00 PM In:
*The Caterpillar playing with my guitar* 

"This is my favorite string." 


"This is my second favorite string." 


KoH to me: "Well, at least we know she's yours."

My thoughts: 
We got home from church today and The Shortlings wanted to do something together,  like... play a game...  maybe that one where you look for things in the pictures.  And since one of the comments in church today was, "a good thing to do, might be to actually spend some time with your children instead of just plopping down in front of the television and watching a movie," we decided to... you know... plop down in front of the television and watch a movie.  We're nothing if not contrary.

For some, unknown reason - probably that reason involves the $5 bin at some big box, low budget, department store - we own a copy of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.  So we pulled that one out and vegged out in front of the TV with the kids for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.

There is a minimum data set for cultural education in this house.  It involves Charlie Chaplin movies, modernist art, Humphrey Bogart, live symphonic orchestral concert attendance, music written by Stravinsky, works by Lewis Carroll, and 80s movies.

I told some friends we were doing this and immediately, the response was, "Awesome! How is it being received?"

You tell me.

My thoughts: 

It's a Fair Cop

Posted on 6/07/2014 07:08:00 AM

Snapped with my phone through the windshield of the car while coming back from the Eastern shore last week.  If you had told me in my eighth grade photography class that I would one day be able to take a picture like this with a single piece of equipment that I carried around in my pocket, I might have actually tried to major in photography in college - a degree program I figured I could never in my wildest dreams afford to undertake.  Or maybe I would have accused you of sorcery and supported drowning you as a witch, I don't know. I'd have at least put the carrot on your nose.

My thoughts: 


Posted on 6/02/2014 08:25:00 PM
Heading back home over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge makes me a little bit nostalgic.

I'm totally becoming a Marylander... as the can of Old Bay in my spice rack that I sprinkled on my potato salad last week will confirm.

My thoughts: 

Bewildering Conversations, vol. xxxi

Posted on 6/01/2014 08:14:00 PM In:
"Dad, you remind me of a tool...."


"...because you help me. And tools help people."

"Well, thank you.  My mind was totally going somewhere else, but that's nice too."

My thoughts: 

A Land Far Away Beside the Crystal Fountains

Posted on 5/29/2014 12:05:00 PM
School is coming to an end soon and while this year has been a better year than last, so I'm not necessarily jumping up and down and yelling HOORAY!, I'm still pretty happy about it.

Look, I love school and I want these Shortlings to learn to love the education they receive.  I want them to just generally develop a thirst for knowledge that will continue throughout their lives.  I work with a church group of teenage girls and I'm always arguing with them about how school is Awesome with a capital A and they should learn to appreciate it now because, wow, being out of school is Not Awesome with a capital NA and I wish the biggest problem I had in my life was spending time in class again just learning Stuff.  Any Stuff.  Everything I want to know something about.  I now totally understand those thirty year-olds I knew in college whom we joked were "professional students" because if I could choose to do anything right now and money were not an issue, I'd go back to school and get like eight unrelated Masters degrees, not because I want to work in any particular career field, but just because I want to know stuff about Stuff. 

I feel strongly about this.

To the point where when The Shortlings do something awesome at school and the administration gives them a Get Out Of Homework Free Pass as a reward, I'm always mildly irritated by it.  I like that they're being given a reward; I just wish it was a different reward.  This reward isn't directly related to the work they did to get the reward.  I'm also annoyed by the reinforcement that doing work is a bad thing and you should always be looking for ways to get out of it and, I don't know about all kids, but my kids always use it for something that I'd prefer they actually do.  In general, I think the way they handle homework in school is stupid and heavy handed.  There's too much of it. Too much of it is dumb busy work.  Too much of it doesn't really help them learn. But neither of my kids ever use the homework pass on the dumb busy work things -- that thing where you have to write every word on your spelling list ten times in different fonts and colors on the computer and then they commandeer your computer for three hours playing with fonts and colors and writing the word alligator over and over.  THAT thing, they're happy to do. But about ten percent of the time, the homework they bring home is something they really need.  It's practice or reinforcement of a skill they haven't mastered in class and they need the added repetition.  For The Dormouse, it's usually a math concept.  For The Caterpillar, it's usually spelling.  This is the thing for which they want to use the homework pass.  My kids will invariably sit down at the kitchen table, look at That Thing That's Hard, that they actually need the homework to help them practice, and then pull out that long-saved homework pass they got because mom bought them a chicken sandwich at the PTA fundraiser four months ago and say, "I'm gonna use my homework pass on this one." What kind of message is that sending, School Administrators?

Maybe I'm taking the homework pass thing too seriously.

All that is to say that if there were a way to keep them in some sort of school, I would gladly consider it. But the problem with school is that it doesn't teach kids to develop a love for education.  More often than not, it stomps it.  And the toll it takes on a kid... whether it's problems with teachers, friends, grades, behavior charts, or whathaveyou, well, to borrow the current vernacular... I can't even.  Every year, even when it's been a relatively problem-free year, I get to the end of it thinking, "For joy, now we can work on my daughters' self-esteem and ability to find joy in life," because apparently those two things don't really get to happen in the same environment and the same time.  

So every year when school ends, my first, overwhelming feeling is relief, and, "Now we can have the summer off to repair the damage done by this year."

That's why we've made it a priority to find a good summer camp experience and keep them in it all summer even though it's expensive and inhibits our travel plans.  That's why no matter how much their teachers complain, I refuse to take music away from them as a punishment for not getting the grades everyone expects.  That's why, even though I hate, loathe and despise driving them to lessons and being scheduled up to my neck during the school year, and always having some place to go every weeknight, and paying for all these after school things, I get in the car evening after evening and drive them to the next thing, the next day.  Because school isn't always a life affirming experience. Kids are mean and parents yell at you and teachers are unfair and yes, that's the way the world works and they have to learn to work with the system they're given because it doesn't get any better when you're an adult and have a job (something I've said to my kids on multiple occasions) but you know what? You should also be able to get a break from it now and again.

The Dormouse switched from violin to viola in instrumental music this year and started to get really interested in playing.  She liked the violin last year, but as a string player myself, I know how many little violinists there are running around at that age and how much competition there is for each of those kids, so I suggested she try the viola.  Maybe it's because I wish I had played more viola in those years and maybe it's because I started to notice her really fixating on the harmonies and other intricacies in music as she sang alto in the chorus this year.  I'm gonna claim the latter.  I did know, however, that no string teacher in her right mind would turn down a kid who actually wanted to switch from an instrument where there were eighteen kids to an instrument where there were two.  Whatever the reason, it worked.  She wanted to practice more.  She excelled more.  Maybe she got more attention, I don't know.  If nothing else, she did seem to enjoy it more.

Solo and Ensemble Festival is a thing lots of school districts do to give kids a chance to play by themselves or in a small group. The Dormouse wasn't even mildly interested in it last year, but this year a lot of kids were going, so the instrumental music teacher put several small groups together.  This was The Dormouse's group.  They worked hard; they practiced their parts individually; they coordinated times to practice after school and secured permission from parents and teachers who allowed them to use a classroom; they asked for coaching from the music teacher, an older student, me; they tried hard to play together and listen to each other; and from what I saw, they all tried to both give and take constructive criticism to and from one another in a way that wasn't mean or defensive, which is sometimes a really hard balance to strike.  They came away from this experience with not just a certificate and a "Roman Numeral I" rating (something I remember so well from my Solo and Ensemble days); they came away from this experience having worked for something and feeling good about accomplishing it.  These are all things the school administration says it wants to teach kids but in actuality does very little to incorporate into the learning environment.  This is why I wouldn't listen to that fourth grade teacher who asked me to take my kid out of music because she talked too much in class one day.  This is why we need music (and sports and arts and clubs and other extracurricular activities) in schools.

If she got this kind of learning, experience, and positive reinforcement in each of her classes... even just once a week... I wouldn't need the summer off to repair.

My thoughts: 

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Touch the Ground

Posted on 5/28/2014 05:51:00 PM
Wondering what that weirdo woman who pulled off the road, then got out of her car and stood on the curb fiddling with her phone was doing the other day?

Probably taking a picture of this roadside memorial:

We suppose two possible scenarios for what happened on this corner: 

1) an arctophile was decapitated in a car accident


2) bear attack.

Alternate angle:

My thoughts: 

Me in 3 Seconds

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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