Family & Fun in the Sun

You learn a lot about yourself living the Foreign Service lifestyle. There’s nothing like moving every 1-3 years, finding yourself constantly dropped in new situations and new countries, to speed the process of learning who you are (good and bad).

I, for example, have learned this: though I love me an adventure, I’m a rooted person at heart. Living in China and Suriname were irreplaceable experiences… but when all is said and done, I could be happy settling in my hometown, among the family and friends of my childhood. I’ve been to beaches in Hawaii, Mexico, Thailand, Ireland, Curaçao, Aruba, and Costa Rica. Every one of those places has stunningly beautiful coastlines, and I feel so blessed to have been able to visit.

But my favorite beach is still the slice of the Gulf of Mexico I call home.

Luckily, I have a husband who takes/sends me home whenever he can. And my recent Texas adventures didn’t disappoint. Of my 11 days back, I made it oceanside on 8 of them. That tallied up to:

  • 6 surf sessions with my dad and/or brothers.
  • 1 offshore boat trip to snorkel around an oil rig reef
  • 1 line-caught fish (though it was just a feisty hardhead we were happy to send back to the sea)
  • 1 jellyfish sting across the mouth (weirdest.sensation.ever.)
  • 1 stalking of a sea turtle through the waves
  • 1 very satisfying bout of “ocean-gazing”

Perhaps only my fellow ocean-lovers will get this, but for me, the sea truly is a balm for my soul. That’s where I’m my happiest, most whole self.

Continue reading “Family & Fun in the Sun”
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Treat Yo’ Self: Gemstones & Georgetown Jewelry Shops

I should start by saying that though I’ve gotten to do some fancy things in my life, I am not a fancy person.

I’m happiest when covered in sand and sea salt, preferably mid-surf session. In my ballroom/etiquette class, I was a terrible dance partner, constantly stumbling, stepping on feet, mis-executing moves. When my husband treated me to high-tea at the jaw-droppingly posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel, I spent much of the time wondering why they let me in, recalling every time I’d been elbows deep in blood or mud or sweat after a father-daughter hunt.

But I can’t lie: I’ve also retained into adulthood that little-girl desire to be a princess. I loved getting gussied up for Marine Corps Balls. And when a chance to snag custom jewelry recently arose, I’ll admit: I got a little giddy.

The whole process started when my sweet brother brought me back a handful of gems after his stint serving overseas: one black diamond and three tanzanite drops.

Continue reading “Treat Yo’ Self: Gemstones & Georgetown Jewelry Shops”

Libraries & Leisure

Here’s my confession: I’m a workaholic.

In the nearly thirteen years we’ve known each other, my husband and I have lived in a variety of locales: Indiana, Ireland, and the Czech Republic for college, Texas, China, Suriname, and Washington, D.C. for work. And every time we hit a new spot, I’ve vowed to prioritize getting out and experiencing whatever makes that place special.

But every time, my to-do list tugs me back: to my laptop to write, my palette to paint.

It’s a flaw I’m trying to pray through. But in the meantime, I’m super thankful when people like my brother–who’s infinitely better at sallying out to try new things–come visiting.

It’s that push I need to go forth and explore.

So my brother gets all the credit for coaxing me to visit the Library of Congress–the largest library in the world, housing millions of books, penned in 470 languages. Sad as it is to admit, this is my third stint living in D.C…. and my first trip to the Library. Which is kind of unacceptable, considering my bibliophilic little heart.

But better late than never, right?

Just a handful of the many, many highlights included:

  • The gorgeous architecture of the Thomas Jefferson building
  • A complete version of the Gutenberg Bible (the 15th century innovation that rocked the worlds of religion and books)
  • A still-in-progress replication of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, being gathered text by text from around the world
  • The Main Reading Room (one of several research enclaves accessible to anyone over 16 wishing to study… provided you can keep up with their code of conduct [Cue finger-wagging librarian])
  • The office of the Librarian of Congress (currently Carla Hayden)

Confession no. 2: I now have office envy. But it’s probably for the best that my own workspace isn’t quite so nice.

It’d be a poor fit with my efforts to combat workaholism.

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Waves & Whimsy

One of my favorite things in the whole, wide world is surfing. My skills are nowhere near that of my dad (who’s literally been surfing for decades) or my brother Hunter. But very few things make my heart as thoroughly, joyfully content as getting out in the waves. It’s therapeutic for my soul, in a way not even writing can touch.

And the fact that surfing’s a family affair is the very sweet cherry atop my wave-catching sundae.

During this trip home to Texas, the weather on the Gulf Coast was consistently misty, adding a cool, eerie cast to my dad and my cold-water surf sessions.

The low visibility certainly didn’t keep us from saddling up and riding out to catch some waves with the last slivers of “daylight.”

Now that’s what I call a good family portrait: me, my dad, our boards, and even my dad’s indestructible-beach-and-hunting-lease-tacklin’-carry-it-all van. The only thing missing was Hunter, who’s busy kickin’ butt at college.

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For My Husband on Valentine’s Day

Unfortunately, the husband and I had to spend Valentine’s Day apart this year. Nevertheless, he still managed to spoil me from afar with chocolates and TWO bouquets. And knowing his Texas girl is a fanatic for her home state, he even managed to track down a Lone-Star Living bouquet:

True to disorganized form, I wasn’t as good at getting a timely gift into his hands. But for my husband, I offer this Sara Groves song (one of my favorites):

Baby can you help me get undone
The party is over and their hearts were won
There’s a zipper in the back
But I can’t reach it on my own
And I am dying to get out of this so

Baby will you help me get undone

I don’t even remember how I got this on
I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help

You have no pretenses
All your walls are fences I can see right through
You have no two faces
You know where our place is and that’s why I need you
Oh baby

Baby will you help me get undone
I don’t even remember how I got this on
I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help

Cause I started out pretending
Now I don’t recognize myself
And I could use a little help
Oh baby, oh baby, oh baby
Will you help me get undone

Continue reading “For My Husband on Valentine’s Day”

2019: New Year, New Skills

This holiday season brought a lot of firsts for me, art-wise.

Back in 2015, my brother Jared helped me stumble onto wildlife painting–a passion I didn’t know I had–when he requested a painting of an Alaskan black bear:

Sushi for Dinner, 2015

I should’ve realized I would love wildlife as a subject matter, since my father fostered within me his love of the wild. But self-awareness is totally over-rated, right?

Fast-forward to 2018, and I’m turning my attention to a Christmas present for my other brother, Hunter. This project marked three firsts, two of which I’d heartily recommend. One not so much…. Continue reading “2019: New Year, New Skills”

A recent conversation between the husband and me:

Me: I really need to get enough sleep tonight. When we go to bed, can you remind me not to stay up late reading?

Husband: *Makes skeptical, non-committal noise*

Me: What?

Husband: I learned long ago not to come between a girl and her book.

Me: Really? Do I get snarly?

Husband: You definitely don’t get more friendly.

They say good communication skills are the cornerstone of a healthy marriage. Guess I’m doing something right.

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