a most excellent friday

You know how some days are pretty much perfect? Friday was one of those.

Around lunchtime I headed over to the Air and Space Museum to meet up with Bryn, who I haven’t seen since we moved away from Lexington 3.5 years ago.

It was a lovely walk. Spring has finally arrived and, per usual, it is glorious.Oh man. I can’t put into words how awesome it was to see Bryn. Turns out she is one of those friends you can instantly reconnect with, even after years apart. She was with her now-very-grown-up daughter on a school trip and kindly took time to just sit and chat. It seriously felt like one of the many Sunday nights we sat at her kitchen table and talked.Bryn always felt very much like an older sister to me. From watching her, I learned about how to be a wife (still a pretty new thing to then-21-year-old me) and mother (yet down the road) and friend. Kentucky was a defining time for Jason and me. We could have spent twenty months isolated and waiting to move on to our next stage of life, but instead we were welcomed into a community. From the Thompsons, DuBravacs, Laytons, Oswalds, and other good Bluegrass friends we learned to rely on each other and build a life anywhere. 

The Thompsons also taught us how to play Settlers of Catan, which has clearly had a major impact on our life.

Bryn brought along this gem from a Sunday night strawberry shortcake operation. Kind of makes me want to cut my hair short again. I was so young.I was so grateful to see Bryn and hope we can get together again soon (definitely before another 3.5 years go by). Thank goodness for good friends.

I left work a little early and headed to the temple. Since Jason was still at work, I rode up with Lara and Trevor. In spite of traffic, we made it in time for the session (and had a few minutes to spare to take pictures of the temple against that incredible sky).Monica, one of my favorite people in the world, is going on a mission to Ecuador in June and was going to the temple for the first time. I was touched that she invited me to come along. She is a special girl and will be an amazing missionary. It was such a sweet experience to be in the temple with so many people who love and support her. 

Can you see how happy the temple makes us? I couldn’t be prouder of Monica, but I am definitely going to miss her for the next eighteen months!!I couldn’t help thinking about my Grandpa Henderson in the temple. He’s not doing so great health-wise–to be expected of a 95-year-old–and I know the DC temple was special to him. 

We drove home at sunset and Jason was waiting for me with the oven preheated for our Friday night pizza. We spent the evening watching Sherlock and eating saltwater taffy and generally enjoying being together, as we always do. I couldn’t ask for a better Friday.

58 hours in connecticut, or in which we meet our niece

When we heard Jake and Justine would be spending spring break in Connecticut we knew we had to figure out a way to get up there. Our niece, Kallie, is already five months old and we hadn’t met her yet! Work is sort of ridiculous for us both right now (seriously. not just in an “oh man, life is just crazy” kind of way, but really. We each have a lot going on.), but we were able to find tickets on JetBlue for early Friday morning, so we went for it!

I think JetBlue is my new favorite airline.

Mom picked us up from the airport and we spent the next couple hours cooing over and playing with little Kallie (and talking to Jake and Justine, of course).

It turns out Jason is a baby-whisperer. Kallie just loved him!

This picture, on the other hand, shows how babies tend to react to me. “Must…escape…your grasp!!”

She also enjoyed chewing on my arm.

Jason and I trekked to the grocery store with his mom and found an aisle of giant candy bags. So many Swedish fish. One of these babies might keep the Pullans sated for…a day hike?

Jason said of the above crazy face: “I’m pretty sure I’ve seen you make that expression in pictures with Roni.” True.

We had lunch at Joey Garlic’s, home of the largest portion sizes ever and the best sweet potato fries I have had in recent memory. That night we watched Jeopardy! and didn’t eat dinner because were so full from lunch and played Password.

On Saturday morning I went for a good six-miler around the neighborhood and downtown. We had brunch at Chip’s, then drove to Jason’s Frost grandparents’ grave. From there we went to the temple site where the kindly old senior missionaries gave us their spiel (and seemed, in the tradition of senior missionaries, so happy to have some visitors).

When we got home, we played a game of Scrabble. Jason filled in for Dave. Post-game, we took it easy until it was time to order our Franklin Giant Grinders, a hallmark of any Connecticut excursion.

Oh, and we also took more turns holding Kallie.

She’s pretty darn cute.

Adam’s mission call arrived on Saturday, so we watched him open it over Google Hangout that night. The best screenshot I got is of my dad taking a picture of everyone huddled around the computer, so you can’t really see anyone except those of us calling in from faraway places. He’s going to the Maryland Baltimore mission, which is crazy close to us (though not our actual mission). It’s going to be really hard to not wander up to Baltimore to say hi!

Sunday Jason started feeling sick, so he stayed home from church. By the time we got home, I too was feeling less-than-great. The extended family came over, so we got to meet Connor (who is also incredibly adorable. How did we not get a picture with him?). We also stopped on the way to the airport to say hi to Grandma Funny. When we arrived at our terminal, we were both reaaaaaaaaaally unwell. I spent the plane ride home with my head on my knees and my eyes closed.

Jason had to go into work Monday, but when got up to make his lunch and realized just standing was making me queasy, I decided to call out sick. Jason came home early, around 2 p.m., and we pretty much spent the rest of the day sprawled out on our couch watching Love It or List It Too. Nothing confirms my illness like actually enjoying hours of Canadian television (oh, and that I slept in until after noon). After 40 hours of eating only saltines and ginger ale, we are feeling much better.

It was so nice to spend time with Jason’s family. Hopefully we’ll make it out to Utah before Adam heads into the MTC on July 29 so we can see the Frosts again! We can’t let Kallie forget her Uncle Jason and Auntie Amanda.

conference/easter and then some

We kicked off conference weekend with donuts and a big bag of Cadbury mini eggs. I told Jason I was saving them for later, in case down the road (perhaps in May or June) I felt bad that I hadn’t purchased them when I had the chance. I’ve waxed nostalgic about Cadbury mini eggs before, and they are the best. I suppose it would have been more appropriate to buy stale tootsie pops in honor of the tenth anniversary of Easter 2005: Best Easter Ever, but chocolate eggs in a sugar coating sufficed.

Well, the saving of the candy lasted until the morning session of conference, so ninety minutes after they entered our home. Man, I love me a good Cadbury mini egg or five. The bag is nearly empty.

Unlike during last General Conference, Jason and I were able to stay awake for all sessions. To be fair, though, last conference I was running/recovering from a marathon. I thought about that more than once, and how much I would like to be running in the red rocks with Adam and Grant and my dad (and Jason, because in my imagination he would agree to come along for 26.2 miles).

Anyway, I took some notes. My favorite talk was Elder Bednar’s, but I also loved President Uchtdorf’s. Actually, now that I think about it the whole Sunday morning session was great. I thought Sister Wixom’s message was especially excellent.

We went for a walk early Sunday morning. It was nice, and hopefully made up for the next four hours of sitting on the couch.

We had meatball sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers for lunch.I didn’t do Easter baskets for us, but here’s my family (sans Hannnah, but including one of her friends) post-Easter candy trading session. Can we talk about Grant’s hair? I love it. Wish we could have been there.Monday came too soon and the rest of the week flew by. We made a spicy quinoa and broccoli lunch salad. We watched basketball (sans Kentucky). I bought some dresses online that will hopefully suit our barrage of upcoming summer weddings. I finished The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the Berlin Olympics, which shall surely be one of my top books of 2015. We had Cava for dinner tonight and are packing up for a whirlwind weekend trip to Connecticut tomorrow morning.

in which my parents come see us

I am lucky that every so often my dad has a work-related reason to come to Virginia. This time, he brought along my mom. We had a great time (as we always do).

I met my mom at the metro and we commuted home together. We picked up Jason and the three of us went to Lebanese Taverna–by way of Paul, of course, for pastries. Also, we discovered that Wednesday is bellydancing night at Lebanese Taverna, so there’s that.

Jason and I went to work. My mom met up with my aunts and a cousin and Alex for lunch. Work was uneventful, except for when Emily and I found what appeared to be branded fanny packs. Turns out they are lunch boxes.


Thursday night we ate pizza and watched the Kentucky-WVU game. My mom and I picked up my dad from the airport sometime around midnight.

Jason and Dad went to work. Mom and I slept in, worked out, lounged, and decided to go to Cava for lunch. Then we went to Old Town Alexandra ostensibly in search of a bookstore. We got ice cream instead.

I love being with my mom. She’s great.

We spent the evening with Sara, who very kindly fed us dinner and let us hang out talking until way too late.

As I’ve mentioned, my parents are tougher visitors than most because they have already done everything here. We decided to go to Annapolis, which they hadn’t visited since the late 1980s. Like the last time Jason and I went to Annapolis two years ago, it was cold and a little breezy, but we had a good time.

Seriously, Annapolis is so pretty.

We had seafood for lunch (as one must do when visiting a waterfront town) then headed home. My parents and I started a game of Scrabble and Jason napped (since, as the driver, he had been unable to sleep on the way home). Eventually Mom and I went to the women’ broadcast; the men stayed home and made guacamole and watched basketball. When we got home Kentucky was in a dead heat with Notre Dame. We were relieved (though Jason never lost his faith) when UK pulled out the win.

Jason had some meetings early. We went to church together and my parents got to meet my Sunday school class. I only had seven of thirteen kids in attendance thanks to spring break, but they still made short work of the two bags of candy and fifteen peeps I brought them. After church we made chilaquiles and finished off the Scrabble game. My mom killed us all, though both she and my dad had 48-point turns.

Dad, Jason and I went to work. My mom went to the Building Museum with Aunt Amy and my cousins and their kids. She met up with me at the end of the day and we commuted home together (as much as I love reading, I far prefer having someone I love to talk to). We had dinner at Founding Farmers, which was excellent. Jason got the weirdest meal out of all of us: fried chicken and a Jefferson donut (which is kind of like a cronut, I think?). It looked so good that the rest of us had to try our own Jefferson donut too.

Mom and I went to Paul for lunch before her flight. I hated saying goodbye. That is all I will say about that. Dad had some things to do in the evening, so Jason and I spent a quiet night at home.

Because this is my second of three four-day weeks, I had a really hard time keeping my days straight. Those of us who remained in DC went to work and we had north African meatballs and couscous with golden raisins for dinner. I think this was the day I brought contacts to work, intending to run outside. When I got into the office and had cell reception again, I had several texts from Jason: “You took my contacts.” “Don’t put those on.” “Yours are still at home.”

Once again, we all worked. I got out a little early in anticipation of the long Easter weekend, so I came home and did the dishes and read. When Jason got home, I headed to the library to pick up a raft of holds, then picked up my dad from the metro. We went to Silver Diner for supper, which is so good. I had roasted vegetable huevos rancheros with roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, black beans, avocado, goat cheese, guacamole (and beets, which I promptly removed) and I keep really wanting to eat it again. We also had chocolate chip cookies when we got home.

(Good) Friday
Jason went to work. I ran a couples miles outside, my first outdoor run of 2015, I think. (It has been very cold.)  y dad and I went to the mall and picked up some fun things for the fam. He also bought me the Barnes and Noble-published Hamlet, which is my preferred Shakespeare layout (the notes are really easy to read without breaking up the action). We had lunch at La Sandia and then hung out at Rosslyn talking until it was time for my dad to leave for the airport. See my Tuesday note about goodbyes. I really wish my family lived closer to Virginia.

I’m so glad we were able to spend the week with my parents. They’re as busy as anyone I know, so it’s good of them to make time for a visit. Now that Adam’s mission papers are in (!!!) we’ll have to start planning our next trip west.

do not make curried cauliflower soup

The NYT doesn’t usually let me down, recipe-wise. Sometimes it lets me down in the Style section (does two baby boomer gluten-free dog bakery owners a trend make?), or when the Sunday crossword makes me feel incompetent. There’s a first time for everything, though, and this particular letdown happened on Sunday.

The soup was delicious in theory. Sauteed onion + garlic + ginger + cauliflower + broth + curry + a potato = soup.

While Jason mixed up some addictive red pepper risotto, I labored over the soup fixings in my Le Creuset. After simmering the mixture for thirty minutes, I blended the whole thing into submission (as instructed). Unfortunately, the combination of ingredients yielded a soup that was pea green and the texture of baby rice cereal. It smelled fine. It tasted okay. It looked terrible and did not sit well. Jason asked me kindly if we could maybe not eat the leftovers for dinner tonight and I agreed wholeheartedly. Can’t win ’em all.

I realized today around noon that I was actually happy to be going home from work for the first time in a week. Jason got home on Saturday from a week away, and, per usual, life is better when he’s around.

His was the more interesting adventure of last week. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights out and about (Relief Society birthday, ladies’ movie night and work event, respectively), so by Friday night I was so exhausted I just collapsed on the couch and ate a pesto pizza. Mmmm. Pesto.

I woke up early Saturday morning and did the grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the day I don’t have a second party along at Trader Joe’s is the day I decide to buy a cantaloupe and a big bag of potatoes. I struggled mightily up our three flights with my overloaded paper bags (oh, because I also forgot to bring our reuseable bags with the comfort handles). I’m sure the neighbors appreciated my jingling keys and plodding footsteps and gasps for breath at 8:30 a.m.

On another grocery note, I have yet to find the bag of romaine that I lost in our kitchen. I must have just thrown it out or else I would think we’d be smelling it by now.

The rest of the weekend was relaxing. Jason got home right after I finished the Sherlock, season three finale, and just in time for all the basketball. We had ward conference so I didn’t have get to prepare a Sunday school lesson. The aforementioned Sunday dinner was not my best work, but Jason’s risotto turned out great. It’s so nice to have him home.

more of the same

I talked to Monica yesterday and when she asked what was going on with us I couldn’t think of anything especially noteworthy. (She is waiting on her mission call, which pretty much takes the exciting life cake.) Work is good. Church is good. Last week felt especially busy, but I can’t remember anything noteworthy.

When I woke up Saturday morning I knew not signing up for the DC Rock’n’roll half–which I pondered mightily a few weeks ago–was a good choice. It was cold and rainy and miserable out. We stayed inside and ate doughnuts and did some spring cleaning instead. I still need to find a good half marathon, but I think doing a cheap, humidity-free race in Utah is my best bet.

I wrote a long blog post that I probably won’t end up sharing about being a childless Mormon woman. (It feels a little self-indulgent.) I’m having some great experiences at work right now and am just really grateful for where life has taken us. Walking home from work today I thought about back before we came to DC the first time. We had no idea what the future held, and things have worked out better that I ever could have predicted. 

I made muffins for my class early Sunday morning. I love getting to spend time with the thirteen-turning-fourteeners every week (and not only because it means I don’t have to go to Gospel Doctrine). They are just funny and sweet and every once in a while we have great, spiritual moments.

I also like that they give me a reason to make baked goods, which I can’t justify for just Jason and me.

My brackets are secured. In basketball, I have selected Kentucky to win it all. Part of me felt like I should make a less obvious choice, but the other part of me is superstitious. Plus if they win I can make Jason buy us national champs shirt awhen we are in Lexington this summer (to match our 2012 shirts).

In Book Madness, my nostalgia will be my downfall. I have Little Women winning it all, defeating To Kill a Mockingbird in the round of 8 and Sherlock Holmes in the final.

I just finished The Art of Robert Frost, which Jason recommended. I loved it, and not just because he is a distant relative. I came away from it with far more appreciation for the thought that Frost put into his work; there’s so much more to it than just words that sound good together. As someone who can’t identify iambic pentameter unless President Monson is reading it, I loved learning about the classic influences on what seem like simple verses–and I now think quite differently of “The Road Not Taken.” This was definitely Best Books of 2015 material. Now I’m knee-deep in Nora Webster, which is likewise excellent so far.

in which we go spinning

I kept hearing great things about spinning from my friend/colleague Emily, so I tried out a class at our work gym with another friend/colleague named Emily while original Emily was on her honeymoon. (Yes, this is ripe for confusion. Stay with me.) In the tradition of group classes at my gym the instructor was great and I got a great workout. However, the uncomfortable bike seat left me hobbling for the next week. I did not go back.

When Emily returned from her trip, she invited other Emily and me to come with her to her off-campus spin studio, Zengo. We picked an evening we all were free and headed over in the pouring rain.

Zengo is housed below a Chipotle, but mercifully doesn’t smell like rice and beans. Our first class and shoe rental were free, and we stashed our stuff in the coolest gym lockers I have ever encountered. You set a password instead of using a tiny key you might accidentally steal. (The temple should look into an upgrade.)

The class itself takes place in a low-ceilinged room with black walls and a black ceiling and mirrors along the front walls. I was bike #38 of probably fifty. I got clipped into my bike (with help from an employee; those shoes are tricky.) and we started riding.

Turns out this was like no spinning class I’d ever attended. There were the usual four hand positions, but we didn’t just ride pretend hills and jump out of the seat. Oh no. We did pushups on the handlebars, then tricep pushups, then in and outs, then what can best be described as crunches on a bike seat, standing-in-the-pedals crunches, more ins and outs, theeeeeeen SPRINT! Meanwhile, a bandana-ed spinning instructor led us with encouraging words and enthusiastic yells.

When I noticed the pool (not a smattering of droplets, but a full pool) of sweat beneath my bike, shimmering in the black light, I peered over at Emily’s watch. Five minutes down, forty-five to go. We spun and push-upped and crunched and eventually did an entire song using the hand weights in the water bottle holder. I initially balked at the measly two pounders, but I had to take a break midway through before my arms gave out.

As we rode, the logical part of me wanted to think the whole conceit of stationary bicycling together in a basement was cheesy, and that in spite of what the instructor said, our spinning would not change the world or deliver inner peace…but the part of me that was having a great time didn’t actually care. We finished the class with some stretching and, contrary to my fears, I was able to get myself out of the pedal clips without assistance (a real victory). I always like trying new workouts and this one did not disappoint. Two thumbs up for Zengo.