Washington DC Day 4: The White House

Our 4th day in our nations capitol was the day that I think we had all been looking forward to the most.  This was the day we were going to tour the White House.  Our tour was scheduled for 1:00 so we decided to hit up one of the Smithsonian Museums first thing in the morning.  It wasn’t tough to decide which museum we went to, since three of us in my family are history majors.
We had quite a surprise when we should up at the Museum of American History at 9:25, expecting a 9:30 am open time, and found out that they didn’t open until 10:00. So we had the immense pleasure of literally being the very first ones in line and thus the first ones in the museum.  Not that that made much difference once we started looking around! 

This museum was so massive that I’m surprised we made it though as much as we did in such a short period of time.  We made it through the majority of the museum in about 2 and half hours.  My Mom said we spent way too much time looking at the machinery and inventions room.

My favorite part of the museum was the section dedicated to each of the Wars the US has fought in.  Every war from the American Revolution to the Was in Iraq was represented with some really neat artifacts.

Like this one!  This one of George Washington’s actual military uniforms! So freakin cool is that?!  (I totally showed this to my students on the first day of school.  Some were impressed, others not so much)  The had personal items, clothing, weapons and letters from several historical figures.  As a history major I was in heaven.

There was a whole exhibit dedicated to the Presidents and the First Ladies.  Sadly I kept forgetting to take pictures because I was so busy reading and soaking everything in.  In the First Ladies exhibit they showcased the inauguration dresses worn by several of the First Ladies.  This was particularly fascinating because it basically gave you a history of fashion in the US.  They also displayed every china pattern selected by each First Lady, as well as, some of their personal items.

The President’s exhibit had similar things.  Personal items owned by each of the President’s and their families were scattered around the exhibit.  I did remember to snap a picture of Abe Lincoln’s top hat.    It’s kept in a very low lit area to help preserve it.

After our two hour stroll through the Museum of American History it was time to head over the our designated meeting spot for the tour of the White House.
When I told people we would be getting to go into the White House, the first thing they asked was, “Wow, how did you do that? Do you know someone?”  The answer is no! To get into the public rooms of the White House, you don’t have to know anyone.  All I had to do was fill out a request form. 
Here’s a little breakdown.  Back in February when I submitted my request to tour the Capitol building through my Congressman, I signed us up to get a tour of the White House.  After I filled the initial form, I was emailed back by the Congressman’s office and asked to fill out a second form that would then be submitted to the White House on our behalf by Congressman McCaul’s office.  The form was a basic security form.  I had to give names, birthdays, and social security numbers so we could have background checks done.  In March I received another email directly from the White House asking me resubmit the security part because they would be handling requests from then on.  SO if you are traveling to DC in the future and you want to request a tour of the White House, you now go through the White House Visitors Center for requests and not through your Congressman’s office.
Once I re-submitted all the required information, I got another email in response saying that we would not hear where we had been granted the tour until about a week or two before out trip.  And that is exactly what happened.  I received our the confirmation email one week before we were set to head to DC.  Then almost immediately after receiving the email I got a call from Congressman McCaul’s office saying that they never got people from my district get confirmations for White House tours and that if there was anything they could do, to please not hesitate to call!  Pretty cool huh!  I thought so! 🙂
The check in spot for the tour was right outside a park (sorry can’t remember which one) adjacent to the White House.  We were given a list of do and don’t beforehand.  For example, no bags are allowed inside the White House.  Mom and I were able to bring in a wristlet but that was it.  No cameras with removable lenses, so my fancy camera had to be left at the hotel.  We were able to bring in cell phones though, so all the pictures you’re about to see were taken with my iPhone.  
We went through 4 security check points:  two ID checks, one bomb-dog-smelling- check, and a metal detector.  We also had a bit of an extended wait because some girl passed out while she was waiting in line and an ambulance had to be called. Thankfully it wasn’t super hot that day and there was a nice breeze so that wait wasn’t too terrible.  Before we knew it, WE WERE IN!!
I’ve rambled on for a while now, so I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves!  The tour is 100% self guided.  There are secret service agents spread out along the tour route and they were super knowledgable and willing to answer any questions.   Since the tour was self guided though, we were able to take as along as we wanted once we were inside. 
Our first view when we walked in.  This is the First Ladies garden.

The Ballroom

This is the famous painting of George Washington that was saved by First Lady Dolly Madison, just before the British entered Washington DC and burned the original White House to ground during the War of 1812.

View of the North lawn from The Green Room.  That little black dot to the left is the First Dog! Sadly we did not get a glimpse of the rest of the First Family.

The Green room

The Blue Room.  Here is where you can find the huge Blue Room Christmas Tree every year!
(Sidenote: My mom was super irritated that the carpets were rolled up like this.  She pointed out that in Windsor Castle they let you walk on the rugs, so why can’t the White House. Lol)

The Red Room

The State Dining Room

View from the South entrance into the Blue Room.  Across the hall and to the right are the stairs to the family residence. 

Family shot in front of the South entrance to the White House! 

Getting to go into the White House was definitely a major highlight of our trip.  According to the Congressional intern who gave us our tour of the Capitol, about 95% of the people who put in requests to get a tour of the White House get denied.  So we were super lucky to have been selected to go in.  And I know it is something that our family will never forget.  I’m so glad I got to experience it with my family.  Hopefully I’ll be able to do it again with my own children one day! 🙂

I have to throw in this last picture.  As we were walking off the grounds of the White House and around to the front, I ran into this group of guys.  They were so excited to be in Washington DC, they decided to dress in their best for their visit.  The hilarious part?  These guys aren’t even from the US! In the pictures we have two Aussies and two New Zealanders!  So obviously I had to snap a picture with them! 🙂  GOD BLESS AMERICA! 

Following the tour we headed out to Georgetown to look around and have a late lunch.  We had dinner reservations that night for the Old Ebbitt Grill so we didn’t want to have a super heavy lunch.  My cousin had given us a few must eat at restaurants and the one she raved about the most was Luke’s Lobster Rolls.  So we piled into an Uber and headed to Georgetown.

We decided to split two rolls between the four of us and shared their Clam cChowder and Lobster Bisque.  It was the BEST meal EVER.  Our food literally disappeared within about 10 minutes and we immediately started talking about coming back for lunch one more time before we left.

After lunch we wandered around Georgetown for a bit and then decided to head back to the hotel to rest and relax before out dinner reservations at the Old Ebbitt Grill.  This restaurant is seeped in Washington history and is located just around the corner from the White House.  It’s the oldest saloon in Washington D.C. and its patrons include Presidents, Congressman, Senators, and judges.  We had drinks, oysters, entrees, and even dessert!  My mom definitely had the best meal, she had their salmon and it was perfection.  Overall it was a delightful meal and experience.  Definitely put on your list of restaurants if only because of it’s history!

And that friends wraps up day 4!  I am so glad we got to tour the White House.  If you go through all of that, I applaud you! What I love is that now, I can say that I’ve been in the official residence of both the Queen of England (I went to Windsor Castle in 2004) and the President of the United States.  Not too shabby if you ask me! 🙂

I’ve got one more post and then our DC trip will be completely recapped!

Linking up for Wanderlust Wednesday and with Jenn and Jess for What’s Ha-“Pinning”!

Have a great Wednesday!

Currently {Late-August}

Whew! Work starts and I become the disappearing blogger.  The first week is under my belt though and I’m feeling really good about this year.  Hopefully that feeling sticks around!

Can y’all believe it’s the end of August?  It’s like we all blinked and boom it’s September.  And we’re about to be bombarded with all things Fall and pumpkin.  Not that I’m complaining, I’d just like to see the end of one season before we are surrounded by another.  (It did take all I had to not buy a few more fall decorations for the apartment while I was at TJ Maxx the other day.  I found the CUTEST black cat mug and a few super cute pumpkins.  Don’t worry I restrained myself)

Anyway, I realized that I never wrote my “currently” post for the month of August.  So better late then never right!  Right!

Here we go…..

Reading….The Girl From Venice.  It’s one of my Net Galley books and I’ll be reviewing it as part of my August reads next week!  But so far I’m a fan.  It’s another WWII historical fiction novel but is based in Italy.  I haven’t read too much about WWII in Italy and so far it’s really good!

Feeling….content, confident, happy, and not so lonely anymore.  School officially started last week and I can honestly say it was the smoothest first week of school I’ve had in my 4 years teaching.  Usually when I first talk to each of my classes I get nervous and stumble a little on my words (yes it happens to teachers too!) but this year I was cool as a cucumber.  No nervous at all.  And the whole rest of the week went just as smoothly. I’m hoping that means that this is gonna be a great year.

Oh and obviously I took a first day of school picture!

Here’s to year 4!

Drinking….nothing worth commenting on. 

Watching….Teen Mom OG.  This is the only Teen Mom I watch.  No clue why I watch it but I do.  So much so that I record it, in case I miss it.

Wishing….it was late September so all my fall shows were back on.  I’m so ready for my fall shows to come back on.  SO READY.  I’m also excited for a few of the new ones I’ve seen previews for.  Especially the new NBC show, This is Us.  Holy Kleenex.  That show looks like it is going to be an emotional rollercoaster and I can’t wait.

Thinking about….starting online dating again.  I’ve tried it a few times in the past, but I don’t think I’ve done it with any real seriousness attached to it.  But I think I’m ready to actually take it seriously.  I’m just not sure which service to do, Match or EHarmony.  Thoughts and opinions would be welcome! 🙂

Looking forward to….this weekend!  I’ll be heading to Atlanta, GA to meet my new baby niece, Brynn.  I’m so excited to finally meet, cuddle and love on her.  She recently took new born photos and look at this.

Y’ALL! How sweet is that?  The photographer is the same one who took Jordan and Brian’s wedding pictures.  She’s amazing. You can see more of her stuff at Arastasia Photography.  I am SO ready to get out of town for a few days and see the new little family!

Wanting….too many things to write out without seeming totally materialistic.  

Hating….that a friend of mine and I have recently stopped talking.  The reason centers around a boy. Which is 100% eye rolling and I hate every minute of it.  She recently started dating a guy that I dated last year.  And rather than come and tell me about it in person, I found out via Facebook.  I am not upset in the least that they are dating.  It’s just the fact that I had to find out about it via social media rather than her come and just talk to me about it.  Now it’s super awkward.  Oh yeah partly because we all work together.  Did I forget to mention that.  There’s obviously more to the story but honestly it’s not worth getting into but it made the first week back at work really difficult.  Not so much anymore but I’m really sad that she and I haven’t figured out a way to get past this.  I considered her one of my really good friends.  And it’s been weird not having her to talk to.

Loving….my hair!  The week I went back to work (before students) I finally got my hair cut and I LOVE IT!  The color is so much better, the cut is so much better, and I feel so much better!

Needing….a little blogging inspiration.  Now that work had started it’s been so hard to sit down and blog.  Which makes me so sad because I love it so much.


This week is a short (er) one for me.  I received a jury duty summons for Tuesday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t super excited about it.  I know it’s probably gonna be super boring and not exciting at all. But I personally am very excited to see what the process is like for myself.  And to do my civic duty!  Plus I can sleep in a bit cuz I don’t report until 12:30!

Have a great Monday friends!

PS. My weekend wasn’t exciting like at all…..thus why I didn’t share it..but I’m still gonna link up with Biana for Weekending! 🙂

Apartment Tour: The Living Room

It’s been 23 days since I moved into my very own apartment.  And it’s been quite an emotional 23 days. Now when I saw I emotional, I don’t meant that I’ve been sitting in my apartment alone and crying.  I just mean I’ve experienced all the emotions in those 23 days.  Happiness, excitement, sadness, eagerness, satisfaction, and most especially loneliness.  
But today’s post it’s about that, trust me I have that planned for a later day.  Todays’ post is share what that apartment looks like with you.  
Since I first decided that I would be moving into my own space back in December, I’ve had been slowly picking up pieces that I wanted to incorporate into my living room.  My bedroom was taken care of but I had virtually nothing for the living room/kitchen.  I even wrote this post about what I was hoping my living room would look like.
And I am so happy with the outcome.  SO HAPPY!! Thankfully I don’t mind sitting in my apartment because I’m so happy with how it turned out decor wise.  So rather than ramble on and on about it.  I’m just going to show you.  

I have a stack of these old books by the author Kathleen Norris.  She was an American author in the in 1900s and apparently she was the highest paid female author of the time!  I’ve never read any of them because seriously the books look like they’re about to fall apart.  But they made for perfect decor items on the bookshelf!

There ya have it!  I still have a few items I’d like to get that I think will add to the room.  I want to get a rug and come curtains.  I’d also like to add to few more decor items to the bookshelf and the coffee table.  But those are things that I can start looking for an buy a little at a time.

Here’s where I bought some of the bigger items:

Couch – Macey’s (but purchased online at a fantastic price!)
Bookshelf – IKEA (painted gold)
Coffee table – IKEA
Gray chairs – Marshall’s
Media Center – Home Goods
Lamps – Marshall’s
Painting- Hobby Lobby
Mirror- Home Goods
Desk – Craiglist
Desk Chair- Marshall’s
Pillows- Target

Washington DC Recap Day 3

Day three of our little family vacation dawned bright and early and we had another leisurely morning at the hotel.  We had a jam packed day 3 and thus why it deserves a post all its own.
Our first stop of the day was to the National Archives to see 3 documents that I spend about 6 weeks talking about in my US History class.  For those of you who don’t know, the National Archives is home to the 3 most important documents in our country.  The Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  3 documents that everyone one should know.  And sadly do not.
I went online and reserved 4 tickets so we wouldn’t have to go wait in line.  But it turns out I didn’t even need to do that because there was no wait to get in.  We decided to hit up the important documents first and then explore the rest of the archives after that.
I was slightly disappointed because we weren’t allowed to take pictures and this time around I followed the rules.  But it would have been neat to have been able to show my students pictures of the actual documents.  
As a history major and person who teaches all about this great nation of ours, I cannot even begin to describe what it felt like to see the actual Declaration of Independence that was penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776.  It is extremely faded but you can still just make out some of the words and signatures.  Each and every one of the men who sign the declaration were committing the ultimate act of treason by signing it but they didn’t care.  They were willing to give up their lives if it meant gaining our freedom.  BAH…sorry.  There’s the history nerd in me coming out true and blue.  
Seeing the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights was just as amazing.  I was even able to give to this older lady a mini history lesson.  She was looking at the Bill of Rights and quietly asked her daughter, “So the Bill of Rights came before the Declaration of Independence right?”  I seriously thought I was back in my 8th grade classroom.  So I couldn’t help myself, I had to interject and explain very nicely that we wouldn’t be able to come up with laws without declaring independence first.  She laughed and said, “Oh yes, of course.”  
Oh and don’t let National Treasure fool you.  The room that holds said three documents is dark and you can barely see a thing.  And they only let a large group of about 40-50 into the space at a time so you can’t just walk in and out as you please.  Geez the movies are such liars! 
After the National Archives we made our way over to the National Mall.  We wandered through the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial.  Each and everyone of them was so amazing.  I think my favorite was the World War II Memorial but what I loved most was how different each of the memorials were.  
At at this point I’m just gonna let the pictures speak for themselves! 🙂  Enjoy!

Korean War Memorial – The Memorial was first commissioned in 1986 and wasn’t completed until 1992.  

I love that you can see the facial expressions of the men in the statues.  They look so life like and have so much emotion etched in their faces.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to walk directly next to the Reflecting Pool.  There were fences already set up in preparation of the July 4th festivities. (Which ended up being canceled due to weather!) So I was not able to recreate the famous Jenny scene from Forrest Gump. 
After this was taken, my brother and I walked up to the Lincoln Memorial and my parents headed to the Vietnam Memorial.  My Dad’s knees were not about to climb all those stairs! 

These three men are the first part of the Vietnam War Memorial.  Their bodies are positioned to they are looking towards the main memorial wall where the names of all the men who lost their lives in the war are chronologically etched into the walls.

But I’m an idiot and totally forgot to take a picture of the whole wall!  So you’ll have to deal live with these.

My brother took this picture and you can tell.  My mom and I are out of focus and the background is in focus. 
After the Vietnam Memorial we decided it was time for a little break.  And I know we went to lunch somewhere but for the life of me I cannot remember where it was.  I’ve been racking my brain for a while now trying to remember and I have no clue.  
So I’ll just move one.  That evening we headed to enjoy America’s Pastime.  We went out and supported the National’s baseball team.  Baseball is one of my favorite sports so I’m so glad we got to attend a game while we were there.  We were worried that the game was gonna get rained out but we got lucky and we only had a slight delay.  
I love going to sporting events with my family.  When we were kids my parents took my brother and I to all kinds of games.  Football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and even golf!  So it was so much fun getting to go to a game with them again. 

And it was a fantastic way to end our third day!  
Recapping has been so fun!  Make sure to come back next week because I’m sharing all about The White House! 
Linking up for Wanderful Wednesday and with Jenn and Jess for What’s Ha-“Pinning”! 

Your Next Favorite Book: July Reads

I don’t know about y’all but I’m still having a hard time believing it’s already August.  We are already 8 months into the new year.  Before we know it it’s gonna be December 31st and we’ll be saying hello to 2017.

One of my goals for 2016 was to read 50 books and I’m happy to report that I am 60% through with my goal.  I’ve read 30 books thus far.  I’m actually hoping/planning to surpass that goal but we’ll see if that happens with school starting next week.

Today I’m sharing the 5 books I read in July.  Technically the last one I read in August but I don’t want to wait until September to review it so I’m throwing it in with my July books.


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My thoughts:  I had so many thoughts going through my head while reading this book.  But it’s hard to really get into them in a review without giving away some major plot points.  And as I’m trying to write this I’m having trouble getting my thoughts worked out anyway.  Which NEVER happens for me with books.  I either like it or I don’t, there is rarely gray area for me when it comes to books.  But I just don’t know about this one.  I want to say I liked it but then again I HATED TifAni.  Absolutely hated her.  I felt bad for her a couple times but I hated how she treated her fiancé, I hated how judgmental and bitchy she was and I HATED that she wanted everyone to pronounce her name AH-ni rather than Annie.  I rolled my eyes every time she corrected someone in the book.  I will say I was shocked and riveted when the big twist was revealed.  It was probably my favorite part of the book to read because I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it did.  Which if you know what the reveal is, you’re probably thinking, “Oh my gosh, what is wrong with you.” But in my opinion it was the most well written part.  
Anyway, I need to know if anyone has read it.  Because literally NO ONE I know in “real-life” has read it so I haven’t been able to talk about it/hash out all my feelings about it. Until now.  So if you’ve read it PLEASE tell me what you thought! 
Goodreads Synopsis: Alone . . . Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge watches a tense hostage standoff unfold through the scope of his sniper rifle. Just across the street, in wealthy Back Bay, Boston, an armed man has barricaded himself with his wife and child. The man’s finger tightens on the trigger and Dodge has only a split second to react . . . and forever pay the consequences.

Alone . . . that’s where the nightmare began for cool, beautiful, and dangerously sexy Catherine Rose Gagnon. Twenty-five years ago, she was buried underground during a month-long nightmare of abduction and abuse. Now her husband has just been killed. Her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for his son’s death . . . and for the series of unexplained illnesses that have sent her own young son repeatedly to the hospital. 

Alone . . . a madman survived solitary confinement in a maximum security prison where he’d done hard time for the most sadistic of crimes. Now he walks the streets a free man, invisible, anonymous . . . and filled with an unquenchable rage for vengeance. What brings them together is a moment of violence—but what connects them is a passion far deeper and much more dangerous. For a killer is loose who’s woven such an intricate web of evil that no one is above suspicion, no one is beyond harm, and no one will see death coming until it has them cornered, helpless, and alone.

My thoughts:  My blogging buddy, Ashley from The Wandering Weekenders, was an angel a few months back and gave me her Nook login so I could read another book.  Well she has got a gold mind on that thing.  Because I’ve found so many titles in her library that I thought I had died and gone to book heaven for a while.  Any who, while I was browsing I found this book.  And the synopsis alone had me hooked.  Plus I was in the mood for a thriller so this fit the bill.  It kept me guessing, it held my attention, and I was surprised with the end.  All in all a good read for me.  I enjoyed it.  If you’re in the mood for a thriller, pick this one up! 
 In fact I liked it so much I decided to find another book by the same author.  And thus found the next book! 
Goodreads Synopsis: One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?

As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

My thoughts:  I think I liked this one slightly more than Alone if I’m honest.  I loved the main character Tessa.  She was intense, likable, and a total badass in the end.    I loved the twist in the story and had no idea things were gonna go the way they did.  I also loved that the two characters I really loved from Alone were major players in this book too.  And I’m pretty sure Lisa Gardner has more books with Tessa as one of the main characters.  It was an easy read and again if you’re looking for a thriller, read this one.  I can see myself reading a few of Lisa Gardner’s books in the future.
Goodreads Synopsis: She stole a life. Now she must pay with her heart.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world. 

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

My thoughts:  I am a huge fan of Sarah J. Maas’s other book series, Throne of Glass.  And when I heard that she had started another series based on the Beauty and the Beast story but in a faerie world, I knew that eventually I would have to read it.  And y’all it did NOT disappoint.  After having read 3 contemporary books I was ready to get back into the fantasy realm anyway.  The story was very well thought out.  I loved picking up all the Beauty and the Beast references and I really liked the way she melded it with her own world of humans and faeries.  
I will say that this series is much more graphic when it comes to the love scenes.  And at first I was little shocked and put off because I thought it was a YA novel.  All I kept thinking was, ” I would NOT let/suggest any of my 8th-10th graders read this.”  But then I found out that this is actually supposed to be part of a newer genre that is being called “New Adult”.   So that made me feel a little but better but I did notice that it’s still in the YA section in bookstores.  I just know I don’t think I would let my child read this if she was in middle school or even early high school.  
I’m excited to read the second in the series.  But I’m waiting a little bit because Sarah J. Maas is currently writing the 3rd book and I know I’ll want to read it right away.  Although I’m not sure how much longer I can wait.  I wanna know what happens next!  There was the beginnings of a love triangle towards the end of the first one and I love me a good love triangle!  
This was probably my favorite read of July!
GoodReads Synopsis: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My thoughts: First I want to say there WILL BE SPOILERS!! So if you have not read this I suggest you skip my thoughts! You’ve been warned!

 Ok, I know as a good Potterhead, I should be dedicating a whole post to this.  But I’m not going to.  Instead of a whole post, I’m going to direct you to my friend Ashley’s blog, The Wright Nook.  She wrote a whole post and our views are pretty similar! 🙂

Now, obviously I had to read this.  It’s called the 8th book in the Harry Potter series.  But I wish they hadn’t called it that.  To me it was not the 8th book in any way, shape or form.  It’s a short story that was made into a play.  Since it was written as a script it took some getting used to but I was quickly able to get used to the writing style.  I thought it would be easiest to explain a few of my thoughts in list form so…..

Here’s what I loved:
-Harry and Draco’s sons became BFFs

-Hermione become Minister of Magic and Ron being so….well Ron still.

– I was always skeptical of the whole Ginny/Harry thing but after having read this and gotten a glimpse of their married relationship I’m a big fan now.

-Going back to 1981.  I 100% think JK Rowling needs to write books about Harry’s parents and their years at Hogwarts.  I am dying to know what made Lily go from hating James to falling totally in love with him in their 7th year.  WHAT HAPPENED!!!! I need to know!

-Scorpious.  What a great kid.

– Just being back in my favorite world.  Even though I wanted more, it was still so special and amazing to be back in Harry’s world.  It will always be my favorite books. Always.

Here’s what I didn’t:

– Not getting enough back story.  I’m sorry I want more.  I don’t want just a script where we get flashes and quick explanations.  I want detailed emotions and scenes and thoughts and descriptions.

– I was a little confused why it was the middle child who felt so disconnected to Harry.  Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest and there is no middle child in my family and I just don’t really understand “middle child syndrome”.  I dunno I just didn’t get why there was such a disconnect between Harry and Albus and not Harry and James.  Plus I think it’s awesome that one of Harry’s kids was in Slytherin.  It goes back to how close Gryffindors and Slytherins really are personality wise.

– Ashley is gonna hate me but I didn’t really love the whole Bellatrix/Voldemort love child thing.  Now I can see the argument, that maybe he did it so his bloodline would carry on and it was all just lust and not because he loved her.  And I know Bellatrix would have been all for it because she was so obsessed and infatuated with Voldemort.  But still I think Voldemort is too selfish for even that.  Again just my humble opinion but there it is.

Ok those are the major points I wanted to address.  Like I said even though I would not call this the 8th book I still enjoyed it.  And if you are a Harry Potter fan, big or small, it is definitely worth your time!  If only to spend a few more hours lots in the wizarding world of Harry Potter! (the books obviously, not the theme park! ; )


Now my favorite of the 5 that I read was probably A Court of Thorns and Roses with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming a close second.

This month I have several books that I’m hoping I’ll get through but again with school starting next week, August may be a slow reading month for me.  We shall see!

I’m linking up with Steph and Jana for their Show Us Your Books link up! 🙂

Washington DC 2016 Recap: Day 1 and 2

Every summer I love to make at least one big trip.  Last year that big trip was to Europe.  And it was by far the best trip I’ve had in a very long time.  And it has totally given me travel fever.  I now want to see as many cities and countries as I can.  
So when it came to a big trip for this summer I knew I had a few options.  But as I started thinking about it I realized that if I had seen the capitol cities of three major countries but I had not been to the capitol of the country I was born in.  So I knew that needed to change.  I also knew that I wanted to visit our nation’s capitol with my family.  It had been at least 15 years since we had taken a real family vacation. 
Thankfully both of my parents are teachers and my brother was able to get the time off from his job.  So our Norris Family Vacation 2016 was a go.
We spent 5 fun filled days exploring DC.  I, being the planner in the family, created our itinerary and it was pretty perfect if you ask me.  I made sure to spread everything out over the course of the 5 days because I wanted us to be able to really enjoy each place.  
For my recap, I figured it would be easiest to divide posts and pictures by days.  So today I’m sharing Days 1 and 2!  

We flew into Reagan International on June 29th.  My parents and I flew in first and my brother followed by about 2 hours.  So the first few hours spent in DC was in the airport while we waited for Drew to catch up.  Once we were all together we started our journey to the hotel.
While searching for hotels before the trip, I quickly realized it was going to be much cheaper to stay in Arlington than it would be to stay in DC proper.  Out hotel was called the Virginian Suites and was just across the bridge from DC, it was about a 5 minute Uber drive into DC and about an 7 minute Uber drive into Georgetown.  So it really was the perfect location. 
By the time we got to the hotel and settled in a but it was already close to 6:00pm.  And I was ready to start exploring.  One of the great things about the Virginian was that it was within walking distance of Arlington National Cemetery.  So we knew that would be the perfect way to start.  We made our way over to Iwo Jima Memorial first and snapped some pictures.  Then we started walking through the park to the cemetery.  

It was such a gorgeous walk.  The weather was perfect! And it was great seeing people walking, running, biking, and just relaxing within the park itself.

We quickly realized that our leisurely walk through the park probably shouldn’t have been so leisurely because of two things.  First of all we didn’t know that the entrance we found was actually the very back of the cemetery.  Second of all we had no idea that closing time for the cemetery was 7:00pm.  By the time we walked through the little side gate into the cemetery it was already around 6:40.  So we only had about 20 minutes to wander through.

Mom found a worker who gave us a map and quick explanation of the layout of the cemetery.  We were about a 20 minute walk from all the main attractions within the cemetery.  So we had to settle for just wandering around the back section.  But it honestly didn’t feel like we were settling at all.

It was absolutely gorgeous and so humbling to be able to wander through the gravestones of all the men and wives of those who have given their lives so this country can be free.  The back portion is an older part of the cemetery and so most of men buried in the sections we wandered through died fighting in the wars fought during the 20th century, WWI, WWII and Vietnam.

As Mom was looking at the map she had been given she realized that we were in the section where the first soldier to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery was buried.  Sadly we couldn’t find the exact grave but we did find a bunch of gravestones marked with “Unknown Soldier”, as well as, gravestones for soldiers who died during the Civil War.  
Promptly at 7:00pm a man came by and politely asked us to leave grounds since the cemetery was closing.  We decided we would come back in the morning or evening another day.
By this time I was feeling particularly hungry.  So we headed back to the hotel and figure out what to do for dinner.  My Dad and brother were in charge of finding all of our dining locations and so the first night in town we headed to Hanks Oyster Bar in the Dupont Circle area of DC.  My family loves oysters but I have always hated them.  But seeing as I am now a sophisticated adult I decided I would give them one more try.  And y’all, I thoroughly enjoyed them.  
Hank’s Oyster Bar was the best possible choice for a first meal in DC.  It was hype little restaurant in one of the hype areas of the city.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere was perfect. Sadly I didn’t snap any actual picture while were were there (all I did was Snapchat.)  So I’m pulling a pictures from their website.  
We sat just inside those glass windows.  One of the interesting things about Hank’s is that all the chef’s in the restaurant are women.  Hank’s is named after head chef and owner Jamie Leeds, father, Hank.  We had several different kinds of East coast oysters and what is fascinating is that they all tasted so different!  And they were so much small than the oysters we’re used to here in Texas, the Gulf Oyster.  
Anyway, if you’re looking for a tasty meal in the Dupont Circle area I high recommend Hank’s Oyster Bar.  You can find them at: 1624 Q Street NW, Washington DC 20009.
Day 2 dawned bright and early.  But rather than jump right up and start sight seeing we decided to have a leisurely morning in the hotel and then head to our first scheduled tour.  (Ok sidenote, it was not my decision at all to go at a leisurely pace.  But I quickly realized that that was how our entire vacation was gonna go.  I wanted to go go go and the others, minus my Mom, weren’t having that.)
Anyway our first stop of the day was a tour of the Capitol.  I booked our tour through my Congressman’s office. I’m part of the 10th Congressional District in Texas and the Congressman is Michael McCaul.  It was the easiest process ever.  And the Congressman’s office was so friendly and accommodating.  All you have to do is visit your Congressman’s website and fill out their form for requesting tours.  I HIGHLY recommend going this route as opposed to going through the Capitol Visitor’s Center. (I’ll tell you why in a few paragraphs) 
Our tour of the Capitol was a private tour given by one of the Congressional interns in Congressman McCaul’s office.  His name was Jared, a student from Texas Tech University and he was on the very last day of his internship.  We met Jared in Congressman McCaul’s office (sadly the Congressman was not in the office when we got there) which is actually in a building directly next to the Capitol building itself.  Shortly after we arrived we got to walk through the tunnels!  Yes! The Capitol has a tunnel system that connects the offices of the Congressman to the Capitol building.  JUST LIKE DISNEY WORLD!  We went through a security check before we could get into the building.  But had we scheduled a tour through the visitor’s center we would not have gotten this opportunity!  It was way cool!   
Jared did an amazing job taking us around the Capitol.  He was full of knowledge and even took us down a few hallways that weren’t on the tour.  The history nerd/ US History teacher in me was salivating the entire time.  Being in the building that where our laws are made and passed is such a thrilling feeling.  One of the main things I teach is the Constitution.  8th graders not only need to know how and why our country functions the way it does, they also need to know each of the principles we as a nation follow.  I think that if they had the opportunity to see and walk through the building where some of those principles are carried out, they would appreciate why it’s important to learn them and appreciate learning them period.  
Hell, every American needs to visit the Capitol building once in their lives.
Ok, I’ll get off my soap box.  
Our tour took us through both sides of the Capitol.  We save the old Supreme Court Chamber, the old House of Representatives Chamber, and the Old Senate Chamber  The Supreme Court now has it’s own building and the Capitol has expanded their rooms on either side of the Rotunda. Unfortunately the inside, as well as the outside, of the Rotunda is in the process of being renovated.  So when we got inside the Rotunda itself all of the walls were covered by large white tarps.  But we were still able to see all the painting around and at the top of the room. 

Painting inside the dome in the rotunda of the US Capitol building.  The painting is called Apotheosis of Washington painted in 1865 by an Italian artist. 
On either side of Washington are the angels Victoria (Victory) and Liberty and the other angels surrounding him represent the 13 colonies.  Apparently there are 3 or 4 angels who have their back turned to Washington and these angels are meant to represent the colonies that were still in rebellion as the painting was painted during the last few months of the Civil War. 

Old Senate Room.  1815-1859
It also served as the Supreme Court Chamber from 1860-1935.
Once our tour was over, we were given vouchers to go inside the present day House of Representatives and Senate rooms.  Sadly, Congress was not in session while we were there.  Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had just placed the House in recess until July 5th, after the House Democrats refused to leave the House floor regarding gun control disagreements.  But we also heard that there was like a 3 hour wait to get into the viewing areas when that happened.  So it’s probably best we missed that.   Additionally we weren’t allowed to take cell phones/ cameras into either room.  So that was a bummer but it was still very neat to see the actual room where laws are suggested and passed!  
Our tour lasted about 2 hours and it was amazing.  By far one of the coolest things we did while in DC.  Now the reason I highly suggest going through your Congressman rather than through the Visitors Center is because it’s a much more intimate tour.  If you go through the Visitor’s Center you’re looking at a 30-50 person tour and through you’re Congressman you’ll have a max of 10.  Or you’ll get lucky like we did and have a private tour.  
Now if you’re going to go through your Congressman’s office you must put your request in at least 4 months in advance.  I put our request in in February for our end of June/beginning of July trip.  It was super easy and again the tour was so much better!   
Supreme Court Building- completed in 1935
We didn’t actually go into the Supreme Court Building but I did stand outside of it while I was looking for a place to buy water!  I wish we had gone inside but we didn’t have time.
So following the Capitol we decided to pop over to the Library of Congress.  There was a hallway that connected right to to the Library so we didn’t have to walk outside, which was nice because this was probably the warmest day!  
This is the main reading room inside the Library of Congress.  Which I learned is the second largest library in the world, second to the British Library.  It’s home to roughly 32 million catalogues books, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and a Gutenberg Bible.  The Gutenberg Bible the Library has is one of only 3 perfect vellum copies known to exist in the world.  The book nerd in me was salivating at this point! 🙂
Now this is not a library where anyone can just go in and check books out. You must be a government official to borrow items and you must have permission to use any of the reference materials. There were only a handful of people sitting in the reading/research room on the day we were there.  So if you’ve seen National Treasure, it’s total BS that Ben Gates and Riley were in there planning how to break into the National Archives.  They would not have been allowed in this room.  

SO…after our little jaunt into the Library of Congress, we all realized we were starving.  We had a slight bump in the road when my mom got bitten by a squirrel while we were waiting for the Uber driver to find us in between the Library of Congress and the Capitol Building.  But thankfully she was fine.  
We headed over to “linner” at a Food Network favorite, Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Which was very tasty!  
The second highlight of the day happened later that evening though.  I went and had drinks and appetizers with a blogger friend! I have been reading Jenn’s (Going the Distance) blog for, gosh, like 5 years now.  I found her blog when I first started blogging and have exchanged emails and most recently Snaps with her like crazy.  She lives just outside of Arlington and since I was staying in Arlington it was super easy for her to drive in and meet me somewhere.  We met at the restaurant OZ, which was totally appropriate since it’s owned by one of the Real Housewives of the Potomac.  It was pretty tasty!  
It was so great finally meeting Jenn in person.  I just love when blogger friends turn out to be great in real life friends! 🙂

Once I got back from happy hour with Jenn, Mom and I decided to ditch the boys (they were being lame and decided to stay at the hotel) and head to the Mall to see all the monuments at night.  I’m glad she and I had the chance to spend some time together, the just two of us!  
Look at the monuments at night though.  SO FREAKING GORGEOUS!

Well that about wraps up our first two days!  Stay tuned next week for days 3 and 4! 🙂
Have a great weekend! 
Linking up for Wanderful Wednesday! 
(Yes I realize it’s not Wednesday but this post was supposed to go up then and it didn’t. womp womp.  I’ll be better next week!)

Wonderful World of Disney

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately.  Specifically, nostalgic for Disney World.  If you don’t already know I dedicated about 6 years of my life to the Walt Disney Company and have missed living and working there.  Thankfully I’ve been back multiple times since I officially moved back to Texas and actually have a trip planned for October!

But in the meantime I thought it would be fun to answer a short little Disney blogger survey!  I’ve seen this on a few of my favorite bloggers blogs, most recently Nikki from MakeupHer did it and in honor of my nostalgia I’m following suit! 🙂

And I’m throwing in some of my favorite Disney pictures while I’m at it!

Epcot 2013


Film: Sleeping Beauty.  Always has and always will be.  Although Tangled and Beauty and the Beast and Bed-knobs and Broomsticks are up there too.

Characters: Mickey (obviously) and Donald.  I also love Gaston.  Especially meeting Gaston in the parks.  He is such a fun meet and greet!

Professional Internship – Epcot 2011

Princess:  Since Sleeping Beauty is my favorite movie, Aurora is my favorite princess.  She has always been my favorite.  I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t.

Disney College Program – Magic Kingdom – 2008

Disney College Program – Magic Kingdom – 2008
Summer Alumni Disney College Program -Epcot – 2009

Sidekick: I would say either Abu or Pascal.  Abu is hilarious and he loves Aladdin unconditionally.  And Pascal is just the cutest.  His facial expressions throughout Tangled is one of my favorite things about the movie.

Song: See the Light – Tangled. When I heard this song and saw this scene I was instantly captured.  I love everything about that scene.  Sometimes I watch it on Youtube just because.  In fact I’ve watched it at least 3 times since I embedded the video.  Well done Alan Mencken, well done.

Another song I love to sing along to (in the car) is Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid.  There is just something about this song that is so catchy to me.  Oh and Colors of the Wind too.  SO GOOD!

Villain: Maleficent.  She’s gorgeous and fabulous.  But I also Mother Gothel.  She’s terrifying to me because she uses emotional…abuse…..I hate to use that word because it sounds so awful, but it’s exactly what she does to keep Rapunzel under her control which is something that I think can happen in real life.   Good lord what is wrong with me, why would that make her a favorite.

Disney College Program Graduation – 2009

Disney World, Magic Kingdom – 2015

Which Disney character would be your best friend? Honestly I think Anna from Frozen would be.  She is so fun and random and silly and caring.  I think she would make the perfect best friend!

Who would be your Disney pet? Ohh this is a tough one.  But seeing as I’m a cat person, I’m gonna go with Duchess and her kittens from The Aristocats.

Have you ever been to Disneyland?  YES! I’ve actually been 3 times.  The first time was with my grandparents when I was 6 but sadly I don’t remember much about that trip.  I went again in 2010 with some of my best girl friends.  And finally I was there with my friend Katie in 2013.  I love Disneyland because it’s the park that Walt actually built and put his heart and soul into.

Disneyland – 2010

Disney’s California Adventure – 2010

Walt’s Apartment at Disneyland- 2014

Do you collect anything special?  When I worked at Disney World I start collecting Sleeping Beauty pins. If you’re not familiar, pin collecting is a big thing at the Disney Parks.  People have thousands of pins and they trade them with other guests, as well as buy them.  You can trade with other guests and even with cast members in most merchandise locations throughout the parks and resorts.  I think I have about 50.  Sadly they’re not displayed in anyway, they’re just sitting in a plastic bag in a drawer.  I started collecting them in 2008 and stopped when I left the company in 2014.

What Disney movie would you star in if you could?  Ohh this is another tough one.  I think it would be fun to star in the Parent Trap.  I think it would be so fun to play twins with completely different personalities and accents! lol

How old were you when you watched your first Disney movie?  Lets see, I think I watched my first Disney movie when I was 4.  And I’m pretty sure that movie was Aladdin.  Followed closely by The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.  I know there is a picture somewhere at my mom’s house of my grandmother giving me Beauty and the Beast on VHS and I’m like 6 in the picture.

Who is your favorite Disney couple? Philip and Aurora, followed closely by Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party- 2011

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – 2011


What a fun walk down memory lane!  It was hard to choose just a few pictures when I probably have over 2,000 taken from my time at Disney.  Sorry for the poor quality of some of the pictures.  I didn’t my fancy camera back in the day!

Disney will always be my favorite place to visit.  It’s my home away from home and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  🙂