From a very early age, Brielle talked about playing the violin. It was always something she had interest in, but something I always feared. Mostly because I knew nothing about the violin. It was completely foreign to me.

I forced piano on her for 6 months... until my husband decided that the fighting and screaming and yelling had gone far enough. I even went as far as to threaten her with no violin unless she completed one full year of piano. But in the end, I realized something. I can't make this kid like the things I like, or force her to do the things that I know how to do. She is her own person.

Fast forward 3 years and Brielle has stuck with the violin. She practices every day, is progressing quite quickly and I absolutely love listening to her play. She's even been asked to perform during the children's primary program this fall!

Recently, she asked for a new violin. She didn't want the beginner model anymore. Being that string instruments are very expensive, it took some time to save up the money, but after several months, we were able to get her what she wanted and needed.

I was lucky as a child. Growing up myself, playing both the piano and the flute, and having sisters play instruments of their own, I had parents who were extremely supportive. They too made whatever sacrifice necessary so that I (and my sisters) could have very nice instruments as well. I'm committed to do the same.

I'm happy for Brielle and I'm grateful we were in a position to do this for her. She works hard, is responsible and most certainly deserved it.

How did I get so lucky to have such a great kid?

Memorial Weekend

Just a week after we had gotten home from our trip to D.C., we were lunching with some friends when the topic of Memorial Weekend came up. Because the holiday was quickly approaching, we all had started receiving phone calls from members in the ward looking for substitutes for their callings while they were on fabulous weekend trips. So naturally, we decided we needed a fabulous weekend trip, too.

We wanted warm, we wanted relaxation, we wanted fun! We packed up and headed to St. George.

St. George isn't a place that I have visited much in my lifetime. So, we followed our friends the "Schwanny's" around, letting them show us all the places they loved to visit. Snow Canyon was first on the list.

We'd drive a little bit, stop and hike a little, then drive a bit more, then stop and hike a little.

We dug in the sand... or rather, buried our kids in the sand.

We swam a lot at the pool in the townhome complex that we were staying at...

And although the temps weren't nearly as high as St. George temps can get, it was hot and we'd find relief from the sun where ever we could. Most of us just looked for shade...

While a few nerds chose to keep the shade with them where ever they went.

We did find another little treasure, hidden deep inside the Cracker Barrel Restaraunt just off the freeway...

Cheerwine. My sis-in-law told me about this highly refreshing, very sweet, cherry soda. She told me it's made in the Southern States and that it's one of the things she misses most about living there. It really is as good as she described it!

I'm usually not one for impromptu trips, especially after just getting home from a big non-impromptu trip, but this was perfect. It was a great way to spend some time with Chris before he gets super busy for the summer.


Washington D.C.

We've been back from our D.C. trip for a full 3 1/2 weeks now.We've even taken a second family mini-trip since returning. Normally, posting photos of our trip to my blog is top priority.However, since these last several weeks have been complete chaos, filled with end of school year events, work events, yard work and - I'm sure you know, as the list never ends - I'm just now getting around to posting about our amazing trip to Washington D.C.

Each year, the REALTORS gather in D.C. to meet with our Legislators and Representatives, to promote fair and equal housing as well as the preservation of private property rights.Yes, this was another work trip me, but Chris and Brielle never miss an opportunity to tag along. And I must say... I always have more fun when they do.

First things first... the food.Whenever we're somewhere near the ocean -- scratch that -- it doesn't matter where we are really, Chris always scouts out the best places to get seafood. And this place did not disappoint (him). His meal, er... bag, came complete with:
  • 1 lb. Crawfish
  • 1 lb. Jumbo Shrimp
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Several Red Potatoes
  • At least 2 links of Sausage

Of course he ate it himself! I don't touch seafood that still has its head attached!

Chris and Brielle chased down a food truck (they are everywhere in D.C.) that supposedly had the best lobster sandwiches.  And somehow, Chris convinced Brielle to try one and even bought her her own ($15 each -- ouch!).

I think she like it.  Now, on to my biggest disappointment... and the one thing we had to travel the farthest for... Georgetown Cupcakes (otherwise know as D.C. Cupcakes on the TLC Series). That's right. I didn't like them one bit! I must be a total cupcake snob. And to think, I passed by a Sprinkles Cupcakes on my way to Georgetown Cupcakes. Sometimes I make bad choices.

But being there was still kind of fun.

Each day started out with meetings for me and fun for Chris and Brielle. It's the nature of a work trip, but you won't complain.

I had previously read online that on this particular day at the Air & Space Museum, Astronaut Kevin Ford would be doing a live broadcast for NASA about his recent trip to space. For us, this was a highlight. He spoke about what it's like to be in space, to live, sleep and eat in space and what they do while in space. He showed us video's of experiments conducted in space, photos from inside the space shuttle and even took the time to answer questions from the audience.

And of course, after having learned about this historical person, a highlight for Brielle was seeing a replica of Amelia Earhart's plane. ***Scratch that... this is the actual "Wright Brothers" plane. This is what happens when I'm not actually there and download photos off their phone. I make assumptions about what some things are. I'm smart like that.***

I met up with them for the astronaut presentation and to grab lunch before my next meeting. Which brings to me to my first and only D.C. trip tip...

If you are there for pleasure, and not for work (like myself), these shoes (on the right) are not appropriate site seeing footwear...

Brielle's shoes = great! Mine = pain, swelling and soreness.

Somewhere along Chris and Brielle's travels that day they found this bizarre metal tree in the middle of a park. Is this D.C.'s version of Chicago's Bean? Whatever, I guess.

Afterwards, we headed over to the National Archives Building, where we learned that the young people of today, who will lead our country tomorrow, don't know the difference between the Constitution of the United State and the Bill of Rights.  Even when there's a plaque telling you exactly what it is, right above the actual document. Disturbing, I must say.

Unfortunately, pictures inside are not allowed, so instead of snapping pics of historic documents, I'll take a photo of this abnormally large door.

Of course, being that the purpose of this trip was to meet with our legislators, I naturally had meetings on Capital Hill.

I thought it might be a good opportunity for Brielle to sit in on some of those meetings, meet Utah's elected officials and learn a little about the business that I'm in. She was able to meet Congressman Bishop, Congressman Chafetz, Senator Lee and Senator Hatch. And I'm sure if you ask her what was discussed that day, she won't remember a thing.

Two things we do remember? Senator Lee was the only one who wouldn't stop for a photo with the cute little girl in the patriotic shirt and that they forgot to install A/C in the Capital Building when renovating.

Brielle and Chris also stopped by Congressman Bishop's office earlier that day and his staff was kind enough to give them a private tour of the Capital Building.

We also made a stop at the Library of Congress. What is lame about this trip is that you cannot actually go IN to the Library. You can look at it through a glass plate window. Apparently, you need permission and a purpose, and a regular American Citizen who had never seen it before does not qualify.

As soon as Brielle realized she was taking photos in front of naked statues, she demanded we stop. But we managed to get a few. Ha!

Jefferson's Library. Wow. Some are actual books that were not damaged in the fire, some are books that were in the original library that burned, but were acquired later, and some are just black boxes, labeled as books that were in the original library, but that they are still searching for.

Did you know the U.S. Government purchased Jefferson's library for just over $24,000 when Jefferson was short on money. Today, the governement has spent millions trying to complete it.

After visiting the back side of the actual Library, we darted back over to Congressman Bishop's office.  You see, we were given "special" tickets. Tickets that not many people get. Tickets that have to be obtained by your Congressman, and tickets that you have to be accompanied by your Congressman to use.

"The Dome Tour" Accompanied by Congressman Rob Bishop.

When the U.S. Capital was first built, it was rather small, with a copper dome on top. As the legislative branches grew, they built onto the sides of the Capital, and the dome top became rather small and disproportionate to the rest of the building. So, a new dome was built, directly on top of the old (now green) dome.  Let me illustrate...

If you are lucky enough (and we were pretty lucky because two weeks after we left, they closed down the "Dome Tour" for the next 3 years), you get to climb the over 300 stairs (steep stairs, I must add), to the top of the new Dome.

You climb up to the balcony that sits just beneath the"Apotheosis of Washington" painting in the rotunda of the Capital.

We're looking down on the tourists wondering how we got clear up here.

We then walked back out to climb more stairs which spiraled up in between the two domes, old and new (again, with no A/C) to the very top balcony of the Capital...

...where we were able to see a complete, panoramic view of Washington, D.C.  Breathtaking.

Just to give you an idea...

Looking down from up high...

Pretty sweet, don't you think?

Arlington Cemetery was another "must do" on our list. I had been to D.C. in the past, but had never been to Arlington. What a humbling, and overwhelming experience.

The feeling you get when you are standing amongst rows and rows of headstones, knowing that each one paid the ultimate price for my freedom... it's indescribable.

The Changing of the Guard. Such respect and honor for the fallen heros. This was very touching.

Because of all this budget talk and sequester stuff, the White House is closed to visitors. This made me mad. It's not his house. It's a national landmark and we should be able to visit it when we want to. But we couldn't. And now, this is about as close as you can get...

...which is not very close.

It's tough getting around to see all the different monuments, especially when they are so spread out and you are trying to visit as many museums as possible, too. We did make time to visit the Lincoln Memorial and Brielle was able to stand where Martin Luther King, Jr. stood to give his "I Have a Dream" speech.

You're probably wondering where the picture of Brielle actually in front of the Lincoln Memorial is. And I'm asking myself that very same question. Really... we were there.

We're nearing the final stretch of our trip. The last day, which was the same day we were to catch our flight home, which was also the day I found out our flight was leaving 2 hours earlier than planned, we visited our last and final museum. The Museum of Natural History. We couldn't forget about the museum used in the "Night at the Museum 2" movie.

We were here when I learned of the two hour time change in our flight, causing my massive panic attack.  We left the museum just to find D.C. in a complete down pour, with the closest metro stop 3 blocks away and no taxi in sight. Chris was able to snag a cab from people arriving at the museum and we made it on-time (and dry) back to the hotel to collect our things.  Phew.

Thanks to the D.C. Metro App for iPhone, we pretty much mastered the subway system. It was crazy big and insanely crowded during peak times. But surprisingly, the people of D.C. are extremely nice, offered help when asked and helped us navigate these giant underground tunnels.

And then we came home. The End.

Seriously though - I have to say - I will gladly set aside all our house repair/remodel funds for the chance to travel with the loves of my life. Brielle is at such a fun age to travel with. She'll try anything, go anywhere, and there's no need to cater to "small kids" since she's certainly not that anymore. I feel as though I only have a few more years for these opportunities and I will take them each chance I get. Because after she's gone, I'll only have Chris to travel with.