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"!