Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My New Home

This is the eighth state I've lived in during my twenty-seven years, and one thing I've learned is that home (at least for movers like me) is much more than a place. It used to be my parents and siblings. And for a rough bit, it was just me and my stuff (college). And then home became Jeff, and now home is Jeff, Jill, Danny, and Alice. Thus, home for me now is Oak Hill, Virginia, right outside of Herndon, Virginia, located in Fairfax County, just half an hour outside of DC. (Or at least it would be half an hour, if you're driving at like 3:00 am and there is no traffic.)

If you read my last post, then you know I still have a ways to go before Northern Virginia fills the Cincinnati-sized hole in my heart, but I am looking for the positives of my new home, and there are a lot to be found. Sure, there are no Reds, no flying pigs, no Kings Island, no EnterTRAINment, no Union Township library, no Krogers, no Eastgate Ward, and no fenced-in yard, but let me share with you what I do love about this place.

I can walk to the grocery store in five minutes. It is actually faster to walk there than it is to get my kids in the car and drive on the streets. (When I walk, I can cut through the trees rather than drive all the way around.) I can walk to ten different restaurants. I can walk to Goodwill. We could walk to Chuck-E-Cheese if we wanted (and Jill definitely does!). I can walk to a lot of places, because there is a cute little shopping plaza right behind my house, complete with karate, a dentist, a spa, Gold's Gym, and more. Very convenient. I love walking.

I can also walk to the elementary school (where my children, as Caucasians, will be in a minority group, which is unexpected and interesting). I can walk to four small playgrounds and one larger playground. I can walk to two swimming pools.

It's a good thing I love to walk.

A five-minute car ride gets me to the park-and-ride lot where I can park for free (and where in a year or so a new metro stop will be built!). After parking, I can take the bus over to the metro and go pretty much anywhere in the city. Right now my kids are still free on the metro, so it is not very expensive. It takes a little longer to get places on the bus and metro, but I don't have to drive in traffic. I don't have to look for a parking spot. I don't have to parallel park. My kids can move around (they think the "train" is awesome), and I can nurse Alice instead of listening to her cry in her car seat. With Jill and Daniel in a double stroller, and Alice in her wrap, I am a woman on the go.

The metro can take me lots of places, and anything affiliated with the Smithsonian is free, so that is fabulous. There is a lot to see in DC.

Virginia has more flowering trees than I have ever seen (or at least noticed) anywhere else I have lived. I don't know if they are native here, or if the residents here just love to plant them (or both), but they are everywhere: cherry trees, Japanese cherry trees (obviously not native), magnolias, Bradford pear trees, and many others whose names I haven't learned yet.

Five minutes from my house is my church building.

Ten minutes from my house is a park with a nice playground, a carousel, and a Depression-era farm with live animals. And since it's spring, there are lots of baby animals there right now. :)

About twenty minutes from my house are waterfalls you can hike around.

Unfortunately, I am not very close to a library, but there are four within twenty minutes of my house, so I have been visiting the different ones trying to see which one is my favorite.

My house is three stories (without a basement), so I climb a lot of stairs every day and get a lot of exercise. I am not sure what we are going to do once Alice starts crawling. Perhaps get four baby gates. That is going to be annoying. Danny has fallen down the stairs three times, but that was all within our first two weeks here; he hasn't since then, thank goodness!

Oh, and Jeff's job. There are some frustrations, which I think are inevitable in the workplace, but being a government contractor is pretty cool so far. He gets to go on his first trip on Friday. He'll be in Zambia for twelve days! He and some coworkers are going to go see Victoria Falls on the weekend while they are there; that side trip will include a short river cruise and a safari! Like an African safari actually in Africa, not a safari called African because they imported animals to their safari. Haha. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. I know he'll be working, but it seems like such an adventure—multiple vaccinations, malaria medicine, and all! We bought him a camera today, so he had better take pictures.

And my new ward is very friendly. Before we even moved here, we had been contacted by the Relief Society President, Compassionate Service Leader, Elder's Quorum President, and Ward Clerk. Our records were read in our first Sunday here. Our first day in town, five complete strangers showed up to help us unpack the moving truck and carry furniture up to our third story! I asked for two dinners. I received six! I also had people call and show up to help me unpack boxes. We already have home teachers, visiting teachers, our own routes, and callings. I've already been asked to sing and invited to attend book club and playgroup. Two days after I arrived, we had a Relief Society activity, and two different women called to offer me a ride. Whenever I've sat by myself, someone has sat by me. And we've had at least one play date every week with friends, much to Jill's satisfaction. (Granted that last part has a lot to do with how forward/pushy I can be, but everyone says yes and some invite me over to their homers!) I was even "kidnapped" one evening and driven around so I could be shown where things are. So, my ward is a really good example of how to welcome and fellowship. I'm looking forward to remembering names and really becoming part of the ward family. You never replace your old ward families, but luckily the heart always has room to grow and include more.

And one other really cool thing about living here—people come here! I've already been able to have two different families see me while they were on trips here. So that's fantastic. And you should plan your next vacation to come to Virginia/DC, too!

Riding the bus

At the zoo—that's free (courtesy of our tax dollars)! (photography by Jill)

more photography by Jill

We went to the zoo for Jill's birthday. It was an adventure. Note to self: When planning a trip, remember to figure out how to get home on the metro and not just how to get there . . . whoops!

Some of the flowering trees. I don't know what these ones are called. They were much more spectacular a week ago.
Can cherry trees have white blossoms? 
The blue door you see on the right, the first one, is my front door.

This tree is right across from my townhouse. I don't know what kind it is. 
The blossoms look like the carnation flower to me. Anyone recognize it?

So, while there are still days that are harder than others, I am focusing on the positive most of the time, and there are a lot of positives to find.

Which reminds me of another positive. I received a lot of sweet comments, text messages, and posts after my last blog post about how much I miss Cincinnati. Your love really means a lot to me. Thank you so much for loving me! :)


  1. Wow! I am really impressed with your new ward. They are fabulous! Good luck with everything. I am glad there are so many good things to find in your new home. :)

  2. I'm super excited to visit you! But then, I'd be excited to visit you even if you lived in... Duluth Montana. I'm sure it's a really lovely place, Duluth.

  3. Pretty! Next time I visit in the spring I hope it will be during Cherry Blossom Time!


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