Summer Reading List

Summer Reading ListIn high school I remember combing through the AP Honors Summer Reading list with eager anticipation to decide which three books I would choose to read before school was back in session. Books like [Jane Eyre], [To Kill a Mockingbird] and [Anna Karenina] are just a few that I remember really escaping into. I confess I had not looked at reading with such anticipation since those days. I’d often list “read at least one book” as a New Year’s Resolution and my best friend, who is an avid reader, used to tease me that I’d never make it through that one book. Something is different this Summer though. At this moment I am reading four books at once, and I read three last month. I am reading more than I ever have and for all different reasons. Some books I’m reading with Luke, some for my own spiritual guidance, some for help in business, and some for pure pleasure. I’m having fun learning, and discovering what it means to escape to other worlds again through books. It’s a fun season and I am hoping to make Summer reading lists a yearly tradition with my son. Here’s a clickable list of what’s on my nightstand this Summer:

2nd Grade Reading Books:

1) The Giver

2) The Trojan Horse

3) The Little Prince

4) Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims

Spiritual Inspiration

1) Dreaming of More For the Next Generation

2) First Steps Out

3) The Power of a Praying Wife


1) Leaders Eat Last


1) Divergent

2) Insurgent

3) Allegiant

4) Four

America: Imagine the World Without Her

Jeff and I had the rare privilege of going to the movies this weekend and saw Dinesh D’Souza’s “America: Imagine the World Without Her“.  Every American should see this movie because it’s a beautiful return to our nation’s roots and an amazing outsider’s perspective on the extent of freedom that America has brought to the world.  I admire Dinesh D’Souza’s courage to bring an alternative perspective to the one-sided-tale being spun to this generation that we are a nation to be ashamed of. America is the great experiment.  Let us be steadfast in passing on the legacy of freedom she has given to all of us.

Capital Ferris Wheel

Capital WheelDeep breaths. That is all I could think as I stepped into the air conditioned gondola to embark on our ride of the [Capital Wheel] at National Harbor. The ride operator smiled at us and closed the sliding doors shut. Immediately my heart began to race and I had to close my eyes to keep from feeling like I was going to run out of air in this little space that was circling around to heights of 180 feet above the Potomac.  I am always telling Luke to face his fears. For the past four years I have struggled with fear that strikes at random and paralyzes me, sometimes making me feel faint or short of breath and other times like I just have to run away as fast as I can.  It usually happens in tight or overcrowded spaces like elevators, amusement parks or airplanes, but I didn’t always used to be this way. My doctors told me I have autonomic neuropathy which essentially translates to a sensitive nervous system. As I sat on the ferries wheel, I reminded myself to be brave.  I learned a long time ago that the opposite of fear is faith. Someone once told me that fear stands for false evidence that appears real.  I reminded myself, “this isn’t real”.  I prayed that God would slow my heartbeat and I forced myself to open my eyes.  After a few more deep breaths and banning Luke from rocking the gondola, I was able to relax and enjoy the ride.  It made it easier to have the love of my life to hold onto.

Luke Ferris Wheel

Capital Wheel

Capital Wheel

Capital WheelNational Harbor

National Harbor

Breakfast at the White House

Breakfast at the White HouseWe stayed two blocks away from the White House on our trip to DC, so we decided one morning to grab coffee and pastries and walk down to the White House to enjoy our breakfast. My Dad arranged for me the privilege of touring the inside when I was about 10, but I was unsuccessful in passing the tradition on to my son this trip. You need to request tickets from your Congressman at least six weeks in advance.  My five-and-a-half-week-advance-request for tickets was denied unfortunately, so we had to settle for the [online tour] and breakfast out front.  It was still fun to soak in the idea of how many great men lived in this very house throughout our Nation’s history.

The White House

Breakfast at the White House

Breakfast at the White House

The White HOuse

The White House

The White House

Old Ebbit Grill

Old Ebbit GrillWe discovered the most amazing place for brunch in DC. It’s called Old Ebbit Grill. The food is fantastic, the ambiance is casual enough to bring little ones (they have a kids menu), yet grown up enough to feel like you’re out on a date (the velour booths add an extra element of sophistication) and the service is impeccable. We were so impressed with the peach and blackberry french toast that we came back for it twice within our five-day vacation.  If you are looking for a great place to take the family for brunch in DC, add Old Ebbit Grill to your itinerary.

Peach & Blackberry French Toast

{Peach and Blackberry French Toast}

Old Ebbit Grill

{Casual Elegance}

Revolutionary Artwork

{Inspiring artwork}

Old Ebbit Grill

White Shift

White Sleeveless Shift Dress, Zara, Gray Bag, H&M, White Sanuks, Retrospecs vintage sunglasses

White Sleeveless Shift Dress, Zara, Gray Bag, H&M, White Sanuks, Retrospecs vintage sunglasses

I gravitate toward shift dresses because they combine comfort and elegance. Traditionally they hang loose from the shoulders with little or no definition in the waist making them the perfect thing to wear on vacation since the last you thing you want to worry about on vacation is watching your waistline.  I found this white shift at Zara last season and have been able to wear it with equal ease in NYC as in the Virginia countryside.  The key is in how you accessorize.  In NY, I’d wear it with a blazer and pumps.  Here, visiting Mount Vernon on vacation, I wore it with simple canvas Sanuks and a large bag to throw all my souvenirs into.

White ShiftWhite Shift

Best of the Smithsonian

Smithsonian CastleI lived just outside of DC, in a town called Rockville, Maryland for a short time growing up. My Dad used to love taking us to tour DC and my favorite Smithsonian Museum was always the Natural History Museum. On this 4th of July family trip we toured the Air & Space, Natural History, Holocaust & American History Museums but the best remained the Natural History for me.  Where else can you go to find dinosaurs, mummies and diamonds all in the same place? We learned so much and had the privilege of passing so much onto our son. I can only hope he remembers the Smithsonian museums with as much fondness as I do when he grows up.

Natural History Dinosaur

{Of course the Dinosaur exhibit was the first stop… I was with two boys!}

TRex interaction

{Luke got to interact with a 3D T- Rex.  That’s him on the right}


{Decoding the human genome was my favorite.  Did you know that only four chemicals are responsible for the coding of all the variety we see in the world? So fascinating how God uses DNA to literally code each one of us uniquely}

Egyptian Mummy

{Luke said the mummy was his favorite but it gave him nightmares.  I still think it was cool}

Hope Diamond

{the Hope Diamond.  Largest diamond in the world.  Looks more like a sapphire, right?}


{Huge amethyst.  Luke was so fascinated with the gems exhibit, he took home a crystal as his chosen souvenir from the museum}

DC Tour

DC Bus TourI am a sucker for a double-decker city bus tour. My friends tease me because I even love riding them in my own town of Los Angeles. Not surprisingly then, our first item on the agenda in DC was to tour it from the big red bus. Here is our tour in photos. If you visit Washington DC, or any major city for that matter, I highly recommend this bird’s eye view. You can purchase tickets {here}.

Washington Monument

{the Washington Monument}

DC WWII Memorial

{WWII Memorial}

Lincoln Memorial

{We had the most fun at the Lincoln Memorial}

Luke's Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Address

{Luke read us the entire Gettysburg Address}


{I had fun explaining to him what a “score” meant.  It’s twenty years in case you were wondering}


Washington Monument fun

Vietnam Memorial

{entrance to the Vietnam Memorial}

Vietnam Memorial

{Vietnam Memorial}

Arlington Cemetery

{Arlington Cemetery}

Tomb of Unknown Soldier

{Tomb of the Unknown Soldier}

JFK Eternal Flame

{The Eternal Flame at JFK’s Grave}

Frayed Denim Cutoffs

Frayed Denim cutoffs, American Eagle, White linen button down, H&M, White Canvas Sanuks.

Frayed Denim cutoffs, American Eagle, White linen button down, H&M, White Canvas Sanuks, Rayban Sunnies.

I think I was fifteen the first time I sported a pair of cutoff denim shorts. I remember being inspired by Cindy Crawford’s Shape Your Body Workout Video so I cut the legs out of a pair of old jeans. Not bothering to measure, one leg was longer than the other and since I can’t cut a straight line to save my life, each leg was a jagged mess with no fray so the uneven lines were really noticeable. That didn’t stop me from wearing them of course, but mainly just to the beach.  I was feeling the need to revisit the trend for Summer but this time I resorted to professional cutoffs.  When paired with a white linen button down and white canvas shoes, they made for the perfect outfit to tour DC and beat the heat.

Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout

{My inspiration back then, the lovely Cindy}

White linen button down

Frayed denim cutoffs

{I love how the pockets extend below the frayed edges.  It makes for an even more relaxed and casual look}

Touring the Mall

Patriotic 4th

Patriotic 4thWe enjoyed spending Independence Day in our Nation’s Capital for a very patriotic 4th of July this year. It was Luke’s first time ever visiting DC and all of our first times experiencing DC on the 4th. It was so nice to spend some time reflecting on the freedom we have been gifted with and the relative peace we have been able to enjoy because of the sacrifice and forethought of so many who went before us. We recognize it is by God’s grace we get to live in such a wonderful country and it was really special to be able to celebrate that as a family with so many other fellow countrymen.

Constitution Ave July 4h Parade

{We caught the parade on Constitution Ave}

Parade Watching

{Jeff took most of the photos of the parade. He’s got a great eye}

DC Parade

{This was one of the few shots I took}

DC Parade

DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade DC Parade July 4th Parade DC 4th Parade DC Parade DSC_0233 DC Parade DSC_0206

Patriotic 4thDC Fireworks

{We caught the DC Fireworks Show in front of the Washington Monument}

DC Fireworks


DC Fireworks Crowd DC Fireworks CrowdDC Fireworks

DC Fireworks