Family, Washington D.C.

Mom and Dad Visit DC

Hey friends! I’ve been a little MIA lately, but March was a bit of a monster, and there were many times where I opted to go to bed earlier instead of staying up to blog 🙂

But the month also rounded out in the best kind of way — with a visit from my parents from Oregon.

This was my Dad’s first time visiting DC, and my Mom’s second. Though her first visit was centered around helping me move apartments so she didn’t get to experience or see much. I have been looking forward to them visiting for a long time, so I had a pretty packed schedule planned for them. It was actually kind of unique… I’m the oldest child, so I don’t really know that I’ve spent this much quality time with them together just one-on-one since I was little. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing either way, because that’s probably pretty normal, but it just stood out to me. I am really close with my parents, so living so far away from them for almost 10 years now is much harder than I think most people think it is for me. I was so excited to finally share my current home and life with them!

I picked them up late from the airport on a Wednesday night, and then turned around and hit the ground running by making Mom take a Pure Barre class with me at 7 AM. But she was a trooper! We picked up Dad, who was at a diner nearby working on his laptop, got ourselves ready for the day and then swung by my office so they could see it and meet a few people.

Our first stop after we trekked into DC was actually probably my favorite of the whole visit. My Dad is a mason, so I did a little research on things to do in the area related to that, since freemasonry is such a huge part of U.S. history. We went to the House of the Temple, which is headquarters for the Scottish Rite’s Southern Jurisdiction (there are three types or branches of masons I learned).  I had no idea this beautiful building was in DC and considering there are few things that I haven’t already done here, it was fun to experience something new with my parents — especially something that is so important to my Dad. I’ll admit, I still don’t understand a lot about freemasonry, but I did learn quite a bit, AND GUYS… I was beside myself over their library!

After the House of the Temple, we headed toward the National Mall to see the Monuments. We made the full trek from the Washington Monument, down past WWII and Vietnam, to the Lincoln and from the Korean and FDR, and around the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson. Yes, my feet were basically goners by the end of day one.

(Nevada is my Dad’s home state.)

We wrapped up the day by finishing the short walk down to the new Wharf area and had dinner at Hank’s Oyster Bar, which is their newest location.

On Friday, day two, we officially made our picture stop at the White House, though we walked passed it several times during their visit. My Dad’s younger brother, who passed a few years ago, and was in the Army EOD, had spent some time protecting the White House that we didn’t know much about, so my Dad walked up and asked two of the on-duty Secret Service, a few questions about what my uncle’s role and experience would have involved.

Next, we headed to the nearby Renwick Gallery, which is an art museum that features temporary exhibits and is a part of the Smithsonian system. That day was actually the opening day for its newest exhibit, “The Art of Burning Man.” I mentioned above that Nevada is my Dad’s home state, but the other part of that is that he actually grew up on the edge of the Black Rock Desert, near where Burning Man is held every year. Growing up, my sister, cousins and I spent part of our summers visiting our grandparents there (who have since moved). To be honest, we probably have a bit of a different opinion on the event, but nonetheless the artwork it inspires is stunning, and its more amazing to think that all of these pieces have previously been built out on that desert, and in many cases, at a larger scale.

These ones changed colors and also expanded and contracted.

This is all carved wood.

Next, we went up on the Hill and visited the Library of Congress, before making our way to Congressman Walden’s office (my parent’s home district) for a Capitol tour. Walden’s Chief of Staff is also from my hometown and when to high school with my Mom, so they enjoyed catching up a bit.

For an early dinner we head to The Carving Room, which was featured on one of my Dad’s favorite shows, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. We wrapped up the day by stopping at the National Portrait Gallery for the last 45 minutes it was open. We chose to walk through the U.S. Presidents exhibit.

On Saturday, the third day, we headed out to my favorite tourist stop in the area: Mount Vernon! I’m actually kind of sad, because I’m running out of expected visitors to take here. Not that I can’t go on my own or with other locals, which I did for the 4th of July last year, but it is just not the same. At heart, George was a farmer first, and has always been my favorite president, so I genuinely love sharing his home and life with my guests. #nerdalert

It needs to be noted here (at the request of my Dad) that he is smiling. Everyone always gives him a hard time that he doesn’t smile that much, but that behind him is the OUTHOUSE and he just thought that it was “so cool” and needed his picture with it. #facepalm

We spent a good chunk of the day at Mount Vernon, so to wrap up we visited the Marine Corp Memorial (Iwo Jima), walked across the river from Arlington into Georgetown for dinner at Pizzeria Paradiso (I’d never been — SO GOOD!) and then went back to my neighborhood to watch the NCAA Final Four at a sports bar.

On Sunday, the fourth and final day, we started out with breakfast at the famous Old Ebbitt Grill and then peeked into the Trump International Hotel (it is really pretty inside and out).

Next, we spent a good chunk of the day at my favorite museum, the Newseum. It is one of the few non-Smithsonian museums here and one of the few that you have to pay for. I actually love it so much I became a member, which gets me in free, discounts and invites to special events. I’ve been there a few times for multiple hours and still have never made it all the way through. It is a bit spendy in a city with so many free options, but I HIGHLY recommend it.

Our last stop of the day was to Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve now visited here at least once during every season (which isn’t hard, I live 2-3 miles away), and I can attest that they are all pretty, but I think spring might be my favorite. We made sure to catch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also saw the end of the day flag lowering.

We wrapped up with a great dinner at Circa and then home early because they had an early flight home the next morning and I had to return back to a busy work week.

Thanks for visiting me Mom and Dad! I loved our one-on-one time and getting to share my current home with you.

I love you.

Mandy.

Family, Love Letters

Love Letter: Golden Anniversary

I talk about my Ego grandparents, known as Grampy and Grammy, every now and then on my blog, but I don’t know if they have ever been properly introduced.

My Grampy, Dave, is a retired high school counselor, principal and boy’s basketball coach. He served in the Army, working in the psych ward in the hospital at Fort Ord, California, during the Vietnam War. He is the ultimate sports fan. He goes to baseball spring training every year, has been a Portland Trailblazers season ticket holder since 1973 and over the years has done a lot of sports radio commentary (and those are just a few of the sports related notes). He also loves Benjamin Franklin, ice cream and pushing people’s buttons.

My Grammy, Gloria (or “Go” as my Grampy calls her), is an artist and florist, and last year we celebrated the 30 year anniversary of her store, Cottage Flowers, that my mom now owns. She loves reading, coffee, painting and though my Grampy is always the one singing, she is the one with the beautiful voice.

Together they like to keep their hands busy with yard work and projects. They are extensive travelers, spending the warm months of the year mostly up at our family cabin and the rest of the year traveling all over the U.S. and the world. They have a big heart for others, going on mission trips and running a home for girls early on in their marriage.

They have 3 children and 3 grandchildren, and though I’ve shared above that they have quite the colorful life, I know that they would say that their favorite adventure is their family.

And today they are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

My relationship with my grandparents is really special. With a family business and growing up down the street from them, they were involved in Janci and I’s life in every possible way. Growing up, they helped send us to camps and activities, and were at every sports event, dance recital and county fair show. When Janci showed a real interest and talent for golf, Grampy became her main cheerleader, and it wasn’t just enough to come to my FFA events — they asked questions until they understood the contests and topics. They’ve always been good at asking questions, because for them its not enough to just be present. If something is important to their kids and grandkids, then its important and interesting to them. When I was a student at K-State, they made sure I always had season football and basketball tickets, and in return Grampy became a loyal fan so we could always discuss the game. Grammy was the one who instilled a love for reading and creativity in me, which you could really say is what partially helped sparked my interest in communications early on. When I accepted my current job and needed to make the move from Kansas to Virginia really quickly, they cut a vacation they had planned short so they could fly to Kansas to help me pack up and make the long drive. Last year, when my job took me to Thailand, they didn’t think twice about joining me afterward for an adventure. Those are just a few of the many ways they’ve have impacted and been involved in my life, and that doesn’t even begin to mention the things that the rest of my family and others would add.

They’ve spent 50 years of marriage investing in the people, dreams and things that are important them. In that time, I’m sure there have been many ups and downs, but they’ve worked hard — with humility, kindness and love — and its truly amazing to think about the family and legacy they’ve built because of that. So here’s my little love letter to them.

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Dear Grampy and Grammy,

I often have to remind myself that not everyone has grandparents like you. Not everyone gets to share every aspect of their life with their grandparents and share the kind of memories we do.  Not everyone gets the extra cheerleaders and the second set of “cool” parents. And because of that, not everyone gets to talk like we do, and share and learn together like we do.

You’ve never been the stereotypical sweet elderly grandparents and that’s OK. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point, I can’t imagine it any differently. I’ve gotten used to explaining to others that my grandparents are the definition of being “young at heart” and that at the end of the day, they are always the ones with more energy left then the rest of us.

Because of you, Janci and I had two extra constant voices telling us we could go anywhere and be anything that we wanted to be. Because of Grampy, I yell shamelessly loud at sporting events and know that my shoes laces should never come untied. Because of him, I am also interested in the world happening around me, and I know the importance of showing up and investing in it. Because of Grammy, I have seen what it means to be independent and chase a dream, when to be strong and when to have a gentler touch. Because of her, I also have an eye for creativity and a love for a good story.

Because of the two of you, I know there is a time to put your head down and work hard, and there is a time to relax and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Because of you, I know that one should always make room for laughter and for grace. And because of you, I know that family is the most important thing we have.

I will never tire of going on adventures together, never tire at laughing at how you poke at each other and never tire of learning how to live well and love others from you.

50 years is truly something to celebrate, and I am so proud to be your granddaughter. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of knowing you, knows how lucky Janci, Sawyer and I are.

I love you two so much and can’t wait for our next adventure together. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary

Love,
Mandy

Note: The pictures make a huge jump from some old fun ones that they were tagged in on Facebook, to what is in my own files. 🙂

Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Family, Love Letters, Oregon

Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary

When I was in high school, we hosted a young woman who was serving as an Oregon State FFA Officer at our house and she asked my Mom a lot of questions about our family-owned flower shop. To one of the questions, my Mom explained that outside of the holiday season, Valentine’s Day and the week of Mother’s Day, it was weddings and funerals that led the core of our floral business. At the time I remembered feeling a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable that my Mom said that, but the guest saw a bit of humor in my Mom’s matter-of-fact answer, and a few days later we received a thank you card that was signed off with “Wishing you many weddings and funerals.”

Looking back, now it makes me laugh and for some reason that story has always stuck with me. When you think about it, owning and working in a flower shop, really means that you get a front row seat to helping people commemorate and celebrate the milestones and memories that make up their story. From new babies, sweet sixteen’s, get well soon’s, high school proms, graduations, holidays, job promotions, break-ups — and yes, weddings and funerals — we get to be a part of it all. And in a small town, where we have generations of families, that carries even more significance.

This year we are celebrating my family’s flower and gift shop, Cottage Flowers, which my grandparents bought 30 years ago and now my Mom owns. I’ve always told people that I grew up in my family’s flower shop — that it was our home base more than any house we lived in ever was. Sure, that might be a bit of an unconventional way to grow up but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, “the flower shop,” which is how we refer to it, is another member of our family.

So, to the flower shop, this love letter is for you:

I didn’t know the very first location on Main Street, but I do remember the location at the Plaza very well. I remember playing in the “silk garden” around the indoor gazebo where we were allowed to make a bit more of a mess. I remember holding tea parties with the glassware and stuffed animals, making Italian sodas when we had a cafe counter and the taste of the carbonated water when you accidentally chose it instead of regular water or Sprite. I remember “making arrangements” with the leftover stems in the trash, my hands going numb from filling water picks and when people camped outside the store for the newest Beanie Babies to arrive. I remember my mom’s back office where I spent every sick day away from school and that the dim back room where we cleaned flowers was scary.

I remember when we moved the store across town to the old armory when I was 10 (I think?) and the true labor of love it was to flip. I will forever remember having to climb along the rafters in the ceiling to thread some wiring for Grampy and being told to “pretend the spiders aren’t there.” I both loved and hated the Event Center that we opened for many years. I loved the big open space to play when it was empty and seeing so many weddings and parties come together there, but I also hated setting up tables that were much bigger than me and being woken up early on Saturday mornings because the wedding from the night before didn’t properly clean up and there would be anxious people waiting to set up for the next one. I can almost remember the exact amount of steps it took to get from the front counter to the back loading dock and can vividly remember the well-crafted process I had for washing hundreds of folding chairs with the pressure washer machine.

As I got older and officially started earning a paycheck, it’s where I learned how to count back change, talk professionally on the phone and that the customer is always right. It taught me how to problem solve, plan a project and manage my time. I remember the exact smell of Comet from cleaning buckets, the sound of the wire service when an order was coming through, the fastest way to clean roses without getting poked by a thorn, being pulled out of school to work on Valentine’s Day and judging people’s ribbon color choices for their prom corsage and boutonniere. Though after you’ve made a few dozen boring ones in a single day, the crazy ones are a welcome change.

The flower shop grew my curiosity and love for telling stories. Every time I wrote a card for someone who’s order I took over the phone, I wandered, how did the woman receiving flowers on her 50th wedding anniversary first meet her husband? Who will this new baby girl that is receiving balloons grow up to be? Why is he sending her an arrangement with a card that says he’s sorry?

It fueled my creativity in a way you couldn’t bottle up and recreate. Yes, I probably inherited the creative gene from my Mom and Grammy, but it also comes from countless hours of watching them work, criticize their own work and somehow make the customer happy on those Sunday afternoons when all that was left in the cooler is three colors of carnations.

It showed me what it means to be a part of a community and the reward of pouring back into your local economy. I mean, I understood the impact of “shopping local” before the hipsters even made a big deal about it.

It gave me examples of what strong, entrepreneurial women can be. I’ve seen them both succeed and take the loss, embrace change, make hard decisions and challenge themselves to see goals through to fruition. Even with their own careers, the men in my family have certainly always played an important role, but celebrating this anniversary is also a celebration of the two women who have put their heart and soul into building a successful business. 

There have been many characters over the years that have played a big part in the flower shop’s story. Whether they only worked for us for a short while or for over a decade, so many of our employees have become a part of our extended family. And to our customers who trust us with their memories, thank you for sharing your lives, challenging our creativity and of course, keeping our doors open.

Most importantly, I truly believe the flower shop is why my family is so close. Sure, mixing business with family can be challenging and definitely not for everyone, but for us it somehow works.

Thank you for the random skills I hardly use like making bows, and the practical lessons I use everyday in my own chosen career. Thank you for showing me what hard work and empathy look like. Thank you for teaching me that love, heartbreak, hope and kindness come in all shapes and sizes.

And thank you, for the privilege of that front row seat.

Love, Mandy

P.S. I found a folder of photos from the flower shop I took my first Christmas home after I got my DSLR camera in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared until now. So here is a little behind the scenes!

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Family, Washington D.C.

My Favorite Traveling Duo Visit D.C.

Today I am backtracking to a couple of weeks ago to when my grandparents made the trek out to visit me here in  Washington DC! If you know me, or have been reading along here long enough, then these two should be far from strangers. They dropped everything, (seriously they switched their flight to cut a vacation short) to fly to Kansas to help me move here about 2.5 years ago, when I decided to uproot my life in a manner of weeks. I call them my favorite traveling duo because they are either always on a trip somewhere or planning out their next one (more like multiple at a time.)

Earlier this year they met up with me Thailand for a vacation after I finished up with a work trip there, and it is hands down one of my favorite memories and experiences to date. If you are thinking that traveling with grandparents is boring or slow, trust me, that couldn’t be further from the truth with these two. They have SO MUCH ENERGY and a natural curiosity for adventure. Without a doubt, I was always the most worn out person at the end of everyday.

Other than the move, this was my Grammy’s first visit to DC and my Grampy’s second (he came in the early 2000’s for work). My pictures from their visit are sort of random… I only carried around my nice camera to Mount Vernon (because I was hoping to catch the fall colors but it was still a bit early) and because I’ve taken and posted lots of pictures of the DC area before, I more just focused on my time and experience with them. However, I laugh now because looking at the pictures that I do have, it looks like I took on the role of the parent. Every so often I’d say, “here, let me take your guys’ picture,” so most of what I have is just the two of them.

They flew in late on a Thursday afternoon and I met up with them at the hotel after I got off of work. They were able to get a hotel just two blocks from the White House, which is pretty centrally located to everything, so I ended up staying with them throughout the trip. We had a quick dinner and then we went on a night walk to the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial.

On Friday, we had a Capitol tour scheduled at 2pm, so we started out the day at the popular Old Ebbitt Grill and then walked along to the Mall to the U.S. Botanical Gardens, which sits just below the West Lawn of the Capitol. I knew from when I brought my mom here that my grandparents would also need ample to walk through. (Fun fact: My family’s flower shop, which my Grammy started, is celebrating 30 years this year!) Afterward we stopped for a quick break at a nearby pub to kill some time before our appointment. I scheduled our tour through Congressman Walden’s office, which is my home district in Oregon. Our tour was probably one of the better ones that I have been on at the Capitol (please don’t ask me how many times I’ve done one) and I know that was one of the highlights of their trip. At the end, we were also able to catch up with Walden’s Chief of Staff, who is from our hometown and actually graduated high school with my mom.  After wandering about the Capitol a bit more, we quickly went over to the Library of Congress nearby to check it out for the last 30 minutes it was open. The Library is actually one of the few places in DC that I have never been too yet… and now I am kicking myself for taking so long! For dinner I took them to my FAVORITE restaurant in DC, Cafe Berlin. Afterward we walked back down to the West Lawn of the Capitol to see it at night and then I insisted that we take an Uber back to the hotel because my feet were DONE.


At the Library of Congress.

On Saturday, we got up a bit earlier to go get my car in Arlington and head out to Mount Vernon. You should all know that this is my FAVORITE tourist place to visit in the area and I never get tired of taking people there. We did the typical house tour and then I also signed us up for the extra “Gardens and Groves” tour. If you ever visit Mount Vernon I would really recommend adding on this tour. It was only an extra $6 (approx.) per person, and SO worth it. It was a little over an hour and a half, but it really gave us a different in depth perspective of the history, past just the gardening. We spent a large part of our day here, before returning back to DC. Once back in the District we visited Eastern Market and Capitol Hill Books (I was so excited to take my Grammy here!) and enjoyed some gelato while we waited for the K-State football game to start at our designated bar nearby. The game was a bit of a heartbreaker and left us exhausted by going into double overtime, but regardless, I always love when I get the chance to watch a game with my Grampy. (And kudos to Grammy for hanging in there past midnight with us!)

At Mount Vernon.

On Sunday, we slept in a bit and woke up to an expected day of rain, so we headed over to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History for a few hours. The rain started to lift so we took the chance to walk to the rest of the memorials, including the Vietnam War, Lincoln, Korean War, Roosevelt, MLK and Jefferson.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Vietnam War Memorial, because we took the time to look up a few names of their classmates and a relative of my great uncle Joe (their brother-in-law). I’ve been past the wall a few times, but this was the first time I had names to lookup and find, which made it a bit more real to me.

If you’ve been to DC then you know the walk I just laid out for you is a bit of a trek so once again I insisted that we Uber to our Italian dinner in Chinatown.

At the Lincoln Memorial.
In the President’s exhibit at the National Museum of American History.

Our final full day was Monday and also the day I forgot to take any pictures. It was still a bit overcast and raining, but we headed across the river to visit Arlington National Cemetery for most of the day. I have been to the cemetery many times, but it never ceases to amaze me just how big it is. Afterward we headed back into DC and over to the National Gallery of Art, which was my Grammy’s last request to fit in on this trip. We rounded out the day with a great dinner at Founding Farmers, where we were joined by a certain guy named Sam… which up to that point I’m pretty sure my family really thought I might be making him up 🙂

On Tuesday, I had to head back to work, but their flight wasn’t until the late afternoon, so they spent the morning at the Holocaust Museum and then visited me at work for a quick lunch before heading home.

I am so happy that I finally got to share my home with them, and now that they’ve been here once, we already have much of the itinerary for next time all planned out after they realized just how much there is to see and do. I certainly don’t take for granted that we have such a great relationship and the chance to experience so many things together… even if my Grampy does drive me near crazy with all of his constant questions about every single building and random fact that I couldn’t possible know 🙂

Thank you so much for visiting!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin

Earlier this month, I traveled to Oregon for a much needed vacation and visit home.

As I shared in my Part 1 recap last week, my best friend Megan (from Kansas) tagged along so I could FINALLY share my home with her.

My previous post shared about the time we spent in my hometown of Hermiston, and today I’m sharing all about taking her up to my family’s cabin “The Diggins” (my happy place) near Sumpter, OR.

We did a lot of relaxing, went on walks, played with my pup Jack, took the kayaks out on Philips Lake and Megan kept up with her daily yoga pose challenge. We explored nearby Sumpter, where Megan learned all about gold mining, and had dinner at the historical Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City. We also hung out with my grandparents, who were also up for the weekend.

And of course, we took a LOT of pictures.











Megan, I am so happy that I finally got to share my home and my happy place with you. And if you weren’t considered part of the family before, you definitely are now.

And to The Diggins, thanks for always being exactly what I need.

Cheers!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 1: Hermiston

Last week I traveled home to Eastern Oregon for a long-awaited vacation and this time around I had a tag along join me.

If you’ve read my blog before (or know me in real life), chances are you know or have at least heard about my best friend Megan. We met on the first day I arrived at the scholarship house at K-State, quickly became inseparable, and went on to live together for 4.5 years. Friendships as an adult when you live across the country from each other can be rough, but we’ve managed pretty darn well.

Since we met I have always wanted to share Eastern Oregon with her, so about a year ago I basically told her that she was expected to come with me the following summer.

The first part of our week was spent up at my family’s cabin, but we took a ton of pictures up there on both our phones and my DSLR that still need a bit of sorting, so we are going to jump around on this  Part 1 post 🙂

Reunited! Megan’s hair has always been pretty short, but I just cut my hair shorter than its been since I was a kid, so this picture kind of looks strange to me.

Our first night in Hermiston, my sister took us out to a new-ish local winery nearby. Echo Ridge Winery has been around a few years, but this was the first chance that I have had to try it! I will always love small towns, but I also love seeing how Eastern Oregon is growing in fun ways that highlight what it has to offer, while maintaining its small town culture. We did a tasting, and after agreeing that the Syrah was our favorite, we bought a bottle to take up to the cabin with us the next day.




We packed a lot into the week, especially since Megan was leaving a few days earlier than I was. I showed her the high school and the flower shop, since those are basically the main places where I grew up. Of course we grabbed food at my favorite taco truck for lunch and we drove out to the house I grew up in (my parents moved a little less than a year ago.) We also spent an evening with my childhood best friend Richole, (and saw her beautiful new house!) I love that my favorite people from different stages of my life know each other. Richole’s little boy Wesley (who is a regular “guest” on my So There’s That posts), is officially in the toddler stage and is just as shy and cute, as his mama was when she were little. I can’t believe that I didn’t take any pictures that night!


Didn’t take any pictures with the grandparents throughout the week, but this Snapchat that my sister sent me definitely made me smile.


On Megan’s last day I took her to the Umatilla County Fair and the Farm City Pro Rodeo. These are two of the things that she has heard me chat about endlessly over the years so it was fun to share that with her. We had a blast with my sister to round out the end of her visit.

Megan and I are definitely “soul sisters” in every way, and a large part of that is that she has also become friends with my family. My family is VERY close, so they have always made the effort to get to know and invest in the other important people in my life. Believe me when I say that I know that combination is really special.





Visiting home during the country fair and rodeo has its ups and downs. It’s great because I get to see a lot of people in one location. But there are drawbacks when your family is still involved in many ways behind the scenes. I love that we were able to round out each of the nights during the second half of the trip by going to the rodeo together.


But the star of the trip was definitely Miss Sawyer June (sorry Megan). She was just 3 weeks old when I arrived and I really could have spent the majority of my time snuggling with her. As I mentioned in a post soon after she was born, it’s been 23 years since there was a baby in this part of my family, so basically she’s the shiny new toy that no one can get enough of.


Even her Uncle Tom and Uncle Jay slowed down for some Sawyer time.

So that’s Part 1! I will be back soon with Part 2 and an overload of pictures from the cabin!

Cheers!