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!

Washington D.C.

{2016} Holiday Partying

This year I attended a lot of holiday parties, so I thought I would do a quick round up here on the blog.

The first party was organized by a group from my church, and proceeds went toward the DC Dream Center. 

I decided for this party I would try out “Rent the Runway” for a fun holiday party dress, and after struggling a bit to lock one that I wanted (note for the future, you have to order earlier during the holiday!) Once I actually got the dress I was even more excited about it than when I first reserved it. It was perfect! And Rent the Runway is SO EASY to use. I would definitely recommend it!

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The party was fun and I just loved seeing everyone dressed up!

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I didn’t include any full pictures of the dress, but it was the “Blue Botany Dress” by Badgely Mischka. It was pretty heavy and had a large keyhole opening in the back. It was also little longer on me than on the model in the picture because I’m really short.

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I loved how my hair turned out! Like usual I started with one idea and it just transformed into something different by the time I was done.

My next party was my holiday party at work.
I don’t have any pictures from the actual party, so I included a few of the cinnamon rolls I made for the office for breakfast.

I love my office’s party though. We all go to lunch and then head back to the office gift exchanges, drinks and dessert. Our office stays pretty busy year-round, and someone is always traveling, so it’s just nice to enjoy the time with my co-workers.

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The next party was with my small group (through church). I joined this group just this fall, and am so thankful for the people and conversations its brought into my life. Our party was full of ugly sweaters, yummy food, white elephant gifts and some intense rounds of Catchphrase and Heads Up.

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My last party was hosted by my friends Kim and Sarah and their roommates.

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Lucky for me, they live only two blocks away from my apartment, so I didn’t have to spend money on a cab. But I did have to trek over in my snow boots, because I’m pretty sure my heels wouldn’t have fared well on the ice.

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Kylie and I have an unique friendship in that we actually met through blogging! It had been a while since we caught up, so I was so excited she was at the party! She’s also one of the first people who told me about National Community Church (NCC), which is how I met the girls who were hosting the party.

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I think I actually like this picture better than the first. We have a similar sense of humor… so this fits us.

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New, newish and older friends all at once.

(Also I love that my bridesmaid dress from Kyla’s wedding two years ago doubles as a great holiday dress!)

And since we are talking about holiday parties, I thought I would share that the entire Spoo family is getting festive.

My parents and sister attended the school district staff party (my dad is the high school principal) and my Dad ROCKED the ugly sweater.

This might be my new phone screensaver…

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And that’s it!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season with your friends and family!

Cheers!

Photography, Washington D.C.

Hiking – Harpers Ferry

Last Saturday I joined a group of women from my church to hike the Maryland Heights Trail near Harpers Ferry, WV.

If the name “Harpers Ferry” sounds vaguely familiar to you… it should. There is so much history about the area, especially from the Civil War, including John Brown’s Raid.  The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park covers parts of West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, and was about an hour away from DC.

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Our hiking group.

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As you can still there is still a lot green on the trees although it varied based on how high we were. Personally I loved that there was a great blend of fall and summer colors. After week of higher temps in the 80s, the temperature dropped quite a bit the night before the hike, giving us the perfect weather for a fall hike.

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I still don’t know very many of these ladies all that well, but I really value that the church I attend puts such an emphasis on small groups and community.

I had a great time with everyone!

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The hike was challenging in a few places, but not too bad. What is more amazing is that I didn’t fall once… I think that is a first for me. You would think being so short and a dancer as a kid would help my balance, but no, most of the time it is quite the opposite.

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I know this is probably a little creepy but I couldn’t pass up a good photo.

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If you know me well you know that my favorite place to be is up in the mountains. I am a bit partial to the Blue Mountains in Oregon, but these ones sure didn’t disappoint. Its been another busy couple of weeks at work so a full day out of the city, enjoying the fall colors, with great company was exactly what I needed. And I am so glad I decided last minute to take my camera. I use it so much for work stuff and touring around DC, that it was nice to get in more practice with a different subject.

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We didn’t explore the little town that much, but it was so cute! I definitely want to go back and focus more on the history.

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Happy Fall!

Cheers!

Country Fair Blog Party
Friendship, Washington D.C.

BFF Plus Nathan DC Adventure

It’s almost August. It’s almost August. It’s almost August.

That’s been my mantra for more than two months now, and IT IS FINALLY AUGUST.
Life has been pretty darn busy since the beginning of May, and for the most part I thrive stress and being busy, but if I’m being honest, I could not wait for August to get here.

But as I always say, even if it takes me longer than it should, its important to me catch up on the blog and use it as my journal.

In mid-June Megan and Kyla, my college roommates and best friends came to visit me in DC, oh and Kyla’s husband Nathan too. Oh and don’t feel too bad for Nathan… he’s been dealing with the three of us girls together for years.

We’ve been planning for this trip almost since I made the move to the east coast and I was so excited to share my new home with three of my favorite people.

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They were supposed to come in late on a Thursday night, but had a few delays so by the time they arrived and we made it to bed it was well after 1 am.

I opted not to carry around my nice camera. I have visited most of the places on our schedule before so I decided just using my phone this time around would work fine.

Friday: Mt Vernon, National Smithsonian of American History, hopped around in Chinatown for drinks and dinner
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Saturday: Renwick Gallery, White House and Eisenhower Executive Building, National Mall and all of the monuments, dinner at Café Berlin

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I’ve had multiple people rave to me about the Renwick Gallery and this was one of the few things that I insisted we visit because I hadn’t had a chance yet. I’m so glad we did, it was SO COOL!

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Cafe Berlin is probably my favorite restaurant in DC!

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Sunday: National Cathedral, food truck brunch event, Arlington Cemetery

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Monday: U.S. Capitol tour, lunch at Union Station, U.S. Botanical Gardens, National Smithsonian of Natural History, National Art Gallery, Senate Gallery at the Capitol, dinner at Tupelo Honey.

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Tuesday: Holocaust Memorial Museum, lunch at Laughing Man Tavern.

Tuesday was a partial day as they were headed out on an early evening flight. Except they didn’t quite make home because of weather and a missed connection, so they spent an extra 24 in St. Louis and made the most of it by visiting the zoo.

I definitely had major #FOMO (fear of missing out).

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Funny side story: While we were on the Metro this really big family gets on and this little girl that’s maybe 4 years old is being drug on by an older sibling as she’s yelling “this is not our train” over and over. The Mom looks at the map on the wall and says “I am pretty sure that we are going the right direction,” but after I offer to help, I had to tell her that they were going in the opposite direction from where they needed to be and then offered step by step directions to get to the particular museum they were interested it.

We realized after the family got off, that the little girl, had indeed been right about the train.

Trust me, it was more chaotic and hysterical than I could possibly describe via writing.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and I am so happy that they were able to visit me.

Check back later this week for more updates from my summer!

Cheers.

Family, Washington D.C.

Brought to You by the Letter “M”

This blogpost was brought to you by the letter “M.”
Mom. Memorial. Moving. Monsoon…

Ok, that last one is a tad bit of an exaggeration but I’m all about dramatic effects in these parts. Moving along in my blogging catch this week (which I started yesterday), as soon as I returned back to DC from my Kansas work/fun trip, my Mom had already arrived to visit and help me move into my new apartment.

I feel like I’ve been talking about moving FOREVER. When I first moved to DC, I had to do everything online, find and commit to a place site-unseen, and move all within about two weeks. My roommate and I always knew that this gig was going to last through the one lease so I knew months ahead of time when I’d be moving.

The biggest difference when apartment searching in a city like DC, versus say, a Midwest college town like Manhattan, is that apartment managements usually only know when a space is coming available 30 to 60 days, which means you can’t look at or consider them until then. Also, the prices fluctuate on a scale based on demand, time of year, etc., so that price you saw online two weeks ago isn’t valid now.
Long story short, apartment hunting here is way more complicated and tedious than it really ought to be.

I actually got the keys to my new place in early May, but waited until the end to move because of my trip to Kansas and all the other life things (did I mention I’ve been busy?)

Now here’s where my Mom comes in. Somewhat last minute she decided to fly across the country to hang for a whole week and help me wherever I need it.
After she left I wrote on Facebook, “You all can argue with me another time, but this week there is no doubt that my mom wins the “Best Mom Award.” She came to DC to help me move to a new apartment during what has been a REALLY busy season of life and work for me. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.”

It was so nice to have someone help with all the loose ends, offer a second opinion on decisions and oh yeah… CLEAN MY OLD APARTMENT FOR ME because I had to go back to work.

Now my new apartment has this weird rule about no moving in on weekends and holidays, which gave Mom and I an excuse to be tourists for part of her visit.

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Union Station.
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U.S. Capitol.

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If you didn’t know my family has owned a flower shop for 27 (28?) years. It was actually pretty funny because somehow in the past year of living here, I had failed to mention to Mom about the U.S. Botanical Garden. Friends, my mom is not very good at remembering to take pictures or even actually taking them (her words, not mine)…. and she took pictures of almost every flower we saw in there.

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The tropics room was a bit humid. I actually wanted to go back outside into the DC humidity.

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On the National Mall.

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At the new apartment… oops.

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So we knew our tourist/fun time was going to be limited and since she was in town over Memorial Day we decided that we REALLY wanted to go to the DC Memorial Day concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. It is a great event aired on PBS hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna (aka Captain Dan and Agent Rossi LOL). The weather that morning first said it was supposed to be a light rain before the concert and then clear up. So we didn’t taken umbrellas and headed into the district to get there at 5pm for a good spot for the 8pm concert and that’s where it went downhill. We get off the Metro and it is POURING. So because we have time, we decide to go back a Metro stop to where I think there are shops where we can buy umbrellas (and use the restrooms because HELLO priorities). Except the shops aren’t actually open and neither are the restrooms, so we head out in the rain following Google Maps to the nearest CVS… except it gets confused and takes us in the opposite direction. FYI, by now it was pouring even harder. At point, I actually realize I am near a hotel I recognize that has a restroom AND gift store where we paid way too much money for ridiculous ponchos and umbrellas.

Finally we made the trek back toward the Capitol and still sat for almost two hours in the pouring rain, where we played “I Spy,” for at least one hour. I think its important to note here how much my mom and I both hate the rain and hate being that cold. But at that point we were committed.

And it was worth it. The concert was awesome, and the rain eventually did let up.

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Monday was mostly spent doing apartment things, but we did walk to Arlington National Cemetery.

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And then Wednesday was officially moving day. I just want to throw a quick shout out. If you are moving in the NOVA/DC area, I HIGHLY recommend the My Truck Buddy moving company. Moving in a city is just a different kind of beast, and these guys made my move so much less stressful and so fast! It was worth every penny, and really, their prices were pretty reasonable. Though I seriously would have paid them just to move my couch that I’m a bit attached to and apparently unable to fit into any DC apartment. That’s a story for another time…

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Hi, my name is Amanda, I’m 25, and have no shame in admitting that I totally still need my mom. I loved being able to finally show her my life here in DC and am so, so, so, so, so thankful for her help that week!

Friends, if your mama is anywhere near as awesome as mine, give her a big ol’ hug, because she deserves it.

On a side note, I am so in love with my new apartment and can’t wait to eventually show it off to you!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a “So There’s That” post to wrap up my blogging catch up.

Cheers!

 

Career/Professional, Washington D.C.

Celebrating One Year in DC

A year ago, today, I started my job at U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), after applying, accepting and moving to Washington D.C. from Kansas in exactly two months. (That still makes me exhausted just thinking about it). I will not reminisce too much about the decision to apply and my move because you can read about that  here, here and here.

On one hand, I don’t think it is really that big of a deal, but on a personal note, it is. Earlier today, I was reading my blog post from last year that explained why I was taking this leap

From that blog post…

“There’s just so much more I was want to do and experience. I want my career to be bigger. I want my life to be as colorful, cheesy and fulfilling as possible.  I’ve never wanted to be the person that looks back and regrets what I didn’t do.”

Looking back over this past year and seeing how full my life has been, I can say that all of that and more rings true.  I am proud of how I have grown and am very happy with where I am right now.

I LOVE MY JOB. I made a huge life change and left a place and people I loved, so there was a lot weighing on it, and it honestly could not have been a better fit for me. I get to utilize and develop my skills and talents every day, and I continue to work in the industry that I wholeheartedly believe in. While every agriculture commodity has its own unique history and set of challenges, I love everything about the wheat sector — its value, complexities and most of all, the “wheaties,” who have won me over. The farmers that I represent and get to work with are some of the finest; hardest working people I know, and have already had an impact on my life. The work is challenging and the learning curve continues to be steep, but day in and day out, they are what motivates me to be my best self. And to round that out, I could not ask for better colleagues. It is a testament when someone has been with the same organization for 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years, and that is a common occurrence at USW. I am surrounded by people who are fiercely passionate about their work. They are hardworking, funny, nurturing and most importantly, they invest in each other, which creates a rich, family environment. Most days it really feels like I have been at USW much longer than a year.

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My parents sent me these beautiful flowers for the occasion. It can be hard sometimes living so far away from my family and not being a part of each other’s daily lives, but I am so thankful for their unwavering love and support.

Finally, it did not take much, but I have fallen in love with this city. In my mind, strolling past the monuments and being connected to so much history and history in the making will never stop feeling surreal. And I would not want it to. Sure, I am still a country girl at heart, but I cannot help but love the culture and variety of life here in Washington D.C. There is ALWAYS something fun and interesting going on here and the city is bustling with so many career- driven, inquisitive minds. It can definitely be intimidating at times, but this environment is exactly what I was seeking. I continue to meet people who add color to my life and after a year, my list of experiences and places to explore is still endless.

I certainly do not take for granted how fortunate I am to be living here and in a job that I love. Over the last year I have had quite a few people ask me about “my story,” how I got here, how I sorted through my options and what led me to this decision, how I navigated through my new experiences and more. My simple answer is that I listened to my gut. When my daydreams and goals were presented as a tangible opportunity, I knew it was something I could not pass up, regardless of my fears (because trust me, I have lots of them). From there I have had to work on my faith, patience and independence. My faith and trust in myself, and that things will work out how they are meant to. The patience needed to navigate so many experiences and new things to learn. The independence it takes to live in a new (and big) city and start out again not knowing anyone.

This past year has been so much more than I could have ever imagined.

I am so ready for round two.

Cheers!

 

Washington D.C.

Independence Day in D.C.

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Credit HERE

To know me is to know how much I love fireworks and Independence Day.

For example, on Saturday I texted my college roommate:
“Trying to explain to people all day, just how excited I am for the 4th in D.C. has only resulted in weird looks.”

To which she responded:
“Oh good grief. You really do need me there to help explain your love for fireworks and America…Let’s be honest, you’ll probably tear up.”

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On the steps of the National Archives for a reading of the Declaration of Independence that was eventually cancelled because of the pouring rain!!

Celebrating the holiday in D.C. and watching the fireworks on the National Mall has been a big bucket list item of mine for a long time. It’s been raining a lot here this summer, so while the weather did interfere with some of our other plans during the day, the evening did clear up for the show. We chose to brave the chaos and watch from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and honestly, even after trekking through the mud and dealing with cranky people, it was still worth it. And I would say after my three naps on Sunday, that my first 4th of July in my new home was a success.

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Roomies, brunch and AMERICA!
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Justin and Lauren, my holiday weekend sidekicks.

I’m not sure if this is where I should admit that yes, I did tear up a teeny tiny bit during the fireworks show. But honestly, I have no shame. I love everything about the holiday’s festivities and the true reason we celebrate. I am so thankful for our freedoms and for those who dedicate their lives for us to have it.

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It was such a great show!

I took way to many pictures on my new camera, but here are a few of my favorite shots from the day! (Click on them to see them full-size.) I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend!