Old Town Alexandria Scottish Parade

Every year our family looks forward to the annual Scottish Walk Parade in our little town of Old Town Alexandria.  It has been a tradition since we first headed down to Virginia and it is always my favorite part of the holiday season.  This year, as always, we were fortunate to have another day with fantastic weather (although a bit chilly). 

A Look Back at the Cherry Blossoms

Every spring, for the past 10 years, Bobby & I have been coming to the National Cherry Blossom Festival.  For the first few years, it wasn't always a success because the blossoms only bloom for about 7-10 days.  (Peak bloom lasts for about 2-3 days)  And because we lived so far away, we would have to make our travel plans months in advance.  Sometimes we would get it right, and other years we would completely miss the blossoms.   

It's funny to say, but one of the main reasons I agreed to move to DC was because of this one week...the week the blossoms come to town!  Living here, I am able to visit the tidal basin nearly everyday.  This past spring was no exception!  I literally spent 8-10 hours a day walking around DC and taking in all of it's beauty.  Most days, I was here by sunrise and then back again to see the sunset.   

I wanted to capture every stage of the blossoms.   Unfortunately, the poor weather this spring was the hardest part to deal with.  I think in all...the blossoms only bloomed for 2-3 days this year.  Where as in years past, if the weather holds out, we can get a good week or week-and-a-half of blossoms at their peak.   

But unfortunately, mother nature had other plans...On the 3rd night of peak bloom, a bad wind and rain storm hit and took all of the beautiful blossoms with them :(  I am very thankful to have spent so much time there and wanted to share these images with you today.  Hope you enjoy!

Balloon-fest 2013 - Solberg Airport, NJ

A few weeks ago,  my family and I attended the 2013 Balloon-fest at Solberg Airport, NJ.  This event happens once a year in July and is by far one of my favorite days.  Waking up at 4am is worth every bit of the loss of sleep as soon as I see the first balloon inflate.  The balloons arrive at sunrise and within an hour, 125 hot air balloons all ascend at once and take off together.  This year, we had the perfect day with gorgeous blue skies and a cool summer breeze.  I am already looking forward to next year! 

One Million Bones - Comes to D.C.

Over the last 3 years, students and organizations from around the world have been creating handcrafted bones with the intention to bring attention to genocide going on in countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Burma, Somalia, and Syria.  Each of the 1,000,000 bones represented a call to action, a story, and a voice.  The national mall was covered with these bones for three days this week to honor victims and survivors of these mass atrocities.

A few weeks ago, while visiting an art gallery in Old Town Alexandria, I stumbled across a small sampling of the One Million Bones Project.  Then, on Saturday morning I woke up to news that the day had finally come where all of the bones would be laid out for anyone to see.  The family and I headed into town and arrived just as the sun was setting on the first of 3 nights for this exhibit. 

This was the third and largest installation of the bones.  50,000 bones were on display back in August 2011 in Albuquerque which was then followed by another 50,000 bones on display in New Orleans back in 2012.  This week was by far, the largest display to date.  If you look closely, you will notice biodegradable bones scattered amongst the plaster ones.  Each of these biodegradable ones were from supporters who made a $5.00 donation to place them on the mall this week.  Looking forward to seeing what further projects this organization creates in the future.  Using art is such a great way to bring attention to a social justice issue.

Trip to Longwood Gardens

A few days ago,  I was lucky enough to spend one of the most beautiful days of the year with my mom and dad.  We spent the day at Longwood Gardens, located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  While there, I had the opportunity to photograph some of the prettiest flowers I have ever seen. 

The Longwood Gardens story began over 100 years ago with a young philanthropist named Pierre du Pont.  He originally purchased the nearly 1,000 acre property in an effort to save the many trees growing on the land.   Over time, he used his fortune to further develop the land with many fountains and green houses to enhance people's experiences while there.  As early as 1914, du Pont was focused on creating Longwood Inc. which would help to manage the property and continue his legacy for many generations to come. 

I  remember frequenting Longwood Gardens all throughout my childhood and was so pleased to revisit it this week.  I am already looking forward to my next visit! 

The Little Nest

This week, I visited my aunt in Harleysville, Pa.  While there, she showed me this year's birds' nest in her front door wreath.  Last year, there was a nest in the same wreath however the mama bird abandoned the nest for some reason and the eggs never hatched.  After a few weeks of the eggs in this abandoned nest and no mother in sight, she decided to keep the nest.  We used this abandoned nest in some of the photos where she is holding it in her hands.

In the years past, she remembered that this mother bird always lays 5 eggs.  We decided to boost ourselves up to see inside this little nest and discovered something strange.  Four of the eggs were the usual slightly speckled white eggs while one was obviously larger and speckled brown.  We continued taking pictures and joked that another bird had left their egg in this mama's nest. 

That night I posted only one image on facebook and one of the comments said that it looked like our nest had been visited by a brown-headed cowbird because of the unusual egg.  I laughed at the name "brown-headed cowbird" at first but after doing a bit of research, we realized that this egg was an imposter egg in this mama's nest.  It actually is pretty common for the brown-headed cowbird to lay an egg in another bird's nest and then leave and depend on this other mother to care for her baby.  Sadly, we also read that since this different egg is so much larger it will often kill the mother's real babies after they hatch. 

Knowing how dangerous this bad egg can be to her nest, we quickly removed it with a spoon in order to give the mother's eggs a chance to survive.  Enjoy some other pictures of our day!   

These Hallowed Grounds

Today I had the opportunity to once again visit Arlington National Cemetery.  It seemed only fitting to visit here today as we have just celebrated Memorial Day this past weekend.  Every Memorial day, nearly 200,000 flags are placed at the graves and removed before the cemetery opens the next morning. 

Here in Virginia, the temperatures soared well into the mid nineties today but that didn't stop me from strolling through the cemetery for several hours.   How appropriate to spend my memorial day holiday reflecting on the thousands of servicemen and women who are buried here.  It was a beautiful day to put aside my regular responsibilities and truly take in the ultimate sacrifice that so many have given for our country. 

As I approached the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we were told that we would be seeing a rare event.  A Tunisian dignitary would be laying a wreath and there would be a grand event with music and a gun salute for the changing of the guard. 

When I approached the newest sections of the cemetery where the soldiers who perished most recently in Operation Iraqi Freedom & Afghanistan, I was overwhelmed  to read their stories and see personal mementos left by their families.  Today was a day I will not soon forget.