Finding Home

When we first looked at this place I remember thinking “finally…maybe…yes?…yes” We found the house. Not where I wanted it to be, not how I envisioned it. But DC is expensive man. It was one thing to rent in the city, but buying in the city? Who could afford that? Apparently a lot of folks, but we weren’t one of them. So this cute little townhome in the DC suburbs would have to do. I would adjust, begrudgingly. But the neighborhood was quiet and it had a playground, perfect for then 11 month old Johanna. It would work. We would make it work. We would give it five years, but then we would have to make another move because this could not be permanent.

This was not home.

It’s been 6.5 years since that day. 1.5 years longer than I bargained for, and I’m still itching except now I have to find a remedy. This is not home. This is not our place. This is not where we are supposed to be. This home is not where our babies are supposed to forever grow up.

This home is small. It’s a mess. There’s no space for anything. So much needs to be replaced. So many memories need to be replaced too. This home has served us as well as it could. We have been thankful for this home. It has done its job.

But I tire of it.

I want more.

I feel silly saying that. So many don’t have anything. So many would give anything for what we have. We’re not ungrateful. We’re not greedy. We’ve simply grown and this home can no longer provide what we need.

This state can no longer provide what we need.

I am stifled. My growth is being stunted here. Yet I am scared.

This area provides so much. It provides everything. I have the best friends in the world here. The best opportunities. Black girl magic happens all over the place here. New opportunities present themselves every day. There’s never a dull moment. What if we move to a place where there are dull moments?

Where it gets too quiet…

Where downtown isn’t full of people on the weekends.

Where people are complacent and aren’t looking for more.

We’re too young to live in complacency. But we tire of living in the stress, the rush, the work, work, work, never family, family, family. We tire of living where time simply slips away every day. We’ve been meaning to talk, meaning to sit with each other for awhile, meaning to play and enjoy, but time is not made for family here. Time is made for work. It is made for the important jobs that come before your family without you realizing it. It’s made for the events that cannot be missed, the plans you must be apart of. It is made for being known, being in the know, and mixing it up. Time here eats away at your relationships. “When are you going to make time for me?” Is often heard when things are ending here because time gobbles up everything you have and you realize you didn’t use it wisely.

But what if we go someplace where it’s too much us time? Where we grow, but don’t grow individually? Where we stretch, but the kids don’t? Where there potential isn’t challenged and met?

Home. This state is our home, but not this house. It is time for us to leave both. I know that. But I’m terrified of finding a new one. Terrified of failure. Terrified of boredom. So scared of opportunities lost.

And this is the part. This is the part where we have to trust God’s plan. This is the part where our faith must stretch. This is the part where we must let the Lord lead us for he knows the plans he has for us. We’ve got to trust that, and move.

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I Did a Thing (chopping my crowning glory)

But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
1 Corinthians 11:15

We all have our security blankets. We have that one thing in our lives that makes us feel better about ourselves, if only for a moment. For some people is food, a person, a special place, an activity that settles them or gets them going in a feel good way. For me it has been hair for as long as I could remember.

If you’ve seen the many photos of me that are on instagram you know that like a lot of women I love hair. My hair, that hair, new hair, braided hair, wig hair… doesn’t matter! I love switching things up. But the one thing I love most is long hair. Not because it’s oh so beautiful. Not because of the versatility it can provide. But because of the shield it provides me. It allows me to hide all of the imperfections that are in my face.

I have pmdd. I have it in the worse way. All of my symptoms are to the extreme. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen me post about it. One of the biggest symptoms I have is weight gain that fluctuates. I will get extra puffy in the face, and lately it has caused my self esteem to take a hit. A big hit. A I don’t even want to go outside of the house hit. So when I did go outside, I hid behind hair. My hair some days, wigs when I just couldn’t deal with my own. There was always hair to cover my puffed out cheeks, the massive double chins.

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I’m not a big fan of low self esteem. It’s not something I’ve experienced a lot of in life, but when I have it was scary. To not think highly positive thoughts about yourself is cripling for me for reasons I won’t go into right now. So, I knew I needed to do something drastic to snap myself back. I decided I was going to cut off my hair. Not like the beautiful warriors in Black Panther drastic, but definitely in a “it’ll take me 5 minutes or less to create a style” drastic. I didn’t want the ability to do ponytails or buns anymore. I didn’t want to hide. I wanted to force me to embrace all of me. And I wanted a bad arse hair cut. One that I could look at and say dang, that’s really nice!!!! I wanted it to work for me whether it was blown straight or naturally curly.

So I headed to instagram and put up a post asking for hairstylist suggestions. There was one stylist that stood out to me. Every photo I saw on her instagram showed flawless hair styles. I instantly knew she was the one. I quickly made my appointment to get in to see her. When I arrived I was honestly bothered by how unspa-like it was lol.There ‘s no decor. It’s literally just a room with two stylist and a tv. I was highly disappointed, but I kept my eye on the prize. When I sat in the stylist chair I let her know exactly what I was looking for, which wasn’t much. I told her I wanted a hair cut to fit my face and I didn’t want to have to “do” my hair. A style that translated whether my hair was straight or curly. But mostly I told her that I NEEDED this cut, and that I trusted her to do it.

And giiirrrllll! She did that! When I saw myself, honey, I felt like a new woman! And I felt so.darn.freeeeeee! I felt so free and so beautiful. She colored it, she cut it, she slayed it baby! No more security blanket. This is me. Fluffiness and all. This is my face. I’m embracing it. One day it won’t be as fluffy as it is now. One day things will be better in that area. But for right now I’m embracing and loving me.

If you are looking for an amazing stylist in the DC area, I highly recommend Kenni. Now, honesty is key, so I’m letting you know if you are looking for a spa-like experience, it won’t happen here (and to be fair, she literally just moved to this salon). However, if you want to look and feel amazing when you finish getting your hair done, contact her asap. You can schedule your appointment through her styleseat page. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

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Top 5 Favorite Christmas Events in the DMV Area

Do you smell it? Do you feel it? Can you sense the buzz all around you? My senses are alive with the presence of all things CHRISTmas! As soon as thanksgiving is over in my house we ease right into the Christmas mode. Suddenly we’re humming Christmas tunes and watching Christmas movies. I’m scanning pinterest for new Christmas treat ideas, and checking out local websites for fun adventures to go on during this wonderful season. I try very hard every year to stick to the traditions I started with Johanna and to expand upon them in little ways. No matter what, we have our outings around the area that we simply adore and must do every year. Some of you may have a new family and are looking for traditions, while others may already have your traditions, but are wondering if you’re missing something. For that reason I wanted to compile our top 5 favorite events in the DMV area during the Christmas season.

The Wharf’s Annual Parade of Lights

December 3, 6p.m. – 8p.m.
50+ Decorated Vessels Set to Sail Across the Potomac River to The Wharf from Old Town Alexandria in Grand Holiday Tradition

The annual holiday Parade will feature more than 50 decorated boats sailing across the Potomac River to Washington, DC, from Old Town Alexandria, and will include FREE landside events along The Wharf, including the first snow fall of the holiday season; lighting of the Gangplank Marina Christmas Tree; photos with Santa Claus; live holiday music; a roaring s’mores fire pit; gingerbread cooking tasting; holiday sailboat making; a hot chocolate toast to the season; the illumination of vessels docked at Gangplank Marina and the Capital Yacht Club; and enjoy holiday brews in the Corona Beer Garden. For more information, checkout the website here.

Watkins Park Festival of Lights

Now thru January 1, 2017
5-9:30pm
$5 per car
This spectacular holiday drive-through event features more than one million twinkling lights, wonderful themed displays, and one of the tallest tree displays in the state! Visit the pg parks website for more information.

Winternational

December 7, 11a.m.-2p.m.
Winternational is an exciting celebration showcasing the cultural and culinary traditions of Washington’s diplomatic community. This festival has the atmosphere of a bustling global marketplace with each embassy promoting their country through vibrant displays of visual art, food, handcrafts as well as travel and tourism exhibits. Free and open to the public, guests have the opportunity to travel the world and do some holiday shopping — all during the lunch hour!

Zoolights

Now thru January 1, 2017
5-9p.m.
Zoolights is a free event, featuring live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!

Holy Trinity Student Association Presents A Dr. Seuss Christmas

December 10, 2016
8am-noon
Adults – $10/Kid’s – $8. $5 for Paint and Sip Session

Join the Holy Trinity family for their annual Breakfast with Santa!  It’s a pancake breakfast, picture session with Santa and Mrs.Claus, a concert featuring young carolers, a wonderful gift raffle, sip & paint, face painting, Christmas Bazaar and much, much more! Visit eventbrite to purchase your tickets.

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Autumn Fun: Adventure Filled Pumpkin Picking in the DMV Area

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Photo Courtesy of Cox Farms, Centreville, VA

I’m super sad. Summer has ended and I miss it already. It’s crazy to believe that I used to hate summer, but my my my, how that has changed. A few too many frigid cold winters in the DMV area and I’m ready to hike it to Texas! Although I’m melancholy about the joy of summer being gone, I can’t help, but to ride on the delicious happy train of autumn. Leaves changing to the sumptuous tones of yellows, oranges, and reds, crisp air, pumpkin and apple picking… Almost enough to make me forget my love affair with summer. Almost.

If you’re like me, those last two items I mentioned are high on your list of fun fall activities and thankfully, this area has a ton of great farms to visit to delight your pumpkin picking heart. Here is a list of awesome Orchards and Farms located in the Suburbs of DC to enjoy much more than picking produce.

Maryland

*Baughers Orchards and Farms
1015 Baugher Rd, Westminster, MD (410) 848-5541
October Weekends 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Enjoy Hayrides & Pumpkin Pickin’, Apple Picking, a Petting Zoo, Pit Beef, Ham & Burgers, Pony Rides, Kettle Korn, Homemade Baked Goods, Homemade Ice Cream, and much much more!

*Butler’s Orchard
22200 Davis Mill Road, Germantown, Maryland (301) 972-3299
Tuesdays through Fridays in October, plus the Monday before Halloween. 9:30 to 5:00.
$7 per person. *Reservations online for groups of 2 or more are preferred.
Pumpkin Harvest Days activities include exploring the learning stations, jumping in the hayloft barn, swooshing down the giant slides, visiting barnyard animals, picking a pumpkin in the pumpkin patch, and exploring the straw maze. Pumpkin Harvest Days are self-guided and all activities run continuously. You may do any activity in any order as many times as you like! Our picnic area is also open for you to enjoy if you bring a bag lunch.

*Catoctin Mountain Orchard
15036 N Franklinville Rd, Thurmont, MD (301) 271-2737
Come out between the hours of 9-5 and pick your own apples. Call for the days events.

*Clark’s Elioak Farm
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland (410) 730-4049
Open every day in October. 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Enjoy the petting farm, a pumpkin patch, hayrides, pony rides and storybook characters from the Enchanted Forest.

*Crumland Farms
7612 Willow Road, Frederick, Maryland. (301) 845-8099.
Saturday, September 26th – Sunday, November 1st; Monday-Friday, noon-5:00pm; Saturday-Sunday, 10:00am – 5:00pm Last admission at 5:00pm

Admission: Weekday- $7.00 per person (2 & Under: Free), Weekend- $10 per person (2 & Under: Free). Halloween weekend reduced admission $7.
INCLUDED IN ADMISSION:
• CORN MAZE
• PUMPKIN PATCH- Admission and hayride* to Pumpkin Patch is free. Pumpkins are $0.50 per pound. *Hayrides to the pumpkin patch are available on the weekends. (Hayrides may run during the week if demand is high enough.)
• Feed the animals in the mini-barnyard
• Watch the goats on the overhead walkabout
• Take a spin on a pedal cart
• Leap into a pile of soft, fresh hay
• Ride on the MooChoo Train
• Slip down the Giant Slide
• Enjoy the Giant Tricycles
• Tire playground
• Climbable Straw Bale “Maze”
Additional Fee:
• Corn Cannon ($1 for 3 shots)
• Snack Stand
• Fall Market Products
• Escape the Woodshed
• Zombie Paintball

*Gaver Pumpkin Patch
5501 Detrick Road, Mt. Airy, Maryland (301) 865-3515
The Fall Fun Festival is open every day from 10 am – 6 pm during our fall season. Free hayrides available Fri-Sun. Enjoy fall on the farm by conquering the twists and turns of the corn maze, jumping on the giant pillow, petting and feeding the farm animals and cruising down the giant slides. There are over 45 attractions, appropriate for any age including the Cow Train, mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers and so much more!

*Homestead Farm
15600 Sugarland Road, Poolesville, Maryland (301) 977-3761
Harvest festival is held weekends through October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Take a hayride, pick your own apples or pumpkins, find your way through the hay maze.

*Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
6521 Holter Rd., Middletown, Maryland (301) 371-6874
Open daily September 19 – October 31, 2015, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
30 Acres of Pick Yer’ Own Pumpkins, 14 Acre Corn Maze, Hayrides, Pony Rides, Petting Zoo, Face Painting, Mini Wagon Rides, Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, Concession Stands with Meals, Drinks, Snacks, 3,000 sq. ft. of Fall Shopping, Craft Attic with Handmade Items & much more. Click here for a full schedule.

*Larriland Farms
2415 Woodbine Road, Woodbine, Maryland (301) 854-6110
Hayrides are offered Saturdays and Sundays in October during the day from 9:30am-4:30pm. Pumpkin hayride’s are offered on the weekdays in October. This wagon ride fords the stream, goes through the woods and includes a stop at the pumpkin field where everyone selects their favorite pumpkin. Then go through the straw maze on foot and try to find the way back out. Reservations are required and is designed for groups of 20 or more. The Boo Barn is for children ages 4 – 6. It is a dark passage in the bottom of the Red Barn and is filled with animated, not too scary ghosts and goblins. The Boo Barn is open every day the farm is open in October.

*Milburn Orchards
1495 Appleton Rd, Elkton, MD, (410) 398-1349
Through November 1, Saturday & Sunday 10am – 4pm, Weekday BIG BackYard Mon-Fri 9am – 7pm
Ages 2 & under are free! Seniors 60+: $5.00. All others ages 3-59: $10.00
There are bunnies, goats, horses, a miniature donkey, chickens, pigs, ducks, turkeys and more. You’ll love watching the goats navigate the narrow goat walks high above your head. Drop a quarter in our feed machines and make a new furry friend! There are also lots of large play areas for kids to climb on and explore.

Weekend Fall Harvest Festival Admissions includes:

Hayrides
Corn Maze (Bigger maze for bigger kids & adults)
Boo Barn (Not haunted, appropriate for all ages)
Bale Trail (Straw Maze for all ages)
MilkySway Tunnel
Cycle Circle
Straw Jump
Tractor Tunnel
Obstacle Bounce
Giant Spider Web
Rope Maze Family Challenge
Tractor Tire Tower
Farmyard Playground
BarnYard Buddies Zoo
GroundHog Hill
and other mini-family fun events!
Optional Upgrades Not Included with basic Admission fees: Paint Ball Shooting Gallery, Remote Control Derby, games, arts & crafts, food & craft vendors, and Pony Rides sponsored by Fairwinds Farm. Pony Rides available October weekends only, 11am-3pm

*Montpelier Farms
1720 North Crain Highway, Upper Marlboro, Maryland (410) 320-0464
Fall festival runs on weekends, September – October. Hours are Fri. 5-11 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., & Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch!
Pumpkins 5 lbs. and under – $3.00
All others – $.60 per pound
Pumpkins are NOT included in General Admission purchase. Pumpkins must be purchased in our pumpkin patch.Pumpkin Patch closes at 10:00 pm on Friday’s and Saturday’s and 7:00 pm on Sunday’s.

*Rockhill Orchard
28600 Ridge Rd, Mt Airy, MD (301) 831-7427
Come out and pick your own apples, enjoy the nine acre corn maze, and the wonderful farm animals!

*Sharp’s at Waterford Farm
4003 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville, Maryland (410) 489-2572
Fall festival held each weekend from mid-September to mid-November. Activities include pumpkin picking, corn mazes, hayrides, campfires, feeding animals, and more.

*Shlagel Farms
12850 Shlagel Rd. Waldorf, Maryland (301) 645-4554
Open Saturday and Sunday beginning on 10/3/15 and ending on 11/1/ 15.
Our admission fee is $8. per person; adults and children 25 months and older. 24 months and under are free. Pumpkins are extra and are .69 cents per pound. The farm offers wagon rides, a petting zoo, a straw maze for those under 10, and educational tours for school or private groups.

*Summers Farm
5620 Butterfly Lane, Frederick, Maryland (301) 620-9316
Pumpkinland festival is open September 26 – October 31, 2015.
Open in the Fall each year with an old-fashioned Harvest Festival — featuring a Corn Maze, Pumpkin Patch, Barnyard animals, more than 30 activities, live weekend music, fireworks, finger-lickin’ good food … and lots more!

*Weber’s Farm
2526 Proctor Ln, Parkville, MD (410) 668-4488
Through November 1st, Mon- Sun 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 pm
Weekends: Children 2-17 $9.00, Adults 18+ $7.00. Weekdays: Children 2-17 $6.00, Adults 18+ $5.00.
Autumn is a magical time on the farm, when everything from apples to pumpkins are ready for harvest. Your family will love a day on the farm. Barnyard Fun is available with the purchase of a general admission ticket and includes Hayrides, Straw Maze & Mini Maze for the younger ones, The Boo Barn, Giant Hillside Slide, Duck Races, Farm Animals, Tire Mountain.

NoVa

*Burke Nursery and Garden Center
9401 Burke Road, Burke, Virginia (703) 323-1188
October 1-31, 2015. The annual Fall Festival and Pumpkin Playground runs daily from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. through October. Highlights include pirate and western-themed activities, Native American storytellers, and more.

*Clark’s Farm
721 Courthouse Rd (Rte. 630), Stafford, Virginia (540) 659-2172
Open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily through October.
Enjoy a moon bounce, maze, face painting, pumpkin painting, straw mountain with tunnels, penny pit, corn box, pumpkin bowling, barn yard animals, pony rides and more.

*Cox Farms
15621 Braddock Road, Centreville, Virginia (703) 830-4121. From September 26-November 3, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., enjoy 5 giant slides, hayrides, rope swings, farm animals, CORNundrum cornfield adventure, straw tunnels, Farm Chores, Kiddie Zone, goat village, apples & cider, food, entertainment, over 90 acres of fun! Take home a small patch pumpkin free with paid admission.

*Great Country Farms
18780 Foggy Bottom Road Bluemont, Virginia (540) 554-2073
September 26-October 31, 2015, open 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where else can you pick your pumpkins and apples, fire pumpkins from a cannon, enjoy cider donuts, get lost in a corn maze, visit with the pumpkin princess, cheer for your favorite swine at the infamous Oinkintucky Derby, and watch P-Rex our pumpkin munchin’ dinosaur? Only at Great Country Farms!

*Heather Hill Gardens
8111 Ox Rd., Fairfax Station, Virginia (703) 690-6060
Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Sundays 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Throughout October. The fall festival includes a pumpkin fort, slide, rope swing, mini zipline, moon bounce, farm animals, and more.

*Hollins Farms Orchard
1524 Snowden Road Delaplane, Virginia (540) 592-3574.
Open Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.
Pick a pumpkin, see farm animals and baby calves, take a pony ride, enjoy live music, hiking, and more.

*Leesburg Animal Park
Pumpkin Village Fall Fest at the Leesburg Animal Park is open daily from September 19th through November 3rd, 2015! Activites include Giant Hill Slides, Hay wagon rides, moon bounces, pet and feed live animals, free apple & cider snack, free mini-pumpkin to take home, kid’s maze, pumpkin playhouse village, spider web crawl, giant pumpkin bounce, pedal carts, pony rides, camel rides on weekends, and live entertainment on weekends.

*Mount Vernon Fall Harvest Family Days
George Washington Parkway, Mount Vernon, Virginia (703)780-2000
October 24 – 25, 2015, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy autumn activities including horse-drawn wagon rides, wheat treading in the 16-sided barn, a straw bale maze, early-American games, music and demonstrations. This is a huge fall festival with traditional harvest activities, but no pumpkins.

*Ticonderoga Farms
26469 Ticonderoga Road, Chantilly, Virginia (703) 327-4424
Mid-September to first week of November, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Enjoy picking your own pumpkin, spooky fun zones, hayrides, hillside slides and tunnels, giant jumping pillow, cow pow train ride, Noah’s Ark, petting animals, giant xylophone, bamboo panda puzzle maze, swinging bridge, antique tractors, fire pits, park-like log cabin play areas, picnic areas, weekend specials and more.

*Wayside Farm
5273 Harry Byrd Highway, Berryville, Virginia (540) 539-3276
Open September 19 – November 1, 2015, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
10-acre corn maze and beautiful pumpkin patch anchor the farm. Hayrides, pig races, barnyard animals, hay slides and much more await at Wayside Farm Fun!

*Wegmeyer Farms
38299 Hughesville Road, Hamilton, Virginia. (540) 751-1782
September 19 – November 1, 2015, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Pumpkins, hayrides and a corn maze. Travel off the beaten path to an authentic working farm and pick your own pumpkin right from the vine.

What’s your favorite farm in the area? Did I miss a really good one? Which one is on your list to visit this fall? Tell me in the comments below.

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