Family Pictures in DC {Cherish Pennington Photography}

I may be biased since I have known the photographer for literally all my life. The fact that we ended up on the same coast again is pretty awesome to me. So when I decided to scramble to put together family pictures I called on Cherish Pennington Photography. I wanted to some quintessential DC photographs. We haven’t done that in our six years here and my kids love going into the city. These pictures are so amazing and everything I could have ever wanted. After you scroll through you’ll find out how to contact Cherish. Do it now, you won’t be sorry!!


If you are looking for amazing family pictures reach out to Cherish for yours soon!!!

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Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – Baltimore, Maryland

If you’ve never been to a Ripley’s you need to go!  They are so cool and fun for the whole family.  We’ve been to several and they are all so different, with neat things that each museum call their own.  I’m excited to tell you all that Ripley’s is in Baltimore now! You can find located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  Have you ever been to the Inner Harbor?  We were able to go last year to check out the Aquarium, and I instantly wished I had allotted more time to spend just looking around. It is going to be great to have another fun museum to check out while visiting Baltimore, and is going to be the perfect place to take the kids.  I imagine my eight year old is going to absolutely love love love this place!

A little about Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, Baltimore

Come see over 15,000 square feet of the odd and weird world of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! where truth is stranger than fiction. See a real shrunken head, Hogwarts Castle made of matchsticks and much much more! Along with incredible artifacts and artwork from all around the world and over 100 “interactive” take a ride on our 4D Moving Theater and get lost in our Marvelous Mirror Maze. You can also take home your very own wax hand that you create. Ripley’s has been proudly freaking out families for over 90 years. Why just say it, See it!

**I’ve got a little treat for my readers as well!!

Buy Two Attractions, Get the Third One Free! Code: USFAM®ionid=387

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Military Monday – Warrior and Family Center opens in Bethesda

The USO recently opened their second Warrior and Family Center in the DC area.  This particular one has opened its doors steps from the National Medical Center Walter Reed.  It couldn’t be a more perfect location for one to open, and trust me it has been a long time coming.  When I had the pleasure to speak with then President of the USO, Sloan Gibson, he was bursting at the seams to talk about these facilities.  It was one of my first interviews with someone like that and I was a littler nervous.  But to hear him speak about his dream of opening these immediately put me at ease.  There was a lot of thought that went into designing and building these two buildings, which started to be discussed way back in 2009.  Warriors and their families were interviewed concerning design, and the number one request (which was granted) was a learning center of sorts for transitioning.  Within these walls you can music therapy, recording area, playing area, art classes and fly fishing.  TVs, computers, quiet areas and game rooms.

And while the name Warrior and Family Center implies that this is specifically for our nation’s wounded, however this is not the case.  The USOs doors are open to all military, and I have experienced the building myself.  They are both truly beautiful and feel like home, which is the whole purpose I’m sure.

The second facility is beautiful, and I almost like the design of the second better.  It is a much more open facility, as far as the feel.  Lots of windows with very wide hallways, sort of an open great room if you will.  The ribbon cutting was a wonderful time, hearing the words of those that designed and constructed it.  How it affected them, and how many of the construction and design team have signed on to become to volunteers themselves.  It affects people and hearing that is really touching.


The excitement over the building was electric, everyone was smiling and they all spoke of the same things.  They were beyond thrilled to see this building in action, so close to where it is most needed.  I will say this, we are in desperate need of an overhaul in the way we are treating the wounded.  And we aren’t speaking of just the physical wounds.  There was a Forbes article that discussed some of the startling numbers of “Invisible Wounds” as they are referred to.  The numbers were listed as reported on the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.  The total number of TBI diagnosis by the DoD is over 290,000.  It is important to note that not all of the injuries are deployment related.  In fact 80% are the result of a non-deployment injury (ex: car accident).  But the injury is there, regardless of how it was required, and should be treated.  When broken down the study doesn’t reveal how the injuries were received, just the severity of them; however according to the Rand Corporation in a 2008 press release 20 percent of those have returned report symptoms of TBI and depression.  Most, as we are all aware, do not receive treatment because of the stigma attached to physiological issues; but for those that do, only half of them receive treatment considered “minimally adequate”.  This is one of the reasons why I believe what the USO has to offer is extremely valuable.  This is a chance to make things right.  To operate off the concept that I heard repeated over and over that day – a 360 degree concept of care.  I wish there was one of these centers at every single base.


With the President of the USO DC Metro                  My total geek moment with Miss America!!!!

It’s a step in the right direction; and when you hear those in power express understanding and an actual concern for what is happening it helps.  I wish they would talk about it more, all the time, every day.  This will change, I know it will.  Soon, the stigma will be less and less.  It won’t happen overnight, because it took longer than that for the problem to happen.  But this is an opportunity for those in power, either at the National Level of the military and individual unit leaders, to really effect change.  I’m excited at the possibilities for our military members.
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We met an astronaut….a bit ago….

Real quick, I’m hopping here today! Obviously MARvelousThursday Favorite Things

Bassgiraffe's Thoughts Thursday Blog Hop

Awhile ago we had probably the coolest thing happen, that I’ve been around for.  A real space shuttle came to town, flew around and landed only miles from our house.  It was one of those amazing historical events that my parents can talk about remembering.  We don’t have many of those (especially positive and fun ones) these days….in fact most of the ones that are earth shattering have been horrific and who wants to fondly remember those things.  So, the Space Shuttle Discovery flew into DC!  It is now retired and has come to rest at the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  It was quite exciting and my little aspiring Astronaut had to be a part of this once in a lifetime experience.  I took the kids out to the airport to see the Space Airplane and the Shuttle on top.  When it registered to Brian what he was looking at he just got so excited!  It was so amazing to be able to give this experience to my children.  It is really more than I can adequately say in words.

 so excited, so we decided to call my mom

While I was trolling some local mom blogs and news for events in the area I heard about Space Day at the Museum.  I just couldn’t get it together, on my own with three kids, for the opening ceremonies so when I heard about Space Day I thought, well, if I go to sleep, get the double stroller out I should be able to handle it by myself.  So we went to space day and it was amazing.  The absolute highlight of our day was meeting an astronaut who actually flew on Discovery.  We met Stephen Bowen, a Capt in the US Navy.  He is the first Submarine Officer chosen by NASA as a mission specialist and has worked with Endeavor, Atlantis and Discovery.  It was pretty cool.  Brian has his very own Space Shuttle with him, and Mr. Bowen took it and quite adorably explained the part they always get wrong on these.  Being a dad himself he knew just how to engage my son and Brian was just thrilled beyond belief.

 look at my silly kids!
 checking out a real astronaut’s suit and trying on a glove
 did this all on their own and its way too adorable!
 My very very happy son

 Talking with Captain Bowen about the toy shuttle vs. the real ones

 sitting in a Cesna

 Memorial outside with dedications

Caught an awesome picture!
Anyway, like I said this was such an amazing experience for my kids.  I think Brian will remember it, Ami might not when she’s older, but I have these pictures for them to see.  Every day I can’t believe that we are here.  Its so amazing.

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