Archives for posts with tag: Richmond

So, after what seemed like a really, really long week (we just got back from PA on Sunday, Three King’s Day, my birthday, etc.) Saturday was upon us and I was itching for a day trip. To be fair, Richmond is so close calling it a day trip seems a little foolish, however, when you piece and put together a day with something new or pretty amazing I think it qualifies.

Big Brooks had apparently been to Buzz and Ned’s a few days before. It’s apparently hailed as Richmond’s best or most authentic bar-b-que joint. Daddy Brooks was raving about how it was delicious, amazing, and other over used but quite accurate adjectives. Meanwhile, we’d heard about the place from B’s best friend who implored us to some day just go, we wouldn’t regret it. So off we went to Buzz and Ned’s, who apparently was featured on the TV in a contest with Bobby Flay (and won, that’s important to mention). 

The place was packed but we were able to find a parking spot (score!) and the food was incredible and totally worth the wait (they were, after all, busy, and I’m thinking perfection takes time). It was pretty amazing and we may or may not have licked our fingers. 

For those in the Richmond area planning on going to Buzz and Ned’s, the prices are pretty comparable to eating elsewhere, though if you think about lunch prices in most places Buzz and Ned’s would be a bit pricier. But if you split a large meal (who would do that?!) two people can eat for about 15 bucks. We chose to forgo that and just enjoy our meals, while sharing. Big Brooks had a half rack of ribs (so so good!), BB had catfish (which I declined to try since I’m not a sea-foodie), and I had the pulled pork because it just calls to me. 

After stuffing ourselves properly we headed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which happens to be free. How great is that? We only had about 90 minutes before our movie started at Bowtie Cinemas (located on the same street, down right smack dab from Buzz and Ned’s and very close the VMFA). The art museum, which we LOVE, has a current exhibit called something to the effects of Hollywood Costumes and which happens to be free to the military thanks to their participation with Blue Star Museums. The free entrance saved us 50 bucks between the three of us and we were quite grateful after throwing caution to the wind at Buzz and Ned’s and eating whatever we fancied, regardless of the price (I tend to be more frugally minded most days… I may have lost my mind at Buzz and Ned’s, I’m just saying).

The exhibit was AWESOME! It deserves all caps. The place, being Saturday was PACKED! That was hard only because The Boy and I are used to going to museums and being one of the only ones there. They had so many great costumes on display and did a wonderful job through videos and descriptions of explaining the art of hollywood costuming: entertaining and educational, my favorite combination. Some of our faces: Harrison’s costume from Indiana Jones, one of Superman’s suits, Spiderman’s, pieces from Gone with the Wind (be still my heart!), and Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress where the subway grate is blowing beneath her. There were tons more but definitely our favorite area was the one dedicated to action movies. The exhibit runs through mid February and if I can swing it The Boy and I will head back during the week when it’s less crowded to check it out again. 

The movie we attended, Hercules, was okay. I’m not big on rating movies but it was definitely good for a 10 year old boy who loves Greek mythology. We were both a bit put off by the Hollywood take on Hera giving Hercules’s mother a night with Zeus so that her infant son could save humanity. Seriously, Hera?! The woman was incredibly jealous and B and I have loved reading about her supposed antics involving all the women Zeus had flings with. The woman was jealous! Beyond that, the cinematography was lacking at points and there were points I guffawed at the acting or little mistakes here and there that were pretty obvious to me (who wasn’t too engrossed in the story), but we had fun and The Boy loved it, so win win! 

Loved spending the day with my boys, and although next week promises to be a bear with activities and the start of my semester, I’m so grateful for a day with nothing on the plate but enjoying the time spent with them. Life remains ever so sweet. 



Last year we were fortunate enough to attend a performance of a Patrick Henry interpreter at Polegreen Church in Hanover County VA. Brooks and I walked away with a deep appreciation for the events and people that shaped Patrick Henry, as well as his role in American history.


This year, as part of our planned co-op beginning in September with friends, we all attended a reenactment of the Second Virginia Convention at historic St. John’s Church in the beautiful Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, VA. The Second Virginia Convention is where Patrick Henry famously delivered his “Give me liberty or give me death,” speech.


There’s something about history that gets me all kinds of excited. And I have to say, I love attending reenactments such as the one we did today because the passion of those playing various characters shines through. What a treasure, Richmond has, in not only St. John’s Church, but in those who work so tirelessly to tell this story over and over, year after year.


Unfortunately, it’s not always a story that is appreciated for what it was, and what it continues to be today. But for myself, it’s a look into the past, an opportunity to be a “part” of that history, to relive those moments through fresh eyes and understanding, in appreciation for all the work and sweat and tears poured out by those who believed in such rights as liberty.


One of my most favorite part of the afternoon, and there were numerous, was the moment before the reenactment began when those in the church sang the songs of our armed forces. The organist asked those who serve or have served in our armed forces to stand when their particular branch’s song was sung. Here we are in this beautiful old church, up in the balcony, and all around us, as we sing one song after another, various men and women in the crowd are standing to sing with pride the song of their particular branch. My heart swelled up with pride and admiration for these men and women, both young and old, who sacrificed or sacrifice for the same rights as those discussed at St. John’s Church so many years ago. I thought it rather fitting.


As always, I’m so grateful for our group of friends, their fellowship, and their friendship. It’s friendships such as these that have made our homeschooling journey sweet and memorable.



For those in the area, check out St. John’s Church if you are able. It’s definitely worth it. The neighborhood surrounding the church is beautiful and grand. The cemetery on the church grounds is incredibly interesting; but, more so than all that, you might walk away for a deeper appreciation for our founding fathers.


Listening to the folk band at the Maymont whilst he melts under the 79 degree sun. Seriously.

Penn State has been a bit ridiculous this semester; maybe slightly more so. The problem being that one of my courses is a bit work intensive, and the other has a good mix of too much reading and too much discussion posting (which I inherently abhor). But that is neither here nor there since my semester ends in two weeks. Consequently, so does Little B’s, which is fantastic because I don’t think either one of us has looked forward to summer break as much as we are this one.


Strolling past the barn towards the japanese garden.

For one, it’s been really cold here. I love the snow but goodness, it just felt like the cold was going to drag on forever! And for another, balancing homework with homeschooling The Boy and being a mom and wife has been tiring in the sense that I put off my homework when it just doesn’t fit in and then I scramble to get it done, which is not my M.O. I’d much rather be just mom and wife without worrying about fitting in papers or reading or the much hated discussion posts.


Because here’s the thing, as much as I love the As (and thankfully, both grades reflect that) I love my boys so much more. And I’d much rather spend time playing with B, teaching him, coming up with fun stuff to share and do with him than pore over books, taking countless notes, etc etc. And I’d much rather be wife to Brooks, taking care of him, doting on him, loving him, laughing with him and sharing a life with him than typing furiously on the computer, or poring over research journals analytically. Seriously, I think I’m suffering from senioritis, 13 years in the making!


He was loving this shortcut which led to the waterfall.

So Saturday we opted to stay close to Fort Lee so that I could work on my homework (ahem…. the homework bit never happened – true story). We ended up going to the  movies, one of the The Boys favorite things to do, and then ended up visiting a part of The Petersburg National Battlefield we had not visited before.


The waterfall

The sad thing is that this particular portion is assessable from inside Fort Lee. It’s right across from Brooks’s work, and thus a very quick car ride from the house. So we hiked and explored and all agreed that we DB and I both need bikes so that we can ride back in the woods.


Koi and rock skipping

Sunday was supposed to be buckle-down-wake-up-early-get-the-school-done day. But I woke up later than I intended. I saw a post on Facebook about the Maymont having live music (a folk band, nonetheless), and I began eking out a plan speed through my schoolwork so that we could make it to this event, just in time. I even planned for snacks, picnic blanket, and camera to accompany us. I put more thought into leaving the house than my poor neglected school work. AND, horror of horrors! …. I skimmed my reading! I answered questions without TONS of detail. I didn’t double and triple check answers! I hit SUBMIT without nary a second glance!


Loving the brave little turtle.

Oh boy, oh boy!

Loving these roots.

Loving these roots.

Am I ever grateful for those high A’s because I did all that without stressing over my grade. My gosh. What has become of me?! 🙂

The nature center's theme is the James River Basin. Pretty cool.

The nature center’s theme is the James River Basin. Pretty cool.

So off we headed to the Maymont, little B asking repeatedly. “Isn’t it just so hot? When are the pools opening! Might there be some water for me to run in?”

It was 79 degrees. Just saying.

The Maymont was super duper busy when we arrived. I’ve been hearing about The Maymont since we arrived in Richmond. But with all B’s activities and sports, field trips, etc etc it just hasn’t happened.

Now we can see what all the hubbub was about. The Maymont, in a nutshell, is an old estate situated on 100 acres, which was left to the city for the enjoyment of it’s citizens. It’s old and grand. It has so many gardens and beautiful scenery we could see why there were so many couples arm in arm. The coolest thing is that you’re allowed to stroll the grounds, not merely following paths. So it’s the perfect setting for things like live music, or frisbee, or sunbathing even. There are several gardens to enjoy, a pretty neat waterfall, animals, a nature center, an area for children, an old mansion, etc etc. There really is just too much to do in one day, especially if you’re footing it across the aforementioned 100 acres. They do have a tram but I refused because the day was so gorgeous and perfect.

So the Maymont will definitely be one of our favorite places to visit in Richmond. But I did learn a few things. Bring a backpack to pack in snacks and drinks. They are allowed, though they do have a snack shop by the nature center. Sunscreen and bug repellent will be a must, I’m sure as the days warm up. And don’t wear sandals 🙂 The ground can be uneven and there is lots of hills and stairs on the property. I may or may not have had a hard time in mine 🙂

Afterwards, we capped the night off by enjoying a new eatery near Carytown: Sticky Rice. We haven’t has a whole lot of luck finding eateries we LOVE but Sticky Rice was fantastic. The boys enjoyed sushi while I had a chicken sandwich with edamame. Seriously yummy. Afterwards, we headed to Carytown to peruse the shops, eat some ice cream at Bev’s, and to watch a movie at The Byrd.

And this time, we triple checked our headlights 🙂

PS I’ve included photos The Boy took while at The Maymont… He’s loving the new Rebel.


The dragon for the modern lion dance that we were unable to enjoy but which we were able to admire 🙂

I had my little rant on The Facebook about how rude the parents were at this particular event, so I won’t go into that here because quite honestly, that aside, we really had a good time. Little B was oblivious to most of it so he had a blast and was sad when the event ended and it was time to go.

I like to take events like this and turn them into something a bit bigger, so knowing that we were going to be in Richmond for this event D.Brooks and I scoured the web for a good Chinese Restaurant in Richmond (Chinafest – Chinese restaurant, that’s gold 😉  ).


Funny side note, when we arrive at the Chinese Restaurant Little B says all surprised, “Gee how funny, we were just at the Chinafest, now we’re eating Chinese!” As smart as my little cookie is he’s yet to figure out that there’s careful planning involved in some of our outings! 😉


paper cutting at one of the demonstration tables

Thankfully the Museum has TONS of parking, and at 5 bucks a car that’s a steal for a metropolitan area. The Chinafest only ran for four hours. I think an all day even would have been better because there was so much to see and do that we were unable to do it all, even though quite frankly we really, really wanted to.


working on their snake puppets


They had a traditional lion dance, modern lion dance, and a martial arts demonstration. Note to self, next year watch from above like all the smart people peering down from the galleries. It was so crowded that the only performance we were able to see was the Traditional Lion Dance, and only because we were in the front row-ish.


The Boy’s name in calligraphy

They had all kinds of demonstrations as well: calligraphy, pottery, wood block printing, paper cutting, etc. Those were awesome to see but even more fun to try out for ourselves.  The artists involved in these art forms were easy to talk to and were happy to answer any questions.


koi fish kite decorating

B had his name written in calligraphy with four different characters standing for the sounds of his name. I asked the gentleman to translate what the sounds stood for and I can remember two of them (I did write them down for B) : gentle and “manly.” Nice! That’s a good combination in my book!


Big Brooks exploring the museum on his own whislt The Boy and I were occupied with koi fish making

There were also opportunities for the kiddos to try their own hands at some art: silk screen painting, snake puppets (for the year of the Snake!), koi fish kites, and block printing. They also had a fun photo booth with Chinese opera costumes to wear that was a lot of fun. Plus EVERYTHING was free, including the photos and all the art projects. You can’t beat that!


one of my most favorite pieces at the museum – i have a thing for circles. LOVE them!

We will definitely return for the festival next year, though we might thicken our skins a bit before we go 🙂


one of big brooks’s favorites


Big Brooks checked out some of the exhibits in the lower gallery while The Boy and I worked on his Koi Fish Kite. Love these pictures!


ImageLittle B has been rock climbing with Peak Experiences for a bit now (i’ll have to cover that in a later blog post) and the super nice homeschooling Momma that coordinates that activity also plans history field trips with another homeschool group in Richmond. She was kind enough to invite the Peak Experiences families to join in on some of her outings, including this one to The Museum of the Confederacy.

Little B and I covered the Civil War extensively last year as part of his history curriculum. We’ve visiting Gettysburg several times, have seen movies and documentaries, read countless books, and have checked out various websites online. Living in Texas for six years gave us a good education on that part of our nation’s history. Living in Virginia, however, is proving to be a history gold mine. Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War there is so much to see and explore.

Mind you, when I was growing up I was taught in various public schools (we moved around quite a bit) that the Civil War was not caused by the issue of slavery. I love that the The Museum of the Confederacy takes the correct historical approach and does not sugar coat the paramount cause of the Civil War.


From the get go our tour guide was full of information. She was quite surprised by how much our group (comprise of elementary aged kiddos) already knew. I love tours – The Boy not so much. He’d rather peruse at his own pace. But I love that the guides tend to be incredibly well versed in whatever the subject matter at hand is, and that they can delve into various subtopics when questioned or probed for further information. The kids asked some pretty cool questions, we saw up close some articles belonging to various people involved in the conflict, and the kiddos were treated to a special session on slavery and the Underground Railroad.


For me this is all about bringing history alive for my little guy. It’s about making these events not just relevant for him but more concrete than something you can read in a book or see in a documentary (though those things are great as well).

One of my favorite moments in the tour was laying eyes on one of Sherman’s famous neck ties:


I had read about these on my own when I was younger and had always imagined them to look quite different (much larger in fact). Our guide even mentioned how the soldiers, bored, would host contests to see who could twist their rail the most times around a central object, like a piece of wood.

Our visit to The Museum of the Confederacy ended with a tour of the South’s White House (which shows how clueless I was about that since I had no idea one existed). It’s directly adjacent to the museum. Now for those of you who love Richmond’s White House I truly hope to not offend you when I state how gaudy I found some of the rooms in the house. I would have taken photos to defend my opinion but alas, we were not allowed to take any.

Apparently, faux pas everything was in high fashion; perhaps lack of money had something to do with this too. There were so many fake things trying to pass off as real things that it looked really tasteless. For example, in the entryway there was wallpaper that was supposed to resemble marble blocks. But it failed miserably and just looked awful.

My favorite tid bit about the house was that there were a few slaves who worked there and apparently one is believed to have started a fire in the basement before running away. Apparently in the confusion and mess of the fire no one noticed he was missing until it was too late. Smart man, if you ask me!

Because Little B had two basketball games immediately after our scheduled tours we were unable to visit the whole museum properly. For sure we’ll have to return at a later date to check out all the exhibits the right way.