Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Here are a few pictures of our digs - Murphy bed and all. It's actually a lot bigger and a lot nicer than we were expecting and so far it has worked out perfectly.

Kitchen View
Front door, attractive support beam, Ryan's closet, my dresser
Desk, bed, window with a scenic view of a brick wall and the next door bar, kitchen table, and extra chair - oh... and my cute husband

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Moroccan Food and Museums

Last weekend Ryan and I went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. We went after our Friday briefings (every Friday LDS career people come and give briefings on their jobs and what it's like to be LDS in DC). Although we didn't get to see all of the museum that afternoon we did meander through a section on Jazz in America (it featured Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn), a section on Black Washington DC from the 1920s - ? (which is a precursor to the upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture), an exhibit with the Gunboat Philadelphia (a boat that was sunk in 1776 that they've brought back up), and my favorite - The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.

Ryan was thoroughly disappointed by the Jazz exhibit, which was only one small room. The photographs were interesting. There was one where during some civil rights riots the guy's studio was being burnt down and he just sat across the street and took pictures of it. I think I probably would have had a different approach and would've been trying to save whatever I could from the building. Hopefully he had really good insurance. The Gunboat was big but we could only look at it from one spot. It would've been cool to walk around it more and really get a picture of what it was like. But who knows maybe it wasn't even typical design since it got smoked during battle and sunk - maybe the engineers started making them better.

The Americans at war exhibit tracked every war that America has been involved in from the American revolution to the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was really interesting and very well done. There was a lot of cool facts and figures from the various wars. I really liked the section that was for Vietnam. There was a Huey helicopter and a bunch of newspaper clips (pictures/articles) that were framed on a wall in a timeline. It was really neat.

The helicopter...I'm pretty sure this is the same kind my dad flew.

After we went through those couple of exhibits we decided to try out some of the ethnic food in dc. After listing a ton of possibilities, Ryan chose Moroccan. So we took the metro way out to some area we hadn't seen yet. The metro ride was fantastic because it was above ground in this area so we actually got to see where we were. I really liked it. Moroccan food was interesting. It was a good experience, however, I doubt that we'll go for the experience again. If you're ever in the mood for something new then try it out but I wouldn't suggest spending tons of money on it.

Saturday we went to the Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was extremely powerful. There was an exhibit on the use of propaganda which was really interesting. The kind of indoctrination that occurred during that time is incredible. Then we went through the permanent exhibit. By the end I felt literally sick to my stomach. The museum makes you think about how good and bad people can be and how dangerous being in the middle can be at times. Ryan and I talked for a long time about it after - I'm glad that he was there with me.

Blog Beauty...

While surfing through various blogs I've noticed that ours is very plain and bordering on ugly (if not already there)...I'd love to make it more appealing but I have no idea how to do so. So if anyone would like to give me tips on how to make it cute or how to load/where to find all these great templates, I'm very up for suggestions/ideas. Thanks!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ryan's Bailout

Even though the Treasury has failed to bailout our personal financial situation, Ryan has still managed to pick up a few of their ideas and implement them elsewhere in his work. Here's a summary of what I think Ryan does or has done so far...

1. He writes up country briefs which get used for meetings and anything that has to do with that country. Country briefs explain the current economic situation in a country - growth outlook, risks and policy challenges, financial crisis policy responses, international financial institution assistance, etc.

2. He works on the Bloomberg machine. Although I still have no clue what this machine does, I do know that it makes him come home late on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I think at the close of business on those days he gets information off of the machine about economic indicators in various Latin American countries of interest.

3. He writes talking points for meetings. One of the first weeks we were here Ryan wrote up the talking points for a meeting between his deputy assistant secretary (DAS) in the treasury and the Colombian trade minister and Colombian ambassador. Pretty cool.

4. He attends sweet meetings and listens in on awesome conference calls. Because he gets to/has to write up the talking points for these important meetings, sometimes he gets to go - like when he got to go to the Colombian meeting.

5. He gets to go to conferences. Yesterday Ryan got to go down to the Brookings Institute (a big think tank) for a big conference about the IMF recent outlook publication for the Western hemisphere (Ryan saw me writing that and said "It's not a big think tank. It's the world's most important think tank"). Pretty cool.

6. He writes US position on IMF decisions and World Bank decisions. Ryan's involved in writing/reviewing these positions - he even made some big decisions about what the kind of funding one country got after researching all by himself. So beware because apparently he's got the IMF funding on a string.

7. He does stuff with country risk assessment and country vulnerability. I just asked him what vulnerabilities. "Just vulnerabilities. Capital account problems, external financing needs, whatever." Ok.

8. He gets to go to happy hour. Lucky for Ryan his office is super hip and has weekly happy hours where the desk economists/receptionists/etc have a good ole time, order pizza, and of course have coke and gingerale for those couple mormon boy interns. I think he likes it.

Ryan's got a pretty sweet set up. I think he's really enjoying the work he gets to do, especially since it's all substantive and isn't typical intern coping and answering phone calls. He's come at a great time since the office happens to be down a couple of desk economists and the interns have been asked to pick up the slack. Also it's right next door to Obama's house. I think he's awesome.

Happy Moving Day

Ryan keeps telling me to write posts. "You can't just leave your customers hangin, Tiff. Your customers demand change, Tiff. Change we can believe in."

Thursday of last week (5-14) the office I've been working at moved to a different wing of the Pentagon. It was pretty exciting...the hype has been building up for weeks. Just about everyday since I've joined the office has there's been some sort of reminder about the upcoming move or problems that have been caused because of the upcoming move. People have been gradually packing up things (except of course a couple of those who always have the most stuff and procrastinate until the last minute). Luckily I only had only one box so I got the lovely duty of building boxes (which I'm now a pro at), throwing classified papers into burn bags (burn bags are used for any classified information - or important unclassified information), and organizing binders, folders, etc. So burn bags can only be 10 lbs each
and I think in the length of about 3 days I probably had about 30+ ish bags. It's ridiculous how much information/paper they've gone through. I've never thought of myself as a radical environmentalist but I felt really bad when it was through me all of the waste was happening. I guess it was just another "welcome to a government agency" day. In addition to my packing/moving duties I was also tasked with hanging up pictures in our new office to try to spice the place up a bit. Thank goodness my mom has taught me well and that I was on the climbing team in high school. Precariously balancing on various chairs, bookshelves, and desks to hang large photos straight got me an A for the day from one of my supervisors. She informed me that I was a "rockstar" for my work. My other A for the day came when I was asked to go check on the status of our fridge and microwave (which were still in the other office). I trooped over there and found both in their same spots with no intention of moving. Near the seditary appliances I also found a dolly. Thanks to my experience working next to my parents I was able to load and transport both the fridge and the microwave (in one trip) on a dolly - I didn't even sound dumb when later because I knew what a dolly was. My third A came from helping Joe Bosco. He's from Italy and he reminds me of my grandad. The other day when I was packing stuff up he walked by and grandpa-like thumped me on the head. Although this might sound like intern abuse, it was very endearing. But anyways my A from him came when I helped him transfer files from one drive on his computer to a different drive. Although it only took me a couple minutes to walk him through it, it was very helpful and I'm sure saved him a bunch of time. He's great. So now moving day is over and everyone is settling into their new digs. I'm not sure how people handle moving days every 4 years or so with the new administration changes. I guess moving days are just one more way the government keeps people employed - although come to think of it we didn't even get the luxury of help from those government employed official movers - I guess that's why they hire free interns.

Burn Bags - maybe environmentalists should go after these for one of their causes...

Sunday, May 17, 2009


We arrived in Philly around 11am the next day. Our first stop was the National Constitution Center. It was a fantastic, interactive museum that we weren't allowed to take pictures of so I have absolutely no proof of this. However, I'd recommend everyone to stop by and check it out. While there we watched a presentation titled "We, the People". It was one of those things that sends tingles down your back and makes you feel proud to be American. I liked it. It's good to get that reminder. After we adventured all through their museum (you should check out the website to get an idea of what fun stuff they offer). Then we were off to Independence Hall where we saw the old courtroom and the room where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were both signed.

Independence Hall

Closer view of the Independence Hall bell tower


Signing Hall

After taking a few pictures we wandered downtown with a group to get some Philly cheese steaks. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into...

They were MONSTROUS! The picture on top is only half of my sandwich...the half that I couldn't handle and had to give up eating. We later gave it to a homeless person so it went to a good cause, don't worry. After stuffing ourselves, we and our newly made married friends ventured around the city. One of our first stops was the rose garden, which it turns out had a lot more magnolias than roses. It was beautiful.

Our new friends!

We also stopped by and saw Liberty Bell, crack and all. Ryan and I still aren't quite sure why it's famous - other than having a giant, unrepairable crack. I guess shoddy workmanship really pays off in the end...?

After walking all over the place we were all pretty tired so we found a great park and took a rest. Most everyone slept while I watched the busy squirrels and "decorated" Ryan. He's so good for putting up with me.

After our break we saw Benjamin Franklin's grave. He had amazing epitaphs written for him...

After Franklin's grave we went to Christ's Church where many of the founding fathers would worship. Then before heading back to DC the group stopped and got pizza. Overall it was a great trip and we had a fun time seeing the sights and making new friends.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Valley Forge

Last weekend (May 8-9) we traveled with the rest of the students here and went to Valley Forge and Philadelphia. The drive was beautiful. It's amazing how everything is green and growing when you're not in the desert. We passed multiple big cities but wouldn't have known it because a thick border of lush green and trees stood between the highway and the suburbs. We first went to Valley Forge where we stayed at the Freedoms Foundation, an non-profit organization with a mission to produce good citizens. The facilities were very pretty set on a few hundred acres of trees with statues of the founding fathers near the various buildings. Here are just a few - one of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin praying and one of Washington praying nearby.

The only caveat to our stay was the room...I'm very grateful that it was clean and we only saw a couple bugs/spiders but the two twin beds were pretty funny. We made some new friends who handled the situation quite a bit differently than we did - the wife of the newly wed couple (2 weeks fresh) demanded that her husband share her twin bed. I originally tried this approach, but Ryan made it clear that he'd rather get some sleep (at least I can still convince him to share our sweet Murphy bed back in DC with me).

While at Valley Forge we took a bus tour throughout the 3,000 acre park. Our tour guide was feisty little old lady donning traditional 1700s dress who bossed around our bus driver and gave us the business if we got too rowdy. While touring around we saw statues of Washington and Prussian Baron von Steuben, as well as a beautiful church with amazing stained glass which housed the Justice Bell - a bell for women's suffrage.

Also while touring we saw the dogwoods in bloom. I had heard all about traveling around while the dogwoods are in bloom and it lived up to the hype (I've included a picture of a tree with pink blossoms). I'm sure my mom would've loved it (I wish she was here to tell me what all these new flowers and plants I keep seeing are, and of course for other reasons too).

After our tour and dinner, we were visited by a special guest. You might have mistakenly thought that Thomas Jefferson was no longer with us, but I can verify that I did meet this founding father. The Foundation puts together live visits from men like Jefferson, Franklin, and other important figures. Ours was incredible. He answered tricky questions that we came up with in an effort to stump the impersonator but he was on the ball citing dates, events, important letters and anything else you could think of. I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how it was done. (Jefferson is the fella in the middle of the big group wearing the blueish green jacket).

After our visit we hung out with some of our new married friends. It's funny, but apparently married people and single people aren't allowed to talk to each other in Washington DC - if it isn't that way you could've fooled me by the way we've been ostracized by the single crowd. It's actually kind of funny. We all ate together in a cafeteria on the trip and one lunch Ryan and I arrived early and sat down at a table. People started filtering in and filling up tables all around us but no one sat down by us. This continued until at one point some singles actually took a few chairs from our table and crammed them into a nearby already over packed singles filled table. Luckily later some married people arrived and joined us. This scene repeated itself, varying slightly, throughout the trip. Pretty funny, but at least we met some fun married people that will talk to us (probably because they don't really have any other options since the singles don't acknowledge them either).

After hanging out with our new friends we retired to our cozy twin beds to get some rest before our 8am departure to Philadelphia the next day. Valley Forge is a great place to visit. It’s beautiful but kinda hard to imagine that the men camped there were facing biting winds, freezing temperatures, and near starvation, when while we were there the weather was delightful, the scenery was breathtaking, and we were fed very well (and there were no red coats).

Cupcakes and Tutoring

I've just begun blogging and I'm already behind. I now have a little more understanding for my sister's tri-monthly posts (sorry Lori for the comments telling you to get back on the wagon). Week 2 was very fun and eventful. During the week we did several fun things. We ventured down Georgetown to visit the famous Georgetown Cupcake. The store was started by a couple of sisters who apparently love cupcakes. I forgot my camera so couldn't take pictures of the cute little treats but not worries I'm sure I'll be back soon to try some of the different flavors like key lime, chocolate cubed, or lava fudge.

We did our tutoring again on Thursday 5/7. I got to work with Chidinma again, she's a riot. We learned all about space travel, President Obama's new dog Bo, cells, and glanced over French vocabulary. I had her take a picture with me and due to height differences I lifted her up (hence the funny look on both of our faces). Ryan filled in by reading a book with an 18 year old girl from eastern Africa. The program is really diverse. It's so interesting to hear everyone's story and how they got where they are now. We're really enjoying this calling. It's been a great experience so far.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Our First Week...

Despite loud objections (by other halves which I won't mention) to joining the blogging world post marriage, I've decided to start a blog so others can track our time in dc via stories and pictures. While my creative writing skills are nothing compared to my talented sister-in-law and sister, I hope you'll stay tuned for an occasional post from my hilarious husband.

We arrived in DC last Saturday after finishing up finals and packing till 2am the night before. Our first taste of DC was traveling on the shuttle to the apartment complex with a couple of guys who were in DC to protest. The city is full of passionate people fighting for various causes - and of course for the hope, change, and our moment all thanks to the new president. Sunday we headed off to church via the metro. Shortly upon walking into the door we were given a calling (surprisingly not even in primary/nursery) - we're helping with a tutoring program for the inner-city kids in the ward (this ward tutoring program was in the Ensign last year, click here). We get to go every Thursday - the little girl I worked with this week decided that she was going to change her first name (Chidinma) to her middle name (Hope) and then take my middle name (Elizabeth) as hers (she was also very upset that my hair part was not in the middle of my head and informed me that it was pretty plain). Apparently I've already made my mark in DC.

Other than our Thursday activities this week we've gone to our internships and played after on some nights - given our feet weren't hurting too bad. Ryan is interning with the Treasury in the Office of International Affairs where he does analysis of economies in Latin America and writes briefs to be used in meetings between foreign officials and the US Treasury. Lucky for him this week he got to go to a meeting between the Treasury and the ambassador and trade minister of Colombia (he wrote what the head person said - pretty impressive). I intern for the DoD in the Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs. So far I try not to get lost in the Pentagon, write papers analyzing issues, and summarize papers. Although mine doesn't sound near as cool as Ryan's, I do get to rub shoulders with some pretty high up generals in the hallways and I'm determined to meet Gates (Robert, not Bill).

It's a super fun place and we're in an amazing location - downtown Georgetown. We're able to get pretty much everywhere via the metro and foot. However, sometimes that walking stuff leaves our dogs pretty tired --luckily I just bought a reflexology book so we'll have everything working in top condition asap. This way we can keep posting pictures of the great places we go. Here's a few that we have so far...

The first is of us in front of the White House. Then the Hope diamond which we saw in the Smithsonian (which as incredible). Followed by my brand new shirt (which is sold everywhere here). Our new friend Abe and Ryan in front of the IMF. Stay tuned...