First Communion

May 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Crome Photography Last Sunday, we were invited to join our friend's daughter's Holy Communion mass. It was a nice ceremony with 19 children participating in the third of the seven Catholic sacraments. Mass was especially nice, since the edges of the aisles were decorated with the names of the children that were celebrating their First Communion. Also, to watch the young girls and boys walk down towards the altar was incredibly sentimental.  Also, our friend's daughter was wearing her mother's own First Communion gown. Too bad the boys were limited to white dress shirts and ties! The girls are so much lovelier in their pretty dresses and veils.

Congratulations to the children who received their first holy communion on Sunday!


Neighborhood cuties

October 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Crome Photography I had the pleasure of grabbing a few shots of the wonderful children that Rome has made friends with this year at his bus stop. They're so precocious, amazing, and naturally photogenic, you can't help but have fun with all of them. Children are so spontaneous and mercurial in their moods that, as a photographer, it can be challenging to get that "perfect" shot. If you're a perfectionist, just forget it---kids won't always be as accommodating as their adult counterparts. When I look at other photography sites with family and children galleries, I'm usually half-amazed that they can get the money shot. The other part of me wonders what type of sorcery they used to convince the children to give them a decent smile. As a parent, I know that it's not easy to coax your child into giving you a shot that you'd be proud to show off to your friends and family. So, how do I deal with it? Just let the kids have fun and be themselves. You'll get some of the most unexpected and fantastic pictures that's guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Oh, and you can use some of the funny ones at their wedding reception as they get older. Crome Photography

This week, I had a blast with my friends, Jackie & Amy, who were absolutely awesome for allowing me some camera time with their children. They were all just a joy to work with, and I know I'd love to grab some shots of them again. Also, I'm glad the weather held up this afternoon and the other day---it's hard to get pictures in the rain! 


Memorial Day Weekend 2013

May 25, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Now that Rome's getting older, my husband and I decided to teach him why we celebrate different holidays throughout the year. Because we're celebrating Memorial Day this weekend, we took a short trip to Arlington National Cemetery to pay our respects to the graves of many of our nation's heroes who find their final resting place at the sanctuary. From our place, the drive is about half an hour and we took the scenic route by driving down George Washington Parkway so we can see the view of the Potomac River on the way there. Parking at the cemetery is pretty much non-existent, like all places around D.C., so we headed the back way through Fort Meyer Army base to park at the installation. What's nice about that perk is that there's tons of parking and it's adjacent to the cemetery. Also, it's not too far from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but some distance from the Visitor's Center. So, in case you want to find a specific grave, you can look online at their website to find the location, instead of walking all the way to the center to wait in line behind others who are doing the same. 

On our first visit to Arlington, we didn't walk all the way to President John F. Kennedy's grave, so I told Rome and my husband that we'd make the trek today, despite the crowds and cooler-than-average weather. The crowds weren't too bad, but it was nearly impossible to see the changing of the guards ceremony and there was a large biker gathering at one of the sections. President Kennedy's grave sits atop a grassy hill overlooking a lovely site of Washington D.C. with the Washington monument clearly visible in the backdrop. His brothers, Ted and Robert, are buried nearby, but we didn't have time to look for their graves. Rome had asked who was "sleeping under the tombstone with the fire," and I told him that one of our nation's most beloved presidents lies there with his wife and 2 infant children who died young (one was a stillbirth). Rome concluded that he was very important and we told him that he was and he would learn more about him later. 

President Kennedy's grave is surprisingly very simple, as well as the Eternal Flame that sits atop of the grave markers. However, its simplicity and design fits well with the grave's architecture. On the other side of the grave, a curved marble (or granite) stone surrounds it with a portion of Kennedy's speech during his inauguration in 1961. From where we parked, President Kennedy's grave site is a little bit of a walk and curves uphill, but it's not that bad of a hike if you've got proper walking shoes. 

Because it's Memorial Day weekend, the thousands of graves are decorated with small American flags that were placed by The Old Guard, which is the special Army unit in charge of the ceremonies and maintenance of the graves. Each year, about 1,300 soldiers from the unit walk among the 360,000 tombstones placing flags into the ground using their boots as measurement (30 cm from the headstone). When you consider the sheer size of the cemetery, I can understand why the commanding officer uses that many soldiers to place the flags during the Memorial Day weekend. The soldiers place a flag on the grave and salute it, giving them proper honors. One of my husband's former soldiers is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and we were able to pay a visit to his grave and pay our respects. 

So even though Memorial Day weekend is a weekend for a family getaway, BBQs, picnics, trips to the beach, parades, and an extra day off work (in some cases, 2), it's also a good time to reflect on why we have a national day of remembrance to celebrate. As a military family, we've had friends and known people who have passed away from conflicts in war, so this weekend is a poignant reminder that we shouldn't always take our freedom and liberty for granted. It's also a great weekend to show Rome where some of our heroes lie and how to pay our respect to them. 

 


Sakuri Matsuri Festival 2013

April 15, 2013  •  2 Comments

Last Saturday was the Sakura Matsuri Festival (Cherry Blossom Festival) in Washington D.C., so we decided to check out the largest Japanese festival in the U.S. I'm down for anything Japanese, but really, I was there for the food. Oh, the glorious food. Fortunately, my husband heard from the radio that this would be a large turnout and it was recommended to leave early, so we hit up the metro around 9am and found that it was already packed with locals and tourists alike. Our stop was at the Federal Triangle metro, which was perfect for travelgoers to the area; they were having the Sakura Matsuri Festival as well as the National Cherry Blossom parade to celebrate the end of the festivities. Most people, it seemed, were there for the parade rather than the Japanese festival. 

As with any other festival, a big part of the draw is the food. Sakura Matsuri had over 25 food vendors and had everything for even the pickiest of eaters. I found an awesome takoyaki stand and feasted on food I hadn't had since I was a kid. My husband loved the steamed pork buns, onigiri (rice balls), and the grilled yakitori, but if you weren't willing to sample any Japanese flavors, they did have a few American stands with funnel cakes and hot dogs. Honestly though, why eat that at a Japanese festival? 

Another wonderful aspect of festivals are the performances from local and visiting groups from Japan, since it gives everyone an insight to the unique and beautiful culture of the country. Nen Daiko, a local group from Fairfax, Viriginia gave a spectacular drum performance that had my kid asking for a drum set right after. The other crowd favorite was a large traditional drumming group from the University of Tokyo. We watched their performance, but I didn't get any shots, since it was really crowded and I had my hands full with...food (namely, grilled octopus legs). 

If you're into shopping for cute things or handmade Japanese crafts, there's a handful of stands for the "kawaii" (cute) lover in you. I'm not particularly interested in the larger dolls, but I did grab a handful of small vinyl figures for my brother and myself, plus Rome managed to bamboozle us into buying him a plushie. There were tons of anime-related plushies from popular characters like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z. My kryptonite comes in the form of Japanese stationery and they had an actual "kawaii" stand selling nothing but stationery! Talk about a shopper's delight for me; I was able to grab sets from Kamio, Q-Lia, San-X, and, of course, Sanrio. That was my particular highlight. 

Sakura Matsuri also featured performances from J-Pop artists from Japan, and crowds gathered to watch Magverry perform on the stage. I'm not really into J-Pop, but it was pretty cool to listen to Japanese rock music while I mingled around the various stands. I missed the cosplay anime fashion show, which was supposed to take place later that afternoon, but I saw enough young people dressed as their favorite anime character or carefully wrapped in beautiful Japanese kimonos. Popular cosplayers were dressed as various Naruto characters and I did see a handful of Lolita-goth costumes that I imagine would be popular in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

 

This year's Sakura Matsuri festival was a huge success and we're definitely going back next year. If you do plan to go, the cost is $5 per person while children 12 and under are free. Because they shut down Pennsylvania Ave. between the White House and the FBI Headquarters, it's advised to take the Metro or another form of public transportation rather than drive. I wouldn't recommend driving through D.C. during large festivities, because roads are often blocked off and parking is next to non-existent. Also, make sure you bring a fat wallet and an empty stomach---you're going to need both if you plan on doing any shopping or feasting on the excellent food. 

 

See you at next year's festival!

 


Spring is here

April 12, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

After a few brief months of cold weather, Spring has finally arrived in the Northern Virginia area! My favorite blossoms are out---the cherry blossoms. Although, I didn't make it to the peak blossoming of the Japanese cherry trees down at the Tidal Basin in D.C., I promised myself that I'd go next year with Rome. This year, they reached their peak April 9 and it was uncommonly hot that day (in the lower 90's), so I skipped out and figured they'd have other blossoms in our immediate area.

 

Fortunately, they did, and I was able to grab a few shots of the pink (and varying colors) of the blooms at the nearby Mount Vernon Estate the other day. Because I grew up in Japan, seeing these blossoms strikes a chord in my heart and it reminds me of my childhood. Not to sound mushy or anything, but I really, really, really adore cherry blossoms.

 

The best time to visit the cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin area of Washington D.C. varies each year, due to the weather, so it's best to check the http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/ website in order to determine when you should visit. I know thousands of locals and tourists alike descend in the area to see the blooms, but another alternative would be to see the blossoms at other sites, such as the Botanical Garden or those around the Washington Monument. Also, take advantage of other festivals and activities that are offered around the same time. There's just loads to do when the blossoms come out.

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