Thursday, August 17, 2017

Haseltons Go West

This past week, the kids and I headed west, without our beloved Dad/Scott who couldn't get away from work, to spend some quality time with family and a few friends.

I was TERRIFIED (as in middle of the night wakings and anxiety) of flying solo (literally and figuratively) with these kids. The last time we visitedm Josephine was a darling little blob, and now she's crawling fast, pulling up, and cruising on furniture. I knew Henry would be fine on the flight because, well, screen time. He's engrossed in any movies or shows available. When I booked the flight, the ticketing agent booked us for aisle and window seats and indicated a lap infant would be there, potentially allowing for a person to be turned off by purchasing the middle seat. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I checked and watched as both seats were purchased and womaned up on how this was only going to be 10.5 hours of my entire life and we would be fine.

And, spoiler alert, we were. We lucked out on the flight over with the NICEST woman who offered to hold Josephine so I could make bathroom trips with her brother and just because she wanted to hold a baby. It was awesome. Both kids were remarkably great, and despite maybe two uncomfortable cries out of Jo and some descent pressure problems with Henry, we made it one pieces without any meltdowns or major issues on the flight.

I felt more confident with our leg home having the first under our belt and because you shave off about 30 minutes heading east (thank you jet stream). When the captain announced everyone was on board and the middle seat was empty (thank you, ticketing agent!) my spirits lifted even more. We might as well been flying first class with that space, and when the food and beverage cart came by I even indulged in a prosecco split since I could keep it out of Jo's reach. The cherry on top was when the flight attendant told me it was on him. Um, thanks Alaska Airlines, you are AWESOME! Seriously, it's the little things in life.

Our time with family and friends in California was really special. I wish we could have stayed longer, seen more people of course, but we certainly crammed in quality over quantity. Henry especially soaked up the time with his Grandmas and Grandpas, complete with chocolate donuts, dart guns, and an early birthday cake celebration, while Josephine enjoyed the lavished attention, hugs, throws, and swings herself.
I had the pleasure of making gumbo for the first time with my father-in-law which was a real treat, when an authentic Creole gentleman at the party it was made for dubbed it an authentic dish. (Mic drop, Haseltons out.)
Henry really loves a good game of smash ball (and by game, I mean a three-return-rally) and particularly loves playing with my Dad.

We were even lucky enough to have time with our amazing Fullerton friends, and despite the time apart, the kids were thick as thieves and played so well together.
Obviously a beach day was necessary and the Cratons are partial to Corona del Mar. Henry dug for sand crabs, Josephine played and ate the sand, and Henry asked to be buried in it. We even brought some home to do a volcano project on the patio. Short of making concrete, I think we did everything one could with sand.
I even was treated to time with my best friend forever and her two darling girls for lunch, cookies, and carousel rides at South Coast Plaza.
Before the sun set on the trip, I reunited with my former coworkers from my first job, where the number of kids has overtaken the number of employees!
Until next time, California, we love you!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Weekend Recap

This weekend was beautiful-temps in the low 80s, reasonable levels of humidity-the kind of day you want to be outdoors at all hours to soak it up.

Accordingly, we made our way down to the Tidal Basin so that Henry and I could finally enjoy a spin on the pedal boats. Sadly, our dreams were crushed because the weather was too windy to allow anyone on the water. Womp womp. We moved into plan b action, which was a narwhal exhibit at the Natural History Museum (yes, you read that correctly!) however upon arriving, the lines, lines, lines! (Yes, I have some Eric Cartman in me. Also, you bet your bottom dollar we will attempt that again during the week.) So, onto plan c-we wandered into the National Gallery of Art's Sculpture Pavillion and enjoyed the large pieces of modern art and fountains. We hadn't been before and it was a great way to spend some time outside.

Josephine had fallen asleep by the time we reached the garden and fountains, so enjoy her 9 month photo!

Sunday dawned another beautiful day and I was hell bent on getting onto those pedal boats on this glorious weekend, so Henry and I bid adieu to Scott and Josephine, and went for round two on a pretty windless morning. I know how much he values the one-on-one time and he really couldn't contain his excitement about the boats, especially on the heels of yesterday's disappointment. He kept saying, "I'm so excited Mom! It's a beautiful day for pedal boating!" (Most of his days begin "It's a beautiful day for {riding bikes, playing baseball, visiting the Air and Space Museum...}  It's pretty cute.)
I was prepared to do most if not all the work, but Henry actually did a fair amount of pedaling, though it required some inventive poses so he could reach the wheels. Then he'd alternate steering because at 44" you just can't do it all ;)

We pedaled throughout the center of the Tidal Basin, which was enough for me because my thighs were burning just getting out of the pedal boat parking lot. I had hopes of going over towards the MLK Memorial but seeing the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument turned out to be just fine. We saw three Marine helicopters fly over and numerous planes taking off from Reagan International. It was a little boy's delight.

We've walked the Tidal Basin a handful of times but this was really a memorable way to take in the views and sights on a pretty perfect day with a boy who deserved some focused time. I'm so glad I get to be his mom.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The OTHER Air and Space Museum

So, for anyone like myself who didn't already know this-there are TWO National Air and Space Museums, which we discovered shortly after moving here. The first is of course on the National Mall, and Henry's favorite of those on "Smithsonian Row." The second is located near the Dulles Airport, about a 45 minute drive, and houses some incredible aircrafts--most notably the Discovery space shuttle, an SR-71 Blackbird, and even Enola Gay (and probably others that my dad would drool over.)

The Museum is huge, as they all are, but this one really felt like an aircraft hanger, and because of the location, there were some school groups and families but the space combined with location made it feel like we had the run of the place.

Both kids enjoyed the flight simulator of landing the space shuttle and Henry particularly loved climbing around in and controlling a Cessna.

Personally, the space shuttle was the most humbling to see. To see something that close that has left our planet and returned was, well, out of this world.

They have a really cool observation deck that let's you watch planes take off and land from Dulles and allegedly, also listen to the Air Control Tower. I guess it was lunch time as we saw zero planes and heard zero chatter, which would have been neat, but c'est la vie.

I'd definitely recommend this Air and Space Museum in addition to the one in DC to anyone who may be visiting and has even a remote interest in space or flight-it does not disappoint!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wine Tasting!

This weekend we realized it's been over a year since we've been wine tasting and while doing so with children is far less fun than just with adults, we had a great time exploring (and enjoying a lovely east coast pinot noir) the property and vintages at Rocklands Farm in Poolesville, Maryland.

If we had a reason to, I'd love to have an event here-the barn is darling with hanging bulbs and is full of that rustic charm.
There was ample picnicking space outside on both benches and blankets. We bought a bottle, some amazing goat cheese, salami, and crackers, and had ourselves a delightful lunch while Henry climbed on rocks (took a header) and drove around a John Deere tractor.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

A Life Aquatic

Yesterday, Scott took a very rare day off and we migrated north to the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Our standards were pretty high coming from the home of the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and frankly, this one held it's own. It was laid out really well for navigating and so as not to miss any exhibits. On the higher levels, it even included large picture windows facing the harbor for a panoramic shot of downtown Baltimore. Visiting an east coast aquarium, it was interesting to see species native to Atlantic reefs and tide pools and of course, those from international and domestic waters (and obviously, like everything on this trip, I can judge compare against home ;)

Highlights included touching moon jellies, Josephine's over-the-moon reaction in general to jelly fish, and Henry's frog sightings being complete. The shark exhibit was really cool, as were the puffins and several crocodiles.

We walked a bit around Baltimore's inner harbor and were able to take in the USS Constellation before heading home through a pretty big thunderstorm with two sleeping babes in the back.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Discovering Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Another day, another National Park, right in our own backyard-the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. The wetlands is home to a large wildlife population and is most well known for their preservation of waterlilies and waterlilies and lotuses bigger than your head!

We went today with a friend who has lived in DC for a number of years and hadn't been here yet and we both kept experiencing slack jaw from this amazing piece of land that is within the DC city (district?) limits. It was simply beautiful. Granted we came right after the formal Water Lily and Lotus Festival so the flowers were just showing off, but I can imagine it's just as stunning during other parts of the year.

I made Henry a scavenger hunt of wildlife to find during our trip and while we sadly never did find a coveted frog (can be tough when you are yelling "I don't see any frogs, MOOOOOM!"), we did spot plenty of turtles, tadpoles, egrets, butterflies, dragonflies, honey bees, geese, and ducks. Oh, and I saw a frog before the bull in a wildlife preserve came bounding down the path ;)

I had no idea water lilies could grow this tall!
Josephine was not feeling the photos today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jazz in the Woods

When we made our recon trip out here last September, during our drive to and from the Dulles airport, I remember seeing signs for Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, and honestly thought it was a wolf preserve-and I blame the overwhelming feeling of a huge move across the country and being eight months pregnant for those thoughts. Fast forward nine months and I've come to learn it's a beautiful National Park that features A-list performances for children and adults. And, wouldn't you know that my former classmate is a super talented children's singer and musician who is touring out here played there today. Obviously, I bought tickets for the occasion and we met up with some friends to enjoy the morning show.

And Wolf Trap? Wow, talk about an amazing venue. The children's theatre is literally called Theatre in the Woods because, well it is, and you get to pass a rippling stream, green hills, and a canopy forest to get there. I'd love to sneak away for an adult performance while we are here if we can-it's much like the Hollywood Bowl in that you can picnic with food and adult beverages. Cheers to that!

Any parents reading this, check out Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards. I do love me some Moana on repeat but Ash and her band sing old favorites spun with New Orleans jazz flair and new tunes as well. She's awesome with the kids and frankly, way cuter and more entertaining than Freddy Spaghetti or Raffy ;)