Sunday, March 11, 2018

Out and About

Spring is on the horizon here and we can see signs on it poking through the ground and budding on the trees. I'm definitely ready to thaw out and see the blooms burst.

This last week we visited storytime at the Hirshhorn for the first time and it was AMAZING! The leaders were patient, encouraging, and so attentive to the 20 or so kids in attendance. They easily integrated appropriate works (it is a modern art museum after all) into book choices for the kids along with several applied crafts after reading. And then they supplied a parent handout to further incorporate ideas from the lesson of the day for exploration and discussion at home. We will definitely return and I highly recommend to any visitors with kids.

I felt like a woman liberated a few days later when Scott and I escaped for a night of bar hopping (yes, more than one location-wild woman here) downtown. We enjoyed drinks and charcuterie at the W Hotel's rooftop POV Terrace, with views of the monument, Treasury Building, and White House. Then we hopped over to Off the Record inside the Hay-Adams, a must-visit (at least, so I've been told by neighbor locals) where we shared a table with a few lobbyists and overheard some very interesting name-dropping. Drinks and the company were perfect, and really, just a nice time to be out and about in DC with a buzz of energy and activity while our babes were watched by our angel neighbor and friend back home.
This weekend we also finally made our way down to the District's Wharf, which is in the southwest quadrant. It's a newly developed area with a beautiful pier, trendy restaurants, hotels, and boutique shops. I can see how it will be mighty popular come the warmer months. We went for an early St. Patrick's Day fest and enjoyed the authentic music, pierside swings, and Ben and Jerry's ice cream, as one does when it's 45 degrees outside.

Sunday, we continued the St. Patty's celebration while watching the National St. Patrick's Day Parade down Constitution Ave. It had it's fair share of celebratory bagpipes, public safety officers, and dancing, but in my heart of hearts, nothing will ever top the Fullerton Founders Day Parade of 2015 :)
After the parade we checked an item off that's been on Henry and my own bucket list for a while-the Old Post Office Tower. From the 270-foot observation deck you can see most all of DC's landmarks-the Washington Monument, White House, Capitol, Pentagon Smithsonians, Supreme Court, and Lincoln Memorial. We even could see the intersection of part of the parade route. For those who may visit, it's an easy 10 minute venture and directly across the street from the Federal Triangle Metro stop.
Twas a great weekend to get outside, see new sights, and enjoy the city.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Resident Tourist: Newseum

While I frequent museums with the kids each week, I rarely have an opportunity to read anything beyond the headlines in the exhibits. It's been on my personal bucket list for a while to get to a few museums solo before our time here comes to an end, and high on that list was the Newseum.

A non-Smithsonian venture, the Newseum celebrates all that has to do with the first Amendment-freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and petition. I had intended to be gone a few hours on Sunday and be able to see the National Archives as well, but instead, spent over three hours moving at my own pace through the six levels of this amazing museum.

With my communications background, I found much of the content fascinating. Some highlights: the front of the museum has a front page from every state represented, as well as most major countries inside. I choked up no less than five times in the Pulitzer Prize photographs gallery. Many images were quite iconic but others I had never seen and/or known the backstory and was moved to tears learning more about the stories and context of the images. And, I was impressed to see an image from the Orange County Register among the collection.

The Newseum also has a fully-functional television studio that has hosted President Obama and regularly featured ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, among other broadcast notables. Pretty cool to stand inside those walls. And, on the lighter side, they also have an interactive exhibit where you can pretend to be a newscaster. Of course I did that, too.

Other exhibits took a look at the Civil Rights movement the past fifty years, and how student protests have continued to be main forms of free speech. 

Exhibits also focused on the accessibility of news. Standing on either side of the Berlin wall and looking at maps as to how much freedom of the press actually existed in Berlin at that time and now, globally, was sobering. 
The museum had an amazing 9/11 gallery reflecting a timeline of events that day, journalists' stories and videos of capturing the events as they happened, and an antenna that used to reside atop World Trade Center. Their discretely placed tissue boxes were much appreciated.
Other highlights of the visit included an entire gallery dedicated to front page stories spanning three centuries. Headlines included Napoleon returning to France to the Titanic's sinking and both royal weddings of the last 30 years. It was fascinating to read (those in modern English anyway), along with exhibits on war reporting, women in news, and how the FBI is fighting modern terrorism in a pre and post 9/11 world. There's also an amazing panoramic exhibit on the top floor, flanking Pennsylvania Ave, with picture perfect views and a detailed timeline of the headlines that made it "America's Main Street."

Being non-Smithsonian the cost is around $25 for adults, but the first weekend of the month is free for Bank of America customers (credit cards, bank cards, even my Alaska Airline's credit card applied!) but it's definitely worth the money. And Wolfgang Puck's restaurant is next door and also the supplier of the cafeteria, where I had lunch. Win win!

Monday, March 5, 2018


Well, February came and went with nary a post...oops! The kids and I were having too much fun surprising family and friends with a trip to California!

And by surprising, I do mean in Darth Vader masks of course.

There were plenty of dart gun fights...

Playing the back of Grandpa's truck, wagon rides, games of smash ball, and wine...lots of wine...

We made a trip to the beach and pier...

And also just hung out at home. Some of us were repeat visitors to the cracker drawer.

We visited the Great Park (which I hadn't even done as a resident) and rode in the balloon. Henry has developed my love for photos in goofy signs and requested the one below in the earthworm (maybe?) cutout...

We met up with missed friends!

And had plenty of playtime on the pirate raft, swing set, and bikes.

My in-laws even treated me to a fabulous cooking class at PREP Kitchen Essentials (highly recommend to OC locals!) and while it's never enough, we spent time with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

We even made it to Irvine Park for some railroad fun...

Not pictured-a surprise baby shower appearance, a rare dinner date with my best friend, visits to our house, playdates, a few lunches with friends... and then coming home to our favorite guy. It really was a perfect February <3 p="">

Friday, January 26, 2018


As January inches closer to February, I want to be sure to recap our activities before either I forget or iPhone shouts at me to add more storage.

We had another overnight dusting of snow mid-month and it really doesn't take much white stuff to excite these two.

We've also revisited the Natural History Museum since Jo has been able to walk, which is an entirely new experience. We went through the butterfly garden and she had to be stopped from grabbing/slapping/stepping on all of them-generally frowned upon behavior. Henry is still an eager participant in all tarantula feedings.

We made our way across the John Phillip Sousa bridge to check out the Anacostia Park Playground after the snow melted. Henry loves a good river to throw sticks into and playground with fireman's pole, so win win for him.

Most of my adventuring ideas come from the blog KidFriendlyDC, and the author suggested a visit to River Farm. The temperatures were right and so we made our way to Alexandria, quite close to Mount Vernon, to check out the farm. It wasn't a barnyard animal type farm but more expansive gardens and lawns. It's also the headquarters for the American Horticulture Society. 

They have an awesome children's area with pirate ship, forts, playhouses, and general romping and exploring area. And another river (Potomac this time) for Henry to throw sticks into.

I of course attended the Women's March again this year and was blown away by the participation. It wasn't as large as last year (guessing because DC was not the headquarters), but that being said, I was also able to make my way up to the Lincoln Memorial and look out across the expanse of men, women, and children and frozen reflecting pool. It was a pretty amazing feeling to hear the empowering speeches from men and women, and watch from the steps that carry so much history.

We also made another visit this week to the National Building Museum. If anyone ever reads this and comes to DC with kids, I highly recommend. It's not a Smithsonian so there is an admission fee, but it's a great hands-on museum for kids, has interesting exhibits for adults, and a beautiful atrium for running around. Like the Natural History, it was the first time we've been back since Josephine could walk so it was great to see her able to enjoy it as well.

We've also had some mellow days at and around the house-perfecting our BMX-riding prep, storytime at our favorite book store, and pre-bedtime silliness :)

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Darn Good Birthday

As of Thursday, January 11, the last three weeks of DC temperatures have been at or below freezing. SO DARN COLD! We've all had the most awful colds, flu, stomach viruses--on repeat no less--and forced indoors for the temperatures. Yet, it was like the all mighty Mother Nature knew we needed some slack and the temps rose into the low 60s on Thursday and nearly 70 yesterday, just in time for my birthday. Temperatures have dropped dramatically back into the 30s today with snow flurries, so I find it quite interesting that both this year and last, January 12 has been a random winter day we've been able to enjoy-and that we did yesterday.

Scott took the day off so we could have an entire family day together. Birthdays are a big deal for me-I realize not everyone feels the same way, and as such, I've taken matters into my own hands and plan my own so that expectations are managed. Really it's a day that I want to take full advantage of-from morning to night-and not be idle.

We started out our day at Pinstripes Bowling in Georgetown. I had taken the kids previously but it was the first time we had bowled as a family and what great fun it was. We had the entire alley to ourselves and the kids enjoyed waffles and the adults, beer.

After bowling we walked down to the Georgetown waterfront which has been on my bucket list for a while. We were treated to a really cool phenomenon-the temperatures rose so suddenly from the previous three weeks that the Potomac was still frozen, but a combination of steam was coming off and fog from above made for an eerie sight. We watched the seagulls skid to landings on the slightly thawing river and simply enjoyed being outside. Rain was scheduled for the entire day, but (again, thanks Mother Nature!) it rained only overnight and the forecast moved the showers to evening. On our drive home, we even got to see Julia Child's DC home.

After our Georgetown jaunt, 3/4 of us headed home for naps. I took advantage of the opportunity for some solo time and jogged to the Capitol during a beautiful break in the clouds. I made some phone calls and even caught my mailman during his delivery to inquire and receive a much anticipated package from my parents (thanks mom and dad!), and to discover it was his birthday too. (We have the WORST mail service out here. Another post for another day, but basically there are a handful of awesome USPS workers out here and if our particular mailman, Adrian, is not delivering mail but supervising at the facility, we may not see certain packages for days...or ever.) So, it was great to be able to wish him a happy day too.

After returning, the kids and I were also treated to a genuine bike messenger flower delivery-super cool points on that one!

That night, we headed back to northwest and took in a performance at the Kennedy Center, as Scott hasn't been yet. The Millenium Stage has free performances every single night of the year with varying entertainment, so you're always guaranteed something cool and interesting. We were treated to a Congolese soul and funk band and all got to dance. We capped off the night with burgers, beer, and grilled cheese nearby and then brownies at home. Combined with thoughtful messages and calls from friends and family, it was probably one of my best birthdays in a few years. Also, Henry's enthusiasm for my "day long party" was pretty contagious :)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Wrapping Up December

Christmas feels like it might as well have been months ago (could have something to do with the fact that I strip everything down on the 26th) but we did quite a bit of merrymaking leading up to the beloved holiday.

Henry was really into the Christmas season this year, from the music, to the decorating, lights, stories-it was really magical to experience the holiday through his four-year-old eyes.

We had our first snow right before Christmas and it was a joyful experience for both kids. Henry made two snowmen, had a snowball fight, and made a snow angel. Snow boxes check, check, and check.

Josephine loved the stuff icey stuff as well :)

"Henry and Dad Snowmen"

Henry was quite happy with Santa's deliveries of his requested toy soldier and bike bell. Josephine, the resident goat, was stoked to have new paper to chew on.
We had a second snow overnight a few days ago which made for more snow play fun despite the 20 degree temperatures (though note, the "feels like" temp is hovering below 10. It's COLD.)

I braved the cold to take Henry to a "noon" year's eve for kids at Yards Park and we were both number in the fingers and toes and ready for the gosh darn balloon drop to take place. We bolted for lunch and enjoyed some Mexican fare and bloody mary's for an unexpected New Year's Eve day date.

And in the blink of an eye another year has gone by! 2017 was a pretty amazing year for our family with so many adventures, new friends, holidays shared, and memories made. We definitely ended our year on a high note. Cheers to 2018!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Hello, December

I have already mentioned how this late fall and winter is an entirely different experience than last year, when I was carrying around a newborn...and that's assuming we left the house for more than a grocery trip. While it's still pretty darn cold (and we have our first snowfall forecasted for tomorrow) I'm not as worried about the kids warmth while outside this year, and as such, much more agreeable to outings that might require a longer walk.

Last year, we attempted to visit the Botanical Gardens' holiday train exhibit, but the lines were cah-razy. So, this year, we had our act together and went on December 1 and were able to take it all in without any crowds. 2017's theme is "Roadside Attractions" and each state has a plant-matter model of a roadside attraction represented (California's? The Santa Monica Pier...a little bummed it wasn't Baker's giant thermometer.) Both kids loved the attractions and especially the trains.

Also on our bucket list this holiday season was ice skating, and what better place to do it than in the Sculpture Garden, surrounded by all the Smithsonian Museums?! I haven't been in YEARS and had a moment of anxiety in how I'd be able to handle it and Henry at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was like riding a bike, and Henry LOVED it. He kept declaring it awesome and was eager to spot Scott and Jo as we made each (sloooow) lap. He is already talking about going again with his dad.

This morning, we made our way to the Library of Congress for a special story time with Paddington Bear, in the flesh fur, which both kids enjoyed. Might have been the promise of cookies, hot chocolate, and marmalade sandwiches that were available after, too.

And of course, no holiday season is complete without a picture of a crying baby in Santa's lap.