Monday, May 21, 2018

A Royally Good Week

Like many Americans, I caught the royal fever this week (who am I kidding-I've always had it), and as such, found a fun pop up bar and had a jolly good time, despite standing in line for 40 minutes to get in. I didn't do that in college, so I figure, in some ways it was a rite of passage. We enjoyed drinks such as the Markle Sparkle, American Princess, and Kensington Garden Party. Of course we couldn't leave without paying our respects to the bride and groom and ladies of Windsor.

The kids and I also visited an old favorite that we haven't been to in months-the American History Museum. We are big Sesame Street and Mister Rogers Neighborhood fans in this house, so this mini exhibit was of particular interest, maybe to me even more than the kids. Henry just about died seeing the Batmobile.
Last week was entirely rainy and full of thunderstorms which on one level I love, because thunderstorms are still a novelty to me living here, but it does make it hard to get outside. When the storms finally subsided, we went puddle jumping along the Mall.
This last weekend was a big weekend of firsts-Henry lost his first tooth, played his first game of pin the tail on the donkey (which was hilarious to watch), and went to his first MLB game-the Dodgers at the Nationals. It was such a fun and memorable experience to do that with just him, while Josephine hung back with neighbors. We even ran into one of his t-ball teammates at the gate. He desperately waited to catch a fly ball, yelled in support of the Dodgers, enjoyed popcorn and ice cream, and probably most of all, the Jumbo Tron.

While our weekend was really special, I do feel compelled to say that it was still sober in the aftermath of the Texas school shooting. It's hard for me to fully embrace happy occasions following such tragedy. Enough is enough. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

May Days

DC is alive with color as spring has sprung and azaleas are blooming at the Arboretum, and the peonies in people's yards.

We had a delightful picnic at the Arboretum last week and were even able to catch a frog chorus in one of the ponds. A highlight for any four-year-old!

We also made a trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to see if their water lillies and lotuses were in bloom yet, but alas, we have to wait a few more weeks. (A flower blooms after so many months of winter and you hit the ground running!)

Henry has started swimming lessons and we've made a few return visits to old favorites as of late-the Post Office Museum and Hirshhorn storytime.

This past weekend, the European Union hosted it's annual open house with it's embassies and I was really excited to take Henry on a day date to this part of DC. I had visions of visiting a few with Henry but it was so crowded, we waited an hour just to get into Ireland, that we headed to a pub after for lunch and enjoyed Dupont Circle on the beautiful day. Was really cool to walk past all of the different countries buildings and see the celebrations happening, if we weren't able to get inside them all.

We heard rumors from passerby that Belgium was serving beer and chocolate-we were not disappointed by the cheese and crackers!

For Mother's Day, I was treated to a wonderful breakfast and dinner, and a few new adventures in between. We went for a drive and stopped at the Albert Einstein Memorial, which was a first, and checked out a local beer garden that's been on our list for a while.

Twas a winner of a weekend!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

T-ball Life

We are officially a t-ball family and one person in particular is setting out his uniform at 9 am on game days.
As anyone who has ever watched t-ball knows, it's basically like wrangling cats. But, his coach is awesome and the kids have made great strides at each practice and game. I also have a newfound respect for the little brothers and sisters of the world that have little to know interest in watching the game, and so time is divided watching the cats on the field be herded, as well as the younger siblings who want to be on the field too.

One of our favorite places, the US Botanic Garden's Children's Garden, has finally reopened for the season and we've made it a mission to go enjoy the planting, digging, watering, and picturesque views before the summer visitors descend upon the city.

We also recently checked out a great little participatory farm, Oxon Hill Farm, where visitors can milk cows, feed chickens, go on tractor rides, and romp around among the beautiful grounds...all only a 15 minutes drive. The kiddos especially loved the chickens and rather friendly roosters.
With the t-ball games at different parks, we've been able to check out new, undiscovered playgrounds and have found some winners (and well, losers...the Parks and Rec Commissioner has never left me) and the kids have enjoyed discovering the new stomping grounds

Monday, April 16, 2018

April's Adventures

It's already mid-April, and we've seen some signs of spring while out exploring new haunts and returning to some old favorites.

Henry had some one-on-one time with both Scott and I last weekend. Saturday I took him to Room and Board for one of their in-store events, celebrating Japanese culture and the Cherry Blossom Festival. We ate candy sushi, enjoyed storytime, bounced and climbed on bunk beds, and had an anime caricature done. After, we enjoyed "monster" pizzas together at &Pizza, which might have been his favorite part, after the bunk bed bouncing.

This last week I headed solo to Fairfax, Virginia, to meet one of my culinary inspirations, Giada DeLaurentis, at her book signing. She was about 40 minutes late and drove by the EPIC line with some embarrassment. In her defense, there was a ton of traffic considering the signing was on a weekday from 5-7pm. I waited two hours in line with lots of friendly people, and finally made it up, blubbered thanks for her recipes that I used for Easter, and it was over in a flash. As most brushes with celebrities are!

During a two-day trend of warm weather days (40s on Monday, 80s on Friday and Saturday!) I took the kids to Claude Moore Farm, a living history farm and US National Park. Henry wasn't particularly thrilled at this idea of a morning out, but quickly changed his mind when told that picking up sticks for the fires was extremely helpful. I was also not sure what to expect out of the re-enactment actors (?) but it turns out, they were very friendly with varying levels of sticking to the script, which I found comical.
One of the people we met was a tobacco farmer and the others, a mother/daughter duo, "Faith" and "Silence" who were tending to their home's 1,000 chores for the spring day. They encourage help and participation from modern-day civilians like hauling wood, finding their stored potatoes, sweeping, and pulling weeds. Henry is at that awesome age where he enjoys these activities with gusto, and had a field day. The mother and daughter did a great job talking to him about their historical lives and questioning his 21st century way of life. I think he's just beginning to understand the historical timeline, so it was pretty funny to watch.
On our way home I made a spontaneous turn for a picnic lunch along the George Washington Memorial Parkway, one of my favorite drives, as it parallels the Potomac on the Virginia side, so you get a great view of DC. The daffodils are in full bloom everywhere, and this particular patch, near Dolly Madison park and a boat harbor, offered a great spot to enjoy the kids' lunch of peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
Henry has started his first season of t-ball and it's probably his most favorite thing next to Star Wars. He is confident and proud of every catch and hit and like most parents would say, it's a total joy to watch him on the field. Their first game is this week and I'm sure hilarity will ensue.
After two wonderful days of spring, winter descended again and I gave it the finger and took Henry out to the Anacostia River Festival while Scott stayed home with a sick Josephine. I think the cold, wet, and windy weather kept quite a few people home that day, so we had most all activities to ourselves. However, Henry's favorite was easily fishing. He comes from a long line of fisherman (hah, see what I did there?) on both sides of the family and I can assure them all, his cast is pretty darn good. We didn't catch anything, but he stood sentinel with frozen fingers and purple lips by the time we were done!

The season is shaping up to be pretty great.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Playing Catch Up

Time flies when you're having fun! In the last month, we've had new adventures, visited some old favorites and had some west coast visitors :)

Thanks to my favorite source for ideas around the city, we made our way to the American Indian Museum which has a really great kid space (ImagiNATIONS) that Henry has talked about weekly ever since. They built igloos, rode in kayaks, and played in traditional houses of indigenous people.

We also met friends at the Children's Science Center in Fairfax, VA, where Henry loved learning about coding for robots (much to Scott's delight), powering solar fans, creating tornados, and making slime. Both kids also got a spontaneous high five from the Easter Bunny while we had some snacks next to his burrow (hollow? lair?) which was surprisingly mellow.

THERE IS MORE SNOW IN THE FORECAST THIS WEEKEND and we also had a pretty big storm at the end of March, so big that it delayed flights for family coming in to visit us and see the sights. WHERE ARE YOU SPRING?!?! (That being said, we continue to geek out over snow despite the fact that I am done with the cold and mostly kids + jackets + hand warmers + gloves etc., etc.) Said kids? They LOVE it.
The snowstorm just created further excitement and anticipation for the arrival of a beloved grandma and aunt who was able to see the sights for the first time, participate in a march, and spend oodles of time bonding with the kiddos.
During spring break, I took the kids to the Beauvoir National Cathedral Elementary School which has the most epic playground I've ever read/seen/been to (and this is from a former Parks and Recreation Commissioner). First, you can't beat the backdrop of the magnificently gothic National Cathedral, with a terraced playground of rope bridges, mazes, giant wooded and laddered climbing structures and a legit zip line. Did I mention the sand boxes, swings, soccer field, playhouses, and three story slide? #PrivateSchool. It's actually really well maintained and so nice of the facility to allow the plebeians to play after school hours and on holidays.

For Easter, we stayed local and enjoyed a massive egg hunt at Lincoln Park where Jo learned real quick how egg hunts work and filled her basket leaving no prisoners. We enjoyed lawn games, an Easter dog (?) and bunny, farm animals, face painting, and a great time with our neighbors roaming the park.
Later that day we dyed Star Wars eggs in anticipation of the rabbit's arrival that night.
Said bunny came, and the children were joyous.
Later that day we hopped the fence to the local elementary school and played on their fabulous playground with other miscreant families and Cookie Monster.
More recently, the cherry blossoms have bloomed! It was really special to see them last year and this year, even more so. There is so much anticipation leading up to the "peak bloom" that events and committees must be in a constant tizzy waiting for it. We went earlier this week, and while it was a little rainy and cold, we still enjoyed their beauty. Today, I sat in traffic along the National Mall and took them in, in all their glory, along with 10,000 visitors under blue skies.
While things may are overall enjoyable here, most of our days have been taken up by lengthy walks in our neighborhood searching for our dear cat, Oliver, who escaped last Thursday. He's been gone a week and we are missing him dearly. Our hope is that someone sees him after seeing the many posters plastering the neighborhood, the social media pleas, and contacts us or the Humane Society, or of course, he finds his way home. I've been touched by the tips and leads that have come in on Facebook, texts, phone calls, and even FaceTime calls. This neighborhood has rallied to find him and I'm so grateful that there's such a large group of eyes on the lookout for our big boy.

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!