Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Celebrating Baby America

Well, we officially have a one-year-old in the house!

To celebrate the milestone birthday, girlfriend got to have cupcakes, balloons, and a trip to the local indoor play place. I love a good party theme, and landed on "Fabulous First Ladies" since she was born out here and was days old during THAT election, and I needed to make some sense of it still, even a year later. So, we raise our glasses to raising strong girls and celebrating American women of the future, past, and present (and even a pretty great fictional heroine too)!
Just like her brother, she loves chocolate. A midday bath was definitely required.

The leaves are changing and it's oh so glorious. This time last year I was adjusting to the extreme change in temperature and having a newborn and didn't get out much to enjoy the splendor in those pivotal days when the trees are just showing off. I'm trying to embed it deep in my mental archives so as never to forget the beauty of this time of year out here. And backup, I have these photos and blog, so yay for plan b.
This week in addition to Jo's first birthday, we celebrated another friend's special day with a pizza making party at California Pizza Kitchen (and a former Fullertonian as well, so the destination was on point), and ventured out to the Freer+Sackler Galleries and the National Museum of African Art (both of which had the NICEST docents, staff, and security guards that I've encountered at any of the Smithsonians in the last year. The woman at the information desk even left her post to take us down to this awesome kids learning room that we had to ourselves.) While I love taking the kids, Henry specifically, to these museums, I really can't wait to go back solo to really read everything and take a slower pace to enjoy myself.

This week, the temperatures have dropped into the 40s and we broke out a baby item called a "bundle me", something that would have never crossed my radar in southern California as an essential winter baby item. It's basically a sleeping bag for car seats and strollers, that sits on top the seat and allows for the straps to come through, still securing the child, but keeping them warm while getting around the city. They are cozy, blankets aren't tossed out of the stroller or dragged underneath the tires. Genius.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

This is Halloween

Another year, another Halloween for the books!

Henry proclaimed his idea during the summer and thus, I started my little droid assembly to make his Halloween dreams come true. If you had asked me five years ago if I'd be dressing up as Princess Leia and creating C3PO and R2D2 costumes, I'd have laughed. Today I have had quite the Star Wars education thanks to Henry! (Though Scott will tell you he's certainly tried over the years.)

I'm pretty proud of how they both turned out (thank you Internet for the ideas, because otherwise I'm pretty sure I'd be spray painting foil) and people certainly knew who he was.
Henry had a great time trick-or-treating and like last year, handing out candy to our own visitors, often calling them up to the porch as they walked by so as not to miss out on candy collecting.

Hope everyone had a great holiday!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Fall Visits and a brush with the Bushes

We were pretty lucky to welcome both Grandmas for a visit this month! We were able to catch up, celebrate the season with Halloween activities, a pre-birthday celebration for Jo, and just enjoy a mellow DC visit to some of our favorite haunts.

The Halloween season isn't complete without a visit to the pumpkin patch. Bonus points for aerial goat runs!

Across the road from the pumpkin patch is a strategically located winery and farm. Moms of all ages rejoiced!

If anyone reading has been living in a bug-out bunker the past few weeks, allow me to inform you through your spotty WIFI that the DODGERS ARE IN THE WORLD SERIES! There are some pretty devoted LA fans here, ahem, staying up into the wee hours of the morning to support our boys in blue. Obviously I hope they win, but it's been so cool to see them advance this far and a truly well played series.
My mom stayed a few days longer than my mother-in-law, and we took her to some of our favorite parks and made a second visit to Great Falls National Park.
While Scott's handshake with Obama may go down as the number one highlight of our time here, I had my own political embrace this week when I went to the DC stop of the Bush sisters book tour for their newly published memoir, "Sisters First." For anyone that watches the Today show, Jenna is exactly as she appears-comedic, witty, and a gal's gal. Barbara is reserved, allows her sister to take the lead with the microphone, but incredibly articulate and doing great humanitarian work. They were engaging, humorous, and pretty relatable considering their unique upbringing. The book presentation included a photo opp at the end and while it was incredibly fast to experience, they were so kind, laughed at the words I put together and then forced out of my mouth-it was exhilarating.

Friday I decided to load the kids up and make the two hour trek to Shenandoah, a beautiful National Park with tons of recreational activities for children and adults. We specifically went for the caverns, because Henry is very interested in earth science and I knew it would be something he'd thoroughly enjoy. The drive out was incredible with the changing leaves and rolling hills and the caverns themselves did not disappoint. It was about a mile of walking underground and with the handful of kids in our group under 10, they all did exceptionally well. The formations were fascinating and we even walked under an inactive fault line. That was about equal parts cool and crazy.

Still riding on a high of my brush with the Bush twins, Henry and I had a dress rehearsal for Halloween at Hilloween, the Capitol Hill neighborhood's pre-show for candy and general kid mayhem. We've got some costume kinks to work out before the big day, but I am very proud of what we've assembled. I enjoyed an evening of wine out with my neighbor and then we spent Saturday afternoon at the National Arboretum on a picture perfect fall day and ran into our neighbor friends there as well.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Life Lately

We have a four-year-old in the house, who rang in his birthday with a Star Wars/Batman/Superman mash up party with our neighbors, and who was spoiled by gifts from near and far.

We've gone exploring to a few new parks, including Jones Point Park, with an historic lighthouse on the property overlooking the Potomac.

Scott and I both came down with some terrible bugs and infections, and while it is really hard to be away from a support system in these scenarios, our neighbors were so supportive in helping us manage. I'm so glad we've developed the relationships we have and know the resources available around us. Get to know your neighbors!

After the clouds lifted, it felt so good to get out again, for early morning pretzels, park visits, and walks to the Capitol.

We also finally made it over to the National Gallery of Art, both the East and West Buildings. The East Building houses modern art including Lichtenstein, Picasso, Mondrian, and more. The West Building claims classic pieces from Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Manet, and even DaVinci. Walking through made me realize how beneficial the "Meet the Masters" art program was in elementary school (and I had a good chuckle when I saw most of the recognizable pieces were labeled as the "Children's Audio Tour" stops.)

The busts pictured below are an exhibit called "Lick and Lather"-the brown ones are made of chocolate and the white are soap. The scent of chocolate hung heavy in the air and I half expected Henry to make a lunge for it. The security guard revealed that for a while these were on display in a sun-filled room room prior to this space and that the chocolate began melting (it's evident on some busts) from the exposure. For being world class museums (ahem, Smithsonians) I have to raise my eyebrows on that decision.

I am not an art buff but to see these original pieces was pretty amazing. I'd really like to go back solo and spend more time in the West Building since we just hit up the Impressionist section and Josephine was screeching like a dragon and Henry was trying to negotiate a visit to the Air and Space Museum.

We were also treated to a very rare sighting of an albino squirrel, complete with red eyes. Squirrelnucula! And after a full year of Scott working here, we also finally paid him a visit to one of his three offices and enjoyed a lovely lunch together.

I am working hard on Halloween costumes and we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of both my mom and Scott's mom next week for a Grandma visit :)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

One Year

Today marks one year of living in Washington, D.C. Sometimes I can hardly believe I agreed to this-it's so out of my comfort zone, but I'm so glad Scott encouraged and highlighted how great it would be for our family-and it has been.

In a year we have seen a fair amount of the East Coast, especially the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, as this blog has highlighted. We've made friends, adventured out of our comfort zone, had a baby (who is almost one year herself!), and I've greatly improved my driving (parking specifically), and navigation skills (that took a long time. I still have no idea if I am going north, south, east, or west-darn diagonal streets).

We are not the first people to move far away from family and friends; I think it feels unusual because most of our family and friends remained close to where they grew up-at least for now. A big move away from family comes with great sacrifice, but it's empowering to know we've been able to do it.

Scott has made great strides in his work and I've created a little community for ourselves within our neighborhood. It feels good to call DC home (for the present), and while it looks like we'll be here through the spring, I can see how things are going to be missed upon our departure. Every time I drive into the city and the Washington Monument appears in my line of sight, I'm impressed. I try to take mental pictures of the leaves on the trees change as fall is ushered in and the dahlias finish their bloom. Henry celebrated his fourth birthday here and Josephine will celebrate her first. Our time here will be a colorful chapter in our family story.

Five years ago I would have never imagined us living here for every reason imaginable. I'm so glad we took the leap. It's given me perspective, provided growth, and of course, new opportunities and experiences. I'm on the edge of my seat to see where life takes us next.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Feels Like Home

This past week has had a California feel to it, since Scott and I went to a Dodgers game at Nationals Park (and they won!), thanks to a great birthday present from my Dad. We had great seats and while the Dodger blue was outnumbered, there was still a really great showing of fans representing LA.
This week we also took a mini getaway to visit to the Atlantic Ocean in Bethany Beach, Delaware, about a 2.5 hour trip. As every drive out here has turned out to be, it was beautiful. The drive through Maryland and across the Bay Bridge into Delaware was full of agricultural fields and the cutest produce stands selling pumpkins, melons, and mums.

I was rather excited to finally see the Atlantic-it's been high on my bucket list and the anticipation was worth it. I was pleasantly surprised with the beauty and contrast to the Pacific-sandy shores with wild grasses, warm waters, and a picturesque boardwalk.

While spending time along the shore, we made sure to enjoy crab cakes, oysters, ciopinno, and swordfish.  And chocolate ice cream, of course.
Henry was stoked to have some sand time and Josephine was all about playing in the water. We had a trail across the street from our AirBNB, where we were able to watch nesting osprey, spot a few cardinals, and even a rabbit to Henry's delight.
This trip has afforded us many adventures, and weather wise, we came a little too close to a hurricane. Thankfully, the warnings were lifted from our area as it veered another direction, and we were able to watch the limited effects it had on the beach with chopping waves, whipping winds, and rain. However, silver lining--we visited just as the area turned to the off season, so that combined with Hurricane Jose meant free beach parking and the coast to ourselves!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

September Days

This week started out on a somber note with the 16th anniversary of 9/11. I really wanted to pay my respects and see the Pentagon Memorial, and opted to wait until Tuesday, so as not to have any unruly children interfere with families observing the day with their loved ones.

The Pentagon Memorial offers visitors the ability to dial into a recording while walking through, describing the memorial and events of the day. I had never really considered the thought and ideas that go into designing something so emotionally charged. The details were beautiful and thoughtful. Each person who died, whether on the flight or in the Pentagon, has a bench with fountain underneath. The benches face different ways (looking at the sky, or looking at the building) depending on where the victim was. They are ordered by birth year too, so some rows have significantly more memorial benches than others, including one for the youngest victim, a three-year-old girl who was on board the flight with her family. I'm really glad that I was able to go and walk among a beautifully designed space, truly honoring those lives lost tragically too soon.
On a happier note, we drove about 40 minutes into Wheaton, Maryland, to Brookside Gardens, to enjoy their Wings of Fancy butterfly and caterpillar exhibit which is coming to a close next week. The exhibit allowed us to see hundreds of caterpillars and butterflies at various stages of development, fluttering around a greenhouse.  And, I learned the difference between a cocoon and a chrysalis (which I had been using interchangeably)-moths make cocoons (spin silk around themselves and then leaves fold around them) and butterflies make chrysalises. You can thank me next time you win the insect round on Jeopardy ;)

The gardens themselves were breathtaking. I haven't had the best luck with flowers or planting much of anything, but I can really appreciate the varieties of flowers and plants when they are thoughtfully arranged at a place like this. It was like a spread in "Sunset" come to life. We ate lunch in the garden and spotted chipmunks, honey bees, and more butterflies doing their thing.
The gardens also have a really great Nature Center where Henry was able to see the cross section of a bee hive, find a wolf spider, and see other reptilian creatures. On our walk there, we also spotted three more chipmunks. They always seem like elusive critters to me, so to see so many was surprising. It's also a reminder of how while we are in the city, we are so close to the woods and being able to experience that is something I won't forget.
This week we also had a storytime playdate at our favorite book shop, and visited a park we hadn't been too since last winter. I still can't believe we're coming up on a year here and that Henry will be four next week. I know everyone says it but man, life goes quickly and I feel so fortunate to live the one I do.