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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September so far

This time last year, Scott and I made a whirlwind trip out here to scope out DC and Baltimore neighborhoods, finding a place to live. It was 99 degrees and disgustingly humid. Well one year later on those same dates, it was BEAUTIFUL. Like a true "back to school" feeling of warm days dancing around 75 degrees and cool breezes in the morning and afternoon. (If you haven't picked up on my weather craziness yet by reading this, I basically am happiest at around 72 degrees with a light breeze. I think these are those days!)

The weather greatly affects my mood, and as such, September has been great so far. Henry and I had a date going painting at a Color-Me-Mine type of pottery place, and Josephine is getting much better at standing and cruising around the living room. She's also a speedy crawler and I scratch my head at how they can be SO LOUD and also velociraptor stealth at the same time and end up at the other end of the house almost silently.

Over Labor Day weekend, we took Scott back to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens so he could experience the beauty we had previously. While the peak water lily bloom was definitely behind us, there were some stalks that lingered so he was able to see how amazing they were.

These beautiful days have also allowed us lots of park play time, bike riding, picnics, and baseball playing.

This past weekend we went apple picking in Bluemont, Virginia, at Great Country Farms and had a really wonderful time. They had an amazing THREE acres of just playgrounds with a ninja obstacle course, old tractors and farming equipment, rope swings, giant slides, bouncing pads, climbing structures and more (not including apple orchards) so Henry was in heaven. Also, I can't believe how old Josephine looks below here. She's really creeping close to one year old!

We enjoyed the apple picking, cider donuts, and spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Fall is definitely in the air!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Life Lately

As summer winds its way down, we've been enjoying our days and some great weather, getting out to some old favorites and scoping out celestial celebrations.

Like everyone else in America, we stopped everything and watched the eclipse Monday, with hundreds of others on the National Mall. It was really cool to experience the lifetime event with fellow Americans who stopped their workdays to watch too. On Tuesday, Henry asked if we'd be heading out to view it again. Oh, that was hard news to deliver.

On lovely weather days, we often find ourselves outside somewhere--at the park, in our backyard area riding bikes, or at the Botanical Garden, a favorite of Henry's. Most recently, we were treated to a viewing of the corpse flower. I've heard about this flower and know the Fullerton Arboretum even has one, but it was my first time really getting up close and personal with the stinky bloom. And, well, it lived up to its name. It's enormous and smelly and certainly does a good job of mimicking the stench of rotting meat to attract beetles and flies.
I also made the kids come with me for a very special exhibit that opened at the Natural History Museum-an exhibit on narwhals. While I think Henry was disappointed there weren't any actual narwhals there, I do believe we both left satisfied with the feature of my favorite creature ;)
On Friday nights in the summer, Yards Park, which sits on the Anacostia River, holds concerts in the park like many cities nationwide, and we FINALLY made it to one because every Friday, without fail, has been in the upper 90s with really high humidity. As previously mentioned it was a beautiful week and we finally got out there to enjoy the atmosphere, drinks (Fullerton, take note) and food available with live entertainment. It made for a really fun night out with the kids.
This weekend we took Scott back to Watkins Regional Park and explored the grounds a bit more. I can feel hints of fall in the air and while September can be a rager with heat, am very excited at the prospect of sweaters and boots in the near future.

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.