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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chatting with Henry

As the saying goes, kids say the darndest things!

  1.  "I love chocolate so much, hearts are coming out of my head!"
  2. "Someone in our family isn't here and I miss him so much...(long silence) It's Dad."
  3. While being very mad at me over something: "Go wrap yourself in a mummy!" (We had just been through the mummy exhibit at the Museum of Natural History.)
  4. While I was deep in thought/staring into space: Henry-"What are you looking at, Mom?" Me-"Oh I was just thinking about how I miss working sometimes." Henry-"Oh, I was thinking about how I miss Patty's Cakes." 
  5. Trader Joes Worker-"Maybe you could work here someday!" Henry-"No. Mom, I never want to leave you."
  6. "I love Dad because he cooks good. He makes good scrambled eggs."
  7. Describing some imaginary creatures: "They are very tiny, like little baby lions wearing red sweaters. And they like to fight. They come in through small cracks in the door because they are too little to open the door. They are called Sams."
  8. While determined to learn to whistle (after trying for about 2 minutes): "Mom, can you just put some whistles inside my mouth?!?"
That's our boy!


Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer has arrived

Spring left like a lamb and summer has rolled (roared?) in like a lion. There is most definitely a distinct difference in summer air between So Cal and DC and it is the moisture in the air. The good news is, there is no drought here so I do not feel guilty for taking two showers in one day.

Since the weather is hot and humid, we've been trying to get out in the morning while it's still a reasonable (80 degrees, with 70% humidity-practically the tropics!) temperature, and have made repeat visits to the Botanical Gardens, which Henry loves. He's a big fan of outdoor chores and here in their newly-opened Children's Garden, they offer sweeping, planting, digging, watering--all the gardening jobs that kids love.
 
We also recently ventured to the National Geographic Museum which currently has a shark exhibit where I learned tiger sharks carry up to 40 pups while pregnant. Had I been on Jeopardy and that the final round, I would have definitely guessed only one or two.



We've visited Henry's preschool friend from Fullerton who moved out to Virginia about a year before we did and enjoyed Star Wars playing (and watching, of course) pool dates and park dates and quite a lot of bike riding around the neighborhood.



My bucket list still includes a trip to the beach, a Nationals Game, and a few other adventure stops in the area when Scott is able to join us!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Grandparents Have Landed!

June is off to a fantastic start, thanks to a visit from some grandparents!

My amazing in-laws arrived the day before Scott's birthday so they were able to celebrate with us and win the award for longest-traveling babysitters so we could have a birthday date night.

I kept Scott in the dark for his birthday plans, as I'd learned of a really cool speakeasy right in Capitol Hill to take him to and it did not disappoint. He questioned my every move as I lead him through a peculiar door, down hallways, and flights of stairs to a large barn door and knocked. It was great to have some kid-free time together and enjoy some excellent libations and dinner!

We struck a pretty good balance of sight seeing and hanging out time, venturing to the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and Botanical Gardens on their second day.

While Scott and his dad enjoyed a gentleman's evening of cigars one night, Grandma, the kids, and I went to one of Henry's favorite haunts-Yards Park, where he loves to play in the fountains and wading pool.
We also took them to the Natural History Museum to experience some of our favorite exhibits-the butterfly garden and tarantula feeding in the insect zoo, Mount Vernon, and Congressional Cemetery. It was cool to visit Mount Vernon in a different season than our because the gardens were spectacular. They were just beginning to bloom in February and now everything is bursting with color.


We are so fortunate to have parents willing to make the trip to see us and I'm very much looking forward to my own family's visit next month :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Wrapping up May

May has drawn to a close with a fast and furious bang.

We were fortunate to snag tickets to the Hirshhorn Museum's Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors exhibit, which was a total trip. Henry was particularly amazed by the exhibits, particularly the pumpkin one, of which there is no photo evidence because I am a rule follower through and through.

We also visited Great Falls National Park after several suggestions from neighbors and Scott's coworkers. I am not sure if it's a regional difference, but as you can see from the photos, the rapids were impressive, but I was expecting the water to be pouring off from a bit higher elevation. It was a beautiful drive and certainly worth a repeat visit for the trails and picnicking opportunities.

I was quite surprised when we received not one but two invitations to birthday parties this month, the first of which being Scott's coworker's four-year-old son, who had his party at Roer's Zoofari, a zoo/petting zoo/animal "experience" in suburban Virginia. We walked around feeding various farm animals, monkeys, meerkats, and even a giraffe. There is also a bus that takes you through large gated area (think Wild Animal park but MUCH smaller scale) allowing you to feed and touch bison, llamas, emus-the perfect party for a four-year-old and all of his classmates...and one new kid who was ready to be his best friend.
Holding the budgies was a pretty cool experience, until one flapped onto my head. No photo evidence in that flurry of a moment!
The Haselton ladies drove up to PA to surprise Scott's cousin Melisa for her birthday over Memorial Day weekend, and meet up with her parents/his aunt and uncle who were in from California. We had a great time celebrating the birthday girl and taking in the local wildlife on the way home-a slowpoke snapping turtle going the wrongway on the road.

We spent Memorial Day reflecting at the Reflecting Pool and visiting the memorials and monuments along the National Mall during the morning and bubbles and bike riding in our backyard in the afternoon-the only thing missing was an actual barbecue...but we got plenty of whiffs from our neighbors! Methinks one will find its way onto our patio in the very near future.
May also brought days at the park, an intense lighting and thunder show, a first visit to the National Building Museum, and ladies wine night with my neighbors. In the coming weeks we are looking forward to a visit from both sets of grandparents and even friends from home. Yay summer!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May Days

I sound like a broken record when I say the days are flying by and May is already half over!

Josephine is six months old and while her sleeping habits leave something to be desired, she's a really sweet gal. She absolutely adores her brother, and has just started sitting up and scooting/army crawling everywhere. She's very interested in the world around her yet has a pretty hard time letting me out of her sight. My hands and heart are full!
In early May we went to the National Cathedral for the Flower Mart, a festival of flowers, boutique shopping, and children's activities. Henry had a ball playing games and of course, in the bounce house. We even ran into a California connection I'd been meaning to connect with, randomly!

On our weekly grocery trips into Alexandria on the George Washington Parkway, we pass by Daingerfield Island, and I have been meaning to stop for months. I finally pulled the trigger and it was a perfect little jaunt for Henry-geese, boats, planes taking off from Ronald Reagan, and the DC skyline in the distance.


We've enjoyed dinner dates with our neighbors, and playdates with Henry's closest friend out here :)
There have been shenanigans and rainy days...

And a pretty great Mother's Day, complete with a charcuterie picnic and strawberry picking.

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...and the cutest little farm house you ever did see!

I love the way Josephine looks at and loves her brother :)
<3 p="">

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April-Part II

The momentum of April kept going during the second half, as we explored more of our neighborhood and beyond.

Walking distance from our house is the Congressional Cemetery, where the likes of John Philip Sousa and other somewhat notable individuals are buried (I'd say B-C listers.) The cemetery has tombstones honoring members of Congress, but as the FAQ on their website clearly states, "You just have to be dead" to be buried there. Haha. What's unique is that the cemetery offers memberships for dog owners to use as an off-leash dog walking park.

We found some dates as far back as the 1700s and both Scott and I walked away feeling like the entire graveyard had a Haunted Mansion feel-it wasn't orderly with rows of tombstones, but rather haphazardly arranged, even like Halloween decorations. Definitely worth walking through again.
Besides the cherry blossoms in the Tidal Basin, the azaleas at the National Arboretum are a big attraction for spring blooms in DC. The azaleas did not disappoint. In the picture below, you can also see columns in the distance, which are the original ones from the Capitol. They are standing in acres of green fields-it's a unique site to see.



We also ventured over to Georgetown last weekend-now that's a fabulous neighborhood! We explored and picnicked at Montrose Park where Josephine enjoyed her first swing ride, and made our way to Sprinkles so Henry could devour one of his most favorite things-a chocolate cupcake.

Onward to May!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Easter Weekend

Easter weekend started as any Good Friday should--with a trip to the Library of Congress for Josephine's first story time! As you'd expect, it's a big attraction for the toddler and preschooler crowd, and limited to the first 50 people. We got there pretty early and secured our number, and then Henry was able to check out all of the cool toys, books and bean bags in the children's area.

The librarian was awesome--lots of songs, stories, finger plays--the usual story time fare. It seems they ask if there are any birthdays each week to which Henry shot his hand up and they all proceeded to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, and he ate it up. While I sat there wide eyed, he enjoyed every moment. When I asked him about it later, he said simply, "She asked if anyone had a birthday. I have a birthday." Selective hearing for the win! He was really chatty during the experience which can be frustrating to anyone but this librarian was very gracious and encouraging of his comments.

Friday afternoon we also dyed our eggs/appeared to play a rousing game of beer pong ;)


Saturday morning, we departed on our drive north to Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, where Scott's cousin and her family live on a large property with woods and rolling hills and even some farm animals. If you haven't been, Pennsylvania is pretty darn beautiful!

Henry was in heaven with their youngest son, following him around and learning the ways of country life.

We were treated to an awesome hike to the Susquehanna River, delicious meals, and of course, a delightful weekend celebrating Easter. Their land (because it is like 30 'backyards') provided the perfect backdrop for egg hunting. Thanks so much for your 5-star hospitality guys, we had a fantastic time!


April

While April isn't over, we've embraced the warmer temperatures and beautiful days for more exploring and adventuring around the DC/Maryland/Virginia area.

In early April, we participated in Kite Days, as one of many activities associated with the cherry blossom festival. Kite Days is a celebration on the Mall packed with various activities, with the principal being, obviously, BYOK and flying it. It was a blustery day, a little aggressive for novice kite flyers, but it was so cool to be sandwiched between the Lincoln Memorial and Monument flying our kites with hundreds of others. Henry LOVED it.

Spring is in full bloom here too-it's absolutely gorgeous. Every day I spy new tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths blooming in yards and gardens. The trees are like nothing I've seen before too.

White House photo cred to Scott.
On a particularly beautiful morning, we visited The Yards Park for some water fountain play and scenic Anacostia River views. 

We've had playdates at new parks, lunch dates with Dad at the Botanical Gardens, and painted rain gauges from Grandpa Dave.
I also drove the kids out to Burnside Farms in Haymarket, Virginia (about an hour's drive), for their Festival of Spring. It's a flower farm, growing tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths that you can pick in the spring, and sunflowers in the summer. I've never been to the Carlsbad flower fields but I'd guess it's somewhat similar. 

For little boys not so interested in the picturesque spring views, they also offer a bounce house, inflated trampoline, and giant slide. Win-win for everyone in attendance.





Henry wasn't too sure about the giant clogs, so he snapped my picture instead. His focus was on the right thing ;)

It's been a fun month and it's not over yet!

Friday, March 31, 2017

The long and winding road to car registration

This post is being written purely for my own catharsis and for when the day comes that I can laugh at the sheer lunacy that has ensued over the last three months filled with nearly 10 DMV visits. Thus, it's unlikely anyone will enjoy reading this. Someone beer me.

So, good news first-we can drive again! After 10 weeks (10 weeks!!!).

November
Back in November, I received notification from California DMV that because our car was no longer insured in California, registration would be terminated on January 17. It was a face palm moment, because I had not intended on registering our car in DC, but oh yeah, duh, I wasn't paying insurance in CA anymore, but rather in DC, and the government/insurance agencies like those to match. I'm chalking that snafoo up to moving 3,000 miles and being 16 months pregnant/postpartum. The devil's in the details!

January
At this point we are forced to register the car in DC, which means we must get DC driver's licenses. That in itself was an experience with multiple trips to the DMV-some failed attempts on me (bringing my birth certificate to confirm identity...not helpful when the last names don't match) and on them (ridiculous closure dates.) (DMV Trips #1 + #2)

After obtaining my license (DMV Trip #3), I was told the permanent one would arrive in the mail in about 10 days. I began waiting, and after about three weeks, finally called asking what happened. Apparently it was denied by the post office, so I should call them and ask why. Oh, and the temporary one was set to expire while we were in California so I needed to go BACK to the DMV to get a new temporary one because otherwise, I'd have to repeat the process with all of the documents again. Lose-lose if you ask me, because it was a trip there either way. Ugh. Good news is, I called the post office and there was no problem with our address so I'd like to have words with whomever deemed it 'undeliverable'. So, off we went (DMV Trip #4) for the second temporary license. Thankfully, the second permanent one arrived as it should have.

Three days into January, Scott made the first request to Chase to initiate obtaining the title information. We were told this would take 21 days and the information would be sent to the DC DMV. We'd also get a copy of the information overnighted. Two days later, via Fed Ex, I kid you not, I received very official documents of our title information complete with the words "print screen" on them. The DC DMV had made it abundantly clear that they need originals, so Chase paid a stupid amount of money for something I could have printed from my own inkjet. Yet, the 21 day clock began ticking.

While waiting for the title info to be sent, I went and got the car inspected/smog tested (DMV Trip #5).

February
I patiently wait (or not, I complain to anyone who has ears) the 21 days and start making calls after an extra few courtesy days and get the best news ever. Someone at Chase has cancelled our request, because they thought the printed, Fed Exed documents were all we needed. Heads needed to roll there. I calmly explained that this was in fact NOT the case and that the DMV needs original documentation (also thinking, surely they do this all the time! And have sent the info all of over the country! The DMVs can't all be that different!) So, of course, it will be another 21 days. Did I mention these are business days? This person also reconfirms I'll get a copy that it's been sent in the mail. New target date is early March. Also, I've realized this is the only time holidays suck because it makes me wait longer thanks to the two Presidential holidays in February. They advise me to call back on March 7 and the nice lady has said she'll try to expedite this request. What's particularly strange to me is that the information is sent via snail mail directly to the DMV. This seems like such an opportunity for error.

March
March 7, 9 a.m., I call Chase. I can already tell the person who answered is not going to continue the helpful service from my last call. He tells me the estimated completion date is March 30. WTF?!?!?! This was the straw that broke this camel's back. Now, I've never yelled or been aggressive on the phone, but this guy was basically useless and I told him how ridiculous this saga has been and that I've not been able to drive my car for almost two months and while there were miscommunications on their end along the way, I've been promised a much earlier date than March 30. I naturally tend to be much too passive in these situations and perhaps the East Coast has done me some good in that I am standing up more. Thankfully he put me on hold while he researched and said that it had in fact been sent at 11:30 p.m. the night before and the March 30 date was wrong. (Ya think?!?!) I still had to wait for the documents to arrive coming from Ohio to DC, and would need to call the DMV to confirm receipt.

I gave the USPS a good week before calling the DC DMV to check for receipt. Thankfully, they had received them the same day I called, and I decided that day was the day to go down and call this turkey DONE (DMV trip #6). One good thing about the DC DMV is that they have cameras and wait time estimations so you can see if it's a good time to go down. The office claimed it would be about a 25 minute wait time, which was doable for me hauling the kids down there. (They do not offer appointments for this kind of service.)

When we arrived, I got my number-A34, and took a seat to settle in. Half an hour, 45 minutes go by and I start snooping around at other people. A21 is called. I can see the guy sitting next to me is A25 and ask how long he's been here-2+ hours-and he estimates it will be another hour before he's called. Ok, well I am not hanging out for probably four hours with two kids at the DMV-ridiculous! So we leave, feeling deflated and defeated.

I decided that going early when they open was going to be the best plan-hopefully put in the wait time on the front end and have some control over the situation. So, this past Wednesday, when the weather looked favorable (knowing we'd be hanging around outside) we headed out with Scott to work, rode the Metro together, and the kids and I took our place in line at 8:30, when the offie opened at 9:15 (DMV Trip #7). We were about 25th in line, and while it was cold and breezy, they did great. When we were finally able to move inside, I got my number A4, and we only waited about 30 minutes and make a frantic phone call to Scott to supply one random piece of (rather unnecessary and frankly unofficial documentation). I left with the best piece of metal I've held in a long, long, time.


And that afternoon, we celebrated with a trip to Whole Foods for a cookie and fine craft beer. And groceries.

And for anyone keeping track, I visited the following DC DMVs:

#1, #2, #3: Georgetown
#4: Benning Ridge
#5, #6, #7: Southwest Service Center

Moral of the story? Start early, stay on top of your bank-especially if it's Chase, be prepared to practice Buddha-like patience, and drink heavily if necessary. ;)

Spring

Spring has sprung! Some days the temperatures are still a little colder than I'm comfortable with, but for the most part, we've been able to get out and about, exploring some new spots and revisiting some favorites.

Henry would go to the Air and Space Museum every day if he could.



Before the Nor'easter Stella, we enjoyed some beautiful spring days.




Stella was the biggest snow storm we have experienced. She brought rain, freezing rain, snow, sleet, hail--basically all forms of precipitation! 







She is not into the snow or generally being cold.
A Stella souvenir from our car!
The cherry blossoms live up to the hype!


We met Scott after work one evening to check them out in all their glory.




Flowers are blooming (everywhere!) and babies are growing.




St. Patrick's Day fun. 
A night at the Kennedy Center, celebrating 20 years of free nightly shows on the Millenium Stage.  Henry actually loved it, despite that face. He declared it a "a great party!" especially with  the Celtic band, and balloon and confetti drop.








We closed out March with a trip to Mount Vernon which did not disappoint.











Cheers to April and more adventures!