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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.

Cheers!

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.











Thursday, July 27, 2017

Discovering Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

Another day, another National Park, right in our own backyard-the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. The wetlands is home to a large wildlife population and is most well known for their preservation of waterlilies and lotuses...like waterlilies and lotuses bigger than your head!

We went today with a friend who has lived in DC for a number of years and hadn't been here yet and we both kept experiencing slack jaw from this amazing piece of land that is within the DC city (district?) limits. It was simply beautiful. Granted we came right after the formal Water Lily and Lotus Festival so the flowers were just showing off, but I can imagine it's just as stunning during other parts of the year.

I made Henry a scavenger hunt of wildlife to find during our trip and while we sadly never did find a coveted frog (can be tough when you are yelling "I don't see any frogs, MOOOOOM!"), we did spot plenty of turtles, tadpoles, egrets, butterflies, dragonflies, honey bees, geese, and ducks. Oh, and I saw a frog before the bull in a wildlife preserve came bounding down the path ;)


I had no idea water lilies could grow this tall!
Josephine was not feeling the photos today.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Jazz in the Woods

When we made our recon trip out here last September, during our drive to and from the Dulles airport, I remember seeing signs for Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia, and honestly thought it was a wolf preserve-and I blame the overwhelming feeling of a huge move across the country and being eight months pregnant for those thoughts. Fast forward nine months and I've come to learn it's a beautiful National Park that features A-list performances for children and adults. And, wouldn't you know that my former classmate is a super talented children's singer and musician who is touring out here played there today. Obviously, I bought tickets for the occasion and we met up with some friends to enjoy the morning show.

And Wolf Trap? Wow, talk about an amazing venue. The children's theatre is literally called Theatre in the Woods because, well it is, and you get to pass a rippling stream, green hills, and a canopy forest to get there. I'd love to sneak away for an adult performance while we are here if we can-it's much like the Hollywood Bowl in that you can picnic with food and adult beverages. Cheers to that!

Any parents reading this, check out Jazzy Ash and the Leaping Lizards. I do love me some Moana on repeat but Ash and her band sing old favorites spun with New Orleans jazz flair and new tunes as well. She's awesome with the kids and frankly, way cuter and more entertaining than Freddy Spaghetti or Raffy ;)




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Visit to Oz

Today we visited the coolest park I've ever been to--and I say that as a mom and as a former Parks and Recreation Commissioner. I read about Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland and the magical spot that it was, and since today was surprisingly pleasant weather-wise, it was perfect for an impromptu trip at about 30 minutes away.

As I understand it, the playground was recently redone and replaced with a Wizard of Oz themed one, and no detail went undone-a yellow brick road leads you into the park under a rainbow, Auntie Em's house, Toto's house, the Emerald City, Munchkinland--all present. While Henry has never seen the movie to understand the play structures and relevance, he was very quick to thank me for taking him to such a cool park. So, kid and parent approved!





The park is quite large and includes camping, a Nature Center, farm, mini golf, carousel, and train ride--we will definitely be returning to enjoy the other features of the park soon!

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Day at the Goat Farm

This weekend we had the pleasure of driving out to one of Scott's colleagues' family goat farm in Strasburg, Virginia, about an hour and half away through rolling green hills and picturesque farms.

To put it mildly, Henry had a fantastic time following the goats, feeding the goats, nearly being eaten by the goats, and finding a stray little kitten that the family has adopted, Stripes. Josephine was passed around like the cute little potato she is and enjoyed all of the attention showered upon her.

The event was a BBQ but sadly the party had to turn indoors during the cooking and eating time, as a massive thunderstorm and downpour rolled in. But the 20 degree temperature drop was amazing!


This family was so hospitable to invite us along with the rest of Scott's team. Selfishly, it was great to finally meet so many of Scott's colleagues and see the few I have met, again. I think the only negative was that we left before Henry could hold a baby goat. Another time!



Thanks to Scott's colleague Joni for the amazing pictures of us that were clearly not taken by me!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Smithsonianing

The past week has had some crazy heat and humidity (to the tune of 98 degrees with 60% humidity) so I decided to take the kids to some old favorites in a climate-controlled environment out of the house.

The Hirshhorn has a new exhibit by Ai Weiwei which portrays activists (from his perspective) from around the world, made entirely of Lego blocks. It was a remarkable production.
We visited the National Museum of American History last week with my sister, but the kids play area is apparently closed on Tuesdays (whoops). So, we returned this week with filled with excitement and confidence with it being a Thursday. Wengman's Wonderplace has a climbing structure with reading nooks, a pretend vegetable garden patch, grocery store, a mini version of Julia Child's kitchen, and even a play area for babies. It was the first time we'd been back since Josephine has been old enough to enjoy it and she loved it, however I'm sure I'll pay for it when she shows signs of some illness in the next 5-10 days after everything that she put in her mouth. (Living in the city has made me a total germaphobe. That's another post for another day. Or maybe not.)

In the produce area, girlfriend was really drawn to the California oranges ;)

Today we went back to the National Air and Space Museum, Henry's favorite, and it happened to be Mars Day, so there were special exhibits and hands-on attractions that allowed kids and adults alike to really feel like an astronaut on Mars through robotic simulations on remote-controlled devices and iPads. I continue to be impressed with the technical intuitiveness that Henry and other kids his age possess. The future is looking a little brighter!
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cratons Come East

It's a great week when your parents and sister come to the east coast!

We walked the National Mall and Tidal Basin...


We had water balloon fights, went firefly hunting, and played with remote controlled cars...

We visited the White House and Ford's Theater, ate pretzels, and practiced hand stands...

We rode bikes, walked, metroed, and drove every quadrant of the city, and enjoyed every minute of their visit!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Independence Day

Well, let me cut to the chase and say that this Fourth of July weekend was probably my most memorable and best ever. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I'd be spending it at White House! But more on that later.

We started the festivities by visiting the Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum, which are an impressive sight, especially in such an open and beautiful setting. I introduced Henry to the wild fun that are water balloons and had ourselves a good fight.

On the eve of Independence Day, Henry and I made our way to the Capitol to watch the dress rehearsal for "A Capitol Fourth." While most visitors descend upon the mall on the fourth, it's much less crazy to go the night before to the full dress rehearsal without the 700,000 people. It was particularly significant to me because the Beach Boys were performing and they were the first concert I ever went to. To be able to now share that with Henry (on the grounds of the Capitol no less!) was really cool. We had a great time, were relatively close, and I even got to see John Stamos in the flesh. And he did not disappoint!


On the morning of the fourth, we headed to the Barrack's Row parade, which is a few blocks from our house. It was definitely a community parade, complete with little leagues, preschools, horticulture groups, and even a bootleg Mickey Mouse. 


Scott had acquired tickets for fireworks viewing at the White House and I was excited about the idea but had no idea what to expect-roll up with a blanket and plan to wait with our spot staked out? I at least knew it wouldn't be as crazy being a ticketed event. When we walked in, I was blown away by the preppy garden party it was. My first thought was that I was underdressed but thankfully there were some other casual people among the peplum dressed ladies in heels and men in seersucker shirts and slacks. We rolled in with frayed shorts and Darth Vader shirts...let's just say it brought some diversity to the crowd. Anyway, it was amazing. I wanted to pinch myself that this was how we were spending our holiday--tables with complimentary beer, wine, and sodas? Live military band? Ice cream for the kids? Corn hole? Face painting? Check, check, check, check, and check.


We were pretty close to hop over a very thin rope and run up and ding, dong, ditch the place ;)

Of course the cherry on top was sitting on the lawn to watch the fireworks spectacular with the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument in the same frame. Henry and Josephine were both mesmerized, as was the crowd, which gave Scott and I a good chuckle. When you grow up with Disneyland fireworks in your front yard for your entire childhood, "fancy" fireworks like shapes and happy faces don't have quite the same impact as those who may only be treated to a show once a year.

This has definitely been a top three memory for me while we've been out here. It was an epic way to celebrate the nation's birthday!