Sunday, April 12, 2020

Our Quarantine Life

I figured I'd dust off the old blog to document our quarantine days during this weird/nightmare/yet somehow still wonderful time in all of our lives as a time capsule for our family to reflect on in the years to come. Unless the grid goes down then I guess we are SOL.

We have spent a lot of time in our immediate front yard (so grateful for some green space.) I jumped on the sidewalk/painters tape trend and decided to take it up to the fence for the enjoyment of walkers, riders, and drivers. It's been just as pleasurable for me to see every time we step outside.

We've also enjoyed rock scavenger hunts with neighbors. One family hides the rocks in a radius of our 'hood, sends us three clues, and then we go and retrieve, repeating the process for the next family. Unexpected happy accident--my son is really learning an immediate mapping of streets and directions in our neighborhood.

It felt like Christmas part two in early March with a game order. We've spent countless hours playing old favorites like Monopoly and Uno, and new ones including Battleship, Monopoly, Bananagrams, and Solitaire.
Lots of baking, cooking, creating in the kitchen is happening too. We've been gifted pounds of lemons and oranges and have made homemade lemonade a variety of ways (strawberry with mint is our favorite) as well as freshly squeezed orange juice--both of which I have never done before.
Art abounds every afternoon with an Instagram doodling session with my friend and her son where we've drawn a variety of cool pictures and images. We are also writing letters to friends and family near and far which is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
I realized early on in the quarantining that it was someone's 6.5 birthday so we threw an impromptu birthday party to celebrate, complete with cake balls, pin the spider on the web, and the birthday boy's favorite games.

I've always enjoyed cooking and baking but I'm finally tackling sourdough-breads, including the loaf below and sourdough cinnamon rolls I'm making today for Easter Sunday. It's been an experiment in patience and failure but also so rewarding. We've also seen so many wonderful gifts and sharing and swapping from neighbors--avocados, eggs, flour, mint, citrus, yeast--I am so touched.
It will be interesting to see how the next month(s) unfold as we continue to school remotely and try to find fun projects within our 700 square feet. I'm so grateful for our amazing community, family, and friends who are healthy and doing their part, and the true healthcare heroes, grocery store workers, truckers, and first responders working so the rest of us can remain safe at home.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Four Months

We left DC four months ago and I've delayed and dragged my feet on writing some kind of conclusion to that experience. I've finally realized there is no perfect way to wrap it up. Every day spent there, every experience shared is something that Scott and I and our kids will carry with us. It's left a mark on my emotionally and physically that I'll forever carry and I think the experiences speak for themselves. My words and photos will never truly convey the impact of that almost three year adventure.

Coming back to the exact place we left is strange. It was hard to leave, and was the benchmark for any new comparison, and now, my world lenses simply feel like my optometrist clicked the better view. I don't think I was living in a bubble before, but probably to some degree. If I took anything away from this entire experience it was this-take the leap, whatever that leap may mean in your life. Perspective gaining, personal growth, boundary pushing--I grew in ways I didn't know I needed to. Big decisions will always be tangled with, but this move became my new benchmark for agonizing pros and cons lists. Previously it had been jumping out of a plane. I don't plan on one-upping my cross country move while pregnant scenario.

People move away from home all the time. What made it feel unusual to me, was that most of our family and friends and even neighbors grew up and remained close to home, at most within a day’s time of driving distance, or a short flight away. When my husband asked me how I felt about him taking a job with the government, I thought, well Sacramento is in the other half of the state, but, sure why not, thinking nothing would come of it and that whatever application he submitted went into a digital blackhole. When he clarified it meant Washington, D.C., I raised my eyebrows, shocked, but shrugged it off thinking, sure, at the rate government jobs move we’ll revisit this conversation in about 12 months. Well, joke’s on us, because it was approximately three months later that we made the decision to move to our family across the country. We packed up our belongings, rented our house, bade tearful goodbyes with our families, and my husband set out early on the last Monday of September, armed with essentials that wouldn’t fit in our shipping containers--primarily, our two cats. My three-year-old son and I remained at my in-laws until our one-way flight, that Friday, September 30, 2016. I’ll never forget that day, leaving them behind at security, and holding the small, still slightly chubby hand of my son, and having tears streaming down all of our faces as we joined the security queue. I was also eight months along with a high-risk pregnancy and no doctor lined up on the east coast. I have to imagine some of those tears were out of pure WTF are we/they doing packing up in and leaving everything at this moment in time?!?

Spoiler alert-there’s a very happy ending. Our family made deep and wonderful connections. I made it my mission to know my neighbors-it was natural to me coming from a place where I hung out in my front yard every afternoon and chatted with fellow residents. We connected with families. My son went to kindergarten and played in his first t-ball league there. My daughter's first story time was at the Library of Congress.

While I enjoy being back and so close to family and friends and a somewhat familiar routine, I miss the friends that brought energy and intimacy to my days. I miss the landscapes of monuments, high rises, and the Capitol and National Mall but also the flora and fauna of living on the border of wilderness. Upon returning, I initially experienced boredom without having the sense of adventure and exploration that a new and very fast-paced city brought on the daily (and I say this whilst living in Disneyland’s backyard and in a fantastic neighborhood. It’s a weird kind of culture shock) and resuming a life that feels like I hit the pause button binge-watching my own life. As nice as it is to “come home”, it was also extremely hard to leave it-both times. 

The idea of home used to mean the single-family home we’d buy and live our forever life in. I’ve come to realize that life is much too short for me with that as my end goal. The world is worth exploring. Our country is worth exploring. Perhaps I’m now sounding like some high, know-it-all, self-help evangelist, but I hope not. This is simply my story and for those who have followed along, I feel like I owe you as much as myself some kind of reconciliation of our DC volume.

I'm not sure what is next for us six, nine months down the line. There's potential for another out-of-state move. I have mixed feelings as our kids get older, and wanting them to have a sense of consistency with school, friends, and family. I know it will work out because we are fortunate to have options and an extremely supportive family.

We came for the adventure, the excitement, a chance to try something new. We left with a lifetime of memories and more importantly, friendships that gave us community and truly made the epicenter of the United States feel like home. 

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Marching into March

Another month into 2019 and I continue to feel like life is flying past me. There are signs of spring outside (daffodils are pushing up through the hardened earth!) but snow and sleet and ice and 30 degree temps continue to be the norm, at least for now. Before our first winter here, a friend told me you earn your springs, and that has continued to ring true as we close in on ending our third winter (also, sidebar-yikes, as I think back to the "giving it a year" business.)
As much as I lament the snow, we all still secretly love it. Would just be great if it were sandwiched between 60 degree days so we could get outside more-it did happen once!

Valentine's Day was a joy to watch Henry celebrate. When offered the Star Wars options at Target, he wanted to stick to an old fashioned heart cut out of red paper with a message to the recipient. A traditionalist after my own heart. Adding a little homemade Darth Vader really set those hearts off though.
We took advantage of a mid-winter break and enjoyed another visit to the National Gallery's Art Explorers program with a classmate.

And spent every possible minute outdoors between snowstorms and snowball fights with our a new favorite pastime, basketball. One child was having a mood on this particular day. Oh, two-year-olds.
Our time here in DC is likely wrapping up in the next few months, and I've created a bucket list of activities that I want to check off. I went to high tea at the Ritz-Carlton with my neighbors as well as a lovely date night with my beau at the Watergate Hotel.
We are eagerly awaiting sunshine and those cherry blossoms signaling the arrival of spring, and much more fun outdoors during our remaining DC days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Oh hey, February

Well good golly, January has come and gone, and here we are now approaching Valentine's Day. But, I quickly sum up that January was rather cold and also super fun.

I celebrated my birthday with a visit to the only east coast branch of The Bruery, went roller skating, out to an amazing dinner, received a massage, and for the first time, got over a foot of snow!
 Kids have definitely got their fill of snow play. And I finally resigned to buying a snow shovel.
We visited the College Park Aviation Museum on a particularly dreary Saturday, and had the best time, learning about early flight achievements in the area, as well as dressing up in period wear, and experiencing quite a few hands on activities.
Watching the effects of the shutdown was tough here. We had friends and neighbors impacted, as well as businesses who were suffering from the 35 days of people not having an expendable income. What was so great to see, were those who stood up and shared meals, invited people out to activities, and found creative ways to support neighbors.

During this time, only the independent museums were open since the Smithsonian museums were not funded. It turned out to be a great opportunity to see the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which blew me away. I saw the first fashion exhibit from California-based designers Rodarte, who created the costumes for Black Swan, and many beautiful gowns and pieces straight from the runway. I also saw works by Frida Kahlo and Amy Sherald, whose most famous may be Michelle Obama's portrait hanging in the National Gallery.

 We've spent time with friends and lots of indoor play to combat the cold.
After living in the shadow of the Capitol for nearly 2.5 years, I finally made it inside for a tour, which was really cool. We had a terrific tour guide, who reminded me so much of my sister-in-law, it was hard not to love her humor, stories, and excellent knowledge.
If January came in like a lamb, it went out like a lion with the Polar Vortex descending on us. It wasn't as bad as places in the midwest experienced, but certainly the coldest we've ever experienced. The roads were treacherous, the wind chill frigid--I'm actually surprised school wasn't cancelled. When it warmed up enough to eventually leave the house, it coincided with the government reopening, and it was really energizing to see how many people were excited to be back at their jobs-from the security guards to the docents. Sometimes the east coast gets the best of me with its lack of friendliness and angry drivers, but on that day, everyone was all smiles, and it was really heartwarming to experience.
As I write this, snow is on the horizon for the weekend, but it was a GLORIOUS 70 degrees today-temperatures I don't think we've seen since early October-and we spent much of it outdoors soaking it up.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Closing Out 2018

December is ending on the highest of notes, following a pretty fantastic Christmas and Christmas season.

We checked all the boxes for celebrating the season, including a performance of "The Nutcracker," and of course, a visit to Santa.
We had visual aids to assist in the wish-relaying and Dad to help offset the unease of sitting in a stranger's lap.
In keeping with the season, we also made Christmas cookies and constructed gingerbread houses with our dear friend and neighbor.

I received a private tour of NPR from a former colleague of Scott which was really cool. I've always had an interest in news, and while the newsroom was quiet that day, was still neat to see where the stories are generated and produced.
Henry's school had a PTA fundraiser at a local roller rink and the kids and I had SUCH a great experience.  It was their first time and my first time in probably 25 years (OMG.) We actually cannot wait to go back and do it again.
We spent Christmas Eve at our friend's home, where my children tried lamb for the first time and basically ate their weight in it. So funny to watch.
The kids had the best Christmas surprise when my Dad arrived at our door Christmas morning. He stayed for a week and we had the best time playing, seeing new sights, revisiting a few favorites, and filling up all available moments with Grandpa Dave.

2018 was a pretty fantastic year. Cheers to a wonderful 2019 and all that it has in store!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Welcome, Winter

December 21 may still be a few weeks out, but the feeling of winter has certainly arrived in the east, with a snow preceding Thanksgiving and temperatures in the 30s and 40s as of late.
We had a treat this Thanksgiving when my in-laws came out for a visit. It really made the holiday special, and was so hard to say goodbye.
With Thanksgiving behind us, of course all the Christmas activities have begun. I took the kids and our dear friend Diana to the annual (though first for us) Norwegian Tree Lighting at Union Station. We didn't stay late enough to see the simulcast broadcast of YoYo Ma at the National Cathedral sadly, but the kids watched the tree lighting, we ate dinner at Shake Shack, and they filled their bellies with passed tins of cookies. Oh, and a Santa sighting too, so a good night by them!
We also made a stop at the US Botanical Garden for their annual train display. This year's theme was train station's throughout the states. I had my fingers crossed that they'd pick Fullerton for California, but LA's Union Station and the other Santa Fe Depot won out-San Diego. Kids were stoked though watching the variety of trains running through, and of course the most famous of all, Thomas.
The afternoon was only in the high 40s, so we ventured around the Capitol grounds for a bit making merriment.

And finally, this weekend we picked out our Christmas tree-a tiny tree for our tiny row house! Not often is your tree the same height as your 5-year-old. Henry and I also had some nice one-on-one time at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art for their ballet day. We made snowflakes, snowglobes, and while he didn't want to pose with any of the Washington Ballet's Nutcracker dancers, he did try a ballet lesson which was great to watch.
And of course we paid our respects to 41. May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Life Lately

I've come to the realization that sometime in the last few months (likely when kindergarten started), we started feeling less like what I've described previously as resident tourists, and more like just residents. We have a routine with school drop off and pickup everyday but are not doing quite as much adventuring-at least daily. Yet, we are taking advantage of days off and weekends to continue to explore the area with our days numbered here.

Halloween continued its tradition of fun and crazy. LOTS of kids, and probably the cutest pair of Darth Vaders I ever did see.

Someone turned two and requested rainbows so a rainbow party it was. She is one feisty gal, and I am fan of her balanced likes between Darth Vader and Jack Skellington, but also rocking light up dress up shoes throughout the house and loving dresses.
We've lost a pretty big tooth, mastered several types of monkey bars, and continue to celebrate Halloween well into the Thanksgiving season. I'm a proud mom.

We explored the Renwick Gallery, a smaller and lesser known Smithsonian art museum, with really cool conceptual and interactive 3D pieces.
We are gearing up for a visit from a set of Grandparents for Thanksgiving which should make things extra festive this year, too.