Friday, October 28, 2016

Resident Tourists: The Kennedy Center

While I was certainly familiar with The Kennedy Center and its fame as a world-class performing arts venue, my dear friend Ashley, who lives in Washington state, sent me some great information about free nightly programs on their Millenium Stage, as part of a "arts for everyone" initiative, that she read about in her Rachael Ray magazine. So thanks Ashley and Rachael for sharing!

I found a performance that looked like something Henry might enjoy on a night we were free, and so a date night was put in the books.

Henry and I hopped on the metro and then walked about a half mile through the Foggy Bottom/George Washington University neighborhood (my date had some whiny moments as we were sans stroller) to the Center, which is quite grand-and that was after I started walking up to the Saudi Arabian Embassy, its next door neighbor, on accident. Whoops!

Since we had the show to catch, I wasn't able to take in much of the Center's features and know they offer daily tours, that I'd really like to come back and enjoy.

The performance featured an Italian troupe from New York City as part of the "Kids Euro Festival" that performed Italian fables and stories in both Italian and English, which was fun to hear.

At the risk of sounding like a total snob, the show was so-so, but did a great job being a guinea pig for our first trip and to check out the venue itself, transportation, and to gauge Henry's interest. The free nightly programs range from music to dance to theater, so no doubt we will be back for something else as much as a headlining performance in their main theater. My fingers are crossed that this Christmas, they or another theater will feature the Nutcracker, as Henry loves Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker's music specifically, so allowing him to see a children's version of the ballet would be a total holiday highlight. 

Following the performance I discovered there was a free shuttle to and from the metro so my date didn't have to walk back to the subway-he seemed pretty grateful for my ability to read, and discovering such conveniences!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pumpkin Patching

There is no denying that fall on the east coast is beautiful. We drove from DC to Whitehall Farm in Fairfax, Virginia, and it could not have been more picturesque with the leaves changing and the 60-degree temperatures. Having endured so many hot falls at home, it's been a welcome to change to wear a sweater and need to keep it on past 10 a.m.!

The farm delivered everything we (namely Henry) could have wanted out of a pumpkin patch trip--farm animals that needed feeding, pumpkins to pick, a pumpkin sling shot, bounce houses, hay ride, tractors to watch, corn hole, and a corn maze. It was a great day :)

I will admit, the patch wasn't as bountiful as I would have imagined!

Slinging pumpkins at nearly nine months pregnant!

Henry feeding the farm's mascot, Henry the Cow.

This boy loves anything "cute and tiny"...pumpkins included!

One of our pumpkins has fallen victim to a bushy-tailed rodent, so this carefully selected squash will be living indoors until next weekend when it's carved and put outside!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Resident Tourists: Smithsonian National Post Office Museum

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit I had no idea there was such a Smithsonian in existence, though I suppose I shouldn't be surprised seeing that it is a government department with a detailed history worth preserving and sharing.

This was the first time Henry and I took the bus, which was a learning experience. The necessary bus stop is relatively close to our home, and the ride was short though pretty crowded. I did realize buses do not run at the frequency of the subway, which was more pronounced on our way home when we waited about 20 minutes (with looming rain storm) and then the bus was a further 15 minutes late. Bigger lesson learned was that you have to request stops--here I thought these people were making special requests to hop off...nope. We only went one stop past ours thanks to someone else needing to get off, but lesson learned. And we made it home before the clouds broke and skies poured!

Having a three-year-old who is a big fan of the mail system (so much that he dressed up as a mail carrier last Halloween), I knew an early visit was in order.

Mailboxes from around the world.
They have an interactive exhibit that allows you to design your own postage stamp and email it to yourself, though it comes through as a Cinderella stamp--"because they are beautiful, but unable to be used as a valid stamp." 
Henry's creation :)

The stamp exhibit would be a stamp collector's dream-it's the largest in the world.
As expected, the museum houses a history of transporting the mail--from the Pony Express, to stagecoaches, to rail, trucks, and air.

Several cool artifacts are kept here, including Amelia Earhart's flight suit, the Unabomber's handcuffs, and a mailbox that was across the street from the World Trade Center on September 11.

Henry's favorite exhibit was the giant semi-truck, which was part of illustrating the transportation of mail.
After a few hours of walking around, lunch was in order. Union Station, a large transportation hub with many dining options, houses the Shake Shack, which locals deem the closest burger to In 'n Out. Admittedly I was suspicious of such claims, but I enjoyed the burger and while I wouldn't say it was better than In 'n Out, it was quite tasty and Henry gobbled up his grilled cheese. And, they offer a frozen custard dessert as well as beer and wine on their menu so frankly, that wins some points against In 'n Out! I am sure we will be back when the burger cravings hit hard.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Resident Tourists: The West Wing

While we missed the watching the final debate and most of the abysmal Dodger game last Wednesday night, we had a good excuse--we enjoyed a personal tour of the West Wing, courtesy of Scott's boss.

Frankly, I think it was time better spent rather than being frustrated by the potential POTUS's banter, and instead being in the professional wing of the current President's quarters! 

I was a bit bummed to learn there are no photos allowed inside the West Wing or the Rose Garden, so any included here are in the permitted areas only-primarily the press briefing room and outside the offices. 

This tour can easily be filed under "Is This Real Life?" in my filing cabinet of life. Walking among the halls where the highest level of movers and shakers in our government make decisions in times of war and peace is quite sobering. Seeing the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, Roosevelt Room, and the door (yes, only the door, not the inside) of the Situation Room was mind boggling too. Also interesting of note is a Club 33-esque members-only private dining room, The Navy Mess, that looks to be FANCY and I'm scheming as to how I can get an invite. This girl needs a lovely ladies lunch every once in a while!

Outside the entrance to the West Wing (!!!)

While we can't dine in the Navy Mess, we were able to help ourselves to some presidential styrofoam cups and water. Pretty sure these will remain on prominent bookshelf status moving forward.

Professionally speaking, this was probably the coolest spot to me that we checked out.
I'd like to think Henry warmed up this stage for Bill Murray who would crash a press briefing the next day with his World Series thoughts. Obviously, he was right!

Like the West Wing itself, this room was quite small, and I imagine it times of tension, could feel like a shoebox when anyone at that podium is being grilled by the press.

Ribbon Cutting scissors for the opening of the press room...I would have guessed they would have been grander!

The following photos are from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is next to the West Wing, and houses the offices for White House staff. The West Wing is actually pretty small hence the majority of the offices being housed in this building.

Hot mic!

You give him the head seat at a beautiful table along with official White House cup of water and he thinks he's the boss.