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.

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 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


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!