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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fall Fun in the DMV

Fall is just forking awesome in these parts.

A few weeks ago I took Jo to Hillwood Estate and Gardens for a preschool program, and while that was meh, it's been on my bucket list as a destination to see the past two years. The grounds were beautiful and the foliage quite pretty. She saw a turtle in the pond so everyone left happy ;)
We've enjoyed fall festivals at schools, at pumpkin patches-both as a family and school field trips.

And I've lived out a dream of having a kids' Halloween party complete with corny games and festive foods.

And now the Dodgers are the NLCS Champs and again battling it out in the World Series!  It's a good season!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Playing Catch Up

Apparently when your child starts kindergarten and you move to a new house, and manage a property 3,000 miles away, life moves at about 120 miles per hour.

Before summer officially closed its doors, we had a lemonade stand with our neighbors, visited a vintage amusement park that's been reincarnated, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, moved into a new 100-year-old (temporary) rowhouse, and someone turned FIVE years old.

To close out September we watched "Return of the Jedi" on the lawn of the Library of Congress, where a few other friends dropped by, and toasted to our second anniversary of living here.

It's been a busy, emotional and rather crazy month!

Bring on fall-we are ready for you Halloween!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Summer Bucket List

As of Monday, we have a kindergartner. We can't believe he's reached this point in his life, but man, time is a thief and here we are. While we are only two days in, he's so happy and excited to be there, so while the rest of us adjust to his absence each day, I take a lot of comfort in knowing he's having fun.

Prior to school starting, we've checked off a final summer fling bucket list with all of his requests, including trips to the National Air and Space Museum, American Indian Museum, and River Farm.
We did all things aquatic-pool days, Yards Park, riding the jetty to the District Wharf, and Shake Shack lunches.

We went to the Montgomery County Fair and watched the pig races, ate corn dogs, rode some rides, slid on giant slides, and mounted very expensive farm equipment.
We adventured to Teddy Roosevelt Island, lunched at Cortina's east coast cousin, and played tennis in the backyard.
And we made our way to a really cool park/spray ground complete with carousel on the eve of school, with another Shake Shake dinner date the night before.
It'd be cool if time slowed down now.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The final weeks of summer

Today marks the final two weeks of summer before Henry starts school for the next 17 years and I cannot believe it. We made a bucket list to adventure as much as we can these last ten days and I'm reminded how much I've enjoyed being home with him these first few years.

This weekend he got to spend both days on dates with Scott and I. For my day, we headed to the National Gallery of Art for their Art Investigators program-a story about an artist and then a look at their work. It was AMAZING. Reminded me so much of "Meet the Masters" from elementary school. In this session, the kids focused on Edgar Degas and his only publicly exhibited sculpture, "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen Years."

These are drop-in programs and we missed the first session by minutes, so we hung out in their new Education Art Center for an hour, where I found a book about the sculpture, then we drew her with some really cool crayon/marker hybrid. We then made our way back to our session start time and while he was initially reluctant to this idea of mine, easily became fascinated thanks to the engaging leader and interactive participation. They listened, held the pose like the ballerina, and then got to model their own creation with clay to close.

This was the last session for the summer but I'll definitely be looking for it when it resumes in the fall.

"Mom, do we know this guy in the painting?"
We also went blackberry and peach picking at one of our favorite places-Homestead Farms. Since Jo was really into strawberry picking in May and well, eating sweet things in general, I figured this was right up her ally. We did it last summer with friends and what little time we'll have been here in retrospect, I like to think of it as a little tradition.

It's also been at least six months since we visited the zoo, so it was really Josephine's first time truly getting it. She loved seeing the animals and the giant cats were especially vocal, and the seals playful.

We took a family hike on Teddy Roosevelt Island and were treated to a family of deer crossing nibbling nearby and eventually crossing our path, and also returned to the National Botanical Garden since it opened in spring for some afternoon fun.
Kids starting school used to excite me-less crowds! Less traffic! And now my kid is one of them. I really feel like I just graduated sixth grade myself.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Road Trip to New England

I've really been craving an authentic lobster roll and while I still have dreams of going to Maine, I convinced the family to drive through seven states up to Cape Cod, where I definitely ate my fair share of some of the best seafood evah.

We broke up our trip on the way there after four hours of driving with a stay in Connecticut. I didn't realize it was Henry's first hotel experience as we've always stayed with family or in vacation homes, so this newfound concept of hotel was pretty great to witness ("Where's the kitchen? How are we going to eat?"...and then immediately bouncing on all the beds, with any fears of missed meals long forgotten.)

The next day, we drove 3.5 more hours to Buzzards Bay in Cape Cod, where we met up with one of Scott's former colleagues, who happened to be staying at the family compound. This house was amazing...along with all of the others in the neighborhood. Private beach access, sweeping vistas, windows galore. It would be real easy to just retire to one of the 15 bedrooms and go unnoticed for a few weeks. The kids swam in the pool after enjoying the rocky beach below and then we made our way to our own cottage about 25 minutes away in Plymouth.

I found our cottage listed on a vacation rental site and just kept coming back to it. It really had it all for what we were looking for-an easy vacation with some experiences available should we want to partake. The cottage sits right on one of Massachusetts glacial lakes-Long Pond- so the water is crystal clear, with a sandy beach, jumping dock, barge, and its own canoe. The cottage itself had all the amenities one might need in an upgraded cabin for family convenience. We enjoyed our meals and morning coffee on the sun porch with a swing, and the kids and I loved the Dutch doors. I was sold.
We spent our days swimming, canoeing, and exploring historical Plymouth (where Jo fell and left a fair share of her DNA in the old streets).

One of Henry's vacation bucket list items was to see a lighthouse, and the Cape is full of them, but not all are on land or offer the availability to walk up to them, as a few are vacation rentals for those who want to shell out $6k a week. This one, the Nobska Lighthouse about a 40 minute drive in Woods Hole, was perfect. We unfortunately missed the interior tours by one day, but Henry didn't seem to mind. We could see Martha's Vineyard, watch the ships going in and out of the Harbor, and amazing views from the hill.
It was here that I ate the most expensive sandwich of my life, but wowza was it worth it. Both Scott and I failed on asking for it to be with butter instead of mayo but it didn't even matter. That warm and crispy buttered roll hugged that six ounces of lobster perfectly, and washed down with a local beer sitting on the restaurant dock complete with drawbridge going up and down made for a perfect lunch for everyone.
Swimming daily at the cottage was a given. The lake was about 30 steps from the door and everyone loved the easy accessibility. We floated, jumped, paddled, and canoed through that water for hours.

We were in a pretty remote area of Plymouth, tucked off dirt roads and surrounded by nature. We saw bald eagles, deer, and hiked to a cranberry bog. While not in season, we could see the fruit and imagine how it would be in a few months. It was really cool.

It's unlikely that Jo will remember this vacation, but I am confident Henry will. It really checked all of my own boxes for a fun family vacation with beach, camp-like surroundings, nature, adventure, and relaxation. The kids did better than I expected on the long drive, had the best time, and really was such a great way to recharge as a family. I'll be riding the post-vacation high for a while. And thinking about that lobster roll. And scallops.