Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mommy Day

Historically, Owen and I have celebrated Emancipation Day in the District by going paddle-boating in the Tidal Basin -- it used to also involve a trip to the MLK Memorial in keeping with the spirit of the day, but after a failed attempt to find a pedi-cab resulted in a 3 mile death march in 80 degree heat, Owen but the kibosh on that part if the tradition. But this year, Emancipation Day fell in the middle of Spring Break, so we decided to save our adventure until the very last day and include Nora.

This year was particularly awesome. Grandpa Fawcett gave us a ride to the boats where we spent the next 45 minutes meandering about (Nora was steering) in a post-Cherry Blossom festival lull. After a short snack break, we walked (technically, we sneaked) to the Smithsonian metro stop and took the train to Capital South in order to partake in some "Good Stuff" hamburger, fries and the obligatory milkshake. We then we headed over to the Brent Elementary playground to continue to show off our climbing moves, but called Grandpa once we got a little too over-stimulated.

After a little quiet time at home, we headed over to the rec-center to meet Nora's friend, Violet and to try out our new soccer goal. Alas, Nora thought Owen and I were too focused on having fun instead of winning, resulting in an abrupt departure and strong talking to (followed by some My Little Pony, so that Princess Celestia could drive the point home). And bubbles.

Everyone was pretty worn out afterwards, which made finishing Owen's Springbreak homework pack a bit of a challenge (whoever decided to assign poetry to second graders after a week plus break from school should have to sit with said second graders for the hour it takes to write said poem), but I think speak for everyone when I say I can't wait until next year.


Sunday, April 20, 2014


Our Easter traditions are pretty basic: breakfast at the bagel place (long story, but it boils down to our inability to make the 9 o'clock mass at St. Peter's); church at St. Joseph's (conveniently at 10:30 am); and then an egg hunt at Mom Mom's (with Makayla) followed by a lovely dinner.  But really, why mess with perfection?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Opening Days

Spring is "officially" here, and while old man winter has been stubbornly refusing to leave, the baseball calendar will not be denied.  On Friday the Nats played their home opener, and of course Owen and I were there.  I picked up Owen early from school, and we joined Mom Mom & Grandpa Don at the game.  We took in all the pre-game festivities; cheered mightily as we watched Ian Desmond sprint around the bases for an inside the park home run as Justin Upton pretended the ball was lodged in the fence; booed lustily (and maybe shed a tear or two) when the first ever instant replay challenge at Nats Park went against us sending Desmond back to second; and reveled in the hope and joy that a new baseball season brings, even if Braves spoiled the fun besting the Nats 2 to 1.

The Nats weren't the only ones with an Opening Day this weekend.  Owen moved up to AA little league this year, and his new team, the Rangers, played their first game Saturday morning.  Owen was brimming with excitement for all the new challenges in AA ball, machine pitch, keeping track of outs, and playing with the big kids in second and third grade.  The biggest change though was that Coach tapped Owen to start the game off playing catcher.  He donned all the gear, put on a catcher's mitt for the first time, and crouched behind the plate catching (and blocking) the bullets fired in by the pitching machine.  The whole team had plenty of rust to shake off during the first game, but they beamed with the excitement of a new season.

(click here for all the pictures)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cochon 555

For a while now, Don has been talking up Cochon 555, and this year he convinced Katherine & Lee, Danny & Nancy, and Dad and I to join him, and even got us upgraded to VIP tickets for the event.  Cochon 555 is a pork extravaganza.  Set in the huge space above Union Market, each of the chefs is given a whole heritage pig and tasked with dreaming up their best creations to win over the judges and guests and try to win a trip to the Grand Chochon competition in Aspen.  Our favorite going in was of course Erik from one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Toki Underground, and he didn't disappoint.  Serving what we all agreed were the tastiest dishes of the night (and previewing what we hope to see at his new H Street place Makketto), Erik won the night and sent us home happy.

Twenty-Twenty-Twenty Six Hours to Go...

Dave & Kara

Uncle Dave and Aunt Kara were in town for a book conference, and managed to extend their stay in order to have 26 hours of fun with us. Allen picked them up at their lodgings while I took Nora to her first day of soccer (where she totally rocked it). After a quick stop to change, Nora and I headed to dance class while Owen, Allen, Dave and Kara played the marble game.

After we finally reunited, it was on. We headed off to Union Market to partake of the latest artesian pleasures and then off to the Atlas Brewery to quench our thirst. The kids weren't particularly excited about that diversion (despite the cornhole, and the Morris dancers waxing poetically about beer), but they were rewarded for their patience with a stop at Atlas Arcade for some X-Men and 80s nostalgia.

Once home, Dave, the kids and myself engaged in a feverish soccer-esque game (there was a ball, kicking and goals, but also keep away and some form of wrestling...). Molly and Tyler joined us for dinner and some sous-vide steaks a la Allen, which Dave ultimately conceded tasted pretty good for boiled meat. Eventually, we put Owen to bed in Nora's room (good thing we still had his old mattress) while Dave & Kara took over Owen's room and his National League adorned bed.

The next morning we had sous-vide eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes and a lot of Avenger adventures and photo ops before Dave & Kara headed to the airport and John & Allen prepared for Cochon 555...

(click here for all of Dave & Kara's pictures)

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Postal Performance

Nora has always been an enthusiastic performer, so I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise when she was cast in the lead role of the mail carrier in the Peabody Pre-K 4 Spring concert about the postal service. In a sea of white shirts and blue pants, there was Nora dressed up as a mail carrier, proudly delivering her line, "I have mail for all of you girls."

She was absolutely beaming after the show, excited about all the attention, using a real microphone for the first time, and whole experience, proclaiming it the, "Best. Day. Ever!!!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bedlam v.2

Owen had the smallest room in our old house, and so he was understandably pretty psyched when we moved and his square footage roughly tripled. To be honest, we were a bit surprised at how well Owen embraced his change in fortunes, for while who wouldn't want a huge bedroom with a balcony, Owen generally doesn't like change. At all. He cried when we gave away our old yogurt encrusted dining room table in favor of Grandpa Fawcett's Amana heirloom one. He threw a fit when we got a new toaster oven and tried to throw out the old one. And he informed us that he doesn't want a new bike for Easter unless it's exactly like his old one.

But we had decided when we moved that since Owen had such a large room, it would double as a guest room as needed. And while we've tried to convince our guests that a leaky air mattress is the height of hospitality, eventually I decided that we needed to replace Owen's twin with a full size bed.

So we ordered the exact same bed as Owen's in full-size. We let him pick out Star Wars and National League sheets and a special Nationals pillow case. On his compressed day Allen went and got a mattress while Grandpa assembled the bed. But when Owen arrived home from school and was informed of his new addition, he refused to enter the room to even look at the finished product. When we finally got him to go into the room, Owen refused the touch the new bed and ended up sleeping on the old one with his sleeping bag.


The next night we got Owen to sleep in his new bed. After a couple days of increasing acceptance of the new paradigm, I announced that I would be selling the old bed online. This did not go over well. Owen informed me that he needed the bed for Legos. I informed him that he could keep the money from the sale. Owen argued that the additional bed meant that even more guests could stay in the room. I informed him a little four year old boy desperately needed the bed. Owen informed me that if I insisted on selling his bed, he was going to go live in the sewers and then promptly burst into tears.

I started laughing. Not because I'm a terrible person who loves crushing her only son's soul, but because I didn't even know where the sewer thing came from (turns out he'd been reading ahead in his Dragonbreath book) and honestly, after Owen cried over the toaster oven his credibility was somewhat shot with me. After a few minutes I gave up trying to cajole him, and called Allen who spent the next 45 minutes talking about how living in the sewer might not be the best solution and if Owen really didn't want to sleep in his room without his old bed, he could instead sleep on the stairs but not the roof.

We had a brief reprieve as the buyers of the bed had to delay the intended pick-up date from Thursday to Saturday. Owen kept asking if he could keep the bed, and we kept saying, "no" which didn't make him hate us, but definitely didn't endear us to him.

Finally, the morning of the pick-up came. Our plan was for Allen to take Owen to the park to play catch during the handover, but instead Owen and Nora decided to stage a concert in Owen's room using the old bed as a stage. With 15 minutes until the buyer's arrival, I finally broke it to Owen that the bed was leaving imminently (he immediately said we needed to turn off all the lights and lock the doors), but... that the people had decided they didn't need the mattress. Owen looked a bit taken aback and said, "You never said they weren't taking the mattress."

So we took the mattress off the bed, and while Nora tried to bar the door when the new owner arrived, Owen calmly went to our room to wait until the the frame was gone and then returned to his room to set up for the show, telling me again, "I didn't know I got to keep the mattress..."

So Owen is now happily sleeping in his new bed, and playing with his old mattress, which I guess means we'll be storing in his closet until he leaves for college.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hello, Bonjour, Buenos Dias

Just a little preview of Nora's Spring Concert :-)

Monday, February 17, 2014



With the Winter Olympics in full swing, a four day holiday weekend for the kids, and the biggest snowstorm in four years barreling down on us, what better time for an East Coast ski weekend.  We rented a condo on the slopes in Seven Springs, talked Katherine & Lee into joining us for what would be their first real ski trip, and just needed to make sure we could actually make it out of town with up to a foot of snow on the way in DC on Thursday.  Our hastily created plan B was to assume everything would be closed on Thursday, and drive up to Pittsburgh to stay with Joe & Cate on Wednesday night, so we'd only have an hour drive to Seven Springs on Wednesday, and would hopefully miss the heaviest snow.

The plan worked for the most part, we made it up to Pittsburgh Wednesday night, had a lovely evening with the Mettenburgs, and awoke to reports of a foot of snow or more back home.  We had a leisurely beginning to the day as snow began to fall, and got ready to hit the road around two.  The only slight hiccup was that we couldn't get out of the driveway.  Joe & Cate had already made it out earlier with their more snow appropriate vehicles, but our poor van just spun its wheels trying to make it up the snowy hill at the end of the drive.  It took about 45 minutes of shoveling and salting before we managed to give the car enough traction to make it out of the drive.  Then we just had to make it the rest of the way to the mountain.

The roads in Pittsburgh and the Turnpike weren't too bad, but the snow was starting to come down hard, and reports from Katherine & Lee (who were doing the whole drive up on Thursday) were that the back roads were getting pretty bad.  Sure enough, it was some pretty white knuckle driving once we left the Turnpike, but we eventually made it to Seven Springs (amazingly just a couple minutes after Katherine & Lee).

You might think that once we were ensconced in our ski condo, with ready access to the slopes and no need to drive, we'd be home free, but one more obstacle arose when poor Nora threw up in the middle of the night.  It cost Nora a day of ski lessons, and Elaine a day on the slopes, but the girls very generously let the Owen and I ski on Saturday.  We enjoyed great snow conditions, some of the only sun the whole weekend that peeked out in the afternoon, and Owen gave Katherine & Lee some lessons (though I'm not sure they were really ready for him to lead them through the terrain park ;-).

Snow kept falling all weekend (about 2 feet in total), Elaine made it out on her skis, Owen had one private lesson, but skied mostly with me, Nora eventually had a great day in ski school on Sunday, plenty of Winter Olympics were watched, (not to mention Bravo), and Katherine & Lee had enough fun on the slopes that they might even be convinced to try it again someday.

(click here for all the pictures)


Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ice Slide

I joined the "Moms on the Hill" list-serve right around the time Nora was born. It's been a great resource for information about raising children (insights into schools, extra-curriculum programs, suggestions regarding different childhood ailments/issues) and living (recommendations for contractors, safety alerts), on Capitol Hill (and has also facilitated the buying and selling of several items).

But occasionally, disagreements break out on the list-serve, such as the infamous "by protesting the White Supremacist March you are giving credence to their cause" debate of 2012 and the "you were dismissive of the real issues the mother of the 'defiant pooper' was facing" controversy of 2014.

Such was the case in early February when in response to an inquiry regarding the appropriate dress code for the ice slide at the St. Elizabeth's East Gateway (snow pants or no snow pants), and received a response from another mom complaining that the city had spent $200,000 to install an ice slide in Anacostia in lieu of expenditures for recreation centers and libraries. This began a debate about the appropriate use of public tax dollars, if public employees are in fact worthless, what the Dowager Countess of Capitol Hill would do and whether one respondent's emails were in fact, "snotty ad hominem response" filled with "...personal invective."

I was riveted, immediately decided we had to go and invited the Browns to join us.

Our kids had an awesome time. The Browns... a bit less so. Poor Ben slammed his fingers in the car door when we got there and Mia's face hit the wall her first time down. But in the end, the kids all recovered and seemed to enjoy what some would deem, "a temporary boondoggle" and what we all thought was pretty awesome.