Thursday, October 31, 2013

All Hallows

Beggars' night was a little off this year. Allen was in Japan which meant he missed out not only on the trick-or-treating, but also the recording for posterity our kids in all their costume glory (I did the best I could, but ninjas are notoriously hard to capture on film and princess can be capricious, particularly when there's candy to collect). Fortunately, while Allen couldn't be there, his source material was as both Mom Mom and Grandpa Fawcett helped with the trick-or-treating and insuring we ended up with the right kids at the end of the night (though we apparently also pick up a queen somewhere...).


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Grandparents' Days

Grandma & Grandpa Z - 2013 Visit
So prior to the machinations and insanity that was the government shutdown, we suggested to Grandma and Grandpa Z that they should visit us in mid-October when the kids were off school for a couple of days, to enjoy all that DC has to offer. For a while it looked like DC didn't actually have anything to offer and we were doing searches for family friendly vineyards in Virginia and state parks in Maryland as their arrival loomed, but then miraculously the government re-opened just in time for me to ask for leave to pick my parents up from the airport.

We got a lot in over the course of a few days. On Friday we drove down to Skyline Drive where we had a picnic lunch and then Allen, Grandpa Z and the kids went for a hike on the Appalachian Trail to Compton's Peak while Grandma Z and I took more of a leisurely stroll through the woods. On Saturday, Allen and Grandpa Z went sailing with Grandpa Don (after dance class and t-ball, of course) while Grandma Z the kids and I headed over to our old neighborhood for their annual block party. On Sunday we met up with Mom Mom and Grandpa Don at Imagination Stage to see, Lulu and the Brontosaurus. Monday Grandma and Grandpa Z babysat while Allen went to work and I went to conferences after which we headed over to Great Falls for a little more nature. Tuesday the kids went to school and Allen and I went to work for at least part of the day while Grandma and Grandpa Z recovered from their many adventures and did laundry. Wednesday Grandma and Grandpa Z flew home but promised to return in January if the government shut down again...

(To see all the pictures from Grandma & Grandpa Z's visit, please click here.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

And so it ends...

end shutdown
So after 16 days, Allen and I are finally at work -- though I had to leave early in order to pick my parents up from the airport and my first order of business upon reporting for duty was to ask for the next three days off for their visit...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


atlas culture
Allen and I have been slowly completing our to-do lists (and adding to it after the ceiling started leaking Friday night...) as the shutdown drags on and the kids are in school, which leaves us with lots of time and energy to hang out with the kids on the weekend. So Saturday, Nora skipped dance class to attend her friend Miyako's "Frog Princess" birthday party, and while the rest of the attendants decided to skip out on the nature hike owing to the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen, a little fairy and I enjoyed a lovely walk in the woods.

When we got back, the Mettenburgs had arrived to attend Joe's 20th high school reunion while we watched Hugh and Gigi, the latter of whom enjoyed a sleepover with Owen and Nora (who especially enjoyed it). Since Joe & Cate had to leave just after lunch on Sunday, we decided to take advantage of the Capitol City Symphony furlough discount and expose the kids to a little added culture (though we probably shouldn't have exposed them quite so closely...).

It was a lot to do over just a couple of days. Good thing we had Monday off for Columbus Day in order to be fully rested for work... oh, never mind.

(To see more fairy pictures, click here.)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Field Trip

I volunteered to chaperone Nora's first field trip before the shutdown looked like it was going to happen, and was a little concerned I wasn't going to have enough leave to cover it. Turns out that wasn't a problem.

So on Wednesday, instead of my regular furlough tennis match with Allen, I went with Nora and her classmates (technically I met Nora and her classmates as there wasn't enough room for all the volunteers on the bus) back to the same Homestead Farms where we'd picked apples a few days before. Thankfully, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees in the intervening days, making it much more enticing to pick pumpkins, meet farm animals and participate in hayrides. Even more luckily, the remnants of Tropical Storm Karen held off Wednesday morning and we didn't get rained on the entire trip (the same couldn't be said for the poor preschoolers that went on Thursday).

(To see all the field trip pics, click here.)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Shutdown Week 2

Shutdown day 8
So this whole shutdown thing is going on far longer than we anticipated. There is at least some hope now that we will receive back pay after this is all resolved, and many local businesses have been very supportive throughout the whole ordeal. (Special shout out to Atlas Brew Works for the discounted growlers!) Still, it's not a good feeling to be a pawn in this whole standoff, and having chosen a career of public service, and truly believing in the work that we do, this whole ordeal has become incredibly painful and disheartening. Can we please go back to work?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Apple Picking

Before all the shutdown madness started, Mom Mom and Aunt Katherine suggested an apple-picking excursion. We checked our schedules (ours, were incredibly open but the kids had some stuff going on...) and decided that Sunday afternoon would be perfect. And aside from it being 90 degrees in October, it was.

We got some fresh air, picked a lot of apples -- cameo, enterprise, fuji and suncrisp -- and even snuck in some surreptitious bites (when you're not getting a paycheck, sometimes you have to channel your inner Jean Valjean in order to feed the kids). It was a welcome distraction from the goings on in DC and our bounty meant that I had some additional chores to fill my time with in the upcoming week.

(To see all the apple picking pics, click here).

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Shut Down


It's been a weird week here in Washington. On Monday, we dutifully reported to our respective offices, working feverishly to complete everything that needed to be done over the next few days on the off chance that the government was unable to reach some sort of agreement regarding its budget. On Tuesday we reported to these same offices to record phone greetings and email auto-responses informing people that due to the current fiscal disagreement, we wouldn't be able to help them and if they left a message we'd get back to them when the government re-opened. Then we secured our offices, went home and drank (ok, technically we played tennis first).

It really shouldn't have come as a surprise that our government would eventually implode, after all, we've been doing "shut-down" prep every nine months or so and our last debt ceiling crisis was a little less than two years ago. But typically, these things involve a flurry of activity at the last minute allowing us to just skirt disaster, and this time there was no activity at all.


So we hunkered down. We organized things in the house. And I calculated just how much this was costing us in lost wages (enough to hurt, in addition to the thousands Allen lost being furloughed nine days earlier this year due to the Sequester). By day three of the shutdown, we started the process of applying for unemployment insurance shortly before we picked our kids up from school where our daughter had been in lock-down due to a shoot-out with the Capitol Police two blocks from her campus. It was a pretty bad day.

It's hard not to take much of this personally. Allen works for the EPA and I spent a fare amount of time over the past three years working on ACA related stuff -- which means we're both on Ted Cruz's hit list. And while we're spending a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves (we do, after all, have a lot of time on our hands just now), we recognize that we're pretty lucky. We don't live paycheck to paycheck or have crushing debt or medical bills which means that even if we don't receive back pay (though it looks like we might), we'll be fine. A lot of federal workers won't be.

And so we continue to wait. And hang pictures. And work on our back hands. And drink increasingly lower quality alcoholic beverages. And do yard work at Katherine and Lee's place for food.  And hope that one day we'll get a tweet that we can actually go back to work.