Tag Archives: friends

washington d.c. – day two (washington monument, photobomber)

As I was looking through the photos on my camera, I realized that several dozen of them were of the Washington Monument – I’m pretty sure I just kept photographing it all day – from different angles, across the Tidal Basin, in sun, in shadow. It’s really everywhere once you’re anywhere near the Mall. So I’ve included several of them, scattered throughout our afternoon.

We left the National Portrait Gallery and headed up to Chinatown for a quick lunch. The we hopped on the Metro and took it to National Mall. It was a chilly day, but gloriously sunny. I’m glad I took some photos of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in the sunshine, because the building just glows. When we visited later in the week, the day was overcast and the building was still beautiful, but very different.

Although we hadn’t initially planned to hike around the entire Tidal Basin, the weather inspired us, and we took off for a long walk. The cherry blossoms were supposed to peak the week we were there, but they were just starting to pop in sunny spots. The cold and snow in the preceding weeks had slowed down their progress. We headed towards the Jefferson Memorial first.

We would find Mr. Jefferson winding his way through the narrative of our week in many different ways, but this day in particular was really interesting. Seeing him in the Hall of Presidents, confronting the complexity of his legacy in Unseen, approaching the temple built on a hill to his honor, his words etched into marble around him – it gave us the opportunity to connect so many of the things the girls are interested in and have studied and have discussed with us (thank you Lin-Manuel) to a scattering of places in our nation’s capitol that would continue here and there throughout the week.

I don’t recall visiting FDR’s memorial as a student, and it was one of my favorites on this visit. We actually experienced it backwards, as we were moving clockwise around the Tidal Basin. So we started with Eleanor Roosevelt, and moved in reverse order through his four terms as president. (I’ve reordered them in the photos below correctly.) As a family, we all though it might benefit many of our current political leaders to take an afternoon stroll through this memorial, reading the words on the walls – many more than I even photographed here.

The main reason I liked the direction of the path we chose to walk was that we started with Jefferson’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” (sung in Angelica Schuyler’s voice) and moved through FDR’s words (and grappling with issues of race – notwithstanding the racist legacy of the New Deal), and onto MLK a mere week before the 50th anniversary of his assassination. If we created a Venn diagram of the words on each of these monuments, we’d find quite a bit of overlap in the center. Monuments to great leaders highlight the moral ideas of the person and the period, but we’d have to dig deeper in our visit to understand what that walk between Jefferson and King really entailed. For me it felt like the perfect start to the week’s adventures ahead.

After our walk, we headed over to Duke’s Grocery to meet up with our other STL friends who were in town for the march. Duke’s was the only place out of a dozen or so restaurants I tried where I could get a reservation for 11 with just a week’s notice. But it turned out to be a great place to meet up, and the food was delicious. Our only regret was that the portions were so generous, and no one could take home leftovers. We did order three slices of pie for the table, and the lemon chess pie might have been the most delicious pie I’ve ever eaten. Acme Pie Company supplies their pies, so I should look into them a little more. Maybe there’s a cookbook!

We all walked back to Dupont Circle in the dark, glancing inside the lit windows of all the houses along the way. It’s sort of fun to hang out with friends in a new place. It felt comfortable, and a brilliant end to a weekend of adventures. I remember when we said our goodbyes and started down the street to our hotel, it felt so luxurious to have the week stretching out in front of us. It was a good pace, with good food, and really, really comfortable beds at the end of it.

summer girls, summer parties

Party 1

As I work my way backwards through our very full summer, I thought I’d highlight the birthday celebrations the girls planned this year. You might remember some of the more elaborate birthday parties when the girls were younger. I loved planning and throwing parties for them both, and we did this consistently for their first six birthdays, culminating in a shared party when they were six and twelve. But after #6, the parties got smaller, simpler, and sometimes were just celebrated with family or with a friend or two. And as the girls have grown, we’ve also let them take a bigger role in the party planning.

Since we didn’t have friend parties last year, we encouraged both girls to plan a group event for their friends. E and M looked around at several laser tag / arcade / go-kart places before settling on a new one out in the suburbs. E put together an agenda for the party, and the kids (and dad and granddads) did a couple of races and a couple rounds of laser tag. Since F was too little for the racing, she tackled the ropes course WAY up high in the space.

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E had a blast. She said a lot of her friends thought she was a little crazy to host a party like this, and they weren’t certain that they were going to enjoy it. But E loves these kind of adventures, and is really competitive and brave, and it meant a lot to her that all of her friends showed up for her and tackled some of their fears to help her celebrate. The special things they brought with them were equally amazing. It was fun for me to see her really enjoying her time with friends, and how much they all adore her.

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My summer girls, eight and fourteen.

When we were on vacation for Spring Break, F saw a preview for the movie Despicable Me 3 that was opening just a few days before her July birthday. She announced that she’d be hosting a DM3 party for a few of her friends, and she never wavered from that idea.

As the time drew closer, we put her plan into action. She found some old minion goggles from the original movie when we did the big cleanout of the third floor. She also found her minion stuffed friend, and started picking out clothes to match her theme. She wore the glasses all summer long.


I picked up some black and white striped tissue paper and treat bags, and F decorated large round labels to look like Minion eyes for the bags. We filled the bags with small little movie themed trinkets, a big bag of banana shaped candy, and some minion tic-tacs. They were a big hit.

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F invited five friends to the show, and the kids sat in their own row with booster seats (apparently those are cool!) and little snack packs and lemonades. They giggled and laughed throughout the whole movie, and afterwards her friends presented F with homemade cards and letters – one friend even wrote and performed her a song. It was all very lovely, and sweet, and funny, and just exactly what she wanted.

We talked about the parties we might throw in two years time again – a big summer of birthdays – TEN and SIXTEEN! Yikes. Just like summertime, the years are flying by. I’m glad we took some time out to celebrate this new year in the way that we did.

wednesday morning in the garden


We eat our scones in the car and then walk into the garden. She’s full of energy this morning, and climbing on everything – balancing on low walls and high walls and wagons and sheep.





I’m pretty sure she’s not supposed to be standing on the sheep; I’m pretty sure she’s not the first to do it.




She picks the entrance to the children’s garden (although it’s closed this early in the morning), and then the path through the apple trees in the home demonstration garden for our walk. We walk through the low boxwood maze as well – she likes to disappear and then reappear again.




We meet up with friends, and we ask the kids to take a photo on the wagon together. F’s been climbing around and being silly, but they both get suddenly still and rather stiff in their poses. T refuses to look at the camera, no matter how much we try to catch his attention. He casts his eyes downward; pioneer life is difficult. He looks this way and that, and F stays completely still, except for her eyes. They dance like they always do, but both of them keep their hands and bodies still, like statues. It cracks us up.




Pioneer T holds my hand all the way back to the entrance, so I stop taking photos. F runs ahead at full speed while he watches her every move. We finish off our scones in the car and head to school.