Sunday, October 9, 2011

DC part 2

Since I know you all dying from suspense...

M is for Metro. This is the name of DC's subway system. I was pretty nervous about how this was going to work with Jonathan. Especially since I was going to be by myself on Tuesday. But it couldn't have been easier. I don't have a lot of subway experience to compare this to, but it was stupidly easy. You find where you want to go, you look at the color you need to take you there. You look at the stop at the end of that line. et Voila! (sorry for the french again.) I mean, by the end Jonathan knew what to do. For example. Brad and Meghan live in Clarendon. Which runs on the orange line. And when we were in DC heading to their apartment, the last stop is Vienna. So you get to the station, look for the train that says Orange to Vienna. Then you count the stops until Clarendon.
Then you get off. Plus did I mention Jonathan LOVED it. I mean loved loved loved it. I cannot emphasize this enough. He would have been absolutely delighted to switch trains and ride the metro all day. Especially if we stopped to ride the escalators to the top every once in a while.

N is for Natural History Museum. This was the first stop of the whole trip. At this point I am still trying to get my bearings, and have little input (by my own choice) on the plans. I am basically just following everyone else. This is how I like to do vacation. I do not like to plan vacation. I just like to go on vacations. So we walk into this building that I assume is a museum, and started walking around. We were there for at least 45 minutes before I realized that I had no idea where we were. And for at least safety reasons, I should probably asked. Needless to say, Everette rolled his eyes. It is inconceivable that Everette would be anywhere for any amount of minutes and not know exactly where he was. Have I mentioned how different we are? Anyway, the Natural History museum was AMAZING!! We only made it through the rotunda. But we walked through room after room of beautiful, incredibly-realistic life-sized animals. Posed creatively. Meghan and I debated as we walked through, whether or not the animals were in fact real. Everette, Senor Smartypants, informed us, that they likely were not. Major buzzkill. I generally avoid taking pictures of things like this because there are a bazillion on the internet and they are usually better. So here are a few highlights from the world wide web,  take note of the animals leaping and assuming very natural poses:

oh yeah, one thing I did take a picture of was a tower of giant disease molecules. diseases or epidemics that have had a large impact on people population. There was cholera, dysentery, HIV, influenza and some others. I thought it was super cool.

O is for Orangarangtang Pee. On Tuesday, Jonathan and I braved the Metro all by ourselves and Headed North to the Zoo.  We'll save the rest of the zoo for later (Z is for...) but the highlight by far were the orangarangtangs (you get that that's what Jonathan calls them, right). They had an area in the Great Ape house, and in the middle of their yard was a giant tower, not too unlike those large metal power lines. There were two cables stretching across the sidewalk to another tower, and then another. They really resembled power lines (just call me Lady Redundant Woman-name that show). I noticed them earlier, curious as to what they were, but continued on. As we were marching up the hill, Jonathan noticed the orangarangtangs and wanted to stop and look at them again. I was all too happy to take a break. As soon as we stopped the youngest orangarangtang started climbing the tower. We grabbed a spot on a nearby bench to watch. The ape climbed higher and higher, and the two others followed. They climbed until they reached the top and walked out onto those two cables. Apparently, they are able to walk across the towers to another part of the zoo where they can hang out. Freaky! At this point two zoo staffers stood up and cleared the area underneath.  They warned us that they commonly relieved themselves (both numbers) as they walked across. I believed them, but thought it unlikely we would witness it. Not so! The first orangarangtang stopped right over the sidewalk, and peed. Right in front of us. We were out of the splash zone, but it was an awesome sight to behold. Awesome, that is, if you are either a boy or the mother of a boy. Most of the girls screamed in horror. Of course, I have pictures (not of the peeing, don't worry).
This was seconds before the pee

P is for Pinkberry. Earlier I said there were two things I wanted to do. The Holocaust Museum and Pinkberry. Pinkberry is like the Starbucks of frozen yogurt.

It started in California, and when we went to New York last year, Brad and Meghan took us to one. I was in love. It was bright and cheerful. The Yogurt was this amazing blend of creamy yet still tart. The toppings were fresh. Fresh people.

Fresh strawberries. Fresh pineapple. Fresh kiwi. And any other number of toppings. We only made it there once in NYC. When I got home I started searching for the nearest one. It was in Nashville, I cried. But, I found out a new one opened up literally around the corner from Brad and Meghan's apartment. We went every night. It was amazing. And delicious. And I was so happy.
If you ever go. Get the original or the pomegranate with strawberries, pineapple and Cap'n Crunch, then sweetly ask them to sprinkle some yogurt chips on top.   Pinkberry, please come to Purdue. Please.

Seriously, are they not totally adorable.

Q is for Question. Everette is a great person to have on a trip. I realized a long time ago, that Everette is a real live, walking, talking Search Engine. He is a wealth of information. I have started asking Everette to "google" things in his head. I think it's hilarious, I am not sure he does. When we go places, I just ask him random questions. At the air and space museum, I asked would point to things and ask him what they were. There was this giant flying bicycle contraption made out of saran wrap hanging from the ceiling. We weren't close enough to read the sign, but I asked Everette. He of course knew exactly what it was (the Gossamer Condor), and rattled off a bunch of facts about it, including that it flew across the English  Channel, which when asked, he knew exactly how many miles across it was.

Doubtful, Meghan and I went over to verify. We read the sign, and it said nothing about the English Channel. We exchanged smug self-satisfied looks. Then as we walked away, I saw at the very bottom in tiny letters, that this particular craft crossed the English Channel (21 miles). I leaned over to Meghan, and said, "Never question Everette, he is usually right."

R is for Rain. It rained every day we were there,except Tuesday. Tuesday it was bright and sunny and beautiful. Not a violent rain, but enough to be slightly annoying. Thankfully, with the exception of Saturday, it was mainly in the afternoon, and we were able to do almost everything we wanted to do.

S is for Segway. I want one. S is also for Starbucks. It makes me happy.
I think this pictures is hilarious! Compounded by the fact, that I have that exact stroller.

T is for Tidal Basin. Monday we spend the morning walking around the Tidal Basin and its surrounding monuments.
Meghan had to go back to work, so it was me and the three stooges. who walk like their pants are on fire.  So this was my view for most of the morning. I've definitely seen worse.

Having seen most of them before, it wasn't very revelational, but we had a good time. Two noteworthy things... this is irony: FDR hated being seen in his wheelchair. He went to great lengths to avoid public appearances in it.  How is he portrayed at his memorial? In his wheelchair.
Brad, with FDR's dog. The dog was life-sized.  For real. You don't believe me?

The second, we walked through the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It was neat. I had one of those moments when you look at a piece of art and it doesn't really make sense, and then all of a sudden, it clicks and you have a whole new appreciation. The MLK monument is mainly three large pieces. Two on the outside that basically look like a giant rock. A rock that looks like rock, impressive right? Then in the middle like a wedged chopped out and thrust forward is MLK standing, cut out of the rock, Mount Rushmore style. Are you moved by my description, rock, and more rock, no metal accents, no color, just carved rock. As you come around the side of MLK there is a quote carved into the side of the rock, "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope." Powerful imagery, no? As you stepped back to look at the statue, you notice the opening serves as the entrance of the monument. And at the moment I looked back, a large group of people poured out through that valley. It was pretty amazing.

U is for Umbrella Stroller. When we were planning for our trip, we decided we would definitely need a stroller, and the ones we had were bulky, and heavy. So I decided to call out to my network of moms and beg for handouts. My good friend, Amber offered her umbrella stroller. I was skeptical, because umbrella strollers generally are painfully too short for us. But I figured I could at least check it out. It is a Maclaren. Which, if you didn't know is the mac daddy of umbrella strollers. It pretty much rocked my world. And will the the next stroller purchase I ever make.  This stroller, saved my life. and my sanity.
He is smiling, in case you were confused.

V is for Vernon. Mt Vernon. Our Sunday morning outing. It was pretty fun. The property was beautiful. The gardens were amazing.

Aside from seeing the bed George Washington died in, the dung repository was my personal favorite. Because who calls a pile of crap, a dung repository (also, you must say this with an terrible British accent)?

By the way did you know that George Washington died in 1799? Everette did.

Umm... Jonathan was a little squirrelly at Mt Vernon.

W is for Whole Foods. Brad and Meghan also lived down the street from Whole Foods. Monday evening, I decided to make dinner for everyone, so I justified an excursion to check out the place. I had mixed feelings. The atmosphere was very pleasant, and the variety of cheeses would blow your mind. But I was seriously disappointed that they didn't have any zucchini or fresh oregano. Who runs out of those?

X is for x-o- skeleton. Ok that was a stretch. But at the zoo they had an invertebrate exhibit, featuring a lot of cool sea creatures. Including a tank of Nautiluses (Nautili?) swimming around. Something not cool? The giant display of UNCAGED spiders you had to walk through to get out of the building.

Y is for Yum! Sunday Morning we ate breakfast at the Silver Diner. I had a seriously fantastic omelet. The California (chicken, montery jack cheese, avacado, black bean salsa, etc.) So good. Then I drank two cups of coffee. Then I made Brad stop at a Krispy Kreme fifteen minutes from Mount Vernon because I told him I was going to pee in his fancy car, if he didn't.  Then he said, I should have gone before we left the diner. Then I told him I did, but I still had to pee really bad. He said he wasn't worried, because his seats were leather. Then  I said I was pregnant, then the car got really quiet and everyone turned to look at me, then I said, that I was once pregnant, and once you are pregnant your bladder is permanently damaged, and when you have to pee, it feels like someone is sitting on you. Then Meghan said she had to pee too, and he pulled over, because he is in love, and sometimes being in love makes you compromise your bathroom principles (Everette stops to let me pee too). But there was only one women's toilet so I had to thumbwrestle Meghan for it. And I peed in my pants a little. (no I didn't, yes I did. No I really didn't). And the worst part, is they weren't even serving Hot and Now doughnuts. I told Brad that I was going to get a giant coffee. He thinks I am really funny. 
This is me and Jonathan in the back of Brad's car. Not the pee episode. this was about 10:30 one night on our way back to the hotel. Thus the crazy look.

Z is for Zoo. The zoo, was a series of disappointments and impressive saves. The zoo, is really a beautiful park. It is however built on the side of a hill. We began at the top. It was a straight shot down, but it was a dead end. So after seeing everything, we (I) trudged ourselves to the top of the hill, tired and hungry, and several blocks from the metro station. The zoo itself was free, but the map was $2.00. Really not, that big of a deal, except we were halfway through the zoo before we found a kiosk selling them. After spending a good ten minutes trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive pandas in their exhibit, we rounded the corner to discover they were inside in the observation area.  A sign would have been nice. We walked into the great ape house to find it empty. But emerged to find a family of gorillas eating and grooming in the outdoor display. It was pretty amazing. Amazing! The animals were all pretty active, and it was a beautiful day. We saw a tiger jump up against the doors of his area, like he wanted in. Like Max does... times 100. The dude was huge, and powerful. We saw a pride of lions, eating and playing with each other. With the big daddy lion keeping watch.

But most impressive was my ability to navigate us there and back with no help and without getting lost or taking any wrong turns. Yes, I am patting myself on the back.

There it is, the weekend by way of the alphabet.
Thanks again to Brad and Meghan for hanging out with us, and just being so darn amazing.

We love you!

Home: The Final Descent.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Washington D. C. An Alphabet Lesson- Part 1

This last weekend, we (me, Everette and Jonathan) trekked across the country to the great, non-state self-governing entity of Washington, District of Columbia. Really, columbia? Why people? I attempted to research this fact but the answers I found were unsatisfactory, and boring. So let's move on.
The trip was business and pleasure. Everette's brother recently moved to the city and Everette goes there 3-4 times a year for business. Some grand meeting, where they sit and listen to people talk all day, about mail of all things. Apparently it's worth it in the end, because there is free beer. Free, only if you don't value your time, and any brain cells that died that day.
You may not be surprised to learn that Everette was beyond excited when he learned he brother was relocating to the Capital City. If you have ever been to D.C. you know it is overflowing with historical monuments, museums, billions and billions of plaques to read, and they are almost all... FREE. A virtual mecca for all those uber nerds with a lockdown on their wallet. Thus you can now understand my husband's pleasure. Like I said to Brad this weekend. "D.C. is a place where Everette can come and get his nerd on without spending any money."

Anyway, we had a magnificent time. Which I will now recount to you, using the alphabet.

A is for Airplane. This was Jonathan's first ever airplane ride. It was fantastic. He loved it. He wasn't scared, and had a lovely time looking at the "christmas lights" out the plane window. And I had a great time, because on our return flight (that departed at 9:25 PM) as the flight attendant was picking up the last round of trash, looked at me with a genuine smile and said, "You have a very well behaved little boy." And I figured, if anyone would know, she would.

B is for Bicycle. Let's just get this out of the way now, none of these are in any sort of chronological order. Brad, inspired by his brother's recent athletic accomplishment (this may not be true, but since it's my blog, that is what I am sticking with) has been thinking about getting a bicycle to take to work.He and Everette have been trading emails, but on Sunday afternoon in between football games while Jonathan was napping, Brad and Everette walked down to the bike store to check things out.  The next day they went back and Brad purchased a bicycle.

C is for Carseat. Jonathan is old enough now, that the amount of special equipment needed to travel with him is minimal. He can sleep in a regular bed. He uses regular underwear. He can sit in a regular chair... but he still needs a carseat. We planned mostly to take the Metro where a seat wasn't needed, but if we were to ride in Uncle Brad's car we would need at least a booster. Brad and Meghan graciously agreed to find one for us, and as I suspected, they actually just bought one. So when we met Brad at the airport in his super fancy Audi A4 with leather seats, there was a booster seat in the back and present waiting for Jonathan.  He was even kind enough to let Jonathan have a drink in the backseat. Uncle Brad is the best.

Super Daddy
D is for Daddy. We have to give a major shout out to daddy, who made this trip possible. Everette goes to DC for work once a quarter. He usually leaves Monday evening and returns LATE Tuesday. But he looked at his airline points and his hotel points and thought he could swing two tickets and a few extra hotel nights.  So we got to spend a long weekend with Uncle Brad and Meghan.  So thanks Daddy for all of your hard work, and taking all those business trips so we could have a fun weekend.

E is for Escalator. As parents, we were talking up the airplane ride as some great milestone in Jonathan's life, and while he enjoyed it, it was nothing compared to the escalators and elevators he got to ride on. And another big thanks to Uncle Brad for encouraging Jonathan to push every button in the elevator EVERY time we got in. This is what uncles are for n'est pas? (sorry, I don't know what possessed me to bust out some french right there).
Uncle Brad and Meghan
F is for Fairfield Inn. So despite Everette's massive hotel points, and Brad and Meghan's amazing hotel connections to two different hotel chains, the best deal we could come up with was a room at the Fairfield Inn in Chinatown. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice hotel. Recently renovated. Clean. near the metro. Free Breakfast!! But it was a single room with a king and a pull out. Which meant that every night we put Jonathan to bed and then hid in the bathroom until he went to sleep.  On the downside, tile and granite are not comfy or cozy. But on the plus side, I think I managed to locate and remove every freak hair on my face. Sorry, too much. But I am just keeping it real.

G is for Giant Squid. And I mean giant. On Saturday we went to the Natural History museum and the had a real preserved giant female squid. It was freaky! And giant. And amazing. And did I mention giant. And as it turns out even though it was giant, it was not fully developed

H is for Holocaust Museum. When our amazing trip planner, Meghan Houlihan asked what we wanted to do, I only had two things on my list. One of them was the Holocaust Museum. But I was pretty certain I did not want to take my four year old son, for a number of reasons. So after a morning of museums Brad and Meghan agreed to take Jonathan back to their apartment so we could go. I am not sure what I was expecting, but it was pretty amazing, and pretty intense. There was a lot of reading. Here are a few things of note. There were probably a couple hundred people walking through the exhibit with us, and it was almost completely silent. There was a tower in the middle of the exhibit that you could walk through on two levels and it was filled from top to bottom with photographs. They were all taken in the same town by a family of photographers. The town (I can't remember the name) was largely jewish and the photos were taken before the war. THey were just pictures of families and friends living life. It was very powerful to see all of these happy faces of real people that lived and breathed, and almost an entire town that was wiped out.  I could go on and on and maybe someday I will, but just two more things.  There was a room, almost completely full of shoes. Shoes of people who were gassed in the concentration camps. There were so many shoes. It was so tangible, and so real. You could smell the aging leather.  It was very powerful.  And written in the lobby of the museum before you go in, Isaiah 43:10 "You are my witnesses."

I is for Isabelle. Isabelle is Meghan's dog (and I think Brad claims her too most days). She is a tiny lhasa apso. As far as tiny dogs go, she is pretty cute. Jonathan loved her. He was constantly trying to play with her, corral her, and pester her. She was mildly terrified.  But it kept Jonathan pretty occupied.

J is for Jonathan. Jonathan was amazing on this trip. He was phenomemal on the airplane, in the subway, on the sidewalks. He was the picture of the perfect child. Especially since he was never in bed before 10 PM and he was always up before 8 AM. He was really great, which made the trip great for everyone. Jonathan the super trooper.

K is for Kapleece Car. Everywhere we turned there were police cars and ambulances. Jonathan, was in transportation heaven. Including a police blockade Saturday night that made it impossible for us to reach our hotel by car. We had to get out and walk it the last two blocks. Who loves the Big City?!

L is for Luggage. Before we left Everette told me that we could check two bags for free. Sweet! Especially since the forecast was cold and rainy. Which means, when you are staying in a hotel, you have to bring lots of pairs of jeans, and warm clothes in case you get wet and muddy. Which equals two large HEAVY suitcases. To my credit, all of our stuff was in two large suitcases and one carry-on backpack. Everette was only moderately embarrassed to be seen with us.

Stay tuned it gets better I promise..
I will give you a little preview...

O is for Orangorangtang pee...