Well! What a year it’s been. Laying aside the state of the world – which is completely horrifying – for us personally, it wasn’t too bad. Our first full year back at home in northern Virginia, and we packed it full of friends, family, and lots and lots of fun. Highlights of the year included trips to California (for a dear friend’s wedding and a family reunion on my mom’s side) and Florida (for another dear friend’s wedding, in which Peanut and I both participated as Maid of Honor and flower girl, respectively), and our fabulous friends Zan and Paul’s return home to the D.C. area. But beyond those top three things, there was so much joy and fun in every month.
In January… we spent a quiet month recovering from the holidays and chipping away at lots of chores and tasks around the house. I shared my two-part reading retrospective for 2016 and spent a lot of time thinking about how to deal with the new national reality we found ourselves in after the Inauguration. We did make it out to the zoo once, meeting up with my friend Carly and her family, and we hit the trails at Riverbend Park – Steve’s favorite Great Falls trail.
In February… there was some unseasonably warm weather – like, in the 70*s! We felt a bit guilty about enjoying it (because: climate change) but we made the most of it, hopping from playground to playground and spending a beautiful sunny morning on the trail at Lake Accotink Park in Fairfax County. Later in the month, we had to drive up north for a wedding. It was a looooooooong and pretty painful drive, but we were able to squeeze in a visit to my parents, which brightened us up!
In March… we celebrated TWO YEARS of Nugget! Seriously, how is he two? (Actually, how is he almost three? I’m about to start planning his third birthday party. What is that about?) Having a March baby is so much fun – before Nugget came along, March was my least favorite month of the year, because it always seemed so long and blah. But now March is all about my sweet little boy and all the joy and fun he brings to our world. In addition to celebrating our favorite small guy, we started our patio garden for the season, watched the restoration of the Apollo 11 command module out at Dulles, and explored the trails at the National Arboretum.
In April… we did All The Spring Things. Our hike for the month was the Bluebell Trail at Bull Run Regional Park, and it was a magical fairyland of blue blooms to which my camera did no justice at all. We also visited the baby animals at Mount Vernon, where the gardens were a riot of color, and we spent a morning out in Haymarket, gathering up armloads of the brightest tulips ever at Burnside Farms. Spring has always been my fourth favorite season, because it’s bleak and cold in New York, and my allergies run wild in Virginia. But in 2017, for some reason, my allergies really weren’t bad (even though the pollen was as prevalent as ever) and I was able to enjoy the season for the first time ever. I can see why people love it.
In May… we kept up the spring fun. Almost every Saturday morning found us walking to the farmers’ market and coming home with a big bouquet of fresh flowers from my favorite vendor, who always presents Peanut with a rose and often tells me to grab another bouquet for free (love him). We could feel summer’s approach in gradually hotter temperatures, and we cooled off on the trails. On Mother’s Day I requested a hike at Mason Neck State Park, which was gorgeous and wonderful, and I mused about raising kids on the hiking trail. We spent our weekends bouncing between the waterfront and the garden center. Peanut and I marveled at the green sprouts shooting up in our little patio garden, and I had a painful incident with some cayenne pepper in an attempt to repulse squirrels right before I left for an overnight business trip to Philadelphia. Whoops. We finished the month with a Memorial Day weekend packed end-to-end with fun – including a visit to a lavender farm and exploring Jones Point Park for the first time.
In June… summer began in earnest. The big event of the month was a weekend visit to my best friend, Rebecca, in Virginia Beach; we also squeezed in our June hike that same weekend – just under the wire – at First Landing State Park. Those visits to the beach are moments of true peace. Peanut enjoyed playing mermaids with Aunt Rebecca (who loves merfolk as much as her niecelette does), and Nugget had a blast driving the golf cart, cheering Uncle Eric in the tuna fishing competition, and wandering around with his hand buried in his belly button all weekend (what a weirdo). My other travel for the month was a business trip to Chicago (for an all-hands meeting of my practice group at our firm’s headquarters), but I squeezed in a little fun while I was there, in the form of a sightseeing run around Chicago’s biggest tourist attractions. We spent Father’s Day enjoying a recent discovery – the splash pad – and put in some quality time at the neighborhood pool, which opened mid-month. And I celebrated the beginning of summer in the best way I know – by talking about BOOKS.
In July… we basically lived outside. We started off strong with a Fourth of July visit to my parents in Albany, which was everything a weekend should be. We enjoyed a cookout with some of our dearest friends, a hike at Grafton Lakes State Park with Christine, two days of fun at the lake (kayaking, sailing, blowing bubbles, pretending to fish, and splashing in the baby pool) and – to top it all off, quite literally – a climb up our third Adirondack high peak, Giant Mountain. Back home in D.C., we still didn’t go inside, like, at all. We continued to tend our garden and splash at the pool and splash pad; spent a morning picking blueberries with Peanut’s friend C and her mom; and cruised the mighty Potomac in kayaks. July was everything I love about summer – long, hot days, starry nights, and a life lived out-of-doors.
In August… our adventures took us clear across the country! We packed up the little ones and jetted off to California for the wedding of a dear friend in Huntington Beach, followed by a family reunion two hours up the coast in Santa Barbara. It was an epic trip – one for the ages. We hiked in Joshua Tree National Park, Channel Islands National Park, and Carpinteria Nature Preserve; kayaked the sea caves at Channel Islands National Park; and enjoyed an incredible day out whale-watching with my parents. We also celebrated twelve years of marriage, five years of Peanut, and one year back home in northern Virginia. We bid goodbye to August, and hello to September, from the sunflower fields at Burnside Farms. A busy month, indeed.
In September… we turned our attention to fall and fall things. Peanut headed back to school, and Nugget to another year with his nanny (we adore her, and are already breaking out in cold sweats about his leaving her and starting preschool next year). We dove right into fall fun at the apple orchard, hiked at Piscataway Park, and continued to tend our garden all through September. The best part of the month was the last weekend, when we headed down to Florida for a wedding on the beach! My best friend, Rebecca, married her longtime love in a beautiful sunset ceremony, and Peanut and I were proud to be by her side as flower girl and Maid (not Matron!) of Honor, respectively.
In October… we were in The Room Where It Happens! My mom flew down to D.C. for a weekend so that Steve and I could slip away for one night to see Hamilton on Broadway! The show was every bit as spectacular as you’d think – more, even – and we also squeezed in visits to the NYPL and Morgan Library, and a night at the Library Hotel. Lucky us! It was a Hamilton-heavy month for us, because Peanut and Nugget dressed as Eliza and Alexander Hamilton for Halloween – and most of the rest of our weekends were devoted to carting our miniature Treasury Secretary and his Mrs. around to various children’s Halloween parties. We also trick-or-treated – and Peanut visited her first haunted house, hosted by our Senator, Mark Warner – and picked pumpkins out in Loudoun County. I celebrated my birthday on the trails at Sky Meadows, and we hosted my parents and friends for a flying weekend visit that included a swing by the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum (of course!) and wine touring. October, you were good to us.
In November… we ended up on top of a mountain! My parents came down for Thanksgiving, and after spending a cozy day at home on the day itself, and decorating our Christmas tree on the Friday after, we all headed out for a weekend in Little Washington. The main purpose of the weekend was for Steve and me to use a gift certificate to the Inn at Little Washington that his sweet and generous mom had given us the previous Christmas – we did, and it was one of the most fabulous meals we’d ever tasted. The next day, we worked it off with a climb up Stony Man Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, and drank in the views from on top of the world. We also celebrated Steve’s 40th birthday with a trip to the Kennedy Center to see The Book of Mormon, and I participated in Naomi and Sarah‘s readalong of The Blue Castle, musing on the power of names in LMM’s work.
In December… we have been feeling festive! We started the season with the Scottish Walk – Old Town’s answer to the Christmas parade – a trip out to Little Washington for the annual Christmas parade there, and a snowy walk around Old Town after we got a surprise dusting. We did lots of Advent reading, Peanut made her first visit to the Kennedy Center to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and we celebrated Christmas by watching the big guy in red fly down the Potomac on waterskis, then opening presents the following morning – Santa was good to those little rugrats. And now we are warm and cozy, getting ready to ring in the new year with our family around us, and feeling grateful for the blessings of friendship and love that we enjoy every day.
Happy New Year, friends! I hope you’re ringing it in somewhere fabulous, and I wish you a happy, healthy and joyful 2018!