Archive for the ‘Family Fun’ Category

There’s no better way to start off a new year than a first day hike – wouldn’t you agree?  By New Year’s Day, 2020, we were all a little holiday-ed out and ready for some fresh air and trail time.  In an effort to squeeze in as much upstate New York fun as we could, we were also planning to stop by my high school BFF’s house for a good long visit with her, so we targeted a trail near her home.  After kicking around a few options, we settled on the Wilson M. Powell Wildlife Sanctuary in Old Chatham.

Sharp-eyed readers may recognize pictures of the trail, because we’ve hiked it before – last Thanksgiving, specifically, with my parents.  We thought about checking out a new-to-us trail, but decided on the tried and true.

Pretty quick hike to the overlook, and a minimum of whining – I’ll take it.

This is a good way to start a new year – looking out over a beautiful vista, scheming up plans big and small for the next 365 days.  As I hiked along, I thought about what I want life to look like at this time in 2021.  I have a lot of dreams for this year.

We didn’t linger long at the overlook, because someone (cough cough NUGGET) didn’t want to hold hands with a parent up on the blustery cliff.  That’s a non-starter, so we turned around and headed back downhill (much to his chagrin).  But it was long enough to get in a good gulp of fresh January air and a dose of scenery.

Here we go, 2020 hiking!

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The Winter List 2020

Somehow I fell off the wagon of making seasonal to-do lists towards the end of last year – they probably fell by the wayside with everything else when work got ridiculously busy.  I’m trying to strike a better balance in 2020, and that includes getting back into the habit of seeking out fun and joy each season, and writing about it here.  With that good intention set, here’s what I’m hoping to do this winter (including a couple of things I have already done, because as always, I’m running behind).

  • Go with Steve and the kids to see #AURORAinDC at ARTECHOUSE, an innovative art gallery that fuses art with technology to create interactive sensory experiences.  (This was a Christmas present to Steve, and we went in early January before the installation closed.)
  • Register and train for a spring 5K race.
  • Try a new cookbook recipe once a week!
  • Get rid of at least ten boxes from the basement.
  • Read another Trollope novel.
  • Make vegetarian Italian wedding soup.
  • Send out some baby gifts that are long past due!
  • Clean out the container garden.
  • Go for a winter walk by the Potomac.
  • Light candles and snuggle under a blanket.

There!  Some outdoor fun, some home organizing, some cooking and some coziness – that seems like a good season to me.

What’s on your winter to-do list?

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My good friend (and former work wife) Samantha has been hounding me to check out ARTECHOUSE, an interactive art/tech gallery in DC – there are also locations in New York and Miami – for years now.  Several springs ago, ARTECHOUSE had a cherry blossom art experience, and Sam attended and has not stopped raving about it since.  She promised me that it was the kind of place that the kids would be into, and I promised her I’d look into it.  It took me awhile, but the stars finally aligned and I bought the whole family tickets to the #AURORAinDC experience that was running through the weekend after New Years.

We entered the gallery with a group of other people who had tickets for the same time slot, and everyone immediately spread out to different corners of the room.  It took us a little while to figure out how it all worked, but a helpful gallery employee explained how to “grow” the trees and create the snowflakes, and we all ran around like kids, exploring every nook and cranny of the gallery and creating our own enchanted forest.

I’ll just leave the pictures here for you.

(The kids invented a game called “summon the white stag” that involved placing their hands on the wall and chanting “White Stag.  White Stag.  White Stag.” over and over until a white stag – part of a light show cycle – appeared.  It was cute but also hella creepy.)

It was such a cool experience – I’m so glad we made it to ARTECHOUSE, finally, and now I’m keeping an eye on the website, ready to snatch up tickets again the next time there is an exhibit/experience that looks like something we would all enjoy.  Maybe Sam will join us as tour guide/babysitter.

Have you ever been to an interactive art experience?

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Popping in to wish those of you who are celebrating today a very Merry Christmas, and those of you who are not celebrating but have the day off a very happy bonus day, and everyone a good midweek.

We are surfacing from the detritus of a morning of gift-opening; we did church yesterday, so we’ve got nowhere to be today and it feels very luxurious.  The kids are done, but the parents still have a pile to get through, thanks to neglecting our own gifts in favor of making sure the shorties were happy and not arguing.  Santa’s offerings of workbooks and mittens were received with grudging gratitude, but the kiddos loved their presents from Mom and Dad.  (winks)

Now Steve is napping, and when he gets up we will finish our opening, and then at some point I’ll peel myself off the couch and go see what time the Field Roast needs to go into the oven.

A very happy one to you and yours!  Back on Friday with a booklist, naturally.

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A Winter’s Nap

A few weeks ago, we made one of our habitual morning visits to the National Zoo.  The Great Cats are always a hit, and this time, we enjoyed the most adorable lion nap.  It turns out that all cats like to sleep in improbable positions.

Starting out with a nice, peaceful nap in a shaft of sunlight.  Bliss.

What is that tickle?  I have an itch.


This is very normal and very comfortable!

Feet up, snoozles.  Wake me up when it’s food time.


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Halloween 2019

Happy November!  It’s no secret that I’m glad it’s here – while I’m still busy at work, at least my crazy October is over.  We all have months where it’s especially hectic, but it made me really sad that my turn happened to fall in October, which is my favorite month.  A lot of the fall fun that I was hoping for didn’t happen – no apple-picking, no pumpkin patch – and that was largely because of my work schedule, complicated by fall colds for the kiddos.  So I was really looking forward to Halloween, even more than I usually do, because it meant my ridiculous month would be behind me – finally.

Halloween started as they always have in recent years – with the adorable costume parade and class festivities at the kids’ school.  Only the early childhood hallway actually parades, so this was the first year I only had one in costume and walking.  My parents were in town to see the fun this year – yay! – so I met them at the school and we watched Nugget and his buddies strut through the school hallways.  Then my parents headed off to do their own thing, while I hung around to help first with the junior kindergarten class party, and then with Peanut’s class “pumpkin day.”  (Which involved estimating and then taking size measurements and then counting the seeds in a few pumpkins that the parents had donated to the class.)

While I’d have loved to stay at the school all day, I eventually had to drift off back to my computer and do some work.  I picked the kids up promptly at the end of the school day – no aftercare for them – and we headed home to get ready for trick-or-treating.

Ever since we moved back to NoVA, we’ve been celebrating Halloween on a particular street in Old Town.  The street closes to traffic and becomes a big, wild block party.  The residents go all out – dressed to the nines in their costumes, and with elaborate decorations on every house.

The scene was as happening as it always is, and the kids were extra excited this year, because they finally got to share it with their grandparents.

They were really into going from house to house and collecting candy this year.  I followed along behind, snapping pictures of all the over-the-top decorations (as I always do).

Spiders were big this year – literally and figuratively.

Skeletons, too.

While most of the houses went all-in on crazy Halloween kitsch, a few were more understated.

The kids made out like little bandits.  This was their biggest haul ever – they hit every house and more than half filled their (large) treat bags.

This Halloween was especially fun, because everyone was in the mood to celebrate our World Series-winning Nationals!  I spotted nods to the Nats all over town.

This dinosaur with a Nats flag was the hero we all needed.

Also this guy with a “City of Champions” sign taped to his Washington Capitals jersey, with recent championships recited on it.  I appreciated that he was celebrating D.C. women’s sports, like the Mystics, too!

The Bryce Harper skeleton made me feel very seen.

Our family pumpkin celebrated the Nats too, of course.  (Victory parade tomorrow!)

Happy Halloween!  I hope you had a fun, safe night with lots of treats and not too many tricks.

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The Fall List 2019

I’m on record as saying that I love summer and fall almost equally, but fall just barely edges out summer in my affections.  What’s not to like?  Turning leaves, crisp air, wood smoke, the return of hockey season, Oktoberfest beers, fall baking, apple-picking mornings with friends… it’s all wonderful.  And as always, I have a long list of things I’d like to get around to doing, and ideas to record in the Great Ledger of Family Adventures.  It’s never easy to whittle it down to ten.  But when it’s all said and done, here’s what I’m hoping to do this fall:

  • Make it up to New York at least once (preferably twice), and visit my grandmother.
  • Related: get back into the habit of writing letters to my grandmother.
  • Get in a birthday hike somewhere cool – maybe Shenandoah, maybe one of the farther-afield state parks.
  • Finally watch Hocus Pocus.  Can you believe I’ve never seen it?
  • Go apple-picking with friends (a tradition!) and make a big batch of applesauce (and maybe a pie).
  • Finally start working on a big family memory-keeping project I’ve been plotting for ages.
  • Take the kids pumpkin-picking at Wegmeyer Farms and to the blockbuster neighborhood trick-or-treating extravaganza.
  • Re-read Poems Bewitched and Haunted.
  • Run a fall 5K.
  • Ride the Potomac Water Taxi.  How have I still never done this?

Here’s to a fall season of fun, joy, and memory-making!

What do you have on the agenda for fall?

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