Thursday, August 6, 2015

Washington DC

I'm going to try to write this post really fast -- in the 10 minutes before I have to leave to take Kai to Theater Camp (which she is loving).

We spent 9 nights in D.C. this year -- 9 nights!!  It was a great trip and really fun to hunker down and be some place for a long time.  I also found a sweet deal on a suite at our hotel -- so we had an amazing room (huge living room, conference/dining room, big bedroom, bathroom).  It was nice to have the space to spread out -- especially with a one year old who was in his second and third week of full-on walking and wanted to do nothing more but practice his newly found skill. 

This was Kailey's third trip to D.C. -- Eric took her and Alden to meet our Congresswoman, Representative Matsui, and her staff member said to Kailey, "ohh... you're so lucky getting to come to DC when you're seven.  Is this your first time here?"  When Eric said it was her third trip, the staff member was like, "WOW!  My first time to D.C. was this summer for this job".  Kailey is a very well-traveled seven year old.  My travel schedule sometimes has felt oppressive, but has also allowed me to rack up miles to bring her on the more exciting trips (Denver, New Orleans, Washington DC, etc).  And, beyond the work trips, there are so many other places we've all gone together (NYC, Puerto Rico, St. John, Portland, Los Angeles, etc).  I think when I was seven I had been to Albuquerque (where I grew up until I turned 7), Portland (where I moved at 7), and Anaheim (for Disneyland).  But, all the traveling means Kai is a great traveler -- she rolls with the punches on the long travel days, she's up for any adventure, and she gets into all the different aspects about being some place new.  There was little whining or complaining on the trip -- we have such fun traveling together.  I hope Alden grows up to be a great traveler, too.  At this point, he is amazing and one.  Which means he also rarely whines, but he wants to move.  All. The. Time.  The long flight was hard.  He didn't cry.  But, my back (and Eric's back) paid dearly for all the effort to keep him from kicking the seat in front of us and to pass him back and forth, pick him up and down (he's almost 30 pounds!!)  The travel days were loonnnnggggggg.

Anyway, back to D.C. -- I was working most of the first week, but we made the most of the one day I had off and hit the National Archives and the National Art Gallery.  Kai was the one that asked to go to the Archives.  She asked us where the original Declaration of Independence was and we pointed at the Archives and said, "it's in there."  She asked if she could see it -- so off we went.  I remember doing the same thing with my parents when I was ten.  I was blown away by the history and importance of it all -- and I think it had the same impact on Kailey.  She asked a lot of great questions, so much so that several folks approached us (at different times during the visit) and commented on how inquisitive and smart she is.  I asked her what she thought it meant when they wrote that every person has the right to "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and she said, "it means no one is better or worse than anyone else."  Such a good answer!

After seeing the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights (Alden slept through most of that part), we went to the gift store and Kai got her very own copies of the two documents.  She spent the next several days playing pretend in the hotel room, unfurling the documents and pretending to be drafting the words.  She had Eric read her the Declaration of Independence as her bedtime story one night.  I realize I'm a total political nerd... but, really, makes a mama proud!

After the Archives, we went to the National Art Gallery and showed Kai some of the most famous paintings and my favorite places to come and study when I was in college.  She took pictures of many of her favorite pictures.  And, Alden found a favorite too -- it wasn't a painting, it was a sculpture of a horse and the first African American unit that fought in the Civil War.  Alden really liked that horse.  He would tap on whoever was nearby and then point at the horse and then point at them and grunt and smile... he really wanted others to admire the horse, too!

(right after this picture was taken, Kai let go of Alden and he fell off the step onto his forehead.  Ouch.  Poor, Alden!  He has gotten so many bumps on his forehead in the last few months)
 After the Art Gallery, we were all tired, so we headed back to the hotel and later went out to dinner at the Mexican restaurant that Eric and I used to frequent when we lived in D.C. (corn tamales are a perfect kid food).  It was a nice day before digging into 4 days of crazy work activities (for me).
The next day, I spent the day doing Hill visits (meeting with Congressional staff) and Eric took the kids to the Museum of Natural History and a couple of other museums.  They had a great time -- I love how all the museums in D.C. are free and, also, the exhibits are amazing.  D.C. truly is an amazing spot for a family vacation.
The next day, I was speaking at a conference and busy from 8 AM - 6 PM.  So, Eric scheduled time to introduce the kids to our Congresswoman and then took them to the hearings going on regarding the nuclear deal with Iran (when the kids ran into my friend Brian and Eric told him what they were off to do, Brian joked that it sounded like he might need to call CPS... ha ha!).  They couldn't get into the hearing itself -- it was packed.  But, they did find the press gallery outside the hearing and Kai posed -- she's ready for her interview!

They also stopped by the Supreme Court -- she's ready for her oral argument (even typing those words makes me feel butterflies in my stomach... arguing in front of the Supreme Court would be such an amazing experience...says the nerdy lawyer).

The next day, they just hung out at the hotel and the pool all day.  The Omni has a great pool and extensive grounds -- so, it's a pretty fun place to chill. Alden especially loved having a day to just explore the hotel!


Saturday, I finished up in the early afternoon and was able to run over to the zoo and meet up with everyone (by this time, Katie was also with us -- she came down from NYC to spend a few days with us, which was awesome).  The zoo has really improved since the last time we went -- we especially liked the exhibit on the Amazon.  Alden LOVES birds, and the flamingos were so close, we could almost touch them.  They also had fun riding the carousel, of course!

Sunday, we headed to the monuments and saw the World War II memorial and the MLK memorial -- I love the MLK memorial.  They did a really good job with that.  Kai and I read all the quotes together and talked about what they meant.  She's at such a fun age for exploring D.C. because she's thinking about history, civil rights, and our place in the world. 

When Eric was working on Monday, Katie and I took the kids to the Museum of Native American History.  Kai is very interested in Native Americans, and it was a great museum.  Lots of room for Alden to run around and great exhibits and information for Kai.  We also took them to the Air and Space Museum, which was less fun (although, Alden and I both took a much needed nap while Kai and Kate watched two Imax shows -- a win win!)

Overall, our trip to DC was a great success and we all had a ton of fun.  This conference that I was at happens every other year -- so, there's a good chance we'll get to do it all again when Alden's 3 and Kai is 9.  The idea of Kai being 9 kind of blows my mind (and yet, I can totally wrap my head around Alden being 3... why is that?)

Kai is now in the midst of Theater Camp (a big hit!) and getting to spend the afternoons with Alden and Will.  She loves playing with the babies -- and treats them both like her brothers.  The three of them are such an adorable trio.

Summer is winding down, but there are still a few more weeks of fun ahead.  I'll try to keep posting!!

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