I got the tickets…I got the tickets

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My dear family has been so great about visiting me in DC (quite honestly I get more visitors here than I did in STL!) and this past weekend I was so thrilled to host Phil, Mel, and Alexis for a few days.  So, I’m still a little salty about the fact that they left Sydney at home, but I have to admit that she is go go go all the time, would have been a pill on the airplane, would have HATED riding in a stroller all day, she would not have been interested in visiting monuments, and I could just see her somehow getting out onto my balcony.  So sweet little Syd stayed home with the grandparents, I missed her but it would have been a VERY different trip if she had come.

Any excuse to post this pic, LOOK AT THAT SWEETIE

Any excuse to post this pic, LOOK AT THAT SWEETIE

The Reinhardts flew into DCA and I met them at the airport, they were so worried that Alexis would freak out on the plane, but as it turns out she thought it was GREAT fun.  She got a pair of wings, got to watch Frozen, and even during some nasty turbulence she commented on how FUN it all was!  We headed back to my apartment thanks to a loaner car seat I borrowed from a very kind coworker, and headed to Ben’s Chili Bowl for dinner.   This place is a DC institution, Bill Cosby has his picture painted on the wall, so that’s always a good sign.  I got a Half Smoke and cheese fries, they rocked my socks off.  Not exactly gourmet and sure as hell not healthy, but I could think of nobody in the world better to share a chili dog with than Phil.

half smoke

On Friday I headed to work but met up with the family after.  We hit up Kinder Haus toys so Lex could pick out a one-of-a-kind, educational toy (naturally she picked a mass-produced Disney princess), Phil and I got Thai food from the newly-opened I-Thai in Georgetown, Mel FINALLY got her lobster roll from Luke’s (totally lived up to the hype, I stand corrected) and we enjoyed just generally walking around, people-watching, and cupcake eating.

lukes

We got home and realized that if Lex didn’t get a good night’s sleep, we were done for.  My apartment is insanely bright in the morning, so we had a brilliant beyond brilliant idea…let’s stick her in the closet.  No, really.  We got a twin roll-away bed from the front desk, removed the mattress, cleaned out a section of my closet and made up a cozy little nest for her.  She thought it was AWESOME, and the fact that she already has Harry Potter habits speaks very highly for her future.

hp closet

On Saturday we hit it hard, and decided to make sure we could see things that Lex would be interested in, namely flowers.  We started our day at the Botanical Garden (it was HERB DAY, score!!)   They had a ton of little crafts for kids, and plenty of lovely flowers, but again this will be filed in the category of “St. Louis Does It Better.”  (Missouri Botanical Garden FTW, not even a contest!)  We then made our way to the Capitol Building, were we were treated to TSA-like security measures.  We made our way to the Library of Congress, it was a really gorgeous space and I’ve made a mental note to take the official tour while I’m here.

Capitol Building

Capitol Building

Not pictured: Nick Cage

Not pictured: Nick Cage (Thank you Heather)

Now, by this point I should probably mention one of my biggest flaws as a human being.  I am not the kind of person that can walk around allllll day in heels, flip flops, or flats.  But I am also not the kind of person that likes to walk around in sneakers all day, because I feel like a tourist.  I am constantly battling my inner self to find appropriate footwear, and this particular day, I failed miserably with my suede green flats.  It was only about 2:00pm and already I was hurting.

After lunch, and with my feet already killing me, we walked to the National Mall for an old car show, the WWII Memorial, saw the Washington Monument from afar (which Lex calls “the tower,”) the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Constitution Gardens, the Lincoln Memorial, the MLK Memorial, FDR Memorial, and finally the Jefferson Monument.  I. Was. Dying.  Every step I took was excruciatingly painful, and my companions were mighty tired of hearing about it.  As we hobbled back to the nearest Metro (MORE. WALKING.) I made Mel and Phil promise me that they’d never let me leave the house in anything but tennis shoes ever again.  They were happy to oblige.

***

On Sunday we decided to find some boats.  We had initially planned on going to Baltimore to the inner harbor, but after I heard about their whole “our street opened up and ate a bunch of cars” thing, we opted for Annapolis instead.  We went to mass at the Basilica, and then made our way to Annapolis. We started the visit by hitting up Davis’ Pub, where we had one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  A super-soft preztel bun, cut in half, covered in crab dip, and covered with melted cheese.  Wowza.  Exactly my kind of place, very casual with great food, and beer in plastic cups.

Sadly I had to share this and didn't get to eat the whole thing

Sadly I had to share this and didn’t get to eat the whole thing

We made our way to the boardwalk area (after snagging a BRILLIANT parking spot, princess parking!!) and took in the scenery.  Lex loved the boats, but loved the ducks even more.  We walked around to the different shops, Mel pretended to apply to the Naval Academy, we bought some local beer and wine, got an ice cream cone (each…not, like, to share) and enjoyed the sunshine!

Really should have gotten her a cup

Really should have gotten her a cup

***

On Monday while I went to work, the Reinhardts went to the Natural History Museum so Alex could be surrounded by her new favorite thing on the planet: butterflies.  One even landed on her hand, she was seriously in heaven.  They did more sight-seeing, and came back to the apartment to rest up for our big plans for the evening, a Nationals Game!  Since it was Cinco de Mayo, we picked up Mexican and Coronas from Guajillo (maybe the best salsa I’ve ever had) and then made our way to the ballpark.

So, another bizarre thing about me is that I like to make up songs.  All the time.  Even about very boring activities that have no actual significance.  That afternoon, as I was printing out our tickets (I think?) I started singing “iiiiiii got the tickets, I got the tickets, I got the tickets for yoooou-ou-ou” which Lex thought was hilarious.  Before I knew it, she was doing this.  She might be my kid?

So we made our way to the ballpark, hoping that DC would narrowly avoid this long strip of rain that was in the forecast, but we had no such luck.  The instant we got off the train, it started to rain, and it didn’t stop for three hours.  We tried powering through and hanging out under an overhang near our seats, but once the tarp went on the field, we called it a night.  It was seriously a shame, because I had planned my attire very carefully and never made it on camera.  Bush league.

Ole!

Ole!

The Reinhardts headed back the next day, after what I thought was a pretty awesome trip.  And happy I will see them again soon when I head home for Nate’s graduation from Purdue!

Thanks for coming, guys!

Thanks for coming, guys!

 

 

 

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American Airlines loves me

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Deepest apologies to my blog readers (Ok mostly Kiva and Melanie) for the lack of updates lately, but once I post this you will understand why!  I finally had some free weekends in my schedule, and decided it was time to spend time with friends and family while it was still relatively easy to do so.

Side note, I’d been wanting to do a post about the Cherry Blossoms in DC, but as it turns out, I don’t care to write a big article on the subject, it sat in my drafts folder for weeks.  Instead I will share these brief thoughts and a lovely photo:

  • Beautiful!!
  • Crowded
  • Tourists with strollers
  • Lots of people own super expensive SLRs now, but it seems few people know how to use them.

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So, on to my trips.  First of all, I’ve gotten a few questions lately about how I keep snagging first class seats, and no it has nothing at all to do with my job.  Perhaps my dear KT Nelso can tell me why, but for some reason I was temporarily upgraded to American Airlines Gold status for about six months, and AA loaded my account full of upgrade options as well.  So for all of these flights I’ve taken lately, I’ve been able to get the awesome seats that normally you have to pay extra for, (aka extra leg room, towards the front of the plane, etc) and if on the day of the flight there are spaces left in First Class, I can be upgraded.  It has happened twice so far and it was everything I hoped it would be.  Bloody Marys, fruit and croissants for breakfast, fresh(ish) cookies, and more space than I rightfully need.  I’m afraid I’ve run into kind of a Flowers for Algernon situation where I now know how the other half lives, and find it difficult to go back to normal ol’ coach.  First world problems, my friends.

Easter weekend was first, and I flew from DC to Willard, a tiny airport in Champaign/Urbana.  I got off the airplane and was greeted by my sisters and Lex Danger, with a freshly-drawn picture of a rainbow to welcome me back to IL.  We headed back to Philo (while Lex decided that Aunt Shannon’s new nickname should be Princess Sparkle Rainbow Unicorn,) and I spent the rest of the weekend surrounded by my family!  We had the Cains over for drinks and snacks on Saturday evening, where cousin Sarah decided it was time for an Easter Egg Hunt…but this time it would be for adults.

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Sarah has twins and two jobs and somehow found time to create adult-themed Easter eggs for this huge crew, they were filled with such items as beer coozies, Shout wipes, condoms, candles, shot glasses, Icy Hot, etc.  It was one for the record books, my friends.   Great seeing all of the Cains together again, I’ll miss that crazy bunch for sure!!

***

On Easter Sunday we went to Mass at St. Thomas (packed house!) and then headed to the Stierwalts for lunch, more egg hunts (this time for the children, lame,) and more family time.  I stuffed myself silly with ham, mashed potatoes, noodles, mac and cheese, scalloped pineapple, broccoli and rice casserole, and Shannon’s little bunny rolls that were kind of a cross between bunnies and gremlins.

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As usual, I loved visiting with the Stierwalts and discussing every last detail of my upcoming move.  They’re a pretty adventurous bunch so I tried my best to talk them into jetting over to Sarajevo sometime in the next couple years…not sure I did the job.  I’m still working on them!  Sadly I had to head back to DC, so Shannon dropped me off at the airport and I headed back to my empty apartment.  It was so great to be home, to see little Lex and Syd in their Easter dresses, to give my parents the biggest hugs I could, and to hang with these crazy kids.

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Oh and in case anyone is wondering, I would totally freeze to death if I ever got sent to a post where I was forced to chop my own wood to stay alive during the winter.  Exhibit A:

***

The next weekend, after a particularly tough week of training here at State, I headed off to Chicago to visit my college friends that live in that area.  They all have such big things going on in their lives, from having babies, to making babies, planning huge vacations abroad, getting masters degrees, and shaping the young minds of America, and I was desperate to go see them and catch up!

I flew into O’Hare Airport (side note: I hate flying into O’Hare.  hate. hate. hate) pretty late at night, and made my way to the rental car lot.  As it turns out, when you get past the age of 27ish, it no longer seems appropriate for you to beg your adult friends to pick you up at the airport.  The crazy thing is, if I had asked them, I’m sure they would have done it, but if I can rent a car for $17 a day to save them the hassle, why not?  I collected my keys to this lovely Chevy Sonic, a car that I didn’t even know was a thing.

ImageI made my way to the south suburbs of Chicago where I was able to cuddle with adorable little babies (you guys, my friends make CUTE kids) and catch up with my squirrels and non-squirrels that are basically squirrels by extension.  I enjoyed some Portillos, natch, and enjoyed my friends company even more.  Here’s a pic (stolen from Ashley!) of some of the gang at Jeri’s baby shower, and thanks to Dave for pointing out that I am the only one that didn’t get the “wear patterns” memo.  Strangely enough, this was not the first time that has happened to me:

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So those were my two weekends of jet setting back and forth between Illinois, will follow up with a post about the Reinhardts visiting me here in DC!  😀

-B