Sunday, January 31, 2010

Warning

Consider this helpful little warning my good deed for today. If you have small children, never -- I repeat -- NEVER ask them what birthday cake they want this year. If you do, you might get something reasonable. Say a race car cake. Or you might get something obscure, like Boost from Cars. Unfamiliar? That's because he's only in one scene where he and his friends play some road games with Mack. Or you might be asked for a Mr. Frederickson cake from the Pixar movie Up. Mr. Frederickson? Really?? Oi. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do, especially since now that I'm not a stay-at-home mom I don't have days and days to plan. Any suggestions?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Red-Tailed Hawk

Spotted in our backyard.

An enormous Red-Tailed Hawk.


Just a Spoonful of Sugar

I fully and unabashedly admit it. I am a show tunes lover. It's embarrassing, I know. I've taken endless ribbing from my blood relations. However, Trey is kindly amused and obligingly indulges my taste. For my 25th birthday, 4 years ago now, he took me to NYC to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and this year, for my 29th, he took me to see Mary Poppins, the latest Disney musical.

One of my good friends volunteered to watch all three children for us, brave and truly selfless. We caught the train to NYC from Hamilton on a beautiful and milder January day.

The train stops right at Penn Station in the thick of it all.

Always bustling with people.

The city was brilliant on this clear winter day. I was surprised at how relatively dead the streets were for Manhattan. The holiday rush over and not a high tourist season, it was almost quiet.

Times Square.

As you would expect we saw a few famous faces.

Madame Tussaud's.

We ran into Elmo and Cookie Monster.

And President Obama. Apparently, he has a side business of modeling? Hey, if the whole presidential thing doesn't work out, he has something to fall back on.

The New Amsterdam Theatre where Mary Poppins is playing.

The sign in the entryway, which encourages people to photograph themselves with Mary and then post the pictures on Facebook. Have to smile at the social media marketing push everywhere.

The stage.

video

And a little tour of the theater.

The musical was excellent and quite a bit different from the film. For those who are familiar with the childhood classic, the play expanded the storyline, exploring more fully why Mr. Banks was so emotionally unavailable to both his wife and children. The ending was far more satisfying, in my opinion, than in the movie, with a deeper family transformation and nuanced development of Winifred Banks, who in the film is a bit of a buffoon. I did not expect the theater to be so full of little girls, but if I had thought about it a little more I'm sure I would have anticipated that for a Saturday matinée. And although everything in me wanted to buy a parrot umbrella from the aisle vendors, I resisted, and instead basked in the glow of the catchy jingles and impressive special effects, which have stuck with me now a full week after the curtain dropped. A must see if you are in NYC anytime soon. Discounted tickets are fairly easy to come by online unlike other musicals (ahem, Wicked). And the lead actress, Laura Michelle Kelly, who originated the role of the magical albeit no-nonsense governess on the London stage, is incidentally a committed Christian.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mama Bean

And for the final DC entry, something a lot sappy. Make sure the Kleenex box is handy. At the Air & Space Museum, one of the new exhibits we hadn't seen before was an art exhibition of paintings by an astronaut. Astronaut artist? I sense your skepticism, but no it was really interesting. But what was even more fascinating to me than the moon boot shoe impressions imposed on each of the canvases was the photograph of the artist with his mother and his stirring tribute to her.

What every mother hopes to hear one day.

The art-onaut at his craft.

Alan Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon.

See the boot impressions?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

One Small Step

Today my baby took the big step from babyhood to toddlerdom with a literal small step, and I am proud to say she did it towards me. At 10 months and 12 days she becomes the youngest Holloway to walk, perhaps, as you can hear in the video, because she has so many other Holloways cheering her on.

video

DC: Day Three

This day we were determined to get tickets to the Monument. It had gotten much colder over night and there were high wind warnings, but you've got to remember that we lived in the windiest place on earth -- Aberdeen -- for two years. Nothing compares to the biting North Sea wind. Nothing. Never forget I hiked up and down those treacherous steps to Dunnottar 30 weeks pregnant with Davis in 40-50mph gusting winds with rain.

But, as it turned out, even this was a bit much for me. Trey dropped me at the curb to collect the tickets. After battling gusts that forced my head down in order to make any headway, I learned at the base of the Monument that tickets were secured at the gift shop at the bottom of the hill I had just battled my way up. I looked at the guard and said: "You're kidding." But apparently he wasn't.

Tickets firmly in hand, Trey and I drove over to the American History Museum to kill an hour + before our time slot.

Among other fun artifacts we saw Dorothy's ruby slippers.

Kermit the Frog.

C3PO

A fantastic transportation exhibit, which included full trains, Mack trucks, and other vehicles. Did I mention the boys were in heaven?

Betsy Ross, of Philadelphia fame, in front of the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. They have the flag carefully preserved in a dark room with an interesting display about the writing of our National Anthem and the sewing and later preservation of the flag. Very patriotic although I winced a little at the corporate sponsor, Ralph Lauren. Seriously? Just a trifle self-serving considering their logo happens to be the American flag.

Addison in front of the gunboat Philadelphia.

And so now, the conclusion of our sorry Washington Monument tale. Trey dropped me at the base of the hill about 15 minutes before our timed ascent. I took Evie, who I strategically wrapped in the sling, tucking her arms inside her coat to protect her little hands against the biting cold (wind chill with 50mph gusts made it in the teens). I held Addison's hand, and we made it about halfway up the hill before he completely lost it. Once we got to the monument I tried to find a nook where we could find shelter against the wind and I could calm my now hysterical 4 year-old. (Evie was unfazed.) I was shooed away by the same unhelpful guard of earlier, and so I found another nook where he couldn't see us around the corner. I waited for Trey for what seemed like a while. He had gone to park the car and was bringing Davis. Apparently, he tried to call me several times but I couldn't hear the ringing above the wind. Next thing I know he's rounding the Monument shouting: "It's closed. It's closed." "What?" I say confused. "They've close it due to the wind. Didn't you see the sign?" In my haste to comfort Addison, I had completely missed the sign that said the Monument was closed because of the high winds. And for the second time that day I said: "You're kidding." And then a half light bulb went off in my head. Ah, that's why the guard shooed me away from the base of the Monument. Not that he was paying enough attention to notice I set up camp around the corner. Guess they were concerned about falling debris? Of course, with something that high you might want to consider setting up a perimeter a little larger than 10 feet away. Just a thought if it really is a risk at all.

And the next day was exactly the same. So we decided that we'll save the Monument for another time of year with balmier temps and quieter winds. And instead we finished out the rest of our afternoon at the American History Museum, had an old friend of Trey's over at our suite for some fabulous takeout Thai, and departed for Philadelphia the following morning with a thoroughly memorable excursion behind us.

What did I say about winter skies?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Photo Shoot




Spotted on a Bumper in DC

The irony? Looks like this woman hasn't been very well behaved. Poor car.

DC: Day Two

Day two dawned with one mission: visit the Washington Monument.

In all the years and dozens of trips we've made to DC both Trey and I have yet to mount the top of this monolith. The tickets are free but go quickly, and so we set out to arrive in the morning with what we hoped was plenty of time to get them.

The White House from the Washington Monument's base. Pretty powerful zoom.

Well, apparently we didn't get there early enough because all the tickets were gone. Disappointing, but we figured we'd try the next day.

See that wind? Well, not the wind itself, but the evidence of it. It grew steadily stronger. Stay tuned. It factors into tomorrow's part 2 of the Washington Monument tale.

So instead we decided to mosey along the Potomac down to the Jefferson Memorial.

I love this photo. Trey apparently snapped it and caught these silhouetted lovebirds. Supremely satisfying composition.

Addison with Mr. Jefferson behind him.

The Washington Monument in the background, the clouds beginning to part.

And then they dispersed altogether.

The white stone is stunning in the brilliant winter sun.

And then a military chopper buzzes by and you remember why DC is such a cool city. While you marvel at the greats of yesteryear, this city is still home to some of the most powerful decision makers in the world.

And this one was happy and sweet that is...

until she wasn't anymore. Shortly after these gems, she lost it, a fatal combination of being over-tired and cold. Nothing that a warm car ride couldn't remedy.

While Evie and Davis both napped in the comfort of our snug car, Trey took Addison into the Visitor's Center at the Smithsonian housed in this beautiful building.

Addison in front of the "I'll Have a Blue Christmas" themed tree.

In silhouette. Nothing lovelier than a winter sunset.