Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Animal house

Augustine's cheeks are full of birdseed and she's hiding in the cat bed.




Puma watches Augustine carefully. Dilated pupils mean love, right?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thea's first 5k

Thea ran her first 5K yesterday! She did great. We did it with very little training, and used it mostly to set a great baseline for measuring our future progress. We had a lot of fun. I'm so proud of her!



The 5K was for girls only (and the people running with them), part of a program that encourages physical activity in girls at local schools. Most of the girls who ran it had been training for the whole school year. We had no expectations at all for how we'd do, but we did see one girl who was was in front of us who started yelling at her friend to wait for her "or I'll kick your butt when I catch up to you!" Thea and I were appalled at her behavior, especially since she had to have her coach carry her for part of the way. We said to each other, I don't care how badly we do, we're coming in ahead of that kid. (And we did.)

We passed another kid off to the side around mile 1 who was having a tough run. Her mother was yelling at her -- or maybe pleading with her loudly -- that all the other kids were having fun, no one else cared who was in front, and can't she just keep going? I felt bad for both the kid and the mom. If it had been me, I think I would have swallowed my disappointment, taken off our bibs, and headed to the finish line to cheer for friends. It sucks that the kid seemed to feel that not doing as well as her friends meant she failed. She looked absolutely dejected and humiliated (though part of that might have been the mother yelling at her).

In retrospect, I think there are great life lessons in the experience about self-reliance, realistic expectations, pacing yourself, and focusing on your own performance, not anyone else's. Also, it's great to stick with something that you think is important, but understand your motives. If you're not having fun, hit the eject button!

After the race, the parking lot at the metro was jammed, so we hopped on the metro and went to Chipotle a couple stops away. It was the perfect way to end a perfect morning.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Take Your Kids to Work Day (observed), part 2

This day was at my building, where I work, as opposed to the main building downtown. It started with the Deputy Archivist giving the kids the oath of office for civil servants, which we all take when we start working for Federal agencies.


Then we ran back upstairs to finish getting the 3D printer set up, my contribution to the day. My wonderful coworker David Katz helped and added a bunch of candy to the table. I set up several kinds of cookies, which Thea helped me pick out a couple days before.


Liam helped me make signs directing people to the room, and both kids made my activity (a handout that you cut out and tape together to form a box; 3D!). It was a smashing success.


There was also a scavenger hunt, which took us all over the building. It was exhausting. From one end to the other, my building is 1/4 of a mile long. We walked about 2 miles just for this activity alone.


At lunch time we left and headed to see a movie, Spiderman. It was so fun, and the perfect way to end the last part of our Take Your Kids to Work [Week].

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

New computer

Mike is doing his part to raise a Mac geek. 



Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Take Your Kids to Work Day (observed), part 1

Today was Take Your Kids to Work Day at the National Archives! The downtown DC site, anyway, which was built in 1935. I'm way more impressed with that than the kids are. I think it's a regal, beautiful building.


The day started with us setting up the 3D printer for all the kids to check out, and a video about the Archives and how important it is to keep national records. Here's Thea, Liam, and our friend Eamon, my favorite co-worker's son.


Then we went to a photo op with the Big Guy.



The Archivist of the United States -- or AOTUS as we call him at work -- showed the kids the letters to three presidents he wrote, including one to LBJ congratulating him on signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Next we went on a tour of some documents in a vault on the 12th floor, including the letter George Washington wrote accepting the presidency, a document about the Louisiana Purchase, and the petition for women's voting rights signed by Susan B. Anthony and Cady Stanton. That impressed me more than the kids, frankly.

Lastly, the exhibit staff gave the kids the opportunity to design their own exhibition dioramas, which The and Liam thought was the coolest.

We left the Archives and met up with Mike for lunch with my co-worker Darren, his son Eamon, and his wife Diana, who works not too far from the Archives. Afterward we took Eamon and the kids to Mike's museum for a behind-the-scenes tour.

First was unlimited rides on the carousel on the National Mall, which Mike gets for free for working at the Smithsonian:




Then he showed them the cabinet shop:




and let them crawl around behind the walls to look at how the video displays worked:




We ended the day in the gardens.


At night, Mike and I had our cocktails outside with an audience. It was an exhausting but fun day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Milo missed me terribly


Never leave again, he says. Okay, love. I won't. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring Break Cleveland: Home again

We are not happy about leaving.


Mike did most of the driving.


But not all of it! He drove most of the miles, but I drove half the hours thanks to two accidents and several backups. 


As usual, the kids were absolute peaches, perfect angels. They're fantastic traveling companions, and I'm so glad and proud to be their mom.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break Cleveland: Day 6

We spend every morning at the beach. We love this beach, especially the rocks.



Then Mike took us to see the Cleveland Indians, the first baseball game for me and Thea. It was so fun! And the stadium is gorgeous.






Mike's mom got him and his brother bricks when the stadium was built 20 years ago, and Thea happened to find it out of the thousands of other names. She was today's hero!





Later we went back to Skyline one last time, and took the Garlands with us. This time Thea got a stomach ache, so I'm not sure she'll be back. It's sad, really. I think she takes after me. I can't eat fast food, either.


Spring Break Cleveland: Day 5

Today we went on the Mike Briggs Tour of Cleveland. We started with the beach down the street from us, where the kids and I spent almost every morning.

Liam really can't help mugging for the camera.



For lunch we had Skyline Chili, which the kids loved. Mike is so excited, because I can't eat it without getting a stomach ache (which is what Liam's pretending to have).


Then we headed to Lakewood, where Mike grew up. It's right outside of Cleveland. Not a suburb, really. More like a small, blue-collar town with a distinct personality that is directly connected to a large, blue-collar town. We went to Huntington Beach, which is super cool. The piers are all basically piles of giant rocks, and the beach has won awards for how much it's been cleaned up.


I had a religious experience at the end of this one. Let me show you:




Then we met our friends at Malley's candy shop, where Mike used to go as a kid. We even saw the owner, who offered Thea a job when she gets to high school.


Next on the list was the Kenilworth bar, where Mike lost many hours in his youth. It was owned by his brother's wife's family, and is still a favorite hangout of the extended family.


For dinner we ordered butter cheese pizza, a Cleveland specialty, and hung out with Augustine, our sole pet on vacation. We all agreed, the house felt sort of weird without our usual herd.





Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring Break Cleveland: Day 4

We let Mike sleep as late as possible to finish recovering from his experience at the Schvitz on Tuesday. I hope he writes about it while the memory is relatively fresh, because the story is epic.


Since Mike wasn't joining us, we took advantage of being unburdened by his weird pepper allergy and went for Mexican food. Liam got a magnetic knife, which was super weird.


Then Mike joined us and we went to the Museum of Contemporary art. Here's Liam practicing his levitation skills:


while Thea uses her scarf to either protect her eyes from the sun or create a performance art piece in protest of inequality and strife across the globe.


The main exhibit at MoCA was "Dirge," and it featured a collection of works that centered around the topic of mortality. My sunny son has no interest in such topics and spent most of his time in the play area with Aoife creating intricate sculptures from straws.


I got to explain the concept of manipulative art to Thea, but mostly the pieces were amazing. Here are two of my favorites:

Guido van der Werve's Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright (with Thea and Mike pretending to walk in front of it):



and Steve Lambert's You Are Still Alive.


Later we went to Mike's best friend's place for a dinner party. Before it started, I took Liam for a haircut about a mile up the street. On the way there, we saw a dog running into traffic. I pulled over and coaxed the dog into the car, wondering what I could possibly do. The dog was a large pit bull, and she was totally freaked out. There was a woman walking by with another dog who said that the lost dog lived in the neighborhood behind the busy street. She tried to help, but the dog was so anxious out that she snapped at her dog. Liam and I realized we were on our own with this one.

The lost dog was exceedingly grateful to be in our car. She licked our faces and nuzzled our chins until we shoved her off, then settled down in the back seat as if to say "Thank you! Okay, take me home now." We drove around in circles for about a half hour, asking people if they recognized the dog. Finally we saw a boy on a bike who claimed her tearfully. Liam and I are heroes!

And we still had time to get Liam his haircut.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spring Break Cleveland: Day 3


Cleveland has a market that dates back to 1840. It's huge, always packed with people, and has a dizzying array of produce, meats, and cheeses you can buy, all mixed in with food stalls. We went there for ramen noodles for lunch.


And, sure, why not, pastries. We're on vacation!


This lamb just hanging out in the aisle freaked the kids out.


That night we went to hometown hero chef Michael Symon's restaurant Lolita. We went with a bunch of Mike's favorite friends from Cleveland and split things like bone marrow, pig ear and tail, and chicken livers. Thea and Liam are adventurous eaters and tried everything. Thea liked the pig tail a lot more than I did.