Monday, December 15, 2008

I'll Be Home For Christmas!

Well the laundry is done and the bags are packed.  I am heading home tomorrow.  Wish me luck that no weather issues get in my way, I am traveling thru Denver.  But they know how to handle planes in the snow, right??

It is going to be a long birthday for me.  Three extra hours to be exact, and I am going to get every extra minute.  Audrey and I don't land at PDX until 11:40pm...if all goes as scheduled.  That is okay.  I can't think of a better birthday gift than going home to friends and family.

We will certainly miss Jimmy.  He will be making a very short trip home, just the 24th-28th.  At least we will all be together for Christmas.

I am so excited to see the Portland snow that everyone has been talking about and even more excited to see everyone.  Hopefully weather won't inhibit the visits too much.

See you all soon!!

-Kristen

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sigma Kappa



Last Sunday, November 9th,  I went to the University of Maryland campus to attend a Sigma Kappa Founder's Day celebration.  Happy 134th birthday SK!  

This was quite an amazing event.  The brunch was attended by approximately 300 women, comprised of the collegiate SK chapters of University of Maryland, University of Delaware and George Washington University as well as the alumna chapters of North Virginia and Washington DC.  I was invited by a friend whom I have met here who is a SK alumna from Texas Christian University.  I was really overwhelmed to say the least.  It has been so many years since I have attended a SK event let alone being in a room with more than 300 sisters!!

I had a few laughs as I was watching the girls arrive.  Audrey and I had arrived early so we were sitting outside the hall.  Hearing all the heals and chatter instantly brought me back to the sorority days.  Even 11 years after graduating you are instantly brought back.  The collegiate's speeches also made me chuckle.  They were full of inside jokes and crazy house stories.  The faces were different but I could see my fellow Alpha Phi (UO) Sigmas in these girls.  There was at least one Remi and one Traci Ryan!!  

I only knew one woman at the event and yet it all seemed so familiar.  I felt thoroughly welcomed even though I was sorely underdressed (no formal attire with me).  Audrey loved the chance to entertain a room full of women.  She was the only little one there and was a huge hit.  Especially when she enthusiastically clapped for everything!!

Going to this event has inspired me to check out the Portland alumna chapter after all these years.  I get invited to everything and have yet to attend.  I will have to check into it when I get back.

In Sigma,
Kristen

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween



I wanted to share a few pictures from our Halloween adventures.  The first few are from Portland.  We were invited to my nephew's elementary school harvest party.  We didn't have Audrey's costume with us but we were able to borrow one of Noah's old costumes.  I thought she made an adorable Tigger...


We are back in DC and Audrey was all ready to show off her sweet little bee self..

And here is a great shot from our Baby Boot Camp Halloween celebration

To add to the fun Halloween festivities we have been hosting four of Jimmy's law school buddies.  I love these guys and it has been so great to see them again.  Tim P. came all the way from London, Tim R from Kansas City, and Luis and Paul came down from NYC.  We have rented a car for the weekend and Audrey and I have had two days of adventures picking guys up in Baltimore (BWI).  Yesterday she greeted Tim R. in her Bee costume.  Once everyone made it to town we stopped into a bar for happy hour.  I think Audrey definitely won for best costume.  We left the boys to play in Dupont Circle and headed home.  It was so cute this morning to walk out and see four grown men sleeping on little mats in our little living room.  We all went to watch the duck game at the UO Alumni bar in Virginia.  Audrey are now back for a quiet girls' night in.  The boys have elected to rent a hotel room in district.  I can't blame them.  We only have one bathroom after all.  Hopefully we will all meet up again tomorrow before they start their travels home.  

Take care and I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday.

-Kristen

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Walk Down My Parents' Memory Lane


My parents arrived in DC this past Friday.  We have had a wonderful time touring the city and seeing old sites that my parents experienced 40 years ago when they lived near DC.

On Saturday our first stop was the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  The highlight of visiting this museum was watching my Dad look at the plane in which his father flew in WWII.  My dad never had the chance to meet his father because he was tragically killed in the line of duty a few months before my father's birth.  Seeing this very rare plane (I believe there are only 3 or 4 left in the world), for a moment, brought him closer to his father.  It was a wonderful thing to see, and I am so happy that we were able to give my dad this experience.


The museum was pretty amazing.  They had the NASA Enterprise space shuttle in the space section.  I have been to the Kennedy Space center in Florida, but this was the first time I actually got to see a shuttle up close.  I can't believe how enormous it is.  You see footage of it strapped to the rocket boosters and it doesn't appear to be much bigger than an airplane, that is just not so.

Here are some more planes...


We left the museum and headed out towards Quantico.  We were excited to find a Chick-Fil-A along the way.  Yummy!!  I thought I was going to have to wait for our Thanksgiving trip to Charlotte to indulge in some sweet tea.  I guess we went just "south" enough.  

Forty years ago my parents lived on the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia while my father completed his Marine Officer Training.  My brother, Scott was born there and I have heard references to Quantico my whole life.  I was excited to finally see the place.  We did a quick drive thru the base and spent the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.  We all learned what it means to be a Marine, how cool and tough the Marines are and much of the history of the Corps (all the way back to the late 1700's).  Poor Jimmy, it had to be tough for an Army guy.  My dad was on cloud 9 the whole day.  I am sure it will go down as one of his most favorite days ever!

We spent Sunday wandering the Mall and checking out more DC sites.  Here are some more photo highlights:

Hope Diamond


On Monday morning we received the sad news that my grandmother (mom's mother) passed away from a sudden heart attack Sunday night.  Although we are very saddened by her death we are so happy that she is finally at peace and that she didn't suffer.  She was 94 years old.  Grandma raised four children and thoroughly enjoyed her 14 grandchildren (I am the baby of the group), 30+ great-grandchildren (I have lost count) and at least two great-great-grandchildren.  She lived a full life and I am comforted to know she has been reunited with my grandfather and all her loved-ones who have passed on before her.  

I was able to get a ticket on the same flight as my parents, so we will all be heading home to Portland today.  Thank you for all the well-wishes I have we received.  I can feel all your hugs.

-Kristen

Bye Grandma. I love you...

In loving memory
Gertrude Moeller
April 24, 1914 - October 12, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Prayers For Zachary

I just wanted to increase the number of well wishes and prayers that are out there for a little boy Audrey's age.  A sorority sister of mine and her husband's little boy was recently diagnosed with Leukemia.  This is just a tragic diagnosis in such a small child and their family has the fight of a lifetime to keep up with all that accompanies it.  Please keep Zachary Briggs as well as mom, Christy, dad, Chris and big sister Avery in your thoughts and prayers.  I don't think they would mind me sharing a link to their Caring Bridge page the more people praying the better.


Thank you!!

Kristen
Kristen

Books, Buds, Blowout and Brew


We had another action packed, fun-filled weekend!  Here are the highlights....

Books

Jimmy, Audrey and I checked out the Library of Congress' National Book Festival.  There was much to see and many authors to meet.  We didn't really take advantage of all the festival had to offer simply because it was so hot and muggy.  We were worried that it would rain all day.  Instead it was sunny and incredibly muggy.  Match that with thousands of people and I have to admit the fun-factor was greatly diminished.  We did take advantage of the free goodies.  Cool bags, a great poster that I am hoping will make it home for proper framing, and the best free bottled water from Target.  


Buds

The best part of the day was seeing our friends Matt, Cecily and Dylan Williams.  They were blowing thru town as part of their multi-state NE adventure.  We checked out the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden  and all sat down for some catch up time over lunch.  I am amazed at how big Dylan is.  We have only been gone for six weeks.  We risked an angry security guard and his whistle to get this shot:

I don't know why they got so mad.  We obeyed the posted rule...no one "touched" the sculpture.....so we had to jump over a little fence :-)

After leaving the Williams to continue on their visit.  The Cox family headed over to the Smithsonian International Gallery to see the "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" exhibit.  This is a Smithsonian traveling exhibition featuring all of Jim Henson's work.  I have always loved the Muppets and Sesame Street and can remember where I was when Jim Henson died.  We got to see actual "muppets" used in production as well as many sketches and other written works.  I really wanted to check it all out but because the museum was in the same area as the National Book Festival it was super busy.  You could barely get a good look at anything.  The exhibit will be featured until October 5th so I think Audrey and I will be making another weekday visit.  I have to fit that in this week.  

Next we decided to get away from the crowds and go to check out Georgetown.  This is one of the most historic and visually beautiful areas of DC.  We cooled off by sharing a Starbucks Frappacino and did some quality people watching.  Audrey decided to give the passersby a show in the window.  Man she is a ham!
Blowout

As you can see by Audrey's appearance we were all ready for a great Duck game.  We decided to meet up once again with Matt as well as our friend Rich Bernstein at the Summers Restaurant in Arlington.  Summers is not just any sports watching establishment, it just so happens to be the home of the DC area UO Alumni chapter.  It was so wonderful to walk into a sea of yellow and green.  Mighty Oregon was sung throughout the evening and everywhere you looked you found some very happy duck fans.  I felt like I was transported home.  I think I would consider this a Rennie's east!  Here is a little video snapshot:

video

We will certainly be back.  It was a wonderful night.  What a great game!!  Audrey was a hit when she needed to move so we walked the room.  She got many oohs and ahhs, cheers and some ex-cheerleaders gave her a pom pom.  Too cute!

I can't help myself.  Check out Jimmy's practical joke (for those of you that don't know Matt, lets just say he is ecstatic to live two houses from the Portland Obama headquarters)...


Brew

Well Sunday Jimmy had to go into work so Audrey and I decided to go to the North Virginia Brew Fest with my friend Betsy and her husband.  As a good northwesterner I had to go and compare.  I think it goes without saying that nothing next to maybe a Munich based Oktoberfest could hope to compare with the Portland Brewfest but they gave it a good try.  The beers were a good selection of international and local varieties. My favorite was probably the Old Dominion Brewing Company's Pale Ale.  It probably helped that it was the end of the day and the end of the BrewFest so the brewer insisted we try his selections (a couple of times) and refused to take our tickets.  I think he wanted to impress the NW beer lover!  Despite his generosity it was a very good beer that I would recommend.  Their seasonal Oktoberfest beer was also worth checking out.  I really enjoyed meeting Betsy and Patrick's friends.  They were the type of folks you meet once and feel like you have known them for years.  I hope to have an opportunity to hang out with them again before February.

-Kristen

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mom's Night Out

Last night I was treated to a mom's night out with the Baby Boot Camp mamas.  It was so needed.  I realized that I had not been away from Audrey in over six weeks.  I love my baby girl but every once in awhile a mom needs to recharge and just be responsible for herself.  

It was a dinner and movie night.  A local burrito place had a special $13 for any menu item, a drink and a movie ticket.  I thought it was a fantastic deal.  I got to see the new Cohen Brothers "Burn After Reading".  I really enjoyed the movie.  It was good and quirky, just what you would expect from a Cohen Bros. creation.  I also enjoyed the fact that it was set in the DC area.  I went on a city tour with my mother-in-law on Monday which included the Georgetown area.  I was proud that I could recognize the area while watching the movie!  I am slowly feeling like a local.

My mother-in-law Liz left for home this morning.  Liz, Audrey and I drove up from Charlotte on Friday.  We had a wonderful visit, and I got to play tourist a bit which was great.  I really need to make more of an effort to get in the city and see the sites.  It really is an amazing place.  I wish Liz a very safe trip back to Charlotte.  It is a long drive and I hope it goes nice and smooth.  We had our share of excitement on the drive up.  Just north of Greensboro, NC we had a total blow out with one of the tires.  I have never seen a tire literally charred and smoking.  There was a two inch gap and over a foot of tire missing.  Thankfully it was a rear tire and we were able to safely get to the side of the road.  AAA was there within 30 minutes and we were off in search of new tires.  All was well and everyone was safe, that is all you can ask for.

This coming weekend we are looking forward to a visit from our Portland friends Matt, Cecily and Dylan Williams.  They will be in town for a couple of nights while on an east coast vacation.  Hopefully we will be meeting up to watch a Duck victory.  Jimmy, Audrey and I are also planning on checking out the Library of Congress' 2008 National Book Festival.  There will be over 70 authors featured including a large children's book area.  








Sunday, September 21, 2008

Andrew & Audrey

Well I am home again after a fun-tastic trip to see family in Charlotte, NC.  While there I got to meet the most amazing little boy.  

Andrew Paul Sumwalt joined our family in July when my husband's sister Christa and her husband Vernon adopted him from Russia.  Andrew is such a god-send, he is a perfect addition to our family and I am already so in love.  It is very apparent that Audrey feels much the same about her new cousin.  We spent the week really getting to know him.  The loveliest part was watching the amazing bond between mother and son.  Despite the short time, he knows who his parents are and  trusts them explicitly.  I seriously doubt that most babies who have only known a hospital crib and an orphanage would develop so well, especially with an entirely different culture, language, surroundings, etc to adjust to.  This just goes to show how incredibly remarkable this little boy is.  

Andrew's biggest challenge at the moment is getting used to a little helmet.  He is going thru therapy to help reshape his head.  He spent his first nine months or so laying flat on his back in a hospital crib before finally getting moved on to a "baby house" (orphanage).  This resulted in the dreaded misshaped flat head that parents are warned about.  The good news is that he is responding really well and should only have to wear the helmet for a few months.  

Audrey enjoyed introducing Andrew to some of her favorite treats especially her newest fav Veggie Bootie (thanks Ayelet for sharing this treat, Audrey is completely addicted).  Andrew and Audrey are only ten days apart in age so they had lots in common and made a perfect little playmate match.  Audrey used her new polished walking skills to push Andrew around on his bike.  Andrew taught Audrey how to properly throw a ball and to play catch.  They were so cute together.  They finished the week off with some great baby races up the stairs.

Here are some precious moments from our trip...

"Sharing the Bootie"
video   
"Teamwork"
video

"Channeling Jerry Lee Lewis"
video

"And the Winner Is..."
video

More later!

-Kristen

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Busy Day

Yesterday we had a very busy but enjoyable day.  We woke up and started out in search of the local Twinbrook library.  The library was hosting a special "Music Together" day.  Audrey loves music, so I knew we had to venture out to find this class.  We had a bit of trouble at first because we had to ride the bus and the driver did not know where the library was.  Luckily a fellow passenger helped us out (of course by that time we had missed our stop and had about a 10 minute walk).  Thankfully I gave us plenty of extra time so we made it to the library in the nick of time.  

Audrey playing a drum

We left the library and made our way back to the Metro station.  There we boarded the subway and headed into the city for lunch with Jimmy.  The three of us tried out the Billy Goat Tavern near Jimmy's office.  We had some super yummy cheeseburgers.  

After lunch it was raining very hard so I decided it would be a good day to check out a museum.  So off we went to the National Building Museum.  We entered into an amazing great hall with 75-foot-tall columns and a beautiful fountain.  Mind you this is all inside the building.  It was amazing.




While touring around we found the "Building Zone".  This exhibit area was all about hands on exploration, similar to the Children's Museum in Portland.  There was an area where you could dress up as a construction worker (Audrey was not at all interested in that part) and then you could set off to use different blocks and toys all associated with construction.  Audrey got so excited when a little boy dumped out a bin of blocks and then walked away.  This meant that she got to put them all away herself.  One of her new favorite activities is putting things away.  She seems more excited to put away then to "play with" these days.  I need to remember to remind teenage Audrey of this when I am begging her to clean her room! ;-)


Audrey putting the blocks away...Check out the little "construction worker"

Audrey also discovered magnets while playing in the Building Zone.  She was surprised and delighted pulling the pieces apart and watching them come back together.  I had a tough time getting her to move on from this area.  

Cool Magnets

I think my favorite part was the miniature "green" house.  Inside and out they showed how you can build a house using renewable resources (i.e. decking made out of recycled plastic bags and bottles).  Little signs explained what materials were used.  I thought it was pretty cool.  Audrey loved that there was a house her size including tot-sized furniture. 

Audrey-sized chair

video
Audrey trying out some steps on her own


We left the museum and headed back to Metro.  This time we were on our way to Clarendon, VA.  Clarendon is a suburban village near Arlington.  It is a very cool area with a variety of stores, restaurants and new designer condo/apartments.  We spent the afternoon looking thru the stores.  Our favorite was Kinder Haus Toys it was an amazing little store with an imagination station featuring train and block tables.  Audrey has really developed a liking for train tables she seems to gravitate towards them if they are around (I think this all started at the West Slope library book babies).  Anyway we spent over an hour playing with the toys and thoroughly checking out the store.  



We ended our busy day at Harry's Taproom for a delicious dinner and a wonderful visit with my friend Betsy, a sorority sister of mine who lives in nearby Falls Church, VA.  It had been close to ten years since last we saw each other and it was so wonderful to catch up.  She recently got married so I got to hear all about her fabulous Canadian wedding .  It sounded like so much fun.  I am bummed that I forgot to get a picture (we were just having way too much fun chatting) but I must say Betsy looks fabulous!  It sounds like she found herself a great hubby.  I am excited to meet him and get us all together soon.  

Well that was our day.  We came home and fell into bed exhausted.  We were up early and back to Boot Camp this morning (yippy it is now four days a week at the mall).  We also got a chance to see Mr. Knick Knack before heading home.

I am excited, we are heading to Charlotte on Sunday.  I will be sure to post about meeting Andrew.  I can't wait!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Alexandria, VA



Sunday, the family decided to do a bit more area exploring, so we headed off on metro to check out Alexandria, Virginia.  Alexandria has a fun
Old Town area with a variety of shops and restaurants, some chains, some independent.  It also had a waterfront area that like any good touristy area, had its share of cheesy street performers and people-watchers.  Audrey loved the parrots that were on display...she also loved the pigeons.  I guess she is a bird-lover.




Well summer is officially over, how sad.  To drive that point, the condo management decided to close the pool for the season.  The forecast calls for 90+ degree heat this coming week so I am a bit disappointed.  Jimmy got home from work pretty early (6pm or so) yesterday evening so we decided to take one last dip.  

Bye bye cool pool...





Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day?


Can anyone explain to me what the picture on this poster has to do with labor day?


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Go Ducks!!!



Today is a happy day.  We watched the first Duck game from Maryland.  It was so hard to see Autzen and not be there, but the Ducks did not disappoint us 44-10...I would call that a good start to the season.  

We showed our Duck pride all day yesterday.  We went to the local mall, and then traveled up to check out Rockville, MD (the next city north of us).  Rockville Town Square was very cool.  Lots of shops and restaurants; mixed use housing and retail.   You can tell it is a brand new area.  It would be a cool place to live, much more pedestrian friendly, but I am still happy with our area as well.  It is only one metro stop north, so we can certainly visit whenever we want.  

One cool point yesterday, was while in a Rockville Starbucks and young woman came up to me and asked if I went to UO (I was pretty "Ducked" out so I thought the question was a bit funny), alas, I said yes, and she said that she was heading to UO in a couple of weeks to start her freshman year.  "That's awesome", I said..."Go Ducks!!!"  

To all of our Oregon buds...Thanks for cheering our Ducks on to victory... I hope you heard our cheers all the way from the east coast.

-Kristen

Friday, August 29, 2008

Baby Boot Camp...Maryland Style


Baby Boot Camp www.babybootcamp.com  is a workout program for moms (and dads in some locations) where your stroller-bound child(ren) is incorporated into an incredible workout.  It is also a place to meet great friends and find the motivation and inspiration to do something for yourself (most moms I know put that at the bottom of their to-do lists).  I have been a member and routinely attending classes in Portland since January.  Having a sweet little girl who for the most part refuses to sleep, I needed something to get my energy up and find a way to build strength to combat my overall exhaustion.  

When we decided to make the trek to DC I knew I had to find something equivalent to the BBC classes I love at home.  To my delight I found out there was a franchise here in Maryland!  The closest class is at a local mall just one metro stop away.  

Audrey and I went to our first class last Thursday and although smaller than the Beaverton classes, it still has all the same elements, cardio, strenghth and core training, great instructors and some awesome moms.  So far I have been attending the Thursday and Friday classes at the mall.  Starting in September there will be four classes a week at the location.  

One unique thing is that after class, the instructors have started a tradition of going to the Borders (in the mall) grabbing a coffee and sitting in the children's area so we can all chat and the kiddos can have some fun time together.  This has given me even more opportunity to get to know some very cool moms.  I am so happy to have BBC.  As much as I miss my Portland workout buddies/instructors, I have found a very familiar activity that makes both Audrey and me feel at home.

Hanging out at Borders with some BBC moms

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mr. Knick Knack and The Dodgers



Today we attended a performance by Mr. Knick Knack http://www.mrknickknack.com/about a local children's performer at a nearby mall.  He was a great entertainer and Audrey had a ball watching all the big kids dance.  She even attempted some of her own dance moves.  She clapped right along with the crowd and was full of smiles.  Apparently, Mr. Knick Knack has shows once a month at the mall, so I am sure we will become frequent audience members.


**************************************************


Last night Jimmy and I took Audrey to her first MLB game.  The Nationals were hosting the Dodgers so we thought it was a perfect time to check out the local ball park.  The Nationals have a beautiful new stadium and the hotdogs, although not quite Dodger Dog level, were tasty. Audrey seemed to enjoy the lights and all the people.  She did a good job entertaining the crowd.  Lots of peek-a-boo and smiles with the nearby fans.

Our seats were along the third base line, so we had a good view of Manny Ramirez.  That was a pretty cool bonus!