Friday, May 30, 2014

Quick Trip to the Zoo

We took an unplanned excursion to the zoo this morning. We couldn't let May slip away without getting our very own set of BaoBao ears.

Isabel has begun talking and she says BaoBao BaoBao pretty much non stop.

We braved the crowds and waved at our favorite friend. BaoBao was busy climbing a tree. Eloise asked that we go back to the Bird House.  She really loves the aviary rooms where she can watch the birds roam and fly freely.

She even asked if she could get her picture taken with a peacock who had hopped onto the path!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day Walk of Thankful Recognition at the USPTO

One of the greatest motivators for our living so close to Philip's work has been the increased opportunity for family time by minimizing the commute.  When we lived in Japan we recognized that there is a very real cost benefit calculation between commute time and family time that is absolutely worth considering.  Upon returning to the US in 2010 we chose to live on campus at UNC in the Baity Hill family dorms.  It was absolutely the best choice for us.  Philip spent three years with a commute that took him on foot through the Botanical Gardens annex.  I was surrounded by women who were in exactly the same stage of life - trying to balance studies, budgets and the challenge of raising small children with spouses who are in school and often working long hours studying and doing research.  Being able to take my fussy baby on long walks around campus, riding the RU with a toddler who loved to sing "The Wheels on The Bus," meeting Daddy for lunch, and watching my child learn how to climb stairs by practicing on the never-ending staircase from the Dean Dome to the Business School are memories of our time in Chapel Hill.

Front row at the Concert. Eloise is eyeing the Color Guard.
Similarly, we have begun to create similar memories here in Alexandria, all made possible by the fact that we do live right here in the Carlyle area.  One of my sources for USPTO events and neighborhood happenings has been Red Brick Town.

Isabel enjoying the Patenteers.
On May 21st the USPTO Military Association held a wonderful event to commemorate Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.

Eloise and Phil watching the Color Guard begin the walk to Alexandria National Cemetery from the Patent Office campus.

We met Philip at the Patent Office around 11:30 where the Patenteers (the USPTO chorus) had a performance.  We were all handed a schedule of events, which included the concert, a walk, a wonderful invocation and memorial ceremony.

We often walk past the National Cemetery on our walks and runs - this was our first time visiting. The gate house is in process of being restored.

On the back side of our program was a specific soldier's name and burial site at the Alexandria National Cemetery, so that we could pay our respects after the end of the ceremony.

This was just the second year that the USPTO Military Association has hosted the event, but it was wonderful.  I feel so grateful that the girls and I were able to participate with Phil.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 months old

Isabel's 9 month birthday was yesterday. She is busy working on walking and cutting her first two teeth.  She has been busy keeping up with her sister and reminding us all of what a gift she is.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mother's Day Weekend

These two jokers have been fighting their naps lately.  They think it is hysterical.
Isabel loves to swing!
The only thing that is more fun is when Eloise joins in the fun!

It started to rain while we were playing - but Phil & Eloise insisted on sprinting to the lighthouse despite the rain.

A Mother's Day stroll to one of our favorite parks!

Relaxing on the 4th floor plaza later in the day on Mother's Day!

Eloise enjoying watching the construction work at the future home of the National Science Foundation after our run.

Nike Women's Half Marathon!

In January one of my high school friends and I joined a challenge/training program with Another Mother Runner.  Ellen spent 17 weeks training for a half-marathon (and managed to run 3 in the meantime- GO ELLEN!).  I trained for 3 weeks and then ran into some challenges thanks to a fairly weak core after Isabel's birth...but I am back on program and in week 5 and feeling much stronger.

Ellen planned her final race of the Spring season to be the Nike Women's Half Marathon.  I was so tempted to jump in last minute and run with her, but instead decided that being ground support and cheering her on was much more prudent.  After watching her race - I am so glad that I got to cheer her on - she is phenomenal!

My children wake up at 5am EVERY morning - except when I need them to.  Race day was no exception.  So as Ellen was waiting for the start gun, I was bundling her cheerleaders into the car and hustling to the course.  We were able to catch her twice as we headed to the finish line.  It was really cool to be able to use our phones to track her as we moved through the city.  We set up our final position within sight of the finish line.  The girls loved the energy of the day.  Eloise was desperately trying to run the race and Isabel is such a big fan of crowds.
Eloise and Isabel loved watching the runners as they closed in on the finish line!

Ellen was in the zone as she rounded the corner!  She has her arms up in the air!

Isabel taking notes.
Eloise was attempting to squeeze through and join the race.
Post race photo with our hero!
Ellen ran with her friend Mandy's Team in Training team: TEAM STRONGER.  The entire Nike Women's race benefited the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, but Ellen raised more than $2500.00 to run with Mandy and to help fund more research and provide support for survivors and families.

I was so grateful that she let us share in her hard work.  The weekend was a wonderful one for me - it lit a fire in me to continue training, despite the setbacks I faced in January.  It reminded me of how wonderful friendship and support is in mothering and life.  I am so grateful for our friendship and I cannot wait to run 13.1 with Ellen this Fall as my Prove It race.  (I still have to pick the race...part of me is thinking St. Jude in Memphis...though maybe City of Oaks...)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Community Day

Eloise's end assessment of Phil's work was classic.  When asked how she liked Bring Your Daughter to Work Day she would say: "Oh it is very interesting and a little bit boring." With the cutest smile.  When it came time to meander over to the Patent Office campus for Community Day last Thursday, she kept saying "Oh Mommy, no thank you, I have seen Daddy's work."  

Isabel, however, wanted to see what all the fun was about.  The USPTO blocks off the streets on Community and all of the social organizations set up booths.  Families are invited down and this year they had a food truck rodeo.  Both Phil and I are notoriously bad at standing in line, so I brought some banana bread.  We enjoyed the parade, listening to the National Anthem and people watching.  Eloise was so surprised by how many folks were out and about on the streets that we wander almost every afternoon and are usually close to empty.  We enjoyed sitting on the grass and looking at the fancy cars.  We met a few of Phil's colleagues.  Eloise ran and ran and Isabel did her best to catch up to her.

Can you spot Eloise? She is running towards the flag pole!
 We work pretty hard at balancing freedom and safety with Eloise.  It has been quite a year of learning for us all as we have negotiated the move from a college town to a large city and a much more urban home.  One of the big rules in our house is to stay on the grass in public squares.  This square is Eloise's home turf and she loves to run the entire perimeter.

Eloise in the end declared that Community Day was alright...mainly because she got to wear her medal.  Isabel was thrilled that we all got to be together.  It is really nice living so close to campus and being able to have such a nice walk and quick visit with Phil in the middle of the work week!  Sometimes we feel a bit crazy living in a small space with two young kids - but in moments like this it is easy to remember why we chose to be here.

Bring your Daughter to Work Day

I really must get better at updating on the go!  A few weeks ago a good friend was over and she noticed that our calendar was full until April 24th which was filled with a bold "BRING YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY" and then the next month and a half was simply blank.  I laughed - while life has rolled right along, I have not gotten back on top of planning and organizing!

When Isabel was first born Eloise and Phil spent a lot of time together.  She would get really sad when it was time for Phil to go to work and be so very excited when he would come home.  Right around her birthday (last October) she announced that all she wanted was to go to work with Dad.  We giggled and didn't really think much of it - but Eloise - she was very serious.  Every morning at breakfast she would ask her dad: "Is today the day?"  Phil would invariably say "For what?" and Eloise would remind him "That I am big enough to be a worker girl!"  After a few weeks (the adults in this house are a bit slow) I said, "Oh Eloise - you can go with Dad on Bring your Child to Work Day."  I of course was thinking about her going when she was about 7 or 8, but her question changed.  Every day she asked "Is it Bring your Child to Work Day?"

In January Phil got his annual calendar and emailed me right away: PUT BRING YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY ON THE CALENDAR! APRIL 24th!

Eloise has been so excited to see what her Daddy does - she counted down the days and when April 24th rolled around - she had packed her book bag and planned her outfit.


 Eloise insisted she wear her running shoes because she was certain that her Daddy plays lots of games at the office.  Phil and Eloise had a nice brunch and Phil showed Eloise his office, where Eloise practiced drawing while Phil worked a bit.


Apparently there was a wellness fair that day because I received the following picture of Eloise...hard at work.  Life is tough :)!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Easter Sunday

Our Easter weekend was a busy one!  I cannot believe how long it has taken me to share all that we did!  After the excitement of being healthy, going for our first jog and baking the Easter pizza, I was a bit nervous that Easter Sunday might be too much for the girls.

We all woke up early and got dressed in our Easter best (despite the chilly temperatures in the morning) and met Aunt Annie at St. Peter's on Capitol Hill.  Aunt Annie arrived 15 minutes early - to a standing room only sanctuary.  By the time Phil and Eloise made it in we were squeezed like sardines.  The priest announced that they had a satellite space open in the basement with plenty of chairs.  Well, getting to the basement was a little complicated due to the crowd and the fact that 3 of the 4 doors we tried were locked.  Once we made it to the basement, we realized that the chairs were still stacked on the walls and the sound system was not quite up to the choir's volume.  It was a fairly surreal experience.  We all agreed that if we end up in the same situation in the future, we will opt for being sardines.

After church we spread a picnic blanket and shared some surprises.  Aunt Annie brought the girls a few Easter treats and Eloise gave Aunt Annie the Easter pizza.  We all thoroughly enjoyed our morning.  We attempted to get a family photo, but with two wiggly little ones, we instead opted for a whole bunch of "almosts" and a ton of laughter from us all.

 These last three pictures make me laugh because Isabel is very busily taking bites of each slice of Easter pizza.  Eloise is busy calling her a "pizza lion" and Annie and I are laughing really hard.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Family Traditions Made New

We were able to enjoy a very simple Easter this year.  Aunt Annie was going to be working, but we all agreed to meet for church on Easter Sunday.  I wanted to surprise her with a family Easter tradition - Grandmom Immediata's Easter pizza, so I called my Dad and asked for the recipe.  He sent it along (I am so happy to have this in my recipe binder now!).  I made a few tweaks due to time - I used pre-made pizza dough & used Kraft parmigiana cheese (I totally missed the parmigiana on the list of ingredients...).

Eloise and Isabel had a BLAST making Aunt Annie a special treat.