Onward! I'm going to phase out my old, clunky laptop and transfer all of my daily computer processes to one of the boys' speedy gaming computers as soon as I close out 2017, so let's do this.
The month of November was a bit of a blur. We either were company or had company for most of the month. Plus, there were school projects and work trips and other stuff in there too.
Over Columbus Day weekend, we spent a day with my friend Keli and her girls. They were in DC for the weekend, and it was really nice of them to spend some time with us. We had a relaxing lunch together at an Irish pub first. Then I tour-guided everyone onto the Metro and up to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. In hindsight, we probably should have just taken Ubers and maybe avoided the most crowded Smithsonian museum on a holiday weekend. Oh well! The kiddos had a fun ride on the Smithsonian carousel to make up for the crowds and the trudging about in the cold wind.
Pause for a random photo from my phone. This is the construction crane that I drive under everytime I go to the grocery store. I think I'm very brave.
The next weekend in November was full too. Tommy had a bunch of homework and school projects that he had to finish. We probably would have stayed home all weekend if we could have, but we needed to take cousin Riley's Flat Stanley around the city. We've done Flat Stanley projects for lots of little boys and girls over the years! For this one, we took him on the Metro, past the National Portrait Gallery, and out to lunch at a ramen shop.
We went down to visit David's brother and family for Thanksgiving. David's parents were there too. It was so nice to see everyone! David's brother recently moved from New jersey to the Charlottesville, VA area, so it wasn't a very long drive.
The weather was very sunny and nice, so we took a ramble in the woods with Charlie, Grandma and Grandpa at one point. Tommy stayed home with his cousin, who didn't feel like going out. He needed some hugs and snuggles.
On the day after Thanksgiving, we went to Monticello to check out Thomas Jefferson's home. (Yes, the boys and I kept randomly chanting Hamilton's line about Monticello from the Cabinet Battle the entire day, but only when no little boys could hear us.)
David's parents came home with us after Thanksgiving. He and the boys were at school and work, so I got to be the family tour director. Mel and Sylvia are two of my very favorite people, so it was a fun week. Sadly, I ended up with a nasty cold by the end of the week, and had to turn the touring responsibilities back over to David. He took a couple of days off of work to spend with his parents while I sniffled on the couch. Over the course of the week they got to see the WWII memorial, the MLK Jr. memorial, the FDR memorial, the National Archives, the National Gallery sculpture garden, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the Freer-Sackler Galleries of Asian Art. We also shared lots of laughs and yummy meals. It was a great visit!
December was another whirlwind month! That's how it should be, I suppose. Charlie spent a lot of time playing tabletop games with his school friends. Here's a photo that he will want to look back at when we move away.
We didn't really get organized and ready for Christmas until quite late this year. I had to get over that cold I had at the beginning of the month, and it always takes us a while to shift gears from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Luckily, it really doesn't take all that much effort for us to get into the Christmas spirit. I usually start smiling as soon as our box of presents (complete with clever clues!) arrives from my brother.
The last day of school wasn't until December 22, so we were really ready for our annual slothcation by then. We played games together, watched movies, cooked and baked interesting things like embutido (a Philippine meatloaf with a row of boiled eggs down the center) and sauerkraut, and sat around in our PJs playing with our presents for the five days from December 22 to December 26.
We would have liked to have had a longer slothcation, but the boys only had one week off of school. We really wanted to fit in a trip to Philadelphia to see the sights there before heading back to David's brother's house for New Year's Eve. We had a great time in Philly. It was ridiculously cold, with a high of 12 degrees, but we packed a ton of stuff into our short 2-night trip.
The Franklin Institute was right by our hotel.
On the second day, we had timed-entry tickets for Independence Hall, which is the place where the Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution were both signed. Another building in that complex housed the United States House and Senate for 10 years while Washington DC were being built. We also waited in a long (cold!) line to see the Liberty Bell. It looks like a beautiful day, but it was very, very cold.
We ate some great food in Philadelphia, but the highlight was a fancy lunch at Iron Chef Morimoto's restaurant. David got me a Japanese cooking pot called a Donabe for Christmas, so I'm hoping to recreate the fabulous clay pot wagyu beef and sizzling rice dish that he ordered (only maybe with less expensive beef.)
That same afternoon we did a whirlwind exploration of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I wish we'd had a whole day there! It was fabulous, by far the best art museum we've seen on the East coast. They have recreated entire historical rooms and buildings throughout the museum, so you walk through a gothic cathedral, Indian temple, Renaissance workshop or Japanese tea house while viewing the art. Absolutely amazing. Sadly, I didn't take any photos of the rooms! I must have been tired by then. I think we need to go back.
We exited the museum on the side with the iconic "Rocky Steps." Yes, Charlie recreated the run.
Our last morning in Philly was a calmer one. We checked our of our hotel and explored the Reading Terminal Market for a while. It's like an itty-bitty, super-crowded Pike Street Market, where everyone yells a lot. We had plans to meet a bunch of my Disney friends for lunch, so we were really just hanging out until lunch. I enjoyed spending time in-person with these friends. We talked for more than two hours!
We drove home after lunch and happily slept in our own beds for one night before packing up again, and heading down to Charlottesville for New Years Eve. We said goodbye to 2017 with David's brother, sister-in-law and nephew over some yummy fondue. I think Riley was very happy to see his cousins again so soon!
And that's all she wrote, folks! Goodbye 2017! Out with the old, and in with the new. I really hope 2018 brings some happy changes for us all.