july 6 (saturday): two flights. tour of the vienna townhouse. nap/grocery store. library/sushi (from sushi yama) run. movie (disneys brave). homemade mexican dinner.
* our flights were decent and friends ben and ntina made the airport pick-up so easy. * back at their house, we got the full tour (theyve had this house for a few years, but it was our first time there). they are lovely hosts with a comfortable home. our welcome snack was a selection of fancy cheeses of the world. yum. * we went out to pick up a light sushi lunch and included a run to the library for a pile of kids books. X loved the shrimp tempura and tried salmon, tuna, eel, and pickled ginger. * our homemade build-your-own mexican dinner was oh. so. yummy. i LOVE the way these guys cook. and ben even made special coconut milk-based ice cream for X. she loved it. * we attempted to have a grown-up hang out after X went to bed, but the kid took forever to go to sleep so we separately chatted with ben and ntina while we alternated trying to get her to sleep. then we played a droopy-eyed round of euchre and hit the hay. *
(ntina and X watching the movie)
july 7 (sunday): movie (finding nemo). national natural history museum. sculpture garden. lunch (at hill country). nap/REI. gelato (at dolcezza). fountain fun (at mosaic in merrifield). emily and family visit. movie (mulan). mexican leftover dinner.
* we got up way too early after X went to sleep way too late. awesome. * we (we being the whipps and ntina and ben) ended up getting to the museum a bit after it opened. the place had some nice rooms but the displays werent that impressive. i think its because i was able to compare it to the paris, ottawa, and helsinki equivalents, which had more appeal to me. here there was almost nothing to touch or to get close enough to to feel like you were learning much more than dry facts with a dead animal as an added learning tool. * then, my ex-undergrad coworker friend meg and her husband alan and new baby bea kindly found some time to meet up with us. we sadly hadnt been able to make it to their wedding a couple years ago and now they have a beautiful little girl, so it was nice to see everyone. meg is always involved in interesting work and hobbies and its nice to bump in to her every few years. * anyway, we walked through the national sculpture garden to get to lunch at a bbq place called "hill country". it was a tasty good choice. you go up to a counter to get your meat and sides and then eat at a large wood table. it was perfect for the group size we had and it wasnt so busy because DC tourists seemed to be clearing out after the past 4th of july weekend. * then X neeeeeeeeded a nap and dave wanted to finally acquire a rain jacket at REI. mission accomplished. * we got yum sorbeto afterward, pineapple mint. it may not sound like a decent combo but it was wonderful and refreshing. i also got an argentinian cookie called an "aljafor", it was tasty, though dulce de leche doesnt do it for me nearly as much as caramel au buerre salé. across the street from the sorbet place was a wonderfully designed and situated fountain that X and i had fun cooling down in (although she no longer likes being in wet clothes, and we didnt have a bathing suit with us). * we made it back from the fountain in time to have a short but very enjoyable visit with high school friend (and ex-softball team mate) emily, her husband andy and their toddler owen. he is a talker and adorable. it sounds like they are doing well and are on a path that is sure to bring them much adventure and happiness in the coming years. :) * and then, my goodness, we stuffed ourselves with the most delicious leftovers i could ever ask for, and after a relaxing evening, we all went to bed early. *
(with walrus at the museum; meg and her mini me bea)
(fountain fun; emily and family)
(cozy evening seating with ntina and ben)
july 8 (monday): rental car. lisa and kids playing/eating cookies/swimming. dinner (of thanksgiving food). family health issues. adult hangout time (chocolate souffles/port/euchre).
* ntina kindly drove us out to the dulles airport to rent a car. we waited a long ass time to get the rental car and were finally able to get on our way (and lost) to visit my friend lisa and her kids. i used to work in a lab with lisa while i was an undergrad and she was a PhD student (same lab that i worked in with meg). she is basically a primo example of a rural-raised eldest daughter in terms of her warmth, kindness, hostess skills, and craftiness. our kids (she has two, aidan is 4 and claire is 2) had a great time after some initial power struggles. lol. and lisa, bless her heart, made a favorite dessert of shortbread cookies with fruit and cream cheese frosting. it was a nice kid-centric day and lisa and her family were so grateful we made the drive over, and so were we. i hadnt seen aidan since he was a little thing. * a supreme bonus was arriving back at ben and ntinas house to smell ntinas work in the kitchen: a roast chicken and an assortment of thanksgiving fixings. probably the second best meal suggestion (after mexican) a person who knows me could make. dinner was wonderful, and the big dining room table did actually make it feel like a special meal among family. * and then the day took a down turn. i got a message from my brother that my dad was in the hospital. after a delightful round of calling family cell phones that were not answered, my brother called back and we got the scoop. my dad had had a stroke, not a small one, but not one that affected his speech at least. his left limbs werent working very well though. i was simultaneously worked up, shocked, and glad to be in north america and to have the chance to see him for almost two weeks. the upcoming michigan visit was promising to not go at all how i had planned. * mercifully the child went to sleep (thank you lisa and kids!) easily and we were able to thoroughly immerse ourselves in an adult evening. ben made fancy chocolate souffles (at my request, thank you!), ntina introduced us to the lovely dessert accompaniment known as port, and we all enjoyed some laughs during a fun match of euchre. following the work trip stress of canada, the new information of my dads health, and the upcoming busy times in michigan, this was a most welcome pause to enjoy life and friends. *
(ballerina pool jumping; goofy kid fun)
(adult treats. drool.)
july 9 (tuesday): goodbye breakfast. drive to downtown baltimore. lunch (at corner bakery cafe). national aquarium. treats (from best of luck). hotel (red roof inn). return rental car. airport for dinner (at sam adams brewhouse). hotel for night.
* we woke up to a huge and yummy send-off breakfast. i should expect nothing less, we got to hit all of our favorite kind of eating experiences with them and were happy to have an unhurried morning to say goodbye. thanks soon-to-be-newlywed buddies! * the drive to baltimore was easy (and inner harbor was pretty and central downtown, yet not a challenge to maneuver in). lunch was fast and different and good. * the aquarium was diverse and just the right size for X to see a lot and visit a lot of animals she knew but not get too overloaded (i loved when we was running from tank to tank excitedly, people were staring at her when she knew all their names). their new coral reef exhibit was super cool. we saw them releasing some of the fish for the official grand opening of the exhibit a few days later. the admission cost to the aquarium was rather high, but it was worth it for us. i would go again. * the rental car return for BWI is out in the middle of nowhere. its not a hassle to return per se, but there is no gas station for miles on end and its not close to the airport itself. in fact the whole BWI airport has poor road signage around it and crappy map/signage inside the airport. why? why? why? *
(farewell photo; under the coral reef)