Monday, March 28, 2016

Cherry Blossom Festival

I know...I know...a blog post about the Cherry Blossom Festival without any actual photos of cherry blossoms. A sin, I know, but remember...I'm the word guy, so bear with me on this one:

This past weekend was a busy one for everyone. Through sheer force of her own will, Elise took the kids camping for two nights near the Delaware shore by herself for their spring break. They played, roasted s'mores, and rode bikes for two days in the open air, and it was just what the doctor had ordered--for everyone--Elise included.

Myself on the other hand, worked late both nights they were gone and on Saturday. I had chips and salsa for dinner Thursday night along with one of the worst take-out burritos I'd ever had in my life. On Friday, I walked down Massachusetts to Foggy Bottom from Embassy Row around six, as the shadows were getting longer. As I stepped out of my meeting, I noticed the temperatures were noticeably cooler, and my thoughts immediately went to Elise and the kids in the great, wide outdoors. I knew they would be fine, but recollections of our last sub-freezing camping experience in Shenandoah where I stayed up all night with an infant Clementine, shivering in the front seat of our minivan came rushing back to me.

Yesterday, Elise had to work. She had lined up four family sessions down by the Tidal Basin, and so we all decided to go, walk through the Jefferson Memorial, and see the cherry blossoms. The day was cloudy and cooler than I thought it was going to be. We gave ourselves plenty of time to get down there and find a parking spot, two hours. The last time Elise did this, we made the mistake of taking 66 to Constitution Ave, then got stuck in traffic like a prehistoric ant in amber. We weren't moving, and as the time of her shoot approached, Elise eventually had to jump out of the car just as we passed the Washington Monument and run all the way to the tidal basin. We crawled through traffic until we found a parking spot, jumping a curb, and parking on the grass. I took the kids to see the Jefferson Memorial that time, too, though none of them remember.

We walked through East Potomac Park and tried to get our kids to pose for a few shots, but thanks to Peter no one could hold still or be serious enough for one half decent shot. Not to mention everyone was dressed like ragamuffins. Maybe we are failing as parents that we didn't make everyone go to church on Easter Sunday, take everyone out to an overpriced brunch, get dressed up in our Easter best--pink bonnets and baby blue polos for the boys--and make a giant ham for dinner. We do things a little bit differently. Perhaps in the process, creating a few of our own traditions while not adhering to all time-worn practices.

The Easter Bunny did make a stop at the house. We've been very conscientious about not letting Easter turn into a mini-Christmas (that being said, I did buy the kids a remote-control helicopter. I bought it off Amazon and it didn't arrive in time to put in anyone's Easter basket. When we got back from the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Amazon box was sitting on the front porch, but it was almost eight and everyone was falling-out-of-their-chairs exhausted at dinner so there was no way I was opening that can of worms...or a remote control helicopter...that night!). The Easter Bunny brought everyone a chocolate bunny (which we found out upon closer inspection of the box that it was hollow!! It was in tiny print at the bottom of the packaging. Tricky, Russel Stover. Cheap and tricky!), jelly beans, and Reese's peanut butter cups (for Dad). He/she/it also brought an egg-dyeing kit from Paas (which prompted the question of how Paas makes money the other 11 1/2 months out of the year). Fortunately, Dad bought an 18 pack of white eggs (we had gotten into the habit of buying cage-free organic...which are brown and really not all that good for coloring on wrapping paper).

We dyed Easter eggs in the morning. After finding all of the 50 plastic eggs the Easter Bunny had hid around the living and dining rooms. I made biscuits and fried up in a skillet some homemade sausage patties Elise had made for her camping trip.

Once we got to the spot Elise was going to meet her clients we peeled off and headed toward the Jefferson Memorial. Sam was grumpy. He was starting to act like that petulant tweener that was bored by seeing monuments of historical figures that many travel around the world to see. He whined the whole way as we walked up to the monument, asking me, "What can I dooooo?" How do you even begin to answer that question? (Come to found out, I think he was just hangry; I charged $3 at the refreshments stand on a pretzel, and he seemed to perk up a bit.) They were impressed by the statue. Less so by the fact that the thirteen original colonies snubbed their noses at the motherland for the sake of self-evident truths. I decided against reading them the text from the Declaration of Independence. I didn't want to be that dad, but I at least wanted them to know I knew that Thomas Jefferson was the third (not the second) President. Not that they cared.

After visiting the Jefferson Memorial, it took us a while to decide to go left or right around the Tidal Basin. Pete definitely did not want to go to the Washington Monument, even though I thought we had time. According to Elise, while they went camping, Sam, Peter, and one or two of their friends sprinted up an old watchtower. There were no windows in the tower until you got to the top, and on some level Pete didn't register the fact that he was ascending. When he got to the top and saw how high he was off the ground, he evidently freaked out and began screaming as though he had tripped and broken a leg. Washington Monument. For sure.

Pete did want to go to the Lincoln Memorial, but though I didn't think it would be too far to walk, it was in the complete opposite direction of our car. That's when we decided to hit the refreshment stand, because the kids had mowed their way through the snack I had brought for them within the first five minutes of our expedition.

At the refreshment stand, we were in line behind a family that was clearly from out of town. Perhaps, I jump to that conclusion too quickly, but given their general uncouthness, I am only hoping they don't live anywhere near me. The mother was morbidly overweight and in a wheelchair. The father was rude and argumentative with his family and the woman working behind the counter. The two daughters--in Batman t-shirts and dyed hair--seemed well-adjusted enough, if with a normal level of teen ennui.

In a biting Southern twang, the father tried to pull an order of his daughters, "C'mon, y'all, whadoya want?"

After they ordered, he recited it back to the woman behind the counter who asked, "Do you want the Kids hot dog meal or the Deluxe hot dog meal?"

"I dunno!" He gesticulated up at the menu board above his head. "I don't see nuthin' on here about no meal!" and "Can I just get a large Diet Pepsi instead of a small Diet Pepsi with that meal? It's $4 for a large Diet Pepsi. Jesus, girls! Jus' get one and share it!"

The mom got her soda and screeched, "Where's my straw!" Seeing one on the counter in front of her, "Is this my straw! God damn it!" Then, snatched it from the counter and stabbed it into the top of her large Diet Pepsi.

When it was finally our turn, I meekly asked if it was okay if I charged a $3 pretzel to my credit card, at which point, I think the lady behind the counter would have let me charge a penny or just given me the pretzel for free. The lesson here (which I shared with Sam), is that when you see unbecoming characteristics in others, you have to became keenly aware that you aren't inadvertently exhibiting those same unseemly behaviors. 'Cuz you don't want to be that guy.

A warm pretzel in their bellies, we walked over to the FDR Memorial before making our way back to the car and then to pick up Elise. Before we did though, everyone had to go to the bathroom. That's okay. They're kids with bladders the size of ping pong balls (I actually have no idea what the average size of a bladder is). The bathrooms at the FDR Memorial were under construction or closed for some other reason, so Port-o-potties it was. No problem for the boys. Big problem for four year-old little ladies.

There was no way on God's green Earth I was going to put Clementine's tizu anywhere near a port-o-pottie seat...especially one splashed as this one was. Commence Operation Pant Removal. In a crowded, smelly port-o-pottie, I helped Clemie take off her shoes, pants and underwear, then put her shoes back on so she could stand (with a little help from her dad) on the toilet. There was no toilet paper, so she did a little shimmy, and we took shoes back off to put pants and underwear back on. All while it sounded like a helicopter was about to land on top of us. "What's going on out there?" I called to Sam and Pete at one point. They were two police helicopters. "A hundred feet off the ground," by Sam's estimation.

All in a day's work! : )

With no food in the house, we picked CPK for Easter dinner. It was the same CPK in Crystal City we ate at the night before we flew to Brazil. Call me sentimental. Pizza. Ham. It sounded healthier, anyway. 

No comments: