1000 gifts · Christmas · family · holidays · writing

That Time My Kids Almost Slept Through the National Christmas Tree Lighting


We hit D.C. last week. Yes, again. Sometimes blessings fall at your feet and I’m trying to be good about picking them up.

My mom arranged for us to receive tickets the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. The program is nationally broadcast (Hallmark channel this year) and features popular performers as well as a Christmas message from the President.

I’m sure some people come for the concert, no doubt. Madelynne did say she was more excited about seeing Kelly Clarkson than President Obama, and she’s twelve, so that’s acceptable.

Garth and Trisha were there–I was pretty delighted about that because my twelve year old self would have loved to see Garth Brooks or Trisha Yearwood in concert back in the day. Blooper story is that their mikes weren’t on and they had to start over. Joshua, with all his vast technical theater experience, said that was a really unacceptable mistake on the part of the sound guy. But they were gracious and funny about it.

Simone the swimmer read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with Michelle Obama, which was a lovely tribute to her Olympic accomplishments and proves we don’t all have to have Yolanda Adams’ pipes to contribute to the evening. (Her “O Holy Night” was astounding.)

We also learned about Chance the Rapper, so I’m feeling pretty hip in my pop culture knowledge these days.

What’s that Einstein? You like rap too?

Oh, and I got this text from Joshua at the beginning:

Littles are asleep.

Well, of course they were. We had a busy whirlwind two days letting the bigs catch them up on all the best of Natural History, American History, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, National Gallery of Art, and Air and Space.

I solemnly swear to uphold this Oath as President… she might be someday. Never know.

But let this be a lesson to you–there are some things in life you don’t want to sleep through.

Like the chance to see Garth and Trisha.


Oh, and there are no pics of us at the National Tree lighting because…. well, I forgot.

family · just write life · writing

What We Learned in DC

We celebrated my girls end of school this year in a really big way.

We skipped it.

Listen, when daddy has a conference in DC and the hotel is paid for, you seize opportunity and take flight.


Literally. We took the big girls on a plane for the first time. They loved it. But then at the Air and Space Museum, Madelynne informed me she wasn’t interested in knowing how those planes were built because then she might know how they could crash.

Point taken.

She and I befriended our seat mate–the deputy chief of staff for a Nebraska senator–which secured us a personal tour of the Capitol. We’d been on the fence and hadn’t committed with our own congressman before the trip, but this worked out perfectly and was one of our favorite activities. Plus, we got to ride the secret trolley from the Russell Senate Building underground to the Capitol.

They were pretty impressed with the state of the Union that day.


We were all a little worried when no one, not our politic friend or our taxi driver, had heard of our little budget hotel but turns out, the hotel got a new name recently. We stayed at The District (formerly Sunny) Hotel and although the reviews were not spectacular, we thought it was great. Our room was clean, it was an old apartment building turned hotel, so there was plenty of charm, and best of all? Continental breakfast and one block from the 7/11.

When we moved up from here to the swanky conference hotel, Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, the girls discovered The Corner Bakery and our food budget sighed. What is it with nicer hotels and fewer amenities? Well, the Hyatt did have a pool.

We indulged in the pool one afternoon after another attempt to see it all. By Tuesday night, when Joshua had to switch gears and be professional, we had seen the Capitol,  Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, MLK Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, World War II Memorial, Bureau of Engraving and Printing,the Natural History Museum, the Archives, the Smithsonian Castle, Arlington, the Native American Museum, the Holocaust Museum, and we’d gotten pretty good at navigating the metro.

My feet hurt. A lot. So did the girls but they didn’t complain.

Well, not too much.

While Joshua networked and talked business for the rest of the week, the girls and I caught everything else.

Well, we tried.

American History Museum and quote of the week: Mom, if Hillary wins will they put Bill’s tuxedo in the First Ladies dress exhibit?

American Gallery of Art where, after walking through the Hall of Presidential portraits, I was ashamed to discover how much of my history I’d forgotten . Oh, and we got to be part of a research experiment using our sense of smell to describe how a picture looks.

Our hands down favorite? Ford’s Theater. I booked us online passes that included the audio tour and one act play. Best. Decision. of. the. Week. They plugged up their little ears and wandered every inch of that museum. In fact, we had to come back after watching the play because they weren’t done. This exhibit is well worth the price of admission extras (regular admission is free) and while they told me everything they learned, I wasn’t accosted with thousands of questions that all started with “Why–”

Ten year olds named Annabelle have a lot of questions.

We rounded out our week with a night time stroll (i.e. Joshua couldn’t find another cab to take us back to the hotel) of all the monuments from Jefferson to FDR. That’s quite a walk in case you’re wondering. But along the bank of the Potomac, Joshua helped me formulate the outline for my flash fiction story, “For the Love of Lincoln.” You can read it in Splickety Love’s August issue, Love on Location.

On Friday, we rounded out our trip with a visit to the National Zoo. The girls fit in nicely with the animals.

All in all, I learned it’s best to do a trip like with without little ones and it’s priceless to have time to spend with the big kids who sometimes feel shafted by the antics of their siblings. And, even though they fight most of the time, they can keep it to a minimum.

In fact, they might even love one another.