Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DC Girls' Weekend

My best friend Kerry flew in from Boston the day after Abby's big 7th birthday party...the fun never stops around here (not even for a little break!).  I unpacked from those two days at my parents' house, and immediately repacked my overnight bag for a girls' weekend in DC.  Kerry and I had been trying to plan a time to get together (the last time we saw each other was when she flew out to stay with us last summer), and it worked out that she could squeeze in a trip during the few free days I had between Abby's birthday party and our beach trip.  When she visited last year, we just stayed at my house and tried to catch up as best as we could with three kids running around us constantly--Kerry is such a good sport about my crazy kids, and was an awesome honorary aunt taking them to the playground and entertaining them with me for days...but she and I didn't get a lot of time to really talk with each other.  No matter how much we both love my kids, we just couldn't get to the good stuff with them around!  So this year, I convinced Dan to let me have a few days away from the house with Kerry--he was off work before starting his new job, so we had that flexibility.  I thought Dan would benefit from a few days with the kids (actually, the first time he'd been totally on his own with all three of them for an overnight ever--the only other time I've been gone for more than a day, he took the kids down to stay at his parents' house), and I knew I would benefit from some down time with my BFF!

As soon as Dan gave me the green light, I started planning--we wanted to stay in DC, so we picked the Hotel Monaco, within walking distance of pretty much anything and everything we could want to see.  I've lived in the DC area off and on since 1992, so there's really not much in DC that I haven't already done, and Kerry has been to DC many, many's not like we really needed to be tourists, but we wanted to be in the middle of things.  I picked her up at the airport early on a Sunday morning and we went into Old Town Alexandria, where we got SOAKING wet in a torrential downpour on our way to lunch at one of my favorite places, Bread & Chocolate.  The waitress actually got paper towels for us after we were seated, because we were literally dripping with rain!  That didn't put a damper on our day--I was so excited to see Kerry, have the time to talk with her, and the freedom to go do whatever we wanted for a few days!  The rain did let up by the time we were done eating, so we walked around Old Town for a bit before heading into DC.  We made a quick stop at Arlington National Cemetery to see the Kennedy burial sites, and then we made our way to our hotel.  We were staying directly across from the National Portrait Gallery, so we walked over there after checking into the hotel.  Kerry dubbed our versions of DC-tourist activities as "DC-Lite"--we pretty much skipped through the things in which we didn't have much interest and went straight for things that caught our eye, and we didn't linger too much on anything!  It was perfect--we got in some culture while also talking nonstop about what is going on in our lives.  So much to catch up on!

this weird aluminum foil exhibit won't leave my brain

After the Portrait Gallery, we went back to our hotel room and got changed for dinner--by that point, it was raining again, so we went with the path of least resistance and picked a restaurant directly behind the hotel.  We walked in, and I was a little surprised that it seemed like kind of a dive...but, whatever--if they had a good burger, that would be fine with me.  We ordered chips and salsa, and I was chattering away when Kerry told me she could be good to finish our appetizer and head out.  I figured she was sketched out by the dive-y nature of the place, and I was up for anything, so I agreed to finish the chips and go.  After we got out to the street, Kerry informed me that rushed exit was due to the fact that our waitress was practically naked--she apparently had her jeans unbuttoned and unzipped and was not wearing any underwear!  Seriously??  How did I miss this (and why, why did that situation occur in the first place)?  Good call on not eating the prepared food from that establishment, Kerry--you probably saved us some nasty stomach bug.  We were totally stuffed from the chips and salsa, so we just walked and talked in the rain--DC was pretty quiet that evening, and we walked all the way to the National Mall and then back toward our hotel.  We discovered a Walgreens on our walk, so we stopped in to pick up some treats to take back to our hotel--and were totally floored by the most amazing Walgreens we'd ever seen.  It was three stories tall, had a nail salon and a frozen yogurt bar!  Absolutely crazy--best find ever.

check out the frozen yogurt toppings bar INSIDE Walgreens!

We indulged in some delicious frozen yogurt, bought chocolate to eat later, and headed back to our hotel for the night.  Kerry is a big gym rat at home, so we picked a hotel that had a gym--we got up and worked out together the following morning, which was a great way to start the day!  It was a rainy day again, so we headed out with our complimentary Hotel Monaco umbrellas and walked until we dropped.  We wound through the Sculpture Garden on our way to the National Mall, and then spent a few hours in the National Museum of the American Indian--Kerry is a high school English teacher who teaches a book about American Indians, and she wanted some information and photos to add to her lessons...any kid who has her as a teacher is so lucky!  We then hit Kerry's favorite spot in DC, the Botanical Gardens--absolutely beautiful, and amazing that they create so many different climates and grow so many types of plants and flowers!  We made an obligatory stop on the steps of the Capitol and then walked all the way to the MLK Memorial--that's 2 miles, folks.  Just to get there.  Then we had to walk back--and this was on a super hot day after we had already walked at least another 2 miles!  We finally made it back to civilization, and stopped at the first restaurant we came to (we refused to eat street vendor food since we had been so healthy that day with the gym that morning and all the walking) for a late lunch of sandwiches.  My legs felt like they were still walking after I sat was painful to get back up again!  After we ate, Kerry took me on a tour of some of her favorite clothing stores--I never shop, so this was an intimidating education for me.  H&M was huge, crowded, and crazy.  Forever 21 overwhelmed me.  The Gap wasn't so bad--I've been in there before, so at least I was familiar!  Kerry thinks I need to go on What Not To Wear--as I've said before, I don't disagree.  She tried to update my style, but I'm pretty set in my jeans-and-t-shirt ways--she did manage to get me out of my standard summer footwear of UVa flip flops and into some more-stylish Havaianas black flip flops, so I'd call that a major fashion victory for her!  We managed not to break the bank, and limped our way back to the hotel for a break before dinner.

We decided to go to Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House for dinner--we hadn't yet been by the White House on this visit (we tend to take a picture of ourselves in front of it whenever Kerry is in town!), so we wanted to go by after dinner.  It was a gorgeous night, and we got our picture.  :)

Kerry, me, and the White House

Kerry got up and went to the gym the next morning before we checked out of the hotel, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed to go with her--I was SO tired from our DC adventure the day before!  I did eventually get up, and we drove around DC a bit more before heading back to my real life--we were supposed to meet Dan and the kids at the boys' gymnastics class and then get lunch with them, but Jake threw up that morning, so gymnastics was cancelled!  Poor Dan had to deal with kids throwing up while I was gone...  Kerry and I got lunch together and then headed to my house, where the kids were thrilled to see her and show her everything in the house--they wouldn't leave her alone!  We all went out to dinner that night (Jake was feeling much better, thankfully!), and then I had to take Kerry to the airport the following morning.  Three days go by so fast, but it was a wonderful, restorative visit with the girl who knows me best--I can't wait to plan the next Kerry-and-Jill getaway!

Kerry with my kiddos--they LOVE her!

I have to give a huge shout out to my awesome husband, who not only let me escape the daily grind for a few days while he held down the fort at home with the kids, but he did a tremendous job!  He led the kids in Lego building competitions, read lots of stories, and even took all three kids to the National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center to see the Discovery space shuttle!  Amazing--that's an outing that this well-versed stay-at-home mom probably wouldn't have attempted by myself, so I was super impressed with Dan's desire and execution--he made some great memories with the kids, and that meant everything to me.  Great job, honey--and thank you for my girls' weekend!

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