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For those of you who are following my blog, my apologies. I realize my last post was more than eight months ago. Late last summer our family was challenged by a major illness and just before Christmas, Bob and I headed to the DC area to help out with grandkids. I am happy to report everything turned out fine! Now we’re back on the road.

As soon as I knew we were going to DC for an extended period of time I began searching high and low for a reasonably priced stay. I finally came up with one. Bob and I generally prefer cities to suburbs but in this case we wanted to be close enough to the kids that we could help out at a moment’s notice. I found an affordable place on Airbnb that really was close, and had great reviews. But from the moment we opened the door, we knew this was going to be a challenge. The host was very gracious, but I have never seen so much stuff piled into such a small space in my life! Even the furniture was overwhelming with a couch placed directly in front of the fireplace, enough dishes that I think we could have gone for weeks and not run out. One locked closet and the other was overflowing with pillows. Oh my goodness! This was not going to work!

So in addition to getting ready for the holidays I was faced with locating a new abode. Luckily, one of the property managers I had talked to early on had his apartment still for rent. It was no longer an Airbnb but instead a regular rental and the owners were not thrilled with less than a year’s lease but somehow he talked them into it and even though we still couldn’t get into it until after the holidays, the end was in sight. Whew! All we had to do was use this small space for 10 days. Cary got the second bedroom and Patrick, who was staying with us, so he didn’t have to make the hour trek out from the city every day, got the couch. We felt fortunate that we could get settled near family and offer support when we were needed.

We enjoyed having more family together at Christmas than usual. Stephen and Sadie and the kids don’t usually join us for the holidays because little kids just want to be home on Christmas morning to see what Santa brings.

Cary had flown in from Rome, and isolated herself in a separate area of Pat’s house for a week before we all got together. Patrick had purchased tickets for all of us to go to a Christmas event in the city. After everyone tested negative for Covid, we were finally able to get together! On the evening Cary’s isolation ended, we all met up at Nationals Field on a relatively warm evening (for December) and enjoyed lights, food and just generally making merry!

Patrick hosted Christmas Eve at his home in the city. We watched a movie, had traditional Christmas Eve snacks (and of course, lots of beverages!) and Stephen read aloud the Night Before Christmas.

On Christmas Day, we slept in and then headed over to Sadie and Stephen’s and while the grandkids played with their Christmas toys, I, with the help of our four kids, cooked a prime rib Christmas dinner.

This year, our Chrismas holidays were extended when son Kris drove out from Michigan with our granddaughter, Allison and her boyfriend Lewis. Unfortunately, our daughter-in-law, Andria was unable to come because as a PA she couldn’t get time away from her very busy office. Andria is an enthusiastic fun person and was definitely missed! But we did find many activities to enjoy our time together. They included ice skating,

games, lots of good food and fun just being together!

After testing again and masking up, we went to the Kennedy Center and enjoyed Beautiful–The Carole King Musical. On a different night, we had a wonderful walk around the White House area taking in all Christmas decorations.

We drove to Baltimore and went to the Aquarium. We spent an afternoon at the Museum of African American History.

Stephen and Sadie invited us to their home for New Years Eve where there were more fun games, karaoke and a great smorgasbord of food.

After the holiday excitement, we settled into a slower pace but still found time to do some day trips. We drove across the Chesapeake Bridge one sunny day in January and explored smaller towns like historic Easton, without all the summer crowds. On a different day we went to the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, always my favorite museum in DC.

One particular plus of our longer stay was the opportunity to get to know our youngest grandchildren through routine everyday interactions. We had spent time with our older grandchildren when they were growing up in the same town we lived in. It was fun having opportunities to interact with our younger grandkids doing everyday things. Sometimes it was getting manicures or or making Valentine’s together.

Sometimes we’d chill in front of the tv or do jigsaw puzzles on a snow or professional development day…

Sometimes it was a school festival…

Once it was taking Hazel to her community service job and having time for a treat beforehand.

Whatever the activity the focus was on fun!

In March they surprised me with a special party to celebrate my 75th birthday complete with a video they had put together with many many dear friends and family!

Both Meta’s and Hazel’s birthdays occurred during the time we were there and so we had time for sleep overs and special trips. Patrick and I took Meta to the Baltimore Zoo, which she had chosen for her special day. I got tickets for the King Tut Exhibit at the National Geographic Museum for Hazel’s special event!

Springtime also brings cherry blossoms to DC. We’ve seen them many times but never tire of them. Besides the historic capitol area, I have many favorite parts of DC, although I really only know the northwest quadrant. I love Cleveland Park, Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant. This spring we added Catholic University to our list of explorations as it was described as one of the best places for cherry blossoms. Not sure why we’ve never been there before. Also, as the winter began to thaw our daughter in law, Andria, was finally able to get some time off and we were thrilled she chose to come out and bring our grandchild, Brija with her. We see them so rarely. Andria really is an incredible aunt, always engaging her nieces and nephews in fun activities.

In April to celebrate Pat’s and my birthdays, we headed to Pittsburgh to see the Pens play in the NHL playoffs. We first met up with my good friend Rita, and we also visited the National Aviary and of course, the Penguin exhibit. And the game was so much fun! Our seats were great and the excitement was beyond description. With the 7-4 Pens win over the Rangers the whole city came alive! You’d have thought they’d won the Stanley Cup! And before we left town we had to stop and have one of Jake’s shakes (named for Jake Guenzel, #77) at the Milkshake Factory.

Whenever we drive into the DC we marvel at the the iconic Morman steeples towering over the beltway. To me it appears very Disneyesque . We were thrilled when they announced a rare open house during our stay. We definitely wanted to do the tour. Usually Morman traditions require you be a Morman, in good standing, to go inside the temple so we were fascinated. It was interesting and tour guides were everywhere to answer our questions. But truly I don’t understand much of their doctrine or the appeal. Still it was a beautiful building! I’m definitely glad we went!

For Father’s Day, Stephen got tickets for everyone to go to a Nationals Baseball Game. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. It was in the 70’s and sunny, just a great day for baseball. Patrick had a favorite restaurant in his neighborhood so after the game he treated us all to dinner. Definitely, a Fathers Day to remember!

Bob, I believe, is ready to settle down, but I’m not; there’s still so much I want to see and do. So as a compromise, in March we purchased a condo, we call it our beach house, in Manistee. We’ll stay there a couple of months each year and when I want to go to destinations he has no interest in I’ll travel with a family member or friend and he can stay put in Michigan. Manistee is not far from Big Rapids and Kris and Andria. And our dear friends, Ken and Ginny have a place there too.

But for now we’re headed to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Then, if Covid will allow, Nova Scotia, then Michigan and Florida before heading back to Europe in December. I feel so fortunate to be able to define retirement the way we want to. We are very very lucky! Until next time…

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