We rang in the new year with good friends in Durham, NC, and I started out the year with some ambitious goals. I can’t say that I achieved all of them but it was a great guiding list and even reading through them just now, I’m reminded that I should still keep working towards many of them. After a hectic previous year, we were finally able to set out for a few days of relaxation in the Bahamas – diplo-tot couldn’t get enough of the ocean and we couldn’t get enough of the sunshine. Right after we came back, I did turned around head right out to Utah for my first ALT Summit. At the risk of sounding corny, it ended up being a game-changer for me. Not only did it open my eyes to all the things that were possible for this blog, but it introduced me to like-minded people and all the wonderful ideas they brought to the table. Going alone, I felt like a high school freshman all over again, all awkward and nervous, but being exposed to so much creativity forced me to make room for that side of myself and set the tone for the rest of year.
A short month but full of goodness – first up, a visit from my sister-in-law and two darling nieces, complete
with stop to the Air and Space Museum. Diplo-husband and I set off for ten glorious days in Mexico, thanks to the trip I won at the end of the previous year. Exporting diplo-tot to her grandparents, we were able to make like newlyweds and travel stroller and accoutrement free since she was born. We missed her terribly, but the Cozumel diving and carnivals, the splendor of Mayan ruins, the absolute peace of Tulum, and the total luxury of the Maroma resort were just what we needed. And we liked it so much we are heading back this year – one of my only regrets is that I discovered Mexico so late in life.
Work work work was the order of the day. My day job kept me busy and had me on the move – first trip to London of the year! Mostly work but always good to catch an exhibit, and this trip was the collection of gorgeous manuscripts on display at the British Library. A little side jaunt to Liberty never hurts either, and my friend introduces to the absolute jewel box of a bar in the Connaught Hotel. I am smitten…over champagne of course. Back at home spring was in full force early this year, and the Cherry Blossoms were absolutely gorgeous. While waiting with anticipation for the new season of Mad Men (zou bisou bisous…), I find a new show called The Hour in London, which helps to pass the time.
Easter, easter, easter! We head to New Jersey and New York to spend the holiday with family. Spring is going full force and our friends ended up having some of the most gorgeous tulips I’ve ever seen. Having kids means that you actually take time to participate in the kinds of activities that you used to only drive by and observe from afar so this is the first year we take part in the kite festival …with a kite. We had a visit from our near and dear friends who live in North Carolina came up for our quarterly visit, and we recommit ourselves to discovering Exotic America by heading out to the baseball opener with them. We went to the Arena Stage in it’s new home – well, new to me – for an animated reading of Eugene O’Neill’s condense stage directions proving that sometimes you don’t even really need a play, just the directions for a play for entertainment. Closing out the month was a trip to Bologna, Italy for my tenth year reunion making me realize how foolish I once was not to appreciate the beauty of youth spent in Italy but makes me also appreciate how lovely it is to have the resources of being older and employed thanks to my student toils. And it also makes me realize what a special place my graduate school really was – there will be no people like those people for me.
Still making an effort to branch out creatively, I spend the first weekend holed up in a house in DC for Blue Lily’s photography workshop, learning how to back button focus (yeah!), how to not overthink and deciding that I don’t need PhotoShop to make me happy in photography after all. Soon after, it’s time to pack bags again – London, Round 2 for work, with a trip to Amsterdam on the side. This time my very same friend introduces me to the Savoy Bar and I am smitten…over champagne…yet again. Work then takes me down to Orlando, Florida, and for a change I pack up diplo-tot and our ever trusted nanny for company, and then enjoy the rays and pool while I toil away. While diplo-tot was still a bit young for the full on Disney experience, we still had a wonderful time in the evenings riding the boats and seeing the boardwalk and for the first time in my adult life, I really understand why people call it the Magic Kingdom. There’s something special in being tied to our childhood characters once we have children ourselves. Mother’s Day has us celebrating with Wif and Hub the baptism of their ever darling Bub. At the end of the month, I watch my former assistant walk down to receive her diploma from my very same graduate school and am absolutely proud to tears. Finally, I start a new project, and probably the one I’m most proud of this year as a weekly contributor at the Equals Record, penning a weekly column of letters of lessons for my daughter of various bits and pieces I’ve learned from all of our travels.
Our nanny takes her home leave this month and we nearly fall to pieces but we manage to hold it together and nearly throw ourselves on her with glee when she returns. We kick off our own summer with a trip to New Jersey and New York. We figure Memorial Day, even though it’s technically in May, is a good time to think about those serving our country and we take a trip to visit the Intrepid. I finally see the famed Skyline and we start the summer days right with a Pimm’s Cup at the Standard Hotel. Work brings me to New York one more time, and our friends bring us to our very first kiddie princess pool party to celebrate a birthday. We observe dutifully what it takes to do a kiddie party right! Summer days start to bring in the bounty of the season and we pack up with Wif and Hub to make another ill fated attempt at blueberries, though at least this year we see some. We see not only the berries, but also skywalking goats and the heart of dixie. Neat.
V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! Hurrah! Two glorious weeks off – we were going to go to Hawaii but homesickness got the better of us and we hightail it back to Vienna where we belong! All of our favorite restaurants, stores, sausage stands…they all got a visit. But more importantly, so did our friends. Coming back to Vienna was a bit like coming back to an old flame. So good to see them, and so many memories, but we also knew that in a small way, we had started to outgrow Vienna, and Vienna us, although it will always have a special place in our hearts without a doubt. As will Salzburg, and Berchtesgaden, both on our tour as well, and we’re happy to report that the hills are indeed alive! We celebrate our 5th anniversary in just about our favorite places on this earth – yep, still crazy after all these years! (although that’s starting to become less funny each year we say it) After trodding all of our old stomping grounds we pack up the car for the Great European Roadtrip where we drove all the way down to the South of France to spend a week with our dear friends drinking gallons of rose, taking whiffs of lavender and generally admiring the beautiful things and people in this world. During our drive, we managed to squeeze in a trip to Munich (more dear friends!) and do an overnight in Stresa where we got engaged way back when we were younger and dumber but so very much in love. The rest of the month we’re heads down at work trying to catch up, but we get great news in that a return to Europe looks likely for our next assignment. And I come home to a brand new spiffy looking blog thanks to the redesign work of Alyssa Yuhas. Things are looking up!
The slow days of summer kick in. Washington becomes hot and humid and I try to be home earlier to take diplo-tot to our favorite pool. She becomes quite the water baby, feeling independent and loving to jump in, treading water by the end of the month. We finally seem to really settle into a rhythm in DC proving to us once again that it really does take a year to get comfortable somewhere, even if that somewhere use to be your home once. My brother returns safely and soundly from his deployment which is cause for celebration in our family! And speaking of family, we head out for a summer trip to North Dakota to celebrate my parents’ 30th anniversary (talk about crazy after all these years!). Summer nights make way for summer concerts and we get out the dirndls for the Sound of Music sing-a-long at the Wolf Trap. And the last days of August bring me to New York again, this time for my second Alt Summit (does that make me a sophomore?), and my first encounter with Martha Stewart. I leave just as inspired and recommitted to make room for more creative pursuits, and my “Guide to New York City Guides” gets “swiss-miss’d”. The amazing Justin Hackworth also makes me step out in front of the lens for once.
It’s our final summer hurrah since Labor Day seems to fall late this year – we celebrate the end to a glorious summer with a few final days in the Hamptons (more exotic america!) courtesy of some very generous friends with a very lovely house! Leisurely dinners under the stars and breezy days on the beach and yes, more buckets of rose are the appropriate send off for summer. Diplo-tot adds getting ready for preschool to her repertoire and I realize she’s growing up so fast, and will be in a real preschool before we know it. Weekends bring an outing to the DC Book Fair and a trip to Durham to visit our friends (we’re really sticking to this quarterly plan) and to celebrate their coming first baby! Being two of our favorite people, we know we’re going to like the combination! Work takes me on more of a domestic ride this weekend, bringing me to Boston for the first time in a long time and to Minneapolis which is a nice surprise as I get to have dinner with my father. We get tickets by lucky windfall to probably one of the greatest show’s of our time and get to see Madonna on stage, which was absolutely amazing once she actually came out onto the stage. But our diplomatic community is rocked by the tragic events in Benghazi and the community’s loss.
At the start of the month, it’s Diplo-Husband who’s on the go so tots and I have a ladies weekend, checking out the FIGMENT festival and the baseball stadium again. But not to see baseball, to see Opera. Go figure. Trips to Pennsylvania and Atlanta keep me busy at work, and I gear up for London, Take 3. This time via Paris, which let’s admit, I won’t complain about especially since it involves delicious dinners full of champagne with dear friends. We seem to be heading to the theater a lot this month, mostly for music performances, and there’s something about the grand hall of the Kennedy Center that always makes an impression. A rare free weekend gives us time to jaunt out to a pumpkin patch and farm to get the family into the fall spirit. Finally, it turns out that I do need to know PhotoShop after all – just not for photography but to help build a better blog. And I can thank the BlogShop class for that – again, one of those classes that completely changed my perspective and that opened up a whole new world for me. Finally, the month closes out with taking diplo-tot trick or treating as this is the first year she realizes the benefit of total strangers giving her candy. To continue the tradition of dressing her up in foods we like to eat, she wears a fish costume.
The hurricane has us thinking of family and friends in the NYC and NJ area where so much changed so quickly. But we’re grateful that those nearest to us are safe and sound – we start appreciating the quieter days when we can, rediscovering DC favorites like Eastern Market. As the year starts winding down, workloads seemed to start winding up, and travel was again on the horizon, this time for London, 4th edition. This trip’s champagne stop? The American Bar at the Savoy, who’s white lacquer interior leads to more champagne and more smittenness (thank you, best friend – and for the Cabaret tickets too, you know its my favorite!). The side trip this time was to Copenhagen where diplo-husband and I both went to scope out and get a feel for the place as it was confirmed that this would be our NEW HOME! Three cheers for Copenhagen – we don’t move until July 2013 but can’t wait to learn more about our new digs and are elated to be returning to Europe. A Chris Isaak concert makes us wonder whether baby did a bad bad thing. Just as it gets cold we head down for warmth for a weekend celebration of the baptisms of our good friends in Miami – more dear friends and more champagne! A Thanksgiving celebration in New Jersey has us grateful for our many blessings, and we take a day to get a quick Austrian fix at the Cafe Sabarsky and kick off the holidays by looking at the many gorgeous displays on 5th Avenue. Finally one last work trip this month has me in Dallas contemplating how things really are bigger in Texas.
I was lucky enough to receive tickets to TEDx for the Women’s Forum so I kicked off the month with a panoply of inspirational lectures. I headed to London for the fifth and final London trip, timing it though with the now second season of The Hour, even better than the first! One of the evenings we get to go after-hours and behind the scenes at the British Museum and I can’t get over the famed Rosetta Stone. I’m not as organized as I would have liked to have been on the holiday preparations but we still make it to the Nutcracker, and to assorted Christmas parties. We celebrate diplo-tot’s second birthday in the company of friends and family (and a lot of balloons), and the holidays bring us back to North Dakota, this time under substantially colder temparatures! Diplo-husband is convinced he has turned into a popsicle, which is possible since he refuses to wear a hat, scarf or gloves while there. We try to go sledding but even the sledding hill is closed due to the cold. One quick trip to New Jersey let’s us celebrate once more. We ring in the New Year with a band of our finest friends (including the ones from Durham – yeah! 4 quarters!), the National Symphony Orchestra and a head full of dreams for 2013!