Monday, May 15, 2017

R&R 2017...Part 2: DC & Maryland....

So now that Richard is tenured and has graduated to a mid-level officer, bidding on our next post will be a little different (more choices, less directed, more stressful...eek...can't wait). So prior to some training he had in DC, he scheduled a few consultation days to meet with a few people in person to talk bidding/posts, himself, why he should be chosen, as well as meeting with people within IRM in our region. Between a couple of those meetings and for lunch our first day, we met our friends that started training the same day we did (he was a generalist and Richard is a specialist). This picture is so fun....it's like playing spin the globe and stop it with your finger. They went to Tokyo, while we were in Tbilisi. Now we are posted in Suva, we met for lunch in DC, and about 24 hours after this was taken they arrived at their second post of Lima! Are you dizzy yet?


After Richard's last meeting that day, we met him at Main State (you know the place you see on the news sometimes that has all the flags in the background....the kids now get excited pointing out the flags of places we've been posted....they are in alphabetic order - Fiji and Georgia are very close to each other). We grabbed some cold beverages and then walked back to our hotel, which we had already dropped our luggage at. We passed the Einstein Memorial and stopped for a quick pic....


For our second night in DC, we opted to use our annual free night with our IHG credit card....our motto is 'go big or go home'...i.e. we get the nicest accommodations our free night will allow (we use it for something we wouldn't typically be willing to pay for...essentially we use it for a what would be above a splurge)....so we stayed at the The Willard....located at the prestigious 1401 Pennsylvania Ave (as you can see....way out of our normal price range!). Clarissa loved the fancy desk in our room!


Richard was meeting some of his classmates for happy hour and I had to meet my brother to pick up a booster seat (no need to rent one for the two days we needed one for our whole trip). So the kids and I picked up so dinner and headed his way. As soon as we got off the metro, he got a call (drawback of the life of your trusty medical field public servant) and we had to piddle around until he returned. We found some cherry blossom trees (score! Due to an early spring I was afraid we had missed them all) and


we saw a beautiful sunset waiting....the kids were so thrilled I hadn't let them bring their iDevices!!


The next morning, since with the fancier accommodations you don't get free breakfast, I walked down to the Starbucks a few blocks down from The Willard while Richard was getting ready (he had another meeting pretty early). I got this beautiful shot walking down the street....


After his meetings, we picked up a rental car and headed out to Maryland to visit my parents. On Saturday, we did another birthday celebration (as promised more to come on that soon). It was Easter on Sunday. I made the kids little Easter bags....quite portable as they folded flat for travel but could still hold a good bit of candy. Clarissa was super excited the Easter Bunny got the message to stop at my parents house (she left out some Hawaiian dolls my mom had to help guide EB though)!


Some people are morning people and others are not....lol!


We then headed over to my brother and his family's house for Easter lunch. She gets her expression making from me...lol.


Being quiet while the littlest one is napping....hard stuff!


Traditional family photos before hunting of the eggs....it was just torture seeing the egg on the tree right next to them and not being able to get it yet. It is funny to watch Clarissa and Caleb's expressions in photos get more and more excited knowing as soon as pictures are done...sugar rush can begin...


Little Bro and his family........us in our Bula attire looking a little out of place...lol.


Grandparents and all the 'anxious for candy' grandkids....


Richard standing guard so the youngest can learn the egg finding ropes.


All the kids found plenty of our favorite American chocolates. It was a real treat as the normal overseas hunts we have had the past few years have had very few chocolates (those melt in shipping) or some odd local varieties that we just haven't acquired a liking for. Afterwards, we headed back to Virginia to check into our lodging during Richard's training and pick up some groceries so we'd have something to eat for breakfast. The next morning, Mason had an early morning flight to visit his dad in Texas....after he boarded the plane, Clarissa and I were hanging out in the gate area waiting for his plane to back away when we saw something we'd never seen before....so we took a picture to share it.....


I debated making it a Monday Moment....but then I couldn't comment on it....I mean first off...I didn't know the front windows of planes opened like that....second the plane front windows seem big in that he can climb out to wash it but also seems really tiny in that his arm can reach all the way across the front of said window....my car window is bigger than that.....window to vehicle ratio is much smaller than I'd expect for such a huge vehicle....and to close on this topic....what the what?!?!?

With Mason off to Texas and Richard in training, Clarissa and I had a plethora of Mommy and me time! We did one last Stateside Target run, return the rental car, grab some lunch...fun errands! Then....I introduced her to


Spa Pedicures........uh oh....she might be enjoying this too much!!


The next day we took things a little slower. We meet up at a park with our first next door neighbors when lived in Georgia. They had two girls Clarissa's age. With us getting ready to bid (and subsequently move again), it was a great opportunity to remind her that moves aren't 'goodbyes' they are 'see you laters' and you never know when you will come across an old friend again (and added bonus of the morning was I got catch up with their mom). While I didn't take any of photos of the girls playing...Clarissa did climb this tree and nicely pose on our way out....


I won't tell you what we did on Wednesday.....yet, but I bet you can guess. On Thursday, Clarissa and I (and our newest family member, MaryAnn) decided to do something educational and took the metro to some museums.


We built a card person in the Spark!Lab in the American History museum and put skeletons together at the Natural History museum. 


Of course, we didn't forget to go check out the sparkling gems either!


Mason flew back late Thursday night (i.e. arrived at 11:40 pm). With all the metro construction and late night closures, I gave myself extra time to get to the airport. This was his first trip as an 'young traveler' vs 'unaccompanied minor'. According to Southwest's website I needed to allow for extra time to get a gate pass to meet him, I made it with plenty of time to spare! I ask the counter agent for my gate pass, she says hold on and we walk over and see that TSA has closed up for the night. She gets sassy with me and tells me I should have gotten here earlier if I wanted a gate pass. So I politely ask, how much earlier do I need to arrive, his flight doesn't arrive for another hour and 20 minutes? She looks at the reservation and current time, realizes I was more than early enough and gets much nicer and tells me, yeah I'm just out of luck for a flight arriving that late. So I sit and wait and wait and wait.......Mason calls me on his burner phone when he lands. I tell him what's up....here he is being hot stuff calling me again when he was walking out....


Our last full day in DC, we met my sister-in-law, nephew, and niece at the Zoo (along with every field trip group....OMG...it was great when they all left around 1:30....).


This was moments after the orangutan pooped on the sidewalk, while crossing over people....always entertaining!


Happy to have found the pig....


Playing in the T-Rex skull...


When you walk to the metro, between trains, and then to the zoo....you can easily persuade mom to rent a stroller (she knows it can hold her heavy backpack and after a day of walking at the zoo she knows you still have to walk back to the metro and back to lodging....). So the more the merrier.....right?


So not sure if this was just a local snake just making its way across the park or if it was a snake from the reptile house that happened to escape....we didn't see any zoo employees come running to pick it up...so maybe is just a local snake...


On our way back from the zoo, Mason had some money burning a hole in his pocket to spend at the Lego store. So we grabbed some dinner and he spent money. We then headed back to finish up some laundry and get all our luggage packed up! Sadly, R&R had come to an end. Saturday morning we caught a flight to LAX. Mason opted for the window seat, then later regretted it as apparently a famous YouTuber had the aisle seat and Richard was all 'Nope you aren't talking over me'. Here is Mason taking some selfies (pre-selfie with said unbeknownst YouTuber....not going to post that one since it wasn't confirmed). As you can see, I beautifully photobombed showing how unimpressed I was...


We had a relatively curtate 5.5 hour layover this time (it's all about perspective....). After we maneuvered our way over to the Tom Bradley International Terminal, we had some dinner until the Fiji Airways ticket counter opened so we could get our boarding passes. Richard enjoyed his last tall frosty American beer for a while. Once we finished our check in process (our luggage was checked all the way through, we just had to get boarding passes and they verified our carry on luggage was to their stringent specifications). We headed up to security, unfortunately, our global entry/TSA precheck does us no good here. Once through, we found our gate...we had a 11:30 pm departure (or 2:30 am DC time...what our bodies thought). Clarissa immediately made a bed and was out! Aaaah, to be a seven year old again! 


When it was time to board, I carried her on and buckled her in, I don't think she woke up. Once airborne, Mason snagged two seats a couple rows back and slept most the flight. Clarissa woke up about half way through, I gave her headphones and said watch a movie and tried to sleep a bit more....it worked some. About 11.5 hours later we were back in Fiji! 


The sun was up by the time we were heading over to the domestic terminal. The new international terminal sign has a very retro look. Richard had some time to get a photo while we waited on our puddle jump across the island to Suva. It was a good R&R, everyone was sad to leave family and friends back stateside but also happy to be back home and to school/work. We've realized we have less than a year left in Fiji and need to plan our bucketlist trips soon because before you know it we will be going..... 

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