She was just out of her first trimester at our wedding back in September, and I was really hoping I'd be able to fly out to Nat and Mike's home in Washington, D.C., to see them either right before or right after the baby was born. Then we found out that two of their friends were planning a shower for them in February. I booked my flight while our friend Ellie was making her plans to come down from New York via train and automobile!
This was my second trip to Washington, after last April's visit for the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run. That whole weekend, Nat and I were on the go: museums, a guided cherry blossom running tour, walking around the city, running the race, and so on. And to be clear: I wouldn't have had it any other way. We had a wonderful time. This time around, the visit was less structured. We had the baby shower, of course, and one other scheduled activity (read on!), but outside of that, it was so nice to have lots of time to just catch up. I was only there from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, but it felt longer (in the best way) because of how much we all got to talk (see: our 2 a.m. lights-out on Friday).
Saturday afternoon brought the main event: the baby shower!
The party was at D.C. restaurant Thomas Foolery, which has the tagline "Little-kid food. Big-kid drinks. Toys for all ages." That meant grilled cheese and grilled PB&J sandwiches, fruit roll-ups, Pop Rocks, Mario Kart and a Lite-Brite and hopscotch - and hula hoops!
I also tried my first bottle of cheerwine. I've read about it before but never seen it in a store or restaurant - if I've got this right, it's a North Carolina specialty - so when I saw it on the menu, I knew I had to try. It's a soda (no wine involved) that tastes like cherry coke but maybe a little sweeter on the cherry and less fizzy (to me). I loved it.
It was great to meet more of Mike and Natty's friends and to celebrate all together. This picture (posted earlier in the week) is from near the end of the party. We are very happy but very full of cupcakes and cookies and Pop Rocks.
I think the only really quiet time in the whole weekend (besides sleeping) happened when we got back from the baby shower and needed about half an hour to recuperate. We rebounded while Natty cooked a wonderful dinner, and then we looked at teeny baby clothes and tried to keep Sophie the Giraffe away (or not) from their dog, who was wildly curious.
The dog! Nat and Mike are fabulous people, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one of the other beloved creatures at their house. I always look forward to seeing this guy.
We were determined to get to bed earlier than the previous night because we had an earlier wake-up call on Sunday, but then Nat proposed a friendship bracelet-making session, and we had to do it.
And then we had a photo session to model our bracelets with the dog as our enthusiastic prop.
On Sunday morning, we had the opportunity to tour the White House's West Wing (a huge, huge thank you to Nat and Mike's family member who arranged this and gave us the tour!). I was so excited when I found out this was happening!
It was cool that morning but brilliantly sunny. The view from the security checkpoint:
And here we are at the West Wing entrance:
I had a similar reaction when we walked through the briefing room (where photos were allowed, unlike other areas of the West Wing).
This building houses lots of White House staff offices. It was gorgeous.
For example, this hallway:
We pretended Ellie was hard at work:
I loved the details.
At one spot along the hallway, Ellie whispered, "Come here and look down!"
After our tour, we got bagels and headed back to the apartment for a bagel brunch.
I am grateful for weekends like these, the chances to build on these longstanding friendships. All of us met a decade ago because we went to the same college, and on this visit Ellie and I were both feeling particularly sentimental during our time with Nat and Mike, a few weeks before these great friends become parents. I am so excited for them - and can't wait to meet the new addition to their family when she arrives.