Alicia & Ben » Blog

Tuesday, July 4th, DC.

Parade with Grampie.

Old Ebbitt Grill for for a late lunch/early dinner.

Fireworks with Kimmy.

A little history about, “Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington’s oldest saloon, was founded in 1856 and boarding guests read like a Who’s Who of American History. President McKinley is said to have lived there during his tenure in Congress, and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding supposedly refreshed themselves at its stand-around bar.”

I loved it all!  It was crowded but not nearly as bad as I expected.  Our hotel was two blocks from everything and it was so convenient being so close. I left the parade early so Andi could cool down, nurse, and nap.  It was a 5 minute walk. Fantastic!

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We woke up early the next morning to see “the big Lincoln” as the kids call the Lincoln Memorial. It was so peaceful and quiet at sunrise. It was hard to get up early but I’m so happy we went. It’s my favorite spot in DC and I always feel a deep sense of gratitude and respect and patriotism when I’m in that space.

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We grabbed donuts, checked out of the hotel and left on a 9am flight back to Tampa.


It was a busy, fun, tiring, meaningful, patriotic 4th of July trip!

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One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see my former college roommate, best friend, and the person who introduced me to Ben – the one and only, Marnie!  I love her!  I’ll always love her.  We were meant to be friends and so much of who I am and the life I have is because of her influence and encouragement and love.   She’s just as wonderful and hilarious as I remember her!


She lives in Long Islands with her husband and five kids (!!!!!!  WOW !!!!!!) but she met us in Philadelphia with her two oldest.  We had a great time chatting, laughing, and see the sights – liberty bell, home where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and Independence Hall.  There was an fun scavenger hunt going on for the 4th of July and that made things a little extra exciting.



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We ate lunch at Reading Terminal Market – a large indoor market with, “Everything you need to create a memorable meal, from cookbooks, to table linens, to kitchen ware, to fresh cut flowers, and more.” It was crazy crowded, hot, and loud.  I circled with Sadie, McKay, and Andi in the stroller for 15 minutes trying to find a seat. We finally found a situation where two chairs were available and one was across.  So we sat there with an old man next to us and I nursed Andi.  It was awkward but one of those experiences that builds character and is fun to laugh about later but not really in the moment.  This what what the kids thought of Reading Terminal Market….

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A few of the sites….

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George Washington used this chair for nearly three months of the Federal Convention’s continuous sessions. James Madison reported Benjamin Franklin saying, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.”  I’d heard that story several times so it was really exciting to see in person!

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Oh the rain, it poured on us after we left Independence Hall.  We ran two blocks in heavy rain and laughed so hard we almost wet our pants! I was uninvited but decided to hop under an umbrella of a very nice Indian couple while we were waiting for a light to change.  They thought I was crazy but once they saw I had a baby they didn’t mind me standing so close.

We stopped by the new temple after our goodbye’s and arrived home late and tired but happy!

The next day was Sunday.  We enjoyed church, and then a fun evening visiting with friends and family.  Bret and Shannon, coincidentally, live in the same ward as Steve and Dorthy Grenhalgh who are good family friends.  Steve is the missionary who taught and baptized my dad.  They’ve remained close and we would visited them when we were kids and they in turn visited us in Florida.  Dorthy was a stenographer for George Bush and gave us a behind the scenes tour of the White House when we were kids.  She’ll always be a famous person in my mind because of those childhood memories. Ben’s Uncle Glen and Aunt Kim happen to also know the Greenhalgh’s so they came for a visit with cousin Clint, too.  They’re all really wonderful personalities and we had a great evening!

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Once we were finally got our chores done we went to a nearby waterpark with Bret and Shannon’s family.  The kids loved it and I think they say this was the best part of the trip for them:)

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That afternoon we headed into DC and checked into our hotel. We stayed in the historic Willard Hotel. Lincoln lived there for a time (along with two other sitting presidents), MLK stayed there and wrote his I Have A Dream speech there, and Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” while staying at the hotel. Other noteworthy guests include Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, and the Duke of Windsor. Also, part of Minority Report was filmed there. So much history!

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We all (Kimmy, Dad, Bret, Shannon, and kids) went to dinner at Matchbox and then headed over to Capitol Hill to listen to the dress rehearsal performance of A Capitol Fourth. We arrived a little late so we only heard the second half and the seats weren’t great but we had a great time nonetheless!

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We said our Farewells and Thank You’s to Bret and Shannon and family and walked our very lonnnnggggg walk back to the hotel.  The kids were tired and wanted to join the homeless people and sleep on the side of the road but we convinced them to carry on and we finally arrived back to the hotel around 11 and quickly went to bed.:)

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Just returned from our fun 4th of July in DC.  We had a lovely time visiting with so many friends and family.  It was fun to see the sights and monuments but the highlights were visiting with so many people we love!

We arrived on Wednesday, June 28th.  My dad, coincidentally, traveled up on our same plane.  We knew we going up around the same time but didn’t realize it was the same flight.  It was fun to have his help and company.

Bret, Derek, Tyler, Katelyn, and Kimmy all met us at the airport and we went out to dinner at Matchbox.

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After dinner Bret offered to take Sadie and Jax back to his home while the rest of us quickly checked out Kimmy’s nearby apartment, which was surprisingly nice and fancy.  We brided McKay with ice cream to stay with us since there wasn’t room in Uncle Bret’s car for him.  He was happy to oblige and I was happy to get ice cream.  I’ve slowly started reintroducing dairy and Andi hasn’t shown any fussiness.  This was my first time having real ice cream in 5 months.

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On Thursday, June 29th, the kids played around the house for a while and then we went paddle boating in DC at the Tidal Basin.  It was hot but lots of fun!

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Bret and Shannon and family headed home afterwards and we walked the loop to the Jefferson, Roosevelt, and MLK memorials.  I loved it all!  The kids enjoyed the first half but got hot and tired about half way around.  I wish we could have gone slower and enjoyed all the history and quotes but we rushed through the second half for their sakes.  Andi was a champ and after nursing at the Jefferson she slept the rest of the time!

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We stopped at Sister Thai Cafe for dinner and it was a big hit!  The one food we all love and agree on is Thai.  It’s McKay’s absolute favorite and he really ate loads on this night.

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We ended the day with a dip in Bret and Shannon’s community’s pool.  Very refreshing for the kids after a long, hot day!

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Friday, June 30th, we visited the Natural History Museum with my dad, Bret, Shannon, and family in the morning.  The kids enjoyed it, I think?  They asked a few times if we could go back to “Derek and Tyler’s House” and play.  That was probably the highlight of the trip for them – time playing with cousins.   DSC_2789 DSC_2802 DSC_2816 DSC_2821 DSC_2824 DSC_2829 DSC_2832

After the Museum we visited Kimmy at her Nike Georogetown store and then got Georgetown Cupcakes.  That was a very long wait but they were quite tasty!

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I love Georgetown!  One of my favorite spots.  I find it all inspiring and everywhere I look I feel the need to take a picture – doors, beautiful homes, vines, foliage, architecture, brick roads, inviting paths, and so much history.  I love it!  Unfortunately I didn’t have my big camera (perhaps a blessing because I would have been so distracted) until we got back to the car so I only got a few quick pictures of my only willing participant, Sadie.  Good ‘ole Sadie!  So sweet to indulge me.  I didn’t have the right lenses and I was rushed so I didn’t get anything memorable but I’ll go back one day.

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We celebrated Jax’s birthday with the family on Monday, June 19th.  We were planning to meet at a small waterpark in the area but it was storming outside.  Plan B – meet at the church and play fun games in the gym!

We gave Jax a bunch of options for games and he choose to play

  • Hot Potato Baby Food – pass a jar of baby food around a circle and whoever is hold the jar when the music stops has to take a bite.
  • Name Game – a sheet separates two teams and each team puts forward a team member.  When the sheet drops the winner is whoever can say the other’s person’s name first.  It was funny.
  • Poison Stump –  hold hands and try to push your neighbor into a center “stump” without touching it yourself.  Whoever touches it has to leave the circle.
  • Hide The Coin – basically hot and cold game with a coin.

Very funny.

The kids also wanted to do a show/talent show up on the stage so they entertained the adults a bit, too.

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  • July 8, 2017 - 3:05 am

    desiree - Super fun game ideas!! Love the sheet/name one. That’d be fun for a reunion too. And the hot potato baby food one was a fun twist. Sounds like a very happy birthdayReplyCancel

The last few years Jax’s birthdays haven’t gone as we had hoped or planned – colds and morning sickness made the celebrations a little lack luster. This year I decided to try to make it as special as possible for the little guy who always seems to get the short end of the stick.  Then I found out that Ben was going to be gone for Scout Camp on his birthday. Poor kid. So I decided to REALLY go all out so he would feel special!

We arrived home late, 10:30pm, the night before his birthday because I had a photoshoot and Mimi and Grampie watched the kids since Ben was gone.   I wanted to go to bed so bad but I stayed up late (1am) decorating the house with balloons, steamers, and quotes from family members of things they loved about Jax.

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I planned a scavenger hunt with his birthday presents which took him all around the house including outdoors.


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His favorite gift was a MP3 player which I loaded with all his favorite songs.  He loves that thing so much!  His favorite pastime is riding his scooter in circles around the house and singing along to the music in his ears.

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I decorated the car with chalk paint “Birthday boy on board!”  “Honk and waive!”  “Jax turns 7!”


We went out to breakfast and bought donuts.

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Then we packed up and headed to Legoland!


Ben met us there mid-afternoon.

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Turns out Legoland has a waterpark so went there for a little bit in the afternoon.  The kids had so much fun!!!!!  McKay had a major breakthrough and let his face get wet.  Huge deal for him!

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Jax had some birthday money to spend and he found a big ball which was a game reward and not for purchase.  So Ben had to win it for him.  Took us $20 but we finally got it. He had a little money still left over so we headed to the toy store at the end of the day.

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The kids had SOOOO much fun!  All day they told me, “Wow, you planned a really good birthday.”  “This is the best birthday you’ve ever planned, Mommy!”  McKay said, “I can’t wait to see what you plan for me!”  :)

We finished the day by eating pizza and more donuts.

It was a long day but I think he felt really loved and that’s what I worked so hard for and wanted for him.  He’s such a special little guy and we all love him so, so much!

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  • July 8, 2017 - 3:10 am

    desiree - Way to go Momma!! Best Birthday ever!!ReplyCancel