Posted by: Kate | January 24, 2014

Dear Bike Lady on East Capitol:

I’m glad you let me know that a Kleenex had fallen out of my pocket when I was fumbling for my keys. I was happy to pick it up because I hate litter too. I made quick use of it to wipe away the tears that sprung to my eyes after the way you yelled at me at the end of a long day. I’m guessing you had a long day too and maybe that’s why you were so angry.

I guess it’s easy to assume the worst about people, like you did about me. But if each of us could give and receive a little more compassion every day I think we’d find this world a happier (and more litter free) place.

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(Photo credit- P. Sanderson-Kilchenstein)

Posted by: Kate | July 29, 2013

Backpacking Baby!

With two successful camping trips (one & two) under our belt, back in June we decided to up the difficulty from car camping to backpacking!

Steve and Eleanor Heading to Annapolis Rocks

We have been to Annapolis Rocks twice before on backpacking-rock climbing trips and we thought the relatively short hike to great campsites with a spring would be perfect for Eleanor’s first backpacking trip. Plus, we could get some great outdoor rock climbing in!

The most difficult part of backpacking is carrying everything you need. This is decidedly more complicated when you are also carrying a baby and their many accoutrements.

We have a nice hiking backpack carrier that Eleanor loves riding in, but it doesn’t have much storage and it was unworkable to fit all our other stuff (tent, sleeping bags, food, stove, climbing gear) in only one pack.

Given this limitation, we made the bold decision to push Eleanor in her BOB stroller while each of us wore our regular packs. Based on our memories of the trail, we were pretty (overly) confident that BOB’s air tires and suspension could easily handle the hike. Plus, now we could load up the stroller basket with climbing rope and maybe even a bag of wine!

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Well…the trail was a bit rockier than we had recalled and there was a point about 20 minutes into the hike when we wondered if we had made a big mistake! But with a whole lot of sweat and concentration we successfully carried Eleanor in the fully loaded BOB palanquin, Cleopatra style, over the most difficult sections of trail. It was worth it, and luckily, we were able to push the stroller most of the time.

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The 2.5 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, took us about 1.5 hours instead of the usual hour, but we were very content to take our time and enjoy the scenery since there was no need to rush.

Upon arrival we chatted with the camp host, confirmed that water was flowing from the spring, and got situated in the best camp site. Soon after that, additional friends started arriving and we went down to catch the sunset from the top of the crag.

Steve and Eleanor set up our tent

Dwyer-Rileys Sunset at Annapolis Rocks

We had a great weekend rock climbing and camping with a group of 22 friends, family, and friends of friends! It was remarkable how smoothly everything went!

Annapolis Rocks: The Crag

We didn’t get too many pictures of the actual climbing while we were also chasing after Eleanor, but the above shot gives you a feel for the rock formation.

Eleanor’s love for camping continues and she did a great job of going with the flow, despite her nap schedule being disrupted. It was also one of the first times that she got to practice walking on uneven ground and it was really cool to see her start to understand that she needs to watch where she is putting her feet.

Eleanor, Sean & Ciaran at Annapolis Rocks

Backpacking with Baby Pro-Tip: Bring a feeding seat for baby.

As an afterthought, we decided to strap a portable seat and tray to the outside of Steve’s pack. This might seem a bit gratuitous but it wasn’t that heavy, made meals much easier, and Eleanor loved having her own spot. Let’s be honest — having a place to sit down comfortably is pretty key for anyone on a backpacking trip, including babies!

Steve's Pack

Steve with Portable Seat on Pack

All in all this was pretty much the perfect weekend backpacking trip: great people, beautiful scenery, challenging and interesting rock climbing, manageable trail hiking, and one rock star baby!

Eleanor Asleep in BOB

Posted by: Kate | July 19, 2013

Eleanor is One!

It is still so exciting to realize that Eleanor is one, even though it has already been almost a month since her birthday- whoops!

Eleanor is 1!

I know several Moms who feel sad on their baby’s first birthday, and while I can understand where that nostalgic feeling comes from, my overwhelming feeling is triumphant!

We have already made it a whole year, and Eleanor is thriving, with every day bringing a new skill and adventure.

Eleanor at her 1st Birthday Party

On her actual birthday, Eleanor got to celebrate with cupcakes at school and more cupcakes after our softball game.

SHD, ERD, KRR on Eleanor's birthday

ERD cupcakes

ERD eating cupcake

And then a few days later we hosted family and friends at Yards Park for a fun afternoon of playing in the water
features and celebrating Eleanor’s birthday.

ERD 1st Birthday at Yards Park

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Eleanor at a year:

Walks confidently, babbles, waves, claps, high fives, laughs, nurses, eats a wide variety of food with avocado being her favorite, escapes from shoes in mere seconds, explores cabinets, is ready to race over the second the dishwasher or refrigerator opens, loves being in the water, expresses preferences and opinions with sounds, some sign language and lots of pointing, gives great hugs, likes camping, is a good traveler, can’t get enough of playgrounds and swing sets, and generally charms us beyond belief!

E & parents on 1st Birthday

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Posted by: Kate | July 17, 2013

Delfest 2013

Many years ago, Steve and I made a New Year’s Resolution to see more live music. That resolution was a wild success and live music is a very big part of our lives.

For the past several years we have enjoyed attending a number of music festivals. Back in May, we took Eleanor to her first festival, Delfest, a relatively small bluegrass festival in Cumberland, MD run by the legendary Del McCoury.

The Mainstage

It was our first time at the family-friendly Delfest and even though Eleanor loved her first camping trip to Assateague Island, I was still a bit nervous about how everything would go. Thankfully the whole experience was incredible: great music, amazing friends, and DEl-eanor rocked it.

DEL-eanor 2013

We are EXTREMELY lucky that the six friends with us were very generous with their time and efforts to help make the weekend as easy and enjoyable for Eleanor, and all of us. They pitched on on everything from setting up our tent before we arrived, to helping watch Eleanor, dividing meal prep duties and not making us feel bad when she woke up early. It takes a village!

E & S Delfest 2013

While the weather was a bit cold on the first two days, it was thankfully pretty dry, and things started to warm up for the last two days of the festival.

Tents at Delfest 2013

As we had heard, Delfest was pretty doable for families. There were lots of activities (puppet making, parades, etc) for kids older than Eleanor. But the most important thing for me was that it was a good crowd. The people were very friendly and focused on having a good time, not being out of control. There were a lot of other families around, and in general there was a very safe and supportive atmosphere which made me feel comfortable having Eleanor there.

E & K Delfest 2013

And, the music was incredible. Here are a couple of highlights:

We particularly enjoyed discovering Elephant Revival who we saw first in an intimate workshop setting and then at the medium stage. They are truly captivating and an interesting mix of bluegrass-folk-celtic influences. I highly recommend checking them out.

Elephant Revival @ Delfest 2013

The Friday night headliner was the Trey Anastasio Band, who we know and love from numerous TAB and Phish tours. I was having too much fun dancing through their sets to get any good pictures, but it was a rocking good time.

We were thrilled to see Old Crowe Medicine Show again as well. We had only seen them live once before at the All Good Festival back in 2010, and they blew us away. OCMS’ set was awesome, very high energy and a nice mix of old favorites and newer songs.

Old Crow Medicine Show @ Delfest 2013

Yonder Mountain String Band closed out the festival and they were also a lot of fun.

One of the many Del sit-ins at Delfest

We also enjoyed Aoife O’Donovan, The Hakensaw Boys, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Greensky Bluegrass, and of course Del McCoury who seemed to sit in for a few songs with almost every act on the mainstage!

All in all it was a great experience. Eleanor continued to demonstrate her awesomeness and hopefully we will get to attend Delfest again in the future!

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Posted by: Kate | June 13, 2013

Eleanor…walking!

I have a few fun adventures that I am hoping to post about soon.

But in the meantime here’s a quick video of the major development that has happened around here in the last two weeks….

And this is what happens after the walking.

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Posted by: Kate | May 19, 2013

Camping at Assateague

Last weekend was our friends’ 10th annual camping trip to Assateague Island National Seashore, and Eleanor’s first camping trip ever.

We are so happy that she loved it!

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It is always so fun to see Eleanor enjoy activities that we love, and seeing her discover sand (and that it doesn’t taste good) and the feel of the waves on her feet was very cool.

We were lucky that all 20 (!) of our friends on the trip were excited to have Eleanor there and happy to hold and play with her all weekend.

It was also wonderful that Eleanor loved being in the tent and slept soundly for naps and at night – including during a huge storm with lots of rain, wind, thunder and lightning!

It couldn’t have been a better 1st camping trip for Eleanor, and it gives us hope that we are not crazy for planning to take her camping again next weekend and backpacking in June!

Posted by: Kate | May 10, 2013

Recent Happenings

The last week has been lots of fun and very busy!

On Saturday, Steve and I cheered the Caps on during an exciting overtime playoff victory against the Rangers!

Then on Sunday I took Eleanor to Garfield Park for her first time in a swing!

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She loved it and I foresee many more trips to the park!

We also managed to squeeze in a few trips to the rock climbing gym, our friends’ baby shower, our softball team party, a crab feast birthday party, and a softball game! Phew!

Next up, Eleanor’s first camping trip! I’m a bit nervous but I think we are pretty well prepared, so fingers crossed it goes smoothly! And next week I may just have some tips on camping with a baby…

Have a great weekend!

Posted by: Kate | May 3, 2013

Happy Workaversary to Me!

Today was a gorgeous spring Friday, and my three year workaversary at my job!

3rd Workaversary

I treated my coworkers to donuts, because what better office celebration is there?!

I feel very lucky to have a job that I love, working for something I believe in.

Given the time most people have to put into work every day, it sure is nice to be doing something that makes me happy!

Here are a few fun work pics from the last three years.

Meeting the cat in the Hat

Meeting Richard Dreyfuss

Giant Birthday Donut

Me and Super Grover

*Meeting The Cat in the Hat*

*My colleague Will and I attending a kooky dinner with Richard Dreyfuss*

*Enjoying the giant Birthday donut my colleagues got me – they know me so well*

*Hanging out with Super Grover 2.0!*

Posted by: Kate | May 2, 2013

DC Scenes: U.S. Capitol

US Capitol through trees

US Capitol from the northwest

U.S. Capitol Azaleas

U.S. Capitol in the sun

I grew up the DC area and have worked on or around the Hill for the last 12 years, but the U.S. Capitol still wows me!

I snapped these quick iphone pics of the Capitol grounds while walking to a meeting yesterday morning.

It was a truly gorgeous, perfect spring day.

I love this city!

Posted by: Kate | April 29, 2013

Rainy Days…

Am I the only one who actually likes rainy days?

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Of course they are best spent snuggled up on the couch with a blanket, a loved one and a good movie!

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At least my bright yellow splash boots and polka dot umbrella made it pretty fun to be out and about today!

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