Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

We wish everyone health, happiness, and success in 2012.

Happy New Year,

Erik, Lea, and Carter

Monday, December 19, 2011

Season's Greenings

The US Botanical Garden has been hosting a holiday event since Thanksgiving, Season's Greenings, with amazing displays made from plant material. We visited on Sunday, taking along Carter's friend Kitty to see the fantastic animal homes (like Monkey Mansion above), presidential houses (Martin Van Buren's below), and to while away the hours in the standard displays of lovely orchids and other botanical wonders from around the world. More photos follow.

We found several interesting plants, including this one that looked like a bird.

Carter and Kitty mugged for the camera quite a bit, posing everywhere. 

We asked Kitty if she were to ever live in the house above, would she be called "President Kitty?" The answer is no.  For formal titles, she prefers her formal name - Katherine.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Race to the South Pole

A couple of years ago, Lea's mother purchased videos for Carter featuring songs and cartoons about world travels. Carter would watch the videos non-stop on long car trips across the country and learned about the famous Race to the South Pole. Since arriving in DC, we have come across several references to the race, and even saw an exhibit about efforts to reach the North Pole at the National Archives. 

We decided to honor the 100th anniversary of the race on Wednesday. Carter had an early-release day at school, so Erik took a half day at work. We decorated Christmas cookies and packed up a box to take to Erik's colleagues at the NSF. Carter made a special cookie for Erik's co-worker Brian which you see below. It is an extensive form game tree in the colors of the University of Nebraska (Brian is a game theorist who came to the NSF from NU). Brian loved the cookie, but reports that it cannot be solved without information about the players' strategies. After exploring Erik's floor, they traveled to the Office of Polar Programs for a photo op (Carter is holding a snowflake cookie as part of our South Pole tribute). On the way out, Carter had a chance to see the display of "Ancient Denvers," a collaboration between scientists and artists depicting Denver, Colorado as it might have looked during the dinosaur age.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

'Tis the Season

We have been busy with all sorts of activities, so this post comes after a bit of a delay. Last weekend, we enjoyed a lovely holiday scene in Washington, DC. Not only did we visit the National Christmas Tree and all of the state trees (kudos to Maryland and the territory of Puerto Rico for their superior ornaments), but Erik and Carter skated in the Sculpture Garden downtown and we stopped in to visit with a Santa. It was a lovely winter-like day (sans snow).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Man of Character

After school today, Carter told Lea that he had something to show her. He escorted his mother to a bulletin board featuring his photo and short bio.  Carter's teacher nominated him for the "Wall of Character" because he demonstrates this quality (and is one). We are really proud of our character.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Appalachian Fall

Living in Arlington, it is sometimes difficult to see how fall is transitioning to winter. While our apartment windows afford us a nice view of wooded parks and Arlington Cemetery in the distance, our immediate surroundings are dominated by concrete. We planned to visit the Shenandoah National Park at the peak of fall colors to get a true taste of seasonal change, but the last few weeks moved quickly. The region experienced snow and strong winds at higher altitudes during the last week, robbing trees of their cover earlier than we expected. We decided to take the trek today for our last chance to see the colors this season. We were not disappointed, although bare trees were in abundance. Photos and some comments follow.

Despite the end approaching, the foliage featured some burgundy and burnt umber. The views were spectacular.

We found some wonderful rock outcroppings along the way. Carter was a bit nervous to climb up, but enjoyed the view.

One of our goals during the trip was to see wildlife. We came upon several deer, but had our eyes peeled for the prize - a black bear. Visitors had reported sightings over the last couple of weeks and with the natural cover disappearing, we were alert. We saw no bears on our way in, and were close to halfway back to the entrance when we spied a bear near the road. We doubled back and watched him from the car. When other visitors joined us and left their cars, Erik ventured forth to take some pictures from a safe distance (situating himself nearby others who were likely to be slower on the escape). Our bear friend posed briefly, then ventured back into the forest.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Progress Report

We have been busily exploring the Washington, DC area with most of our spare moments over the last couple of months (too busy to blog!). Lea and Carter took great advantage of August to visit major - and minor - sites throughout the area. They visited almost all memorials and Smithsonian museums, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Arlington Cemetery. Once school began in September, we slowed our pace and took only weekend outings. Below are a few highlights of our many adventures.

On the weekend of the hurricane, which was mercifully mild in its effects on our town, we had a quick outing to Ford's Theater. We had prepared supplies in the event of power outages and had the morning to occupy before the storm's arrival. We chose Ford's Theater as our destination and were fortunate to catch a close-up glimpse of the spot where President Lincoln was assassinated (typically, the box is closed to visitors because demand is so high. It was not crowded on the day of the hurricane).

School started after Labor Day and Carter has settled into the routine nicely. He has met several wonderful kids and has especially gravitated toward one of them as a best friend. He still keeps in touch via email with his best friend in Lawrence, Silvia.

The weekend of September 11 was solemn in Arlington. While we knew that the Pentagon was in Arlington, its proximity did not sink in until that time. We can see the Air Force Memorial from our window and can easily watch the approach of flights to Reagan National Airport. We participated in the 9/11 5K raising funds for and honoring the fallen. The route took us past the Pentagon near the site of the attack. Below you can see Carter proudly displaying the medal he earned.

Erik and Carter have had a few adventures of their own, including a Columbus Day visit to the Library of Congress. The reading room was open for guests, another rarity, and they stopped by for a tour. Below you can see the room as well as another spot in the library where Minerva appears to be stabbing Carter in the head.

In the Great Hall, Erik and Carter happened upon a librarian who was answering questions. Carter asked if Erik's books were in the Library of Congress. When she asked for our last name, the librarian remarked that she knew a Herron who was a librarian - it was Erik's cousin who is at the University of Maryland. Later in October, we had a lovely gathering of Herron relatives and enjoyed great food and company while getting to know our extended family better.

The hurricane washed out the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial dedication in August, but it was rescheduled for October. We attended the ceremony which was touching and inspiring.

As fall moves on, we have been traveling outside of DC proper to see nearby sites. The Fall Harvest Festival at Mt. Vernon and Air and Scare at the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum were highlights. At Mt. Vernon, Carter had the chance to play 18th century kids' games, roast apples, listen to "George Washington" tell stories, and most importantly roll down the hill behind the house. We also discovered that George Washington shares Carter's birthday - he was born on February 11, but under the Julian Calendar.

Air and Scare was a fantastic Halloween event that was packed. Trick or Treating with the Space Shuttle is pretty cool. We also went to the local mall for candy and had a lovely party in our apartment building with schoolmates. This year, Carter's costume was a level of Angry Birds.

We continue to enjoy the DC area and will keep everyone posted on our future excursions and activities.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

Our first two weeks here were quite a whirlwind. After our arrival, we set up shop in Arlington and hit all of the essentials: the local farmer's market, Costco, IKEA, and Whole Foods. The movers arrived a day late and we camped out until they delivered our furniture and other possessions late Saturday afternoon.
Erik started at the NSF on Monday after our arrival and has been busy orienting himself. Lea and Carter have enjoyed several excursions to the American History Museum, Natural History Museum, and monuments. In addition to unpacking, we spent time enjoying old school entertainment as the Verizon strike prevented us from getting any Internet or television at home. It was nice to play games, read books, and see the sights. We are finally connected - an essential component of Lea's telecommute - and can begin posting here again.
On our first weekend following relocation, we visited the National Archives. Not only did we want to see the country's most important founding documents, but also the special exhibit: "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" We had heard quite a bit about this temporary display covering food policy and practices over the years and were eager to peruse the collection. Carter tolerated Lea and Erik's interest in the display, and even he enjoyed the brochure and letters extolling the nutritional and patriotic value of doughnuts. Unfortunately, the Archives forbids photography, so we can't show you the fabulous posters and objects on display. Following our foray to the archives, we took a spin around the Sculpture Garden until our reservation at the companion restaurant - America Eats! - was scheduled. We had a fantastic meal based on traditional American foods. Carter was especially excited to eat the precursor to mac and cheese - a pudding of cheese and vermicelli from 1802.
Our second week began with a bang - or a shake - with a temblor on Tuesday. Erik was on the 9th floor at the NSF when the ground started to undulate. He had never experienced anything quite like it. While west coast dwellers might scoff at a 5.8 magnitude quake, it shut down the NSF and pretty much everything else for the day.
Lea and Carter didn't feel the quake, but knew something was up when Erik called, and helicopters started to circle the Washington Monument. They were taking the day to visit several memorials around the National Mall, including the new Martin Luther King, Jr. site located by the FDR and Jefferson memorials. Their trek back to the apartment was slow and uncomfortable as all public transportation was crowded and metro trains were traveling at a measured pace while inspectors checked the tracks for any damage.
We thought the excitement was over. But, now we are battening the hatches for Hurricane Irene. Next come the locusts...

Friday, August 12, 2011

On the Move

A few months ago, Erik was offered the opportunity to serve as a Program Director in the Political Science Program at the National Science Foundation. The position involved a two-year leave from the University of Kansas and a commitment to move to Arlington, Virginia where the NSF is located. We were all excited about the chance for a new adventure. With support from her program at KU, Lea was able to arrange a telecommute. Although he would miss his friends and school in Lawrence, Carter was on board, excited about living near Washington, DC. We took a two-day cross-country trek, taking a couple of pictures along the route (above you see the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and below you see Seneca Rocks in West Virginia).

We will be updating you over the next couple of years on our adventures from our nation's capital!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sad News

Our beloved family cat, Trygve, passed away today. She had been in various stages of renal failure for over a year. After our return from Europe she seemed especially ill, so we took her to the vet who gave us a grim prognosis. We will miss our little girl.