Tuesday, June 18, 2019

National Museum of African American History & Culture











During personal time on a work trip to Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of visiting the National Museum of African American Heritage & Culture. I’ve taken some time to consider what to write about my experience, because I did not want to appropriate or claim a single piece of it as my own. It is not mine, and it’s an undeniable part of our history and culture as Americans. And I wanted to tell my friends, you. must. go.

It is one of the most moving museums I’ve seen in the world in my lifetime. I spent hours there yet couldn’t see everything or read every word. I cried. I smiled. And I honestly left feeling exhausted.

I started with history, and I was taken underground in one of the biggest elevators I have ever seen. I made my way up three floors covering centuries of history, learning how the economies of so many countries and the outcomes of so many wars were built and won on the backs and lives of so many black and enslaved Americans. I paid my respects at the Emmett Till Memorial, wondering if as the mother of a son I could ever be so brave as Mamie, especially as violence and racism have not ended even today. As you walk up through the history floors, you begin to see more light from above. The highest floors covering culture feel brightest, filled with optimism and pride.

I listened, and I tried to understand. I appreciated it the best I could.

If I had to pick a word that describes this museum, I would choose resilience. And if you’re ever in D.C., you absolutely need to see it.

(originally written for and posted to my personal Facebook profile)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Chattanooga for Families

Chattanooga is one of my favorite places in Tennessee, quite possibly the South in general.  It feels like this cool combo of Asheville and Cincinnati, a city that is outdoorsy and unique and friendly.  There's good food and drink, friendly people, and vibrant neighborhoods to explore.  It was one of our fav places to go before we had Kenny, so we decided to head back for a weekend with him as a family getaway.

Walnut St. Bridge


The downside to our visit is that it was a rainy weekend, but we still enjoyed ourselves.  We chose a hotel downtown, knowing that we would be walking distance to so many places.  The downtown area has plenty of sidewalks!  We took a walk across the Walnut St. Bridge, the world's longest pedestrian bridge, until the rain made us take a break.

But the #1 reason we wanted to bring Kenny to Chattanooga was the world-class AZA-certified Tennessee Aquarium.  It's one of our favorite aquariums, and we visited during Chatt trips in 2014 and 2017.  Kenny loves the fish tank at daycare, and so we figured it would be a good time to take him.  He LOVED it.

The sea turtle was going by and doubled back to check out Kenny!




The aquarium is perfect for families.  We took our stroller, but Kenny could stand and look at some of the exhibits on his own.  You can take the elevator to the top and then work your way down, with automatic doors and ramps.  Since it is divided into two buildings (River and Ocean Journeys), we decided to do one building before lunch/naptime and another after.  Your tickets allow you to come back in if you leave!  This is where staying at a hotel nearby came in handy.  The box office opens 30 minutes before the aquarium does, so I went ahead and bought our tickets (there is a discount for Veterans) before heading back to the hotel to help get Kenny ready.  It was nice to be able to visit restaurants nearby and hit the hotel for naptime to make the most of a full day at the aquarium.  We had so much fun!




I think it's obvious that places like the aquarium are family-friendly, but Chattanooga also has a lot of dining options.  One thing I miss about life pre-kid is those foodie dinner dates we used to have.  Public House was one of the restaurants on my list from years ago that I wanted to visit, but I wasn't sure it was feasible with a toddler.  Then I learned they have a three-course kids menu, so they had to be welcoming to families, right?  I made a reservation on the earlier side (I find people are more friendly if you are eating with kids at 5 or 6, because non-kid people tend to eat later) and we braved it.  It was a great experience for all of us, as Dan and I could enjoy cocktails and delicious food in a setting we normally wouldn't take Kenny.  They even validate parking, y'all.

We also ate at Beast + Barrel, Mellow Mushroom, and Milk & Honey, all of which were accommodating of Kenny.  Milk & Honey didn't have a kids menu, and it was very small, but they had the first-ever high top highchairs I've ever soon!

Public House Chattanooga

Years ago, Dan and I decided that we would try to visit only AZA-certified zoos and aquariums.  Would you believe that Chattanooga has TWO such places to visit?  The Chattanooga Zoo is very small, so small that it might be overlooked as a place to go if you're not local.   But if you've got a toddler, it's absolutely perfect!  It wasn't crowded, parking was ample and close by, and the prices are low.  (In fact, for Veterans admission is FREE!)  Kenny loved running around the zoo, and they had some great exhibits.




Petting Zoo



Because it wasn't insanely crowded, we really felt we could let Kenny explore and walk on his own, which was perfect to wear him out before our car ride home.  The zoo is also expanding to add giraffes and lions in the future, so we wouldn't hesitate to take him back!


Chattanooga just has so much to offer.  If we'd had more time, we would have loved to stop by the Creative Discovery Museum or the Hunter Museum of American Art.  

We love Chattanooga, and it's a great place for families!


Monday, May 6, 2019

Boston, Massachusetts

I took a work trip to Boston for three nights, and it was probably the longest stretch of time I've spent in what is truly a very cool city.

Flying over the city, walking near my hotel

My conference was at the Westin in Copley Square, a beautiful hotel that has restaurants and shops and a skywalk to the nearby mall.  I loved the mixture of historic and modern architecture in the area.

Copley Square area

On my first afternoon/evening, I walked to The Salty Pig for lunch.  I had their Salty Pig pizza with salted pork, pale ale caramel, and arugula, but subbed tomato sauce for the mustard... so good!  Then I walked to Flour Bakery + Cafe at the behest of my cousin's reco and grabbed a sticky bun.  In the evening, I connected with some college classmates in Southie for a nice night in.  (I was fortunate to have friends and family to connect with each evening I was there!)


The second night, I took the T to Fenway to meet my cousin for dinner at Wahlburgers!  I had the BBQ Bacon burger with white cheddar, bacon, housemade BBQ sauce & avocado spread (I skipped the jalapeƱos), and it was delicious.  The tater tots were also awesome.  It was a really good burger spot, and the decorations were very Boston and Wahlburg (movie posters everywhere) at the same time.

Wahlburgers

I also got to see my friend Lindsey on my trip to Boston!  I've been wanting a Louis Vuitton Neverfull for years now (yes, I'm basic, deal with it) and since Linds has her own collection, I figured it would be fun to shop together.  I chose a "damier ebene" canvas with the "rose ballerine" interior color.  Our salesgirl Athena truly made it a magical experience for this first-timer.  Is it normal or practical to spend so much on a handbag?  Probably not.  But if that's what you want in order to reward yourself for a milestone, I say there's no time like the present!



We finished the night with Italian food at Sorellina, where I had a delicious meatless bolognese (the Impossible Foods stuff!) and dessert so good that we didn't take pictures of it.  We had a slumber party at the hotel that night before I had to leave early in the morning.



I love Boston, and I need to spend more time there.  I want to explore more historic landmarks, the architecture, the food...  so much!  I could spend a week there and still leave things undone.

Do you have any Boston recommendations in case I go back?

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