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Blog — "Washington DC"

DC Cherry Blossoms and the MLK Memorial

Heidi outdoors travel Washington DC

On Saturday we decided to brave the crowds and take in the beautiful cherry blossoms that were blooming along Tidal Basin in DC. We had not been down that way for the blooms in a couple of years, and since the weekend had brought with it such beautiful weather, it seemed like a fun enough way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

The blooms were beautiful as they are each year, and walking amongst these...

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DC Cherry Blossoms and the MLK Memorial

Heidi Shenk "outdoors" "travel" "Washington DC"

On Saturday we decided to brave the crowds and take in the beautiful cherry blossoms that were blooming along Tidal Basin in DC. We had not been down that way for the blooms in a couple of years, and since the weekend had brought with it such beautiful weather, it seemed like a fun enough way to spend a leisurely afternoon.

The blooms were beautiful as they are each year, and walking amongst these old trees makes you feel as though you're in a winter wonderland of petals instead of snow. It's hard not to sigh a few times here and there as you take in the beauty.

At the end of our walk around Tidal Basin we paused for a bit to take in the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial. We had not had a chance to visit the relatively new memorial since it was installed.

While reading some of his most famous quotes, that had been engraved on the memorial, I thought of how powerful his words are still today. So many of the quotes deal with us understanding each other and placing the importance of all of humanity above anything else. And here we were, amongst the beautiful cherry blossoms with thousands of others from all over the world, and at that moment none of the strife, or conflict, or inequality that exists in the world mattered. We were all there together just to take in beauty-- and there was nothing complicated about that.

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What I've Been Up To

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" "jasper" "Lilah" "spring" "Washington DC"

Happy end of Spring Break, guys! Or should I say, sad end of Spring Break? Today is my last day of break. And by last day, I mean that today was supposed to be a professional development day, but I needed a sick day to recoup from a very intense weekend that included the end of a visit with my sister and nephew and taking care of Andrew all Sunday while he was blowing chunks. Seriously, it was a draining last few days. Either way, the rest of the week was absolutely fabulous!

As a rundown, I finished my huge wholesale order for Urban Outfitters. My sister and nephew came to visit. We spent Thursday at the Science Center, which Jasper loved! He liked the dinosaur section the most where he spent a good half hour (at least!) brushing off the dinosaur bones and pretending to play paleontologist.

Friday afternoon, we headed to the aquarium and spent the later portion of the afternoon hanging out at my favorite coffee shop. When Andrew got home from work we spent the rest of the beautiful evening at the park.

Saturday morning, we headed down to DC. We had hoped to see the cherry blossoms blooming since my sister had never seen them before. We thought we would be lucky since many of the cherry blossoms in Baltimore are already in bloom, but alas they were not out yet. However, the weather was absolutely gorgeous-- the perfect day to be out and about on the National Mall where people were flying kites, enjoying, picnics, and Jasper got a chance to run around and play with Andrew.
After spending the day in DC, we headed to my aunt and uncle's house in nearby Hyattsville, Maryland for dinner. Sunday was a low key day hanging out in the house. Jasper loved playing with Lilah.
All around, it was a good week!

What have you been up to this past week? I feel as though I am out of the loop right now!

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The Perks of Being a Teacher

Heidi Shenk "school" "Washington DC"

Part of being a teacher means that you get to go on really awesome field trips. And our school just so happens to know how to plan a good field trip. A week ago, we spent the day in DC with all of our middle school kids. I've been to DC more times than I can count, but despite the fact that DC is only a short 45 minute drive away, most of my kids have not been to DC. They had no idea that all of the Smithsonian museums were free, that the National Mall was not a shopping mall, and that snipers like to hang out on the roof of the White House (yes, that was bit of fun and trivia for them that they were most excited about). We were dropped off along the National Mall and headed to White House first. On our way walking to the White House, the Presidential helicopter flew in, Barack Obama on board returning from Afghanistan, and landed on the White House lawn. Unfortunately, my group was not quick enough to make it there in time to President Obama get off the helicopter, but many of the other groups of students were-- truly an amazing experience for them that they will not forget.

After a stop at the White House, we headed to the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. I wanted to take my students here because we had read several short stories in class that dealt with the Vietnam War. We actually ended up spending the most time here as my students searched for people that shared their last name and got etchings of the name as a keepsake. They were amazed with the number of names on the wall and how huge the monument was.

Next, we headed to the Lincoln Monument, counting each step as we made our way up to Abe.

Then, down to the Korean War Memorial.

Next, the World War II Memorial.
A quick rest at the Washington Monument.

And finally a stop at the Natural History Museum to end the day. 

It was a lot of walking (I certainly didn't mind) and the kids got tired quickly, but I kept pushing them to continue on so they could soak in as much as possible. Wouldn't it be awesome if every day in the classroom was like this? ;)

Have you been to our nation's capitol? What is or was your favorite thing to visit in Washington, DC?

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And so it began...

Heidi Shenk "Bar Pilar" "Umphrey's McGee" "Van Gogh" "Washington DC"

Every year in November, one of our favorite bands, Umphrey's McGee, has a two night stop at Washington, DC's 9:30 Club. We make an event of it-- book a hotel for two nights and have a leisurely weekend in DC. This year, we stayed at The Dupont Hotel in Dupont Circle. Dupont Circle is one of our favorite areas of DC because of its numerous restaurants and boutiques.

A shot of Umphrey's McGee from our balcony spot at 9:30 Club.
Now you may be wondering if I have a point to this story that happened three months ago. And so it begins. The night before our second serving of Umphrey's McGee we headed out to dinner at a fantastic restaurant called Bar Pilar, located around the corner from 9:30 Club on 14th Street. We enjoyed a tapas style menu and glasses of red wine during a lengthy and relaxing two and a half hour meal. It was at this point that I was stating my satisfaction of a get away weekend that took me away from the drudgery of teaching. Yes, drudgery. There was really no better way to say it at this point in time. I was feeling burnt out several months into my fourth year of teaching in Baltimore City. My school is fabulous, my students are even more fabulous, but I was beginning to feel stretched to my limits of sleep, energy, and creativity-- school creativity that is.

Over dinner, I began talking about all of the things that I love and my hopes to eventually start something new when I am done with my time as a teacher. At this point, Andrew had the brilliant idea that I simply need to start a new art endeavor that can also act as down time away from the pressures of teaching. Something that I could put creative energy into, rather than state testing draining all hopes of creativity in the classroom. "You should make cards!" he suddenly exclaimed. I raised my right eyebrow in a perplexed fashion. He went on to quickly explain that it could encompass many things that I enjoy-- photography, design, paper, art and so on. Not to mention, my friend Michelle, who is a graphic designer, had recently been trying to convince me that I needed to do something of the sort.

And so it began. I started with a few supplies, finally bought the new laptop, printer, and software I had been saving for and got the show on the road. So far, I would deem it a success-- small steps at a time. And so I leave you today with one of my newly created cards, one that is made from repurposed artwork by my favorite artist Vincent Van Gogh. They are of course available on my Etsy site as well! Happy browsing! :)

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