The Bar Scene in DC! (Not great if you’re 40 and married.)


We spent the weekend in Washington DC celebrating Damian’s birthday, including a visit to the White House lawn. Well the fence, actually. Okay so we were way on the other side of the fence(s) with the other tourists and a lot of scary looking guards. But it was beautiful at night! I love this trip, mainly because DC is so close to us, but yet far enough away that I truly feel like we’re out and about. And there’s no laundry or chores to tackle. Here’s a little recap….

Friday we took the metro to Senator Barbara Mikalski’s office, where we picked up tour passes for the Capitol as well as passes to visit the active Senate and House galleries. Babs wasn’t in, but one of her lackeys gave us what we wanted. We checked into our hotel (the Wardman Park hotel by the zoo – we’d stayed there before), got some hummus from Mediterra, which has the BEST HUMMUS of my life! We relaxed a bit and then hit Joe’s Stone Crabs for dinner.

We’ve been to Joe’s many times in Las Vegas, but the one in DC is new. The story behind the restaurant is interesting. The original Joe’s is located in Miami, where stone crabs are pulled from the water, one claw is removed, and the crab is thrown back. The claw regenerates, and then the crab can be harvested again. We were interested to see if the place would look like the one in Vegas, and to discover whether the claws would taste better, considering that they are in season and fresh now, whereas we’ve always had them frozen in the past. The DC location looks just like the place in Vegas. Same decor, same waiters in penguin suits. We had oysters, crab soup, crab claws, and an excellent Chote du Rhone. We didn’t start dinner ’til 8:30, so I was DOA at the end and we just went to bed.

We got up at 7 the next morning, cleaned up, and hit my favorite breakfast place, Open City Cafe. I had an egg white omelet with spinach & tomatoes, cheese grits, and homemade wheat toast with butter and some amazing strawberry jam. And a giant mug of coffee that was so strong it nearly shot me out of my chair.

We hit the art museum next, and that was a totally cool experience on so many levels. First, there was a walk for HIV going on that morning, so all the roads were closed. We took the metro, so it was awesome for us – being able to just walk through the streets of DC with no cars around was like a “Beyond Thunderdome” experience. So totally cool. The museum itself was oddly quiet. Very few people were there. We visited Manet, Monet, Renoir, Cassat, and then noticed a special Degas exhibit that included two statues of The Little Dancer, so that was pretty exciting. For me.


Then we stumbled upon another major special exhibit by Andrew Wyeth. I’d never heard of him, but his work was really striking. He was obsessed with windows. Obsessed. And he was able to create these incredible-looking airy tattered fabrics surrounding windows using only egg white, water, and pigment. He was also known for creating paintings that appeared to be both photograph and painting. Like this one old broken down house. I swear the boards appeared to be falling right out of the page, but the foreground was clearly paint. I wouldn’t want it hanging in my living room (too stark!), but it was fascinating. This is one of his most famous works, Wind from the Sea:


Something I also found interesting was that a private collector gave a Vincent Van Gogh painting to the National Gallery THIS YEAR! Can you imagine having a priceless painting like that in your possession for so many years? I might die from the guilt of not sharing it with the world.

We did the Capitol tour next, and that was much better than I thought. I hate tours, but Damian wanted to do it, and doing the tour allowed us to see, via our incredibly-funny guide, parts of the Capitol that we would not otherwise have been permitted to see without getting arrested. So that was fun. I recommend it. The building is amazing. Inside the rotunda, the distance from floor to ceiling is so great that you could literally set the Statue of Liberty on the floor, and her torch would not reach the apex. From there, we walked to the Library of Congress, which was even cooler in person than in Nicholas Cage films.

That night we hit Old Ebbit Grille, where the special was lobster. I was just not hungry enough to eat a whole lobster, and frankly, I didn’t want to have to wear a big bib in public. I did, however, enjoy watching others crack these crazy lobsters. I had a fabulous shrimp ceviche and clam soup with some white wine, and Damian had trout. Mmm mm.

Then we made the mistake of going to a bar to watch the Buckeyes play Penn State. We found a place where alumni apparently go to watch the games in DC. I thought it would be great to watch a game with a bunch of Buckeye fans. Energy and excitement, you know? What I didn’t consider is that people in our age bracket just invite friends to their houses and have cookouts. Everybody was in their early twenties and interested in hooking up as much as watching the game. I felt so OLD. It was bad. Some dude handed me a bar stool and another one for Damian, saying, “Here’s a stool for you. And one for your boyfriend.” He’s my boyfriend. Now that is funny. But really, it was bad. We left at half time and finished the game on the HDTV in our hotel.

The next morning brought breakfast, check-out, the metro, and a celebration of the Kelehan Thanksgiving. But that is a story for another day…..

The Worst Day of My Life

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What was the worst day of your life? Everybody has one. Mine was 10 years ago today: October 15, 2004. I was in the first year of my marriage, practically a newlywed, pregnant with my first child. A boy. A baby boy I’d dreamed of having for years.

And then I had the 20-week ultrasound. “There’s something wrong with your baby’s heart.” More tests. “It’s a heart defect, and it’s a bad one.” The doctor who delivered the blow advised me to terminate. He led me to believe that my baby had no chance. Nobody has every said anything more horrifying to me. Ever. Not before. Not since.

Every year on this date I think about that time. And I’m thankful that it was the worst day. Because once that day passed, I found hope. And my baby did not die. That’s him in the picture above, squashed underneath his younger brother and being photobombed by our family cat.

So yeah, October 15,2004 sucked. But today didn’t, and I really hope that date lives on as the worst day in my life forever. If it does, then I’m a lucky lady.

An Update on the Heart Child


Friends and family know that the heart child, Corey, is nine years old now and doing remarkably well, but for new people surfing in to “meet” my little source of inspiration, I thought it might be time to write an update.

Corey’s in fourth grade, five years post-Fontan, and in the 62nd percentile for height, 50th for weight. He’s huge! He eats more food than I do at any one sitting. When he’s a teenager, I’ll have to hit Costco and buy six chickens at a time. And not to brag, but he’s wicked smart. Ridiculously smart. Okay, so I mean to brag. He’s so smart! Let me give you some examples of his cerebral prowess.

1. He watched videos on youtube and taught himself to solve the Rubik’s Cube. He can now solve any traditional 3×3 Rubik’s Cube in a matter of mere minutes.

2. When he took the state assessment test in his elementary school, his results in math were off the charts. He scored well above not only the kids in his school, but all the kids in the county AND the state.

3. His last report card was straight As.

4. He has an affinity for cards, picking up new games and winning at them so quickly that I am afraid to expose him to his Uncle Dave, who was once a professional poker player, because if Corey picks up poker like he picks up everything else, look out! We’ll be mortgaging the house to pay off his gambling debts before he’s 10. Or buying a vacation house in the Keys. Could go either way.

5. He beats me at Monopoly regularly, and I don’t let him win.

That’s enough about Corey’s brain. It’s a great relief, I must say, for his parents. When he was diagnosed with a single ventricle in utero, we wondered if he would be below average. Or well below average. Or worse. When our PC said, “If he is meant to be an above-average student, he will be, regardless of his heart,” he was right!

Corey also plays baseball. And well. Soccer is out – too much running – but he’s got rockin’ hand/eye coordination, and those brains of his come in handy. You need brains to play baseball. Luckily I don’t need brains to watch him play. I just need beer and peanuts. Just kidding. About the peanuts. These kids might have a nut allergy! I would never expose them to peanuts. Ahem.

Right now Corey (and his heart-healthy younger brother) is all excited for the holidays. We will be bringing out our Halloween decorations today! And I am feeling the boys’ excitement. The 10th anniversary of Corey’s diagnosis is this month, and when that day passes, and I mark it (as I always do), it will be with a giant smile on my face as I watch my amazing heart child play with our Halloween toys and talk non-stop about wearing his costume, trick-or-treating, marching in the holiday parade, going to Aunt Vicki’s for Thanksgiving, seeing Super Magic Elf (or Elf on the Shelf) again, what he’s going to write in his letter to Santa, when we’re going to get the Christmas tree, whether or not Mommy is going to forget the carrots for the reindeer again……..