The District

My S is a city girl. She is never happier than on a train or Bahn. 

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We took her to see “Rock Omama’s” house, because they talk a lot on her fish-price phone. In fact, he is the only one who ever calls. She was really bummed when we couldn’t go inside (Although the White House is once again open to visitors, tours need to be scheduled six months in advance through your congressional representative. I just wanted to get away from the ‘burbs and into the city and I wanted to do it soon).

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We dealt with the disappointment with a trip to her favorite restaurant: Vapiano, a German chain of Italian restaurants. You may remember it from all of the times we ate there in Berlin (and Dresden and Stuttgart.) In fact,we are Vapiano connoisseurs. As such a connoisseur, I can assure you that the American iteration is just as German as its German cousins, meaning you can get decent Italian food there. Much better than some of the typical red sauce joints that abound in Baltimore.
Do you remember bunny pizza? S does!
And to make up for the lack of presidential sightings, S and I shared dessert before heading back to die Bahn. 
There are multiple Vapiano restaurants in Washington, D.C. should you be as weird as we are. Parking in DC may impact whether or not you are able to send your child to college. We park in Maryland and take the metro.

Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Why, hello there. We’ve been working, going to preschool for entire big kid school days, and trying to hold it together while we slug through this our first year post-grad school.  But let’s not get too down. There’s been some exploring, too.

Before it got too cold, we bought tickets for the historic ships moored in the Baltimore Harbour. The first time we tried to do this the dark, murky water was just too scary for S and so we put the idea away for another time. Then, a few weeks ago, we found ourselves downtown and suddenly the idea of going on a big boat seemed like the best thing ever and could we go today, right now?

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She liked going up an down the steps of the USS Constellation, but deemed the sleeping quarters “creepy.” The USS Torsk, a WWII era submarine, made her nervous. The best part was finding the jellies in the harbor, just below the water’s surface. Unfortunately, they didn’t show up well in an iPhone photo, but S is still talking about them so I’m sure we’ll be back as soon as it warms up again.

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Maybe next time we’ll even be brave enough to go on boat that moves.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore has some very rough edges. It also has a few lovely spots. The Baltimore Museum of Art, for example.


Located near The John Hopkins University on a beautiful tree-lined street, the BMA is free year-round – perfect for the, at times, wandering attention spans of littles – and has a wonderful collection of 19th century and modern art. S especially liked this “curtain,” which I sadly forgot to look up. I liked when she posed as Le Penseur.


 My favorite non-toddler related part?


The Kirchner. I was so disappointed that they didn’t have a print of this one in the gift shop. I suppose we’ll just have to go back again!


Baltimore Book Festival, Mt. Vernon

Its been a few weeks, but I can’t let something like the Baltimore Book Festival pass by without a post.


I wasn’t expecting much – feeling a little down on Charm City – maybe some used book sellers and a food truck…if we’re lucky? But the Festiva proved me wrong and showed me that Berlin doesn’t have the monopoly on Strassenfeste. Of course, there were booksellers – old and new – but there weer also authors as well as a healthy representation of local cultural institutions and children’s activities. We even had our first encounter with a costume character.



S wasn’t scared. She was just cautious.

The highlight of the festival was the Peabody Institute, a conservatory attached to The John Hopkins University. The 19th century building is beautiful and was wholly unexpected.


 This year’s festival was held September 27 – 29th. For more information, visit the Baltimore Book Festival’s  website and maybe we’ll see you in 2014!


Fresh Bakery, Owings Mills

S’s school has an award-winning healthy choices program that focuses on teaching the children about eating well. The class meets once a week with a nurse to learn all sorts of things. To be honest, I don’t really know, but it can’t hurt, right? The school sent some flyers home about not celebrating special events or rewarding ourselves and our children with food.

Obviously, these people haven’t twice in as many years with a three year old. I like broccoli, but sometimes you need to balance out the green with something a little sweeter like these cupcakes from Fresh Bakery.


I wasn’t too sure when I saw the sign for a new bakery with such a simple name, but in our suburban neighborhood filled with chains and pizza shops, I was willing to give anything new a shot.

Some of our favorites include the personal pies (Pumpkin! or for the pumpkin averse there’s also apple, pecan, sweet potato and peach)


(sorry, I couldn’t resist a bite before taking a photo)

and the banana pudding is well worth a shot or even breaking a few school rules.


If you can bring yourself to share, that is.


We stopped in Aldi today. I was under the impression/somehow assured myself that there would be something German inside. The Aldi’s in Germany carry Trader Joe’s products (TJ is owned by Aldi Nord); surely there would be some slightly out of place in suburban Maryland, but wholly welcome by me German product, Ja? I thought maybe some type of Würste or a vacuum-packed Sachertorte.

Our first impression was promising. Jon was disappointed that he didn’t have his Kaiser’s coin, but an all American quarter did the trick.


The aisles were more or less the same…


But nothing German inside. Gar nichts. 


Weber’s Farm, Parkville

Its apple season!

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This is the first time S has lived somewhere with the possibility to pick your own apples. In Germany, there was a chance to pick your own potatoes, but only if you wanted to then throw them into a bonfire and eat them dirt and all. What can I say? Germans are weird sometimes.

Weber’s Farm, sadly, did not have enough apples for P.Y.O, but they did have cider and apple doughnuts.

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According to some, this is the best part.

We also liked walking around the farm store where we got some already picked apples, local honey, and the aforementioned treats.


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I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to pick anything, but I’m not going to let another apple season pass in vain! Check back next week to see what we find!

Cafe Spice, Cockeysville

We’re slowly building up our new repertoire of local restaurants. One of our first discoveries was Cafe Spice in Cockeysville.

Its one of the first places we’ve found that we really look forward to going back too.

Even S likes it. When she was a very little baby, she used to like dipping naan in the sauces until one day when she just decided no, I only eat very bland yellow food. Recently, she started to include pappadum on her list of S approved cuisine, so now I feel less guilty about taking her to Indian restaurants. Of course, mango lassis are still her absolute favorite.


Fell’s Point, Baltimore

Baltimore is hard. Its an older, more established community – older than Irvine anyway – and I wonder if anyone really needs me to write about things I do with my daughter. Its harder to break through, as well, again because it is an older community. Everybody already knows everybody and who are you? Why should I help you?

Getting passed the negativity is hard. Getting passed the lack of fresh, organic produce is hard. (Seriously, does California just hoard ALL THE VEGETABLES?) Its another season of culture shock.

We went to Fell’s Point, because I heard Fell’s Point is cool? I think whoever told me this left out some other pertinent information, because we found a ghost town. There was a small group of people waiting for the water taxi, but S wasn’t interested. We walked around a bit, but didn’t find the shops, restaurants, and general hustle and bustle I expected.


There were some beautiful brick buildings, though.




There are always things to jump over.


Is there a certain time of day you’re supposed to go…or not go? We went just before lunchtime.



Daily Grind, 1720 Thames St: a local coffee shop with plenty of seating. Perfect for studying or working (or at least it seemed so when we were there. Maybe its noisier at night?)