The Insta-Home Challenge: Washington, DC

by Angela on August 4, 2014 · 4 comments

Hot, muggy Washington, DC is our home for nine whole weeks this summer — it’s the longest we’ve been stationed in one spot so far on this Lion King tour, and it’s nice to stay a while. Even if it’s supremely swampy.

Our view of the Capitol Building from our neighborhood perch in Capitol Hill/Southeast.

We’ve got an elegant respite from the swamp, however. The Hollicks and Cordileones are shacking up in the anti-shack of this historic neighborhood — a beautifully preserved 18th-century row house in the Southeast section of Capitol Hill, a few blocks from Eastern Market.  Summertime in the District of Columbia proved to be staggeringly expensive in finding a furnished rental, and so we decided to share this 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath home, close to the Metro and tons of shops and restaurants. And even after splitting the rent, each family was set back a few thousand per month.

Pam (Amy’s mom and Hero’s grandmother) leaves our house for the weekend Farmers’ Market down the street.

This home was originally built in 1877 with a third floor and attached back building, but those were torn down by the middle of the twentieth century. In 2002, current owners Nat and Chantal purchased the home, but before they moved in, an electrical fire tore through. OMG! Undeterred, they painstakingly restored the house, trying to keep as much of the original detail as possible. It’s actually quite remarkable. There are push-button light switches on the walls, a gas lamp illuminating the front stoop, and this segment of crown molding in a bedroom that was reattached to show the room’s history.

Chantal was once a theater costume designer, and the home is replete with her eye for fun colors and patterned textiles, from the rugs and drapes to the bedding and wallpaper.

Basement/TV room/4th bedroom

Basement powder room

Upstairs full bath

Max’s room

Cordileone’s Safari-themed room

Another upstairs full bath (not en suite)

Dining room

In fact, I never had to leave the house to take Eva’s weekly photos. There seems to be an endless supply of colorful fabrics to use as backdrops found all over the house. Here, we used our master bedroom comforter for Week 48.

The fabulous gourmet eat-in kitchen is fully supplied with every appliance we could want — particularly cupcake supplies, which thrilled the kids to no end. And every day is lively and lovely, with our two families spending time together cooking and eating.

As beautifully maintained as this house is, it’s not as kid-friendly as we’re used to. For instance, the stairs are a straight, steep shot down from level to level.  Here, Max is looking dubious as to if he’d make it up.

He’s willing to give it a shot. Update: he did fall once down these stairs a few weeks ago, and it was super scary. We literally heard him slam into a few steps, bouncing down to the bottom. He was alright, just a small scrape on his knee and a few bruises. He now knows to look at his feet as he walks down.

A now-walking-and-still-speed-crawling Eva has managed to stay relatively safe, but man — keeping an eye on that ball of energy is exhausting in this house. We are so lucky to have the Cordileones around to help wrangle her!

Upstairs, outside our master bedroom, there are even a few steps down in the hallway and no easy way to install a child gate at the top of the stairs without drilling into the bannister. So we are on perpetual lookout. Sometimes it’s easier to just hold her upstairs, but obviously just as tiring.

I’m tired, ya’ll. So tired. I hate admitting it, but this summer has kicked my large mama tush. Helicoptering over Eva (whose mobility through the house gives me heart attacks) and Max (who still hates going potty by himself) has left me drained and sleepless. Carrying Eva around the house and constantly staying on alert for not only the stairs but her wobbly  bumps into the furniture has been exhausting. We’ve managed to kid-friendly up some parts of the house, like the living room, which had lots of bulky furniture to start …

We purchased a slew of child gates, pushed some furniture aside, and laid down our foam mats that we bought last city in Toronto. It’s now a playroom for the kids. Sigh.

We’re lucky enough to have a lush outdoor deck and patio in the back, with a grill — although we’ve not eaten out there yet, it’s been so gross out. Mike and Nick enjoy cookin’ out there, though…

The owner Nat was once on staff at the House of Representatives for a while, then became a Secretary in the Department of Commerce under the George W. Bush administration. The upstairs hallway is littered with framed announcements and posters of all things White House.

An invitation to the Inauguration for Bush and Cheney…

Many Easter Egg Roll at the White House invites!

This house was a stop on the annual Historic House and Garden by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society a few years back.

There are so many antique collectibles around the house. In Max’s room, there’s an old hutch housing some early editions of beloved kids’ books series like The Hardy Boys.

There are a few found objects adorning the kitchen, including a vintage scale, a library card drawer cabinet, and an aged White House cookbook.

As always, Max makes his own little space his own.

The coolest area in the house is the basement den, where the Wii and TV are, as well as a spare inflatable bed which has come in handy for the guests coming through this summer.

Every day we try to take the kids for walks around the neighborhood.

Chantal and Nat have been wonderful owners to deal with. Not only did their thirteen-year-old daughter Kendall babysit a few times for me, Chantal registered us as her summertime houseguests at the members-only Cheverly Swim Club in Maryland so that we could cool off in the humidity and throw Max & Eva’s joint birthday party in style with our Lion King friends.

Hands down, the best thing about our neighborhood is Eastern Market. During the week, the permanent vendors inside are used to us perusing the meat, seafood, dairy and baked/prepared goods (the kids usually get a free piece of fruit!). On the weekends, the outdoor farmers and artists line 7th Street SE. The crepe stand is our favorite, hands down — but get there early! The line can be long, and it seems to hit 80 degrees by 9 am.

Max has attended two different drop-in camps in Capitol Hill: Adventure Camp, run by D.C. teacher Mr. Tony, which takes him on a field trip every day to the far reaches of the city (he has been more places in DC than his dear ole mom)…

… and a more traditional preschool environment nearby called Polite Piggys. Below, he’s learning to tap dance from a guest artist at Polite Piggys. Can you spot him?

Max tends to break hearts everywhere he lands. Here, his Adventure Camp teacher Ms. Dorsey tearfully kisses him goodbye on his last day.

Our back deck is the perfect place for chalk art…

 Max, chalk is not for eating…

We are so thankful to hang with the Cordileones this summer. Our jaunt to the DC Zoo was ten times as fun!

When we’re not visiting friends up in New York and New Jersey or Mike’s family in Delaware on the weekends, I am homebound much of the day (and night too, who am I kidding?), so Eva can nap and I can steal small chunks of time to get work done on our maternity accessory business. It’s tough to feel productive on so little free time and sleep; I’m definitely paying the new(ish) mom dues. Will you come babysit? Better yet, will you take over nursing Eva? Please?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen August 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

Angela, it is definitely quite a jump going from 1 to 2 kids, and I’m not sure quite how you get it all done when you travel as much as you all do. Sleep will come eventually, I guarantee it. This too shall pass! Hang in there!


steve August 5, 2014 at 10:55 am

Eastern Market is one of my family’s favorite brunch places. We went a few years ago while doing a tour of all the monuments with my in-laws, and had some amazing pancakes inside the market. Even though the lines are long they move pretty quickly since it seems like they have a whole system in place. Make sure your try their seafood too. What a nice house you found. Enjoy.


Ron August 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Go Hollicks! You all look fabulous–love the pics of the kids. You’re doing great, Ang!


JJB August 5, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Your family is quite beautiful. Eva is so big now and Max is a little boy! Can’t believe it’s been almost 3 years since you left Vegas. Miss you guys!


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