Your Guide to the 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival

monument-600x450It’s that wonderful time of the year! Time for the Cherry Blossom Festival! Let’s get to the events!

Opening Ceremony
Warner Theatre, 513 13th Street, NW
5-6:30pm
Kick-off the 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival by watching world-renowned performers. Opening Ceremony performers include Shigeyama Kyogen EL Squad ,
May J ,The 6821 Quintet

Blossom Kite Festival
Grounds of the Washington Monument near 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue
Saturday, April 1st, 10am – 4:30pm
**SCHEDULE**
Competition Field
10:30-11:00am – Kite Ballets & Demonstrations
11:00am-1:00pm – Adult Kite Makers Competition
1:00-1:30pm – Soar into Spring Demonstrations
1:30-2:30pm – Hot Tricks Showdown
2:30-3:00pm – International Kite Demonstrations
3:00-4:00pm – Rokkaku Battle
4:00-4:15pm – Puzzle Rokkaku
4:15-4:30pm – Awards

Family Field
10:30-11:00am – Youth Kite Makers Practice Fly
11:00am- Noon – Youth Kite Makers Competition
Noon-12:30pm – Youth Kite Makers Awards
12:30-1:00pm – Mini Rokkaku Practice
1:00-1:30pm – Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 5-9)
1:30-2:00pm – Mini Rokkaku Challenge (ages 10-15)
2:00-3:00pm – Bol Races
3:00-4:30pm – Family Open Fly

Cinematsuri
Landmark’s E-Street Cinema at 555 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20004
Tickets are $13 per film
Times TBD
CineMatsuri 2017 is Washington DC’s first-ever Japanese film festival. Organized by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, CineMatsuri showcases five of Japan’s most recent films, each in a different genre. All movies are shown in Japanese with English subtitles

Cherry Blossom Freedom Walk
National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism, located at the intersection of Louisiana and New Jersey Avenues and D Street NW Washington, DC.
Saturday, April 1st, 9am – 12pm
This walk aims to bring awareness about what life was like for Japanese Americans during World War II. The walk will conclude with traditional Japanese and Palestinian folk dancing.

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival
Southwest Waterfront – 600 Water Street, SW
Saturday, April 15th, 2pm – 9pm (Fireworks start at 8:30 PM)
This event is always a family favorite. It’s our favorite simply because it combines three of our favorite things – face painting, food, and crafts! There’s also live music, and of course, the big fireworks show to end the night.

Lantern Making Family Day at Yards Park
Yards Park – 355 Water Street, SE
Saturday, April 16th, 10am – 2pm
There will be two sessions of lantern making for children and adults, at 10:00 am and at 12:00 pm. As an official event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the lantern making day will feature a variety of Japanese cultural activities, as well as a moon bounce for all children to enjoy.

SAAM Cherry Blossom Celebration
Smithsonian American Art Museum – 8th and G Streets, NW
Saturday, March 25th, 11:30am – 3pm
A taiko drumming performance kicks off the afternoon, followed by other traditional Japanese music and dance, face painting, and cherry-blossom themed crafts. Colleagues from the Freer|Sackler can help you make your own Japanese fan. Create a koinobori windsock at one of our crafting tables or check out the spring book corner with our friends from MLK Jr. Memorial Library.

Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival
The Yards Lot H/I
Saturday, April 1st 1-4pm; 6-9pm/Sunday, April 2nd 1-4pm
Drink the District is back with the annual Cherry Blossom Beer & Wine Festival. TIckets are $19-$89 ($20 discount with promo code CAPRIV) and attendees can enjoy unlimited beer and wine, food trucks, and live entertainment all day.

Click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony
TIDAL BASIN AT Independence Avenue and 17th Street, SW
Sunday, April 2nd, 3:00pm – 5:00pm
The ceremony takes place at the newly dedicated Japanese Rock Garden. It includes traditional music by the Toho Koto Society of Washington, DC and songs by the Washington Japanese Choral Society. The Joint Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington, DC presents the colors.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade
Constitution Avenue – From 7th to 17th streets, NW
Saturday, April 8th, 10am – Noon
The parade runs for 10 blocks along iconic Constitution Avenue featuring giant colorful helium balloons, elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, and celebrity entertainers, and performers. Individual tickets start at $20. Group tickets are on sale as well. Get your tickets here. Standing along the Parade route from Constitution Avenue between 9th and 15th streets, NW is FREE and open to the public. Arrive early for the best views.

Who Is Performing:

    98 Degrees member and “Dancing with the Stars” winner Drew Lachey
    Grammy nominated country singer Jo Dee Messina
    DC-native DJ Kool of the 1996 chart topping single “Let Me Clear My Throat”
    Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields
    Brian Justin Crum, breakout star from the most recent season of “America’s Got Talent”
    Washington Redskins Cheerleaders
    Winners of the 2017 Sing Into Spring competition

Cherry Blast!
Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 5th Street NE, Washington DC
Friday, April 14th, 7-11pm
Immerse yourself in DC’s vibrant Tokyo night market as Dock 5 at Union Market will be transformed into a busy streetscape that highlights Japan’s dynamic culture and ambiance.

You can expect:
Night Market: A hustling-bustling, communal marketplace lined with an array of food and artisan vendors – curated by acclaimed Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Maketto.
Music Stage: Vibe to the pulsating sounds of live artists and DJs performing all night long.
Interactive Art Showcase: A spectacular display of works by DC-based artists inspired by Japanese culture and the spirit of the cherry blossoms.
eSports Lounge: A high-tech arcade exhibiting the dynamic live-action of competitive play from the world’s hottest and fastest growing sports sector.
VIP Lounge: An exclusive lounge providing an elevated experience for 200 guests including open bar with special cocktail pairings and curated Tokyo street food (VIP ticket required).

Anacostia River Festival
Anacostia Park – 1900 Anacostia Drive, SE
Sunday, April 9th, 1-5pm
Head out to the Anacostia River to enjoy canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, bike riding, and nature walks.

Japanese Jazz Series at Blues Alley
1073 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
April 18-20, 8pm & 10pm
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms! Enjoy the music of young Japanese jazz artists at Blues Alley, performing as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Purchase tickets here.

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5 Things I learned about IUGR – IUGR Awareness Day 2017

Last Spring when I was sitting in the doctors office having an anatomy scan, I thought nothing of the fact that Isabella was measuring small. It was her belly that they said was tiny, but I just thought it was the fact that her dad was slender and perhaps she was taking after him.

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Early that summer my wonderful mfm (maternal fetal medicine) doctor sat me down and explained that the baby had Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and that I would have to start coming in weekly at 28 weeks for her to be measured because of this. He explained that many times IUGR babies have to be taken early because they thrive better on the outside than they do on the inside. I seriously sat there like a deer in headlights just smiling and nodding as if I understood what he was talking about. I had no clue what intrauterine growth restriction was. I didn’t even know what questions to ask. At the time I had complete placenta previa, so I just added IUGR onto the pile of other things I needed to worry about.

I’m very happy to say that we made it to 35 weeks before scans started getting wonky and Isabella wasn’t as reactive as they wanted her to be. When she was born she weighed 4.4lbs and was 17 inches. Compare that to her sister who at 37 weeks was born 7.2lbs and 21 inches. Even though I had a wonderful doctor, I still didn’t know much about IUGR or what it meant for my baby.After having Isabella I still needed to sort through so many emotions and figure out some things. Here is what I have discovered on my journey.

AN IUGR DIAGNOSIS IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD

I know it’s scary. The doctor throws words out there to you like preemie, stillbirth, NICU. I just want to tell you to breathe and believe. Pray on it. Give it to God. And by all means, please follow your instincts. If measurements seem off to you, if you feel like your baby that usually kicks 20 times an hour now only kicks 10 times an hour, go get checked. Ignore any looks you may get form doctors or nurses. Be in control of your own pregnancy.It is important that you and your doctors are proactive. And if you have a doctor that isn’t well versed in IUGR, find one that is. If you can’t because you live in a super small town, join an IUGR group online so that you can have a support system and you can find out helpful information from others that have been where you are. It is because of prayer and super proactive doctors that I believe Isabella is here today.

IUGR IS STILL A MYSTERY

The medical community still doesn’t have a solid answer as to what causes IUGR. IUGR occurs in about 3% of pregnancies. It can be caused by placenta problems, poor nutrition, chromosomal abnormalities, unhealthy lifestyle of the mother… the list goes on and on. There is not one thing that doctors can look to and say yes, this is what is causing 3% of babies born to have IUGR! In my particular case, after Isabella was born I was told that my placenta was pretty small and that is thought to be the reason why she has the diagnosis.

THE GUILT IS REAL

After Isabella was born I felt so much guilt. I felt like it was totally my fault that she was born so small. My body failed her. I downright wailed after holding her for the first time. She weighed nothing; light as a feather, she was. And that broke my heart. If you are faced with an IUGR diagnosis, please keep this in your mind and carry it in your heart – Itrauterine Growth Restriction is oftentimes ideopathic. There was nothing I personally did to cause it. I had zero control over the formation of the placenta. Sometimes life just happens, and it makes us sad especially because we can’t control it, but God is always in control. However, I’m not going to tell you not to be sad. Be sad. Be angry. But don’t stay there.

EVERY IUGR BABY IS DIFFERENT

Today Isabella is 6 months old and weighs 14lbs. Currently I know another 6 month old IUGR baby that is 17lbs, and another that is 12lbs. You can’t guess where your baby will be in the next few months, never mind the next few years! I never in a million years would’ve guessed that we would need size 3 months clothing for as long as we have. Johanna literally grew along with her age – at 3 months she needed 3 month clothing, at 6 months she needed 6 months clothing, etc. Isabella was in preemie clothing for 2 months, nb for 2 months, and has been hanging out between 0-3 and 3 month clothing (depending on the brand) since then. We legit recycle the same 6 onesies and 3 pair of pants every week. It’s frustrating for sure, but I’m just happy that she is following her own growth curve.

Some IUGR babies will have issues whether in the beginning or as they get older. Others will never have issues. It is very common for IUGR babies to deal with gastrointestinal issues, and Isabella is no exception. She has been in pain for majority of her short life. It’s not continuous, thank God, but when it hits… it’s hard for her screams to not tear me down. Some of it is a milk protein allergy. Unfortunately the formula that can help her best with this,neocate, is astronomical in price and insurance rarely covers it. We now have her on Alimentum, which is still pricey, but not as bad. She still has boughts of pain, but not as often or intense. Her digestive system is just not that awesome yet and even with medication her acid reflux is terrible. We’re praying on it.

IUGR BABIES ARE FIGHTERS! SO PLEASE DON’T COMPARE THEM TO OTHERS.

Join any IUGR support group and you will often hear mama’s say that their babies are feisty! Every once in a while you have a mom that says hers is super chill,but feisty is usually what we call them. Not only are they feisty, but they are fighters. I have never met a baby as determined as Isabella is, and I’m sure many IUGR moms could say the same. I don’t know if it’s their small size, or maybe they have experienced more in utero than we will ever understand, but they definitely have the heart of champions. It is important for you to know this and for you not to go comparing them to other full term,normal size babies. I know you probably will anyway, but don’t let it mean anything. Every once in a while I’ll ask the ladies in my baby group how much their baby weighs, and I pay close attention to what their babies are doing developmentally . I don’t let it stick in my mind to torment me though. Isabella is her own person and even if she wasn’t an IUGR baby, she would still develop at her own pace. She did lag behind in responding to us calling her name and making eye contact, but she got there, in her own timing. But I bet you she could out roll any baby any time any day! That girl has discovered that she can roll anywhere she wants to go and she is all about it. It makes me giggle and I love it!She is not sitting up on her own for minutes at a time nor pulling herself around the floor like her sister was at this age, but that’s quite alright. She’ll get there when she’s ready.

Babies are a blessing, period. But I’ve discovered that most pregnancies do not go as smoothly in real life as they do in the movies.If you are currently dealing with an IUGR diagnosis, I really pray that this has been beneficial for you. I pray it has brought you some comfort and that you know if God did it for me, he can do it for you.To read more about our IUGR journey you can read this post here that I will continue to update with facts about IUGR as I learn them.

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