Monday, April 20, 2009

Do's and Don'ts for a Family Vacation to DC

We had the funnest spring break. I think I'm ready for school to be over... but we still have two months left. We took a road trip up to Washington, DC for a long weekend. Here's what we learned.

DO visit the Lincoln Memorial.
It is one of my favorite spots in DC.
There is a reverent feeling there that even my kids pick up on.
Very cool.

DO go in the spring when there are SO many GORGEOUS
flowers in bloom.
Tulips galore!

Trees in bloom.
(But not the cherry blossoms. We missed those.)

National Tulip Library.
Who even knew such a thing existed?

DO get at least one family photo
with everyone in it.
(Be happy if four of the five family members
are looking at the camera.)

DO visit with multiple friends if possible.
It helps if there are girls for your daughter to play with

AND plenty of boys for your son to wrestle with.

DO ride the Metro.
DON'T try to get everyone through on the same ticket.
Each person needs their own.
(We were afraid Andrew was going to get arrested
for a while because we accidentally went turnstile hopping.)

DON'T drop your sunglasses while waiting for the Metro.
They may never be the same.

DO play Duck-Duck-Goose in the National Mall.
The kids enjoyed this as much as any of the museums.

They didn't have to wait in line.

And they could be LOUD and not get shushed.

DO visit the National Zoo.
It's free. Did you know this? FREE!
(But they did charge TWO whole dollars for a map.)

DO hang out at the Gorilla exhibit and hope for
a chance to see the baby gorilla.
Because she is the cutest animal. Ever!

DO visit the Giant Panda exhibit, too.
Preferably when the pandas are eating.

I had no idea they could chew through bamboo this thick.
Impressive. And a little scary.

But DON'T drive to the zoo.
Especially on a Saturday.
Especially if you've slept in.
There will be no place to park.
You'll spend over an hour in traffic.
And then end up walking a mile and a half
with your six little munchkins to the entrance.
They'll be tired before they even get to see
their first animal. Not a great start to the day.

DO visit the National Museum of American History.
While there:
DO visit the Abraham Lincoln exhibit.
(Even better if your friend agrees to watch
five of the six kids for you, so the other adults
can actually enjoy it. Thanks, Christian!)

DO visit the first level "Invention at Play."
The kids LOVED that part.

DO check out the gowns of the First Ladies.
Even if your daughter, the Queen of dress-up,
gets bored waiting in line.

It was cool to see the different styles and sizes.

But DON'T eat lunch in the basement cafeteria.
The food costs a fortune and isn't that good.

And DON'T waste your money on the ride simulators
down there either. Andrew and Brandon tried the Grand
Prix racing one. Andrew said it felt like he was playing a
video game from several years ago. Not worth it.

DO visit the Air and Space Museum.
Also free. Was I the only person who didn't know this?
Lots of cool exhibits, some of them hands-on.

DON'T get overly excited about touching the moon rock.
It was actually just a teeny wedge of what felt like metal.
But we can say we've touched a piece of the moon!
Can you?

DO take cool pictures with lots of flags
and monuments in the background.
It makes you feel patriotic.
And that's a good feeling.

Overall, we HIGHLY recommend DC as a family vacation spot. We spent 2 1/2 days there, but would've loved to spend more time. There is so much to see! And almost everything is free. My vacation budget was loving that. Just make sure you bring your walking shoes. You'll need 'em.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Eye Candy

Here are some pics of my cute kids.

The three munchkins

Adorable little Caroline

Beautiful Whitney

Handsome-even-without-teeth Brandon

Isn't she too young for this???

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Three fun things to do in NC

We've done some new fun things lately and I thought I'd share. Because other people like to have fun, too. And who am I to hold them back?

1. The NC Zoo

Ok, this wasn't actually new to us, but it was Caroline's first visit. She is way into birds right now. Loves to point at them when she sees them flying about. So I was all excited to take her into the aviary.

She liked it, but wasn't as pumped as
I was expecting.
Brandon and Whit were ready to move on.

They were thrilled to find this new statue
of the dung beetle. (I think this artist is
still young at heart.)

"Those crazy kids."

They have a really cool carousel with giraffes,
gorillas, lions, etc.
Our kids chose....
the nest.
It did spin around.
Which was cool.

The closest we got to a family picture--
taken in the rearview mirror of the tram.

2. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Andrew and I have learned the hard way over the years that you get what you pay for. So when we heard that this museum was FREE, we didn't have our expectations set too high.

Wow. We were blown away. It rocked!

Help! We're being eaten by the fossilized jaws of
a giant shark!

They have a butterfly exhibit.
One of them got up close and friendly with Andrew.

Caroline did lots and lots of pointing and grunting.
Her favorite forms of communication.

This giant praying mantis is friendly...right?

Aaagh! Now the T-Rex skull is attacking!

We survived all the scary exhibits and would
go back in a heartbeat. Highly recommend it.

3. The Melting Pot

While Marianne was here, Andrew volunteered to watch the kids one night so we could go out. We debated between getting pedicures or going out for fondue. Our stomachs won.

It was 70's night at our local Melting Pot.
We hit the thrift store and tried to look
as groovy as possible. We decided a lot of the
styles that are in right now are 70-ish.
I could get away with wearing this shirt
on a normal day, right? Right?

We started off with appetizers. We dipped
bread and apples into the cheese of our choice.
It was made with beer.
We wondered if we needed to talk to our
bishops after that. Our waiter assured
us that all the alcohol burns off.
We took his word for it and wolfed it down.

Then salads with a crumbly cheese that
neither of us was too fond of.

Then the main course.
They bring it out uncooked.
(But they don't like the word "raw.")
And we got to cook it ourselves in our little pot.
(Ingenious! Let's make our customers pay big
bucks and make them cook their food themselves!)
Neither of us is a very adventurous eater.
They served ravioli, Ahi Tuna, shrimp, and BBQ pork.

We felt very brave when we tried the shrimp.
It was more like a dare than a meal.
I could only eat the one.
But the tuna and pork were surprisingly tasty!

But far and away my favorite part was...
the chocolate.
It was almost too pretty to eat.

Cheesecake + rice krispy treats + strawberries + chocolate=
two very happy and very full friends.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes--March

This has been kind of a rough parenting month. Lots of behavioral issues and power struggles. I think I was focused on the negative and missed out on a lot of the fun stuff, so OOMB is very short this month.

I think we've found the disciplinary tactic that's working for now, so hopefully next month will be better. :)

But I have taken a bazillion pictures that didn't belong in any other posts, so I'm just going to throw them in here.

Because they're too fun to go unshared.

3/5--While listening to a CD this afternoon, Whit made the comment, "This is my surviving music."
Me: "What's 'surviving?'"
W: Living out in the forest...and being cool.
I think her daddy has had some influence here.

Don't mess with me while I'm listening
to my surviving music.

3/6--We were driving around today for some errands and apparently Whit thought I was driving a little too fast. She said, "Mom, you're a fast poke. Not a slow poke. You need to get a yellow light. That means slow down!"

Someone call the fashion police.
We've got a clashing cowgirl on the loose.

3/9--Last year for Mother's Day, Whit made me a sweet little stepping stone with her handprint in it. I loved it! Well, she was trying to move it around outside and apparently dropped it. It didn't survive the fall. But rather than come in and talk to me about it, she decided to fix it herself. She sneaked into the office and grabbed the scotch tape. This is what I found outside:
Thanks for trying, sweetie.
But that just isn't going to work.

3/22--W was eating pretzels. She likes to bite off pieces of them and make different shapes. Today she took a circular portion of it, put it around one of her eyes and said, "I want a monocle!"
(Apparently that outdated eyewear was featured on Sid the Science kid. And, who knows, maybe that'll be the next great treatment for lazy eye!)

Whit's latest trick:
Blowing bubbles with her gum!
(How long 'till we find some in her hair?)

Care Bear's latest tricks:
Climbing the stairs

And beating her big bro at lightsaber duels.

3/30--The NC Zoo had two main sections--North America and Africa. As we were leaving there today, Brandon found 17 cents he had forgotten about in the cup holder of his booster seat. He said, "Aw, man! I wish I would've brought my money into the zoo. You can buy a lot with seventeen cents in Africa!"

The tooth fairy was just here...
and all B had left was a measly 17 cents.

And check out the beetles he's been digging up in the backyard:
They're huge!
He loves them.
They totally creep me out.

Caroline finally has enough hair to wake up
with bed head some mornings.
So cute!
I tried to put it up in a little pigtail:
Ok. We're not quite ready for that.
Better stick with the little hair bows.
(But she doesn't look convinced.)

She's tall enough to see out of the windows now:
She spends a lot of time watching. (and longing?)

Two last bonus pics of Care Bear because I
think she is just about the cutest 10 month old EVER!
And I'm totally not biased. Ha.