Friday, October 30, 2015

Our trip to Washington, D.C. - Captain's Log, Week 288

Last weekend we went to Washington DC for the very first time! The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was holing a conference there, and since pediatrics is one of the specialties Jason is most interested in, and since the conference was free for students, we decided to go and make a family trip of it.

Neither Jason or I had ever been to Washington, D.C. before, so we were excited to see all the monuments. And it was so fun!

We left about 7 am on Saturday morning and drove on up. It's about a five hour drive, so we got there just after noon. We parked in the city and walked to the conference center, where we were able to attend the conference's big product expo thing. That was fun! It was a bunch of companies showing off their products and services and giving out lots of free stuff. We got a bunch of kid-specific snacks for the girls (remember, it was a pediatric conference), free kid toothbrushes, chocolate-flavored kid medicine, and more. Geico had a booth there with a guy dressed up like a gecko. Ellie loved him and kept wanting to go see him again. He would tease her as she got closer. At that booth we got a little gecko stuffed animal that Zelda loves and has insisted on carrying around and sleeping with since the conference.

Zelda: "This is my lizud."
Jason: "Oh, that's your lizard?"
Zelda: "No, this is my gecko."
Jason: "Oh, it's your gecko."
Zelda: "No, it's a lizud."

After spending a couple hours at the expo, we drove back across the Potomac to reach our hotel in Virgina. (It was cheaper to stay there than in the city, but it wasn't a far drive at all.) The girls thought staying in our hotel was a great adventure.

We had this big bag of wintogreens we brought for the trip, and Ellie was trying to earn them in various ways that night. One time she wanted one and I told her to name five things she liked about Daddy. Her immediate response, counting on her fingers, was "Raking, reading books, playing with toys, playing with the computer, and looking in the mirror."

We had dinner at Panera Bread across the street (first time I've ever eaten at Panera Bread, to tell you the truth), then came back and went to sleep. Every night we were there we went to bed at about 8 or 9 o'clock, because if we didn't go to sleep when the girls did, they weren't going to sleep.

The next morning we got up, had the "continental breakfast" at our hotel (an apple and a packaged muffin) and drove back into the city. We parked along Constitution Avenue and walked over to the Lincoln Monument. It was what I most wanted to see in the city, and it was awesome. 

Afterwards we walked down all the stairs and played at the reflection pond.

From there we walked back through the park, saw the Vietnam War memorial, and then drove up to the Zoo. The National Zoo is free (like everything else at the Smithsonian), and you just walk straight in! We started with the zebras and the cheetah and walked on down past the fishing cat to the bird house. The birds were really cool and we spent a while there, then sat down outside for a snack.

(Zelda's faces crack us up. These pictures were taken one right after each other.)

We then kept walking and saw the elephants, the small animal house (lots of cute animals in there), the gorillas and the orangutans, the reptile house (both girls really liked that; Ellie was especially impressed by the anaconda), and the tigers and lions.

Looking at the lions (they were being really active and roaring and playing):

After we saw the lions we took the free shuttle back up to our car. We drove Jason to the conference center and dropped him off (he was going to the presentations that afternoon), and then I tried to get us back on the freeway to go back to our hotel. Tried. Thanks to missing *one* turn, the girls and I took a twenty minute adventure through the one-way streets of the city to get back to the on-ramp we needed. Sigh. We got to see some more of the city, though!

The girls and I hung out at the hotel room for the rest of the afternoon (they watched lots of shows on my computer and I took a nap) until Jason got back (he took the metro home).

When we first got to the hotel, we told our girls that the room we were in was our bedroom in the hotel. After we'd been there for a couple hours after we got back from the zoo, Ellie said to me: "Mom, let's not spend the whole day in the bedroom. Let's go to the hotel toy room." And we had a conversation and it came out that she thought that there was a hotel toy room, and a hotel kitchen, and a hotel everything we have in our house, just there at the hotel. 

Later, Jason was still at the conference but called us and told us that he was coming home. Ellie said to him: "But - you don't have a car, Dad. You are lost."

Then we had chipotle for dinner, and went to sleep.

The next morning we got up, drove into the city, and went to the Museum of Natural History. We went straight up to the second floor, because that's where they had the butterflies and the insect zoo. You had to pay to go into the butterfly exhibit, so just Ellie and I went in while Jason took Zelda straight to the insect zoo.

Ellie loved the butterflies, and so did I. There were so many - hundreds - and they were so pretty and flying all around us.

After we saw the butterflies we met up with Jason and Zelda at the insect zoo, where we got to see a live demonstration of a tarantula being fed by one of the museum workers. (It was a guy that was talking to all the kids about the tarantula, and he (the guy) had long black hair. When he asked the kids if they had any questions, one of the little boys raised his hand and asked "Are you a boy?")

After we saw all the cool insects (they had some really big ones!) we looked at the dinosaur bones and then went down to the big ocean exhibit.

We were pretty hungry after we'd seen all the natural history museum, so we decided to head over to the National Air and Space Museum and get lunch there.

(It was a little bit cold. Zelda rode in Jason's jacket. This is how she felt about it.)

We ate at McDonalds inside the building and then explored all the airplanes and rockets and everything they had at the air and space museum. It was really cool! The girls loved the rockets and airplanes.

This is the actual Spirit of St. Louis:

From there we walked across the park to the sculpture garden. The girls stopped to play in the dirt in front of the Capitol building:

Then, right after we finished the sculpture garden (which turned out to have a lot of weird, modern art sculptures), we saw a WHITE SQUIRREL! FOR REAL!


A. White. Squirrel. :D

The girls and I dropped Jason off at the conference center again (he had more presentations that afternoon) and went back to the hotel for the rest of the day. We had dinner at Panera Bread again, and turned in for the night.

The next morning we went to the White House! We parked just south of it on Constitution Avenue and then walked up the ellipse until we were right in front. It was cool to see it!

While we were there we were surrounded by a big Japanese tourist group, and one old Japanese lady came up and took a picture of Zelda. It made us laugh.

We had a great time in Washington D.C. :) We drove back on Tuesday after seeing the White House and walking across to the Washington Monument. The rest of our week has been pretty chill; we carved pumpkins today (I'll post tomorrow) and finished up Halloween costumes. We're excited for Halloween tomorrow!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Captain's Log, Week 287

It's been a good week here! Jason finished this rotation; he did his presentation on Tuesday and turned in his research paper the next day. We also went to the library with the girls (Zelda requests to go practically every day) and played outside when the weather was warm enough. We also got new car! (Well, new to us.) It's a 2001 Ford Explorer; we got it because with Jason's schedule for the next year, it's the only way the girls and I will be able to leave the house during the day when he's at work.

Here are some pictures from this week. It's really looking like fall around here!

Zelda wanted to put this Anna dress on one day (she loves dress up) and wore it for hours. She said she was "Elsa." 

Ellie wanted to take some pictures. She took this of me as I was helping her steady the camera:

 How we found the girls one night:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Family Farm and Pumpkin Patch - Captain's Log, Week 286

A stack of flowers Ellie gave me.

What the girls said this week

Ellie took the salt shaker and was playing with it on the couch. After a couple minutes she took the lid off, and the salt spilt all over the cushion. Right after that - Ellie: "Um, Mom, I made a mess, but I forgive you. I made a mess, but I forgive you."

Ellie scratched her leg while we were playing outside, so I brought the box of bandaids out to her and she put one on. Then she brought me the bandaid wrappers and handed them to me. I set them on the grass next to me, but then on second thought I tried to hand them back to her.
Me: "Ellie, can you throw these in the trash for me?"
Ellie, looking thoughtfully at the wrappers on the grass, which were moving a little bit in the wind: "Just let it blow away."

What we did this week

We had several really fun days this week. Like I mentioned in our last Captain's Log, it was pretty rainy for days and days and days up until the middle of last week. On Friday we took advantage of the good weather and went to Naylor Family Farms and Pumpkin Patch. (And it was good we went that day, because Saturday was cold and rainy again!)

We went to Naylor Farms last year and loved it, and we had a blast again this year!  We started with the animals by feeding the goats (and cows, which were HUGE), chasing the chickens around trying to catch one (that was all Zelda), and looking at the pig, calf, and horse (which a little girl informed me was named Michael, and her mom whispered to me that no, it wasn't, her daughter named everything Michael).

Then we took a hay ride over to the pumpkin patch (through the woods, behind the corn maze).

They have some "spooky" stuff as the hay ride goes through the woods, like a big furry spider that drops down on the tractor and a ghost that swoops overhead. It's really mild, and Ellie loved it. Zelda did not like it.

Ellie and Zelda got to choose pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.

After looking,

and looking,

and looking,

Ellie found one.

Ellie had a pretty sweet set up on the way back. Even though the trailer was full of people, since she was in the front corner she had enough space to face forward and watch where we were going through the slats.

When we got back to the main part of the farm, the girls went on a barrel ride. (Zelda only lasted a minute before we pulled her off, but Ellie went all around and around with the rest of the kids.)

Then we did the jump pad:

And the sand tower:

And the corn maze!

Next we played in the "corn crib," a little wooden building absolutely full of loose corn. I love that room! It feels so nice to sit in.

Apparently I'm not the only one who think the corn feels strangely relaxing. Zelda kept lying down in it (and told me to lie down too), and then told me she wanted her blankie. 

 After the corn crib we all went on the big slide and then Zelda went on the swing:

While Ellie went down the big slide several more times:

Our last activity of the night was jumping on the jump pad again:

By then end, we were pooped:

We went home and had dinner and then the girls went to bed.

So that was Friday; Saturday was wet and rainy, Sunday we went to church and had a practice for the primary program (Ellie was great at saying her line, but had a reaaaaalllly hard time sitting in her chair), I honestly don't remember what we did on Monday and Tuesday other than I know Jason worked on his paper for school and rebuilt this little path in the backyard, and then Wednesday was my birthday!

My birthday was such a nice day. We drove up to Barnes and Noble in the morning, and Jason watched the girls in the kid section while I got to walk all around and get ideas of books I want to read. Afterwards we went to this yummy Mediterranean food place close by, and then came home. I spent most of the rest of the day reading, while Jason and Ellie made a lemon cake and then read outside in the grass while the girls played and Jason restored our headlights.

Here's a before and after of our headlights; Jason used a "headlight restoration kit" to do it and they look amazing now! Like new!

And that was our week! I hope you have a great weekend!