Sunday, May 05, 2013

spring break in d.c.

For spring break this year we decided to stay with my brother Doug in Maryland and take the kids to D.C. while it was still relatively easy to do so. We left Sunday after church and had an uneventful drive down. The forecast had predicted snow and we worried we might run into it, but it didn't start until early Monday morning, so we were fine. Doug and Lesli had beds and cookies waiting for us when we arrived. 

Monday, because of the snow, my brother called into the meeting he'd had scheduled in Baltimore, Daniel had a snow day, and we all played around the house. Daniel got down any toy the kids asked for and they had a blast playing with balls, cars, legos, and board games. Anna asked for dolls and when Daniel produced some Star Wars and Indiana Jones action figures, she wasn't very impressed. She did however, love the legos (which was what she got for her birthday this week, but that's for the next post). After lunch we went sledding on a big hill across the street and had a wonderful time.

Lesli made us a delicious pot roast for dinner and I made brownies for Levi's birthday dessert. We put some candles in and sang and Doug and Lesli gave him a new teddy bear and a macabre book about dinosaurs that got lots of laughs that evening. That night, Daniel offered his bottom bunk for the kids to sleep in and they couldn't have been more excited. One of the very best parts of this whole trip was seeing the cousins interact and have fun together.

Tuesday, Doug and Daniel came with us and we all took the (completely overpriced) Metro downtown (I missed my $2 rides back in Boston). We spent the morning at the Air and Space Mueseum. Levi still talks about the propeller planes, rockets, and space shuttle. Anna liked the moon lander and seeing how astronauts work in space.

 We used to have an inflatable space shuttle (I admit to giving it away because I couldn't find anywhere to put it away) and Levi was enamored with this big space shuttle that was "just like mine."

After lunch we played on the mall as we crossed over to the National Gallery of Art to see this Pre-Raphaelite exhibit. Sam was kind enough to wrangle a tired Levi so I could see the whole exhibit. It was fun to see some of my favorite pieces from the Tate in London and to see some new ones. The landscapes and textiles were new pieces I hadn't seen before and especially liked.

Wednesday we went to the Natural History museum. We started at the dinosaurs. Anna had been very impressed at the fossils Doug had shown her on Monday and pointed out every single fossil she saw, and tried to match it with the pictures of the animals in the exhibits. Levi loved all the dinosaur skeletons and had fun recognizing species from dinosaur train and the later dinosaurs that looked more like the modern animals we have today.

After lunch we went to the gem exhibit and Anna was in heaven. Beautiful shining gems of every color of the rainbow, princess jewelry, and the magic that one mineral can make so many different colors! Levi liked the volcano rocks and anything that was huge or funny shaped. 

Thursday was the first day of Daniel's spring break so we took him to the National Zoo. I think we saw almost every single animal there. The big hits were the sea lions, otters, tigers, giant panda, and the amazon exhibit. The elephants were a bit of dud. My favorite part was seeing a big python shedding its skin. It was so neat to see it rub across itself to pull on the old skin which would pop off scale by scale for an inch or so, and then it would accordion up its muscles and do it again.

 Daniel was our photographer for the day and took photos of most of the animals we saw. He's got his mom's talent and eye. I think Anna and Levi enjoyed looking at his photos almost as much as actually being at the zoo. Probably because it involved Daniel paying lots of attention to them.

 Those trees were fake, but still really cool.

One big event of the day was during a potty break. I put Anna in one stall and went in one a few stalls down with Levi. As I finished, I heard a little scream and saw water flowing down the floor. I ran out to find Anna sobbing with her pants down, her panties soaking, boots wet, not knowing what to do. She said, "The water didn't go down the first time, so I kept flushing and flushing and it wouldn't stop!"

I stripped her down, threw away her panties, and put on one of Levi's diapers (the indignity of that caused another outburst of crying). Meanwhile, Levi tripped and fell into the puddle of water getting his hands all wet. I told him not to touch anything while I finished with Anna. The seat of her leggings was a little damp, but it was freezing cold outside, we'd just gotten to the zoo, and I knew the diaper would keep it off her skin, so I ran them under the hand dryer and just put them back. I gathered everyone to go scrub their hands when I saw Levi sticking his fingers in his mouth making faces in the mirror. (So gross). We all washed our hands about 5 times and then used hand sanitizer. Anna was still crying so I assured her she had done nothing wrong, gave her my coat, and we took a break for lunch. Thankfully, the rest of the day was uneventful, and Daniel assured me he was extremely happy about getting to go to the zoo.

Friday was our last full day and the warmest while we were there. We picked up Daniel's cousin (on the Summers side), Merrick, and drove in and parked along the Mall. It wasn't much faster than taking the Metro but it was a whole lot cheaper. We walked along from the Washington Monument to the WWII Monument (I was sad the fountains were off) to the Vietnam Memorial. After that we went over to where we had seen some food trucks and got lunch. We ate in a little plaza with a baseball statue and the kids had fun pretending to play baseball together. Anna was smitten with Merrick and did anything he did the whole day.

After lunch we went to the Lincoln Memorial and walked back along the reflecting pool to the car. Sam drove us up to the Natural History Museum and reparked. We saw the mammals exhibit and then went back to the gems because Anna wanted to show Daniel and Merrick the rainbow gems again.

 I asked for Doug or Sam to take a picture of the kids in front of the Lincoln Memorial while I ran to the restroom, and these two pictures are what I got.

After dropping Merrick off, I made some buttermilk pancakes for dinner and we had ice cream for dessert. Pancakes are a Summerstay favorite and I was glad to oblige. A week later, they used the rest of the buttermilk for a second batch which they assured me were "the best pancakes ever."

Saturday morning, Anna, Levi, and Daniel dyed Easter eggs. Lesli made hundreds of filled Easter eggs and some more friends and family came over for an Easter egg hunt. Anna and Levi had a blast and I was completely off the hook for planning or buying anything fun for Easter. Thanks Lesli! While all the kids were chowing down on their candy and jumping on the trampoline, Sam and I finished up packing the car and we were on the road by noon. After another beautiful and uneventful drive where we finished up Little House on the Prarie and started Little House in the Big Woods, we were home.

Thanks Doug and Lesli for hosting us! We had a marvelous time, and especially loved being with family and getting to play with Daniel who is the kindest, funniest big cousin a kid could ask for. Can he come visit us in TX? We'll take him to Schlitterbahn.