Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring Break, Part 3

We didn't sleep as long as I'd hoped (but I've been parenting long enough to know better than to hope to sleep long), but given it was (1) early and (2) chilly, Rhett was happy to stay in bed while I went running. I planned to just run on the hotel's treadmill, but I couldn't do it. I can't be in NYC and not run on the High Line! I was cold (I packed for an indoor run), but it was so worth it, as I'll find out later.

Saturday's Itinerary:
Dylan's Candy Bar
Central Park biking
High Line

I was so impressed Rhett knew this was the Flatiron building...until he told me it was in some video game. Ha.

Oreo pancakes for breakfast. Rhett had never been in a restaurant for breakfast, so that alone was a treat.

Another candy store.

It turned out to be such a lovely day! The park was crazy crowded, but it was still super enjoyable.

There was just enough time for a walk on the High Line. I could not get over how many people were there at 2 p.m. compared to my 7 a.m. run. I know: it's NYC. I should have known. But DANG. Next time it's the first thing we do in the morning.

We both had a really fun time. I gotta say, riding Amtrak was awesome! It was quieter than a regular car and had more space than a plane. We had a bit of anxiety getting on in New York, but a very nice woman gave up her seat so we could sit next to each other. I totally endorse taking the train.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring Break, Part 2

Every time we go downtown D.C., Rhett complains that there aren't any skyscrapers. So when I started thinking about his 10th birthday, I thought it would be fun if I took him on a special mom-and-10-year-old trip to New York City. Chuck doesn't really like it, and Ollie would have been really obnoxious. Plus, I generally like my kids more when it's just one-on-one. So we went! It was quick: we left early Friday morning on the train and returned Saturday night. But because NYC is all about walking, it's enough.

I really wanted him to pick the things we did. So I gave him some ideas and let him pick. Here's the itinerary for Friday:
Lego Store
Nintendo Store
M&M Store
Statue of Liberty (via the Staten Island Ferry, so just views from the boat)
Trinity Church (to see Hamiltons' graves because he's almost as big a fan as I)
Economy Candy (because, duh)

Raspberry M&Ms are delicious!

He's been playing Zelda a lot and apparently this is a villain from the game. On one particularly whiny stretch of walking, I had him explain the game to me. I remember none of it, but I did stop the whining (temporarily).

Although it was only 6, we were both happy to get to the hotel and finish the pizza in bed while watching TV. Perfection.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Spring Break, Part 1

Unless the governor changes his mind, this is the final spring break that is six school-days long. (Next year it's only four.) Given the length, we split it up into three parts: camping, relaxing at home, NYC (for me and Rhett, at least).

Because of Sunday responsibilities, we couldn't start camping on Saturday. We couldn't even start camping right after church due to meetings. So at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, we finally headed out for Rocky Gap State Park. It was only a two-hour drive, which meant we arrived at 6. I was nervous that we wouldn't find a spot (Shenandoah and the Smokies have really soured me on first-come, first-served policies), but I shouldn't have been: there was only one other camper in the 278-site campground. Ha. So we got the best campsite in the entire campground and were completely happy. A quick fire was lit and soon enough we were roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.

Some of us had nine marshmallows.

In the morning we hiked around the lake, a total of 5.3 miles. It was an easy (if not muddy and snowy in places) but long way to spend the cold time.

By the time we got back to our campsite, we were all ready to sit and relax. So we did! We lit a fire and hung around it for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I have a few burn holes in my pants, sweatshirt, and hat as evidence of the fire. We also had a game of pine cone baseball. Oh, and plenty of tree climbing happened.

Tuesday morning we took a short nature walk and then headed home to five loads of smoke-stained laundry! Only one more state park to go!

Note #1 about off-season camping: For some dumb reason, our spring break was the week before Easter this year, and therefore earlier than most other counties in Maryland. Dumb. It meant that most of Maryland's state parks were not camping-ready until the end of the week. But, we got lucky in that one of the two (!) parks that we've yet to visit was the only one with year-round camping. What they failed to make clear is that during the "off-season," there are few amenities. Yes, we had electricity, so that was good. But the bathrooms in each camp loop? Closed! I had to drive to the (closed) camp store and use the (NOT LIT) bathrooms. The first night, I didn't bring any lights and it was pretty much the scariest thing that ever happened to me, so I drove back and made Chuck come with me. After that I got smarter.

Note #2 about off-season camping: Because Mother Nature must be sleeping or very angry, spring has yet to come. It was COLD. But it's exactly why I love having the Scamp! There's no way I would have camped with two boys in that weather (down to the 30s at night). Each night we cooked dinner on the fire, but then retreated to the Scamp for reading and sleeping. In the mornings before the sun warmed the earth, we ate breakfast and got ready inside the warm Scamp. Hiking in 40-degree temps was fine because we were prepared (jackets, hats, and gloves!). But I'm so grateful to be inside with a heater. Even if it means we're cheating or just plain babies.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Snow Day

Although we've had four snow days, not one included actual snow. But finally, in meteorological spring, we got real snow! And on Rhett's birthday! It was very exciting.

Our first trip out for sledding was late morning. For some reason, they didn't last too long. And we didn't take pictures because it was still snowing fairly hard. But it was still fun. Man, I love the snow tube.

After lunch, we watched a movie: Coco. Then it was time to go back outside. I worked on the shoveling (the snowblower we inherited didn't work!), and the boys headed to the backyard to use the brick molds we got two years ago but haven't had enough snow to use yet. Both boys were quickly distracted by the backyard neighbors, so they disappeared to play there. Ollie came back a little while later and helped Chuck finish the shelter they started. It collapsed before our bedtime. And the next morning, Ollie went out in footed-pjs and snow boots to jump on the ruins. Kids!

He wanted an action shot of him shoveling. Which wasn't actual shoveling, but just moving snow from one spot on the brick to another.

After Rhett finished at the neighbor's house, I convinced him to take one more sledding trip. I'd love to send the boys by themselves, but man, there are just so many trees! I'm terrified they're going to hit one and then be paralyzed. So I go. But man, they have fun.

For me, March snow is the best snow. I'm fairly confident that by Saturday it will all be gone! Perfect!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Rhett's 10th Birthday

And then he was ten. Although we were prepared for the snow storm, it's still not usual in late March. So it was a really fun thing for Rhett to get a snow day on his birthday. The snow hadn't accumulated in the early morning, so we spent the time opening presents, making his cake, and playing video games.

The cake is all rice krispie treats. The top layer is a peanut butter/chocolate/butterscotch. It sounds better than it tastes. It just got so hard. The middle layer is a regular one. And the bottom is a mint Oreo. It's also my favorite of those three.

Rhett with his birthday haul. Caps pillowcase from Ollie (even if I paid for and sewed it), rollerblades, ukulele (I'm hoping he and I will learn together), a video game, a few nutcrackers, and, of course, Nugget. Not pictured: some cash and clothes.

We broke down and had "cake" after lunch.

For dinner, Rhett chose to have a "mystery menu." Which means Chuck and I make a menu with coded items and the boys chose their "courses" without knowing what they are because they're in code. Rhett made me take pictures of each course for posterity. And if I'm forced to take the pictures, I might as well post them.

Course 1

Course 2
Ollie was understandably not happy with his course (on the left).

Course 3

Course 4

It really was a fun and special birthday for our 10 (!) year old. (The snow pictures will be another post. )

Monday, March 26, 2018

West Wing Tour

I recently helped a neighbor with some statistical software programming for a class of his. In return, he offered to take my family on a tour of the West Wing, where he happened to work. Um, YES. At the time, I didn't realize that, "the only way to experience a West Wing Tour is by invitation from the White House or through a personal connection to a White House staffer willing to lead you on an after-hours tour." But once I learned that, um, DOUBLE YES. I just had to ignore the fact that it was Trump's office.

We had a bit of a traffic problem, so didn't get there early enough to see something else, but instead we got there too early to just go straight to the White House. Plus, it was kind of rainy and really cold. So we played with funny pictures of the Washington Monument.

Once we were allowed in, we got to see the Navy Mess (where they eat), the Rose Garden, the Cabinet Room, the Oval Office, the Roosevelt Room, and the Press Briefing Room. We couldn't take pictures inside, so if you want to see some, look here. We did get some from the outside.

Tour start

Press Briefing Room

After the White House, we briefly toured the Executive Office Building, which houses the office of the Vice President.

This floor!

Now I'm thinking we should do a regular White House tour, but contacting my senators seems like a lot of work, so...probably won't.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Outside with Nugget

Bearded dragons, being creatures of the desert, really love the sun and natural UV lights. When a recent Sunday was in the 50s (the warmest we've had since February) and was totally sunny, we brought Nugget outside for some adventures.


Nugget did well. He didn't run away and was kind to the neighbor kids who showed up and wanted a look. If the snow melts and spring actually comes, we'll do it again.