trips

tourists

On Saturday we decided to play tourist and go into the city and visit the Natural History museum. Bridget requested a “dinosaur museum” and we hadn’t been in a while.

When we travel, I go to great lengths to not stick out as a tourist. If I need a phrase book, I keep it in my purse and study it at night, in a bathroom stall or try and hide it under the table. If we need a map, I try and be discreet (I really like the Moon Metro series, btw). I just want to blend in. I spend a lot of time in the summer annoyed by tourists on the Metro and I don’t want to be the same thing to another person. 

However, this weekend I decided that this was totally silly and whipped out the camera on the mall to snap some photos of Brendan and Bridget with the Capitol in the background. After all, we were surrounded by tourists and no one knows that we live just across the river. Plus if anyone asked, we could always pretend to be from Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Ohio. No problem. A nice lady even asked if we wanted our picture together. Sweet. 

The museum was a total hit. Once we got to looking at stuff, that is. By the time we got bags packed with diapers and lunches and the camera and the kids into the car and to the Metro station and finally to the museum we all had to hit the restroom and John was hungry. Note to nursing moms, there’s a quiet spot next to the IMAX theater entrance with a single bathroom (and changing table and chair!) and benches outside. While I nursed, Bridget let loose to the totally awesome muzak that was playing:

And then, the rest of us decided we should get some lunch. So it was down to the cafeteria to eat the food we brought with us.

Now, finally, we were ready to see the museum. Bridget declared it “the best museum I ever saw.”

almost

 

It’s almost time to take our annual trip up to the cottage. Unfortunately, it won’t be  as long as we’d like but leave needs to be saved up for after the little man arrives. All three of us are really looking forward to it.

happy father’s day

For Father’s Day this year I told Brendan that we could go to Gettysburg and I wouldn’t complain. The Civil War has never been interesting to me in anyway. I understand the historical significance, but it seems that people who are into the Civil War are really into it. It’s all about tactics and troop movements and so forth. Brendan at least has a family connection — his Great Great Grandfather fought with the Pennsylvania infantry. He’s researched it pretty well, so we had some specific markers to see. I can appreciate that. For me, it was an opportunity to practice taking some photos.

We didn’t leave here until about 10:30, so we only ran into rain in the car. Bridget did really well. The new Visitor’s Center is pretty impressive, and she made it through the 20 minute film (her first!) pretty well. She was a little antsy at the beginning and the end. She and I did not make it through the Cyclorama.

Brendan liked it, but it was just a little much for her.

A trip to the gift shop later (audio tour, lolipop, and book) it was off to the battlefield.

It was pretty windy, but that helped it not seem so hot. We hit more than half of the auto tour on the first afternoon. Admittedly, I was getting a little tired of it near the end and got pretty close to complaining (according to some people), but since it was getting close to dinner time, things all worked out.

We made sure to get photos of the markers for Brendan’s Great Great Grandfather’s unit the first day since the light was cooperating. The GPS really came in handy at this point. Bren looked up the data on the internet before we left home and uploaded it onto the Garmin. We were able to know exactly where they were instead of having just a vague idea and not really knowing exactly what we were looking for.

Bren scored us a great deal on a room at the Wyndham. We ended up in the handicapped room which had its plusses and minues. On the plus side there was plenty of room. Even with two queen beds, there was a ton of space to walk around. On the minus side, the bathroom was a little problematic. The shower didn’t have any division from the rest of the bathroom so water just went everywhere. There were two drains, but the water never really made it into them. It was possible to get to the toilet without stepping in the puddles.

For Bridget, the best part of the whole trip was the hotel pool. She was pumped about it the whole day. So after dinner we got her dressed in her little floaty-suit and headed to the pool. She did a pretty good job understanding what Bren was telling her when it came to sort of learning how to swim. Our plan to just wear her out so she’d fall asleep easily worked pretty well. As she was settling in she said, "This is a good hotel, Mom." However, she didn’t sleep in as we had hoped. She was still up at 6:15 the next day.

On Sunday, we started out at the Devil’s Den since it was really crowded on Saturday afternoon. We knew Bridget would have a good time on the rocks, and it was another good spot to practice photos.

At the Pennsylvania monument, we discovered that the names of all those who served with Pennsylvania have their names on the monument. Since Brendan had done his research, we knew just where to look.

Bridget found the stairs that lead all the way to the top immediately. She got to go up twice — once with me and half-way down we ran into her dad so up she went again. I think it’s safe to say that the girl is not afraid of heights.

All in all, it was a much better trip for me than I was expecting. I thought I’d be bored out of my mind, but I wasn’t for the most part. There was generally something to keep me interested. Bridget behaved pretty well. She understood that we’d be getting in and out of the car a lot and the out was enough for her to run around and there were things that were interesting to her. And it also helps that she can get herself up into her seat. I think Brendan had a good time too and really, that’s what this trip was about.

[All photos are in the gallery]

be mine

I’ve never been a really big Valentine’s Day person. I’m not an anti- person, either. I’m more ambivalent about the whole thing. We usually don’t do much. I might get Brendan a card — some years I do, some years I don’t (didn’t this year). He might get me a card or he might just show me one in the store to read or he might not at all.  One year we went to Richmond because it fell on a weekend and the trip was mostly good, but there were some details that didn’t exactly work out and they are best not put in writing here. 

This year we headed out to IKEA for a special one day deal on sheets (just $10!).  Things were a little more crowded than we expected. Apparently they opened an hour early for people to get in line. So we got our coupon that guaranteed us a set and walked around a bit. Just when we were getting close to the linen section, the line was moved around so we had an opportunity to jump in without anyone really noticing that we weren’t there the whole time. So that worked out well. 

Then Brendan told us that he had a special surprise planned. So off we went down 95 to Fredericksburg. We had lunch at Sonic (for me) and then we spent some time at Fun Land (for Brendan and Bridget). I had fun there, too (they had Galaga). Bridget adored the games where you pull a lever and then push a button. She’s going to be a big slots fan when she gets bigger! 

It was a good day. 

Ravens Fans Now Cardinals Fans

Long lost brothers?

So, we went to witness the Steelers take care of business against the Ravens in-person yesterday (pictures and video coming soon can be found in the gallery and on the YouTube page). In a word: Fantastic! We froze our butts off, but it was totally worth it. I debated going to last week’s game, but decided to take a chance and sold my tickets just in case the AFC Championship game would be played in Pittsburgh. I have no voice right now.

 It was a great game for us. The offense did its job, and there should be no debate about who has the best defense in the NFL. 

Jess put it best: The Ravens offense was wearing black and white.

And that really does describe it. Aside from a long punt return, then a b.s. pass interference call, and a shanked punt, then another b.s. pass interference call, the game wasn’t nearly as close as the score made it out to be. I’m sure I’ll have more comments after watching again on the DVR, but the key things I remember thinking was that we held on to the ball (except for the one fumble, but that didn’t amount to anything for the Ravens, as they turned it over on downs), got in Flacco’s face and forced mistakes, and didn’t allow any big plays. I was, however, horribly disappointed in the final drive of the first half. Terrible clock management, and terrible hands by Limas Sweed. He sort of made up for it with the block on Corey Ivy, though (maybe there will be a "bounty" on his head next year, ooooooh scaaaaary).

I will say that I hope McGahee makes a full recovery. From what I hear, he’s going to be fine. It did kind of put a downer on the end of the game, though. I hope Clark doesn’t get a "bounty," either.

So go ahead, jump on the Cardinals bandwagon, haters. You’ll have all year to be bitter about your third loss in a row to a superior team.

I won’t even talk about how dumb the Ravens name is, but I will link to this article.

I think Jess will post later about the trip itself, but I wanted to get some initial thoughts in. Bill, feel free to leave the obligatory comment about the refs or whatever other excuse you can think of to try to use.

busy summer

We had a pretty busy summer. Not only did we go to C’ville, but we also went on our trip to the Poconos, Ocean City and the Cottage. Each trip was not long enough, but fun.

  • The Poconos trip was originally supposed to include all the Muskoxen, but it ended up just being us and Keith and Shade’ with a few days with Kate and Vince, too. The photo above was from my favorite part, the Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park. It was quite literally one of the most striking things I have ever seen. Mostly, we just chilled.
  • The trip to OC was more spur of the moment. We ended up staying not too far away from where I always stayed as a kid. Not a whole lot has changed, so we hit a few spots: Trimpers, Marty’s Playland, Assateauge and of course, the beach. Not too many photos because I mostly just wanted to enjoy the moment and I just didn’t feel like it!
  • Our annual trip to the Cottage was later than usual this year, but we got to visit with Brendan’s brother and his family who were up from Texas. The kids had a ball. In addition to all our regular activities, we went on a Safari and to Nelson’s Ledges (shown above).
  • All in all, it’s been a good few months.

    apparently

    Let:

    j = size of jessica’s stuff
    b = size of brendan’s stuff
    m = size of misc stuff
    c = capacity of eight passenger vehicle
    x = size of bridget’s stuff

    So:

    c = j + b + m + x

    Suppose:

    m = 1 person capacity
    j = 2 person capacity and
    b = 2 person capacity…

    That means that x (aka Bridget) is = 3!!

    it really didn’t feel like we were packing all that much. no wonder my parents used to take two cars when all 6 of us went downeoshun for two weeks!

    exterminator

    I think my favorite story from our C’ville trip happened at Monticello. We had just come through the "all-weather passageway" and Bridget, Brendan and I were waiting for Anne to use the facilities. Bridget, as she often does, noticed a big old ant crawling around on the brick path. She crouched down and watched it for a few minutes. Some high schoolers who were on a group trip gathered near her and commented on how adorable she is. Then, right on cue, Bridget stood up, sized up the ant, lifted her foot and stomped on it. "I GOT IT!!!" She yelled "SQUISH ANT!!" Too perfect.

    hot & bothered

    Today, we went to Monticello. And boy, was it hot. For the most part, there was at least some sort of a breeze, but when the air completely stopped it was almost unbearable. We had wanted to get an earlier tour than the 9:55 we had ended up with, but our efforts to purchase tickets online were unsuccessful. SQL error messages and no phone number to call to buy in advance.

    The grounds were quite pretty; however, there wasn’t as much to see as say Mount Vernon. The tour of the house went quite well. Bridget was very good for the most of it, and about halfway through, we took her out of her stroller and carried her. Between Brendan, his mom and I we had plenty of hands. In the very last room (we didn’t know that at the time), the Madison bedroom, she got a little fussy and made like 30 seconds of noise.

    Well, that was just unacceptable to some Monticello old-lady employee.

    She popped her head in the room and said, "Does she need to go out." I said, "No, it’s alright. She’ll be fine." and then she said "Why doesn’t she come out, come with me." and I said again, "She’ll be fine." And she was fine but this woman was majorly pushy. I know it probably doesn’t sound like it, but she was giving me the disapproving eye like she somehow knew better.

    Whatever lady.

    And seriously, two minutes later our guide was leading us outside. I mean, she made it through 6 other rooms… I was pretty damn annoyed. I understand that they need to think of all the people on our tour, but it was literally longer to tell this woman that we were fine where we were than Bridget was "fussy".

    I would definitely go back though. The house was interesting and the grounds were very nice. It’d be something to see in the fall. I’m not about to let one sourpuss ruin the experience.

    Bridget is an incredibly good little traveler.

    hot visit

    We decided on a whim to drive down to Charlottesville this weekend. On the way, we stopped off at the Wilderness battlefields to where Brendan’s great-great-great grandfather was wounded. Obviously, he lived, but it’s quite amazing. He got shot in the chest and made it all the way to the hospital in Alexandria.

    The drive through the country was really pretty. I honestly want to live in an old farmhouse somewhere. Brendan, not so much.

    We spent a little time at the downtown mall, had lunch, did some shopping, took Bridget to the Children’s Discovery Museum and had gelato.

    First of all, the gelato was AWESOME. I had a scoop of rose and a scoop of blood orange. Amazing. Brendan had raspberry and chocolate hazelnut. Brendan’s mom had strawberry and dulce de leche. Bridget had a little of everything but preferred the strawberry and the rose.

    The Children’s Discovery Museum was a lot of fun. It was only $4.00 per adult ($3.50 with our AAA discount). Since it was so crazy hot, it was so nice to get out of the sun, and let Bridget run around and play with a bunch of fun stuff that we didn’t have to clean up.

    After we checked into our hotel, we took a short drive (2 minutes) to the UVA campus and got some T-Shirts at the bookstore and walked around. It’s apparently a big alumni reunion weekend, and they were setting up a dinner around the rotunda, so we didn’t get any photos — we’ll have to do that tomorrow morning. We’re heading out early to Monticello, a winery (or two) and who knows what else before we go home.

    We grabbed some dinner at a little Italian place right near our hotel, and then spent some time cooling off in the hotel pool. (Mom, you will be so happy to hear that Bridget says swim pool with a nice little southern accent.) Bridget LOVED the pool, and did not want to hold onto anyone; however, she does not know how to swim. I totally understand why kiddie pools exist now.

    She’s fast asleep in the bed now while we wait for the DC United vs. Chicago Fire game to start.

    Disclaimer.

    Brendan joined the party on January 2, 2004. He's cool now.

    Jessica has never been cool. She is OK with that.

    And just so everyone is clear, what we say here is not endorsed by either of our employers.