Saturday, January 28, 2012

National Harbor

Today, Mike, Chloe and I traveled across the bridge to visit the National Harbor.  I had been once before, but I had no idea how developed it is!  We had a great time and were able to enjoy many of the attractions offered by the area:

  • The Launch Zone area of the National Children's Museum.  Very cool; and FREE!  It's just a little place right now, as they are building a (what looks like it's going to be) wonderful children's museum set to open in 2013.  For now, they have a few exhibits and some really great activity tables.  I gather that the themes of these change from week to week. (Schedule is here)  Today, each table had represent a different artist, where you could learn about their style and do some experimental art.  This was the initial reason that we went to the harbor today, as LB is a budding artist of sorts!  She loved it, and her other favorite part was smelling the spices in the Middle Eastern exhibit (I'll post a clip below where you see her asking for "mo mell?" AKA "more smells?"
"Mo mell Daddy?"

Marble painting

Making a mobile

Chalking with Daddy, who is drawing a "man man" AKA "snowman"

Picasso style face

  • There are so many restaurants at the National Harbor, but we chose a quick and yummy one at Baja Fresh.  They had a nice kid's menu; Chloe enjoyed a quesadilla, rice, applesauce, and milk!  Mike and I have decided to go back and check things out at night for a date!
  • We also checked out "The Awakening" statue.  You may be more familiar with its other name: "Dude Emerging from the Ground"  It was fun to sit in the guy's mouth and tickle his giant toes. 

  • Grammy would be proud, because out next stop was the world's only Peeps Store!  Chloe thought the big peep was a "man man."

  • Lastly, we stopped in the Gaylord National Hotel, which is just beautiful.  Chloe loved the gardens and waterfalls, and Mike and I made a note the check and see if there are any deals to someday spend the night here!  (Maybe an extended date night?  Ah, one can dream!)
It took no time at all to get to the harbor on a Saturday morning.  There were a lot of folks there, but it was by no means too busy.  Parking was easy too.  This is definitely somewhere we'll be again!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tiny Tot Nature Program

Today, Chloe and I attended an awesome program at the Gulf Branch Nature Center in Arlington, VA.  It was honestly one of the best programs we have seen that is put on by a county service, and we have been to a few! 

It was called the Tiny Tot Nature program and was put on by the assistant naturalist at the center.  The theme for today was "Mr. Owl," as the center has an owl on site that they rescued with a broken wing last year.  The hour was packed with short, fun, and completely age-appropriate activities to keep everyone engaged.  We saw a short puppet show/story, sang an owl song, learned how owls fly (with scarves), heard owl sounds, did a craft, and even took a nature walk outside to see the owl and a few other outdoor highlights.  Wonderful!  The nature center also had several small reptiles and amphians and fish to look at, as well as a working beehive and the basement was full of an exhibit about Native Americans (complete with a large wooden canoe). 

So, from what I understand, they have these programs each Wednesday at 10:00 am.  They change activities from month to month, so you could attend each month and see a new class. And you don't have to be an Arlington County resident to attend, either, which is great. To register, click this link!

The downside: we had to be in Arlington at 10:00 am, the tail end of DC rush hour.  Ugh, I cannot stress enough what a HOT HOT HOT mess 495 is right now.  Also, 66 eastbound was no picnic.  Luckily, we did make it on time.  It was worth it though, really!

Flapping her owl wings

Owl picture, and yes, there are two moons, at LB's request

First glance at Mr. Owl

Playing peek-a-boo with one of the owl friends

Trying out the canoe


The cool, and mommy was so thankful the bees were behind glass.  Bee fear here, ugh!

One last glance at Mr. Owl before heading home!

Maybe we'll see you there next time!

"Mo Cweee?"

An important PSA from Dirt and Boogers (love the name): why messy play is important.  I hereby dedicate this post to the author of that blog!

Shaving cream fun:

Today, I slopped some shaving cream onto an old cookie sheet and we had some messy fun of our own!  Chloe loved the shaving cream, but what she loved even more was watching me squirt the cream out from the can.  Hence the name of this post, "Mo Cweee?" AKA "More cream?"

We drove a car through the shaving cream

And squished it

And put some blocks in it

And stirred it too!  You'll also notice a pine branch in this picture; we originally got the idea from Mommy and Me Bookclub's post about the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  I mentioned it previously and it is LB's favorite book this week.  In the book, Peter drags a stick through the snow to make tracks, and so, we dragged a stick through the shaving cream.  Fun!

Don't be afraid of the mess when it comes to this kind of exploration!!  It's usually a great learning experience,  Everything can be cleaned.  The author of the blog I mentioned above has some great ideas for easy clean-up and keeping the mess contained.  Let me know what you try, brave mommy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sticky Pictures

A Little Learning for Two gave us this fun rainy day idea...sticky window art.  We used contact paper taped to the door and, along with some toothpicks, we added some foam shapes too.  This was fun, and you can change the picture too.  I love activities that are taped to our sliding glass door because they can be left up for a few days and Chloe will go over and play with them from time to time.  (In the pictures you may see a bag of shaving cream and food coloring too; this is one of those such activities!)

Bath Time for Babies!

Thanks to Family Education for this fun pretend play idea: baby bath! 

We grabbed a laundry basket, some towels, washclothes, an empty shampoo bottle, and cups and cleaned some babies.  It's fun to see LB beginning to really understand role play. 

The two babies (and one kitty) have never been so fresh and so clean (clean)!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Use for Facebook?

I think I've found a *more* practical use for Facebook! 

Our family is all out of state.  It's been very important to us, since the beginning, to make sure that Chloe gets to know all of her family even though we don't see them every day.  Skype has been great, but we also like to look at photographs and practice the names of our family members.  With so many pictures on FB, they are right at our fingertips for easy practice!

Chloe LOVES her grandparents (and Brownie the cat)...check out her new skills!

Snow Day! (kinda?)

Chloe and I have been waiting for some winter weather. I know I might get some strange looks for that statement.  Don't get me wrong, I love mild temps too, but I also really appreciate when the weather matches the season. I don't want to drive in it or shovel it, I want a pleasant little coating so we can play outside and be cozy inside. Oh well, so, until we have some of the real white stuff, we've been doing some "snowy" craft activities with my little winter Picasso! 

First up, building with "snowballs," or giant marshmallows.  We tried to use little ones too, but Chloe knew you could eat those ones, so that's what she did.  Sticking with the big marshmallows worked nicely!

Next, some pretty snowflake paintings.  This was super easy.  All we did was make a snowflake pattern with some masking tape on cardstock, paint, let it dry, and remove the tape.  Voila, or as LB says, "WOOOOWWWW," you've got a snowflake painting!  Thanks to the little learners lounge for the cute idea!

We also took some time to read the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  It's a story about a little boy who wakes up a winter wonderland and makes the most of it!

And finally for this post, we made some "winter hats" out of cardboard, just like the one the little boy in the book wears.  I cut the shapes out of cardboard and then let LB "paint" the glue on the hat, and add pom poms, cotton balls, and yarn.  And we repeated the word "hat? hat? hat?" a lot. 

I found this great post from hands on: as we grow with 32 snowy day activities, so you can bet we'll be trying some more!  I'd love to try out some of the sensory stuff.  Take a look and let me know if you try anything out! 

And to all of you DC area snow-lovers...let's wear our pjs inside-out and backwards and flush those ice cubes for this weekend!!!  I hear talk of flurries!

Miss Wishy Washy

LB's newest obsession: standing on the chair and playing in the sink.  She points the the sink and says, "hands?" and then the tries to drag the chair over to the sink, repeating, "chair? chair?" and then almost always ends the routine with an adorable smile while saying, "peeee?" (please).  How can you resist? 

The other morning, I thought maybe she'd like to wash her dishes in some soapy water, so I filled up a bin and let her get to work!  She thought it was pretty fun, but we still ended up at the sink, on the chair, rinsing the dishes.  Regardless, it was a fun way to spend some time! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trip to Williamsburg

Mike and I decided to plan a little trip for the long weekend.  After researching a few overpriced locations, we settled on Williamsburg, VA.  Mike and I both love history, so we are hoping that maybe Chloe will too!  It was a really great trip for many reasons:

1.) The motel: Governors Inn.  It was clean and cozy with a free continental breakfast, and it was only 3 blocks from downtown and Colonial Williamsburg.  Completely walk-able!!  It was interesting staying in a motel with a toddler, but we brought some entertainment and the knowledge that we all might have to sleep in one bed (yeah, that happened) and hoped for the best!

Motel room fun

2.) The restaurants: 
  • We went to Retro's Good Eats for burgers and hot dogs on the first night.  It was quick, with yummy food, and a giant chalkboard to keep LB busy while we were waiting! 
  • For lunch, we headed to Aromas for some wonderful curried chicken salad sandwiches (and grilled cheese), as well as some much enjoyed Irish coffees for Mike and me! 
  • Dinner on Saturday evening was at The Trellis.  It was very fancy and the food was delicious, and we were able to entertain the entire restuarant when Chloe stood up and screamed "WOW!!!!!" when the fancy bread tray was delivered to the table. 
DISCLAIMER: Taking toddlers out is HARD WORK.  But if you do it in the right way, they'll learn how to go out to eat.  Don't bring them out when they're tired.  Bring snacks for before dinner arrives.  Bring coloring books, stickers, little books and toys, play games.  And just in my own humle opinion, don't give them the smartphone to play with all the time....they'll never learn how to be entertained without it! 

3.) Colonial Williamsburg was a little sleepy during winter time, but we were able to see all of the hotspots.  There is plenty of stroller parking, and even some fun farm animals to see.  And plenty of space to walk around too!

4.) It was our first "family" trip, just us!  We have been on a few trips with other friends and to see lots of family, but this was our first time going somewhere and having the whole time to ourselves.  It was a great way to have fun as a little family of three! 

I can't wait for our next family adventure!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Camp For Babies Day 1: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

I am so excited about this idea my friends had: Camp for Babies!

A bit of background: the mommy friends dropped the ball this winter and missed the day for swimming lessons sign-up.  Oh well, not to worry, because my friends are creative and came up with the plan that we'd rotate houses on Saturday mornings and have themed activities for our busy toddlers.  Genius, and a really great way to see our friends every week.  And, although swimming is fun, we don't have to go out in the cold with wet hair. 

Day #1 of CFB was at our friend Cate's house, and she and her mom, Ali, had a great idea for the theme of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  We donned some AWESOME new smocks, read the book, and did some painting.  There was even a very creative snack served...check out our pics! 

Thanks for the smocks, Ali!

Getting down to business, painting butterflies

Decorating a caterpillar

The caterpillar was here: holes in the fruit (made with straws)

Stay tuned for more CFB updates!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And Then the Rains Came...

Well, I guess since we had a chance to break in our new winter boots the other day, Mother Nature thought we'd better have the chance to break in our new rain boots as well!  (From Aunt Marissa, thank you, Chloe LOVES them, and not just when wearing them on her hands)

And, every once in a while, you need to say "yes" to something you normally wouldn't let your little bear do...file this under that category:

She took a bath immediately afterwards!  Rainboots officially christened!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Surprise Snow!

With the weatherman calling for chilly rain this afternoon, I had some fun indoor activities planned for after naptime (including folding laundry, LB's new fav), but, to our great surprise, we got some SNOW!  Enough to go outside and play!  When I went in to get her from her nap, I opened Chloe's shade and she started to jump up and down and yell, "No no no no," which of course, if you speak toddler, translates to "SNOW!"  We hurried downstairs and put on our warm clothes so we could go play.  Here's some pics!  It doesn't look like a lot, but it was coming down pretty good for a while, and sure was fun, especially when we got to play with Nolan!

And how can you not love this video of Chloe's first reaction to the snow?

Fun at Fair Oaks

This morning LB and I went to Fair Oaks Mall for some Monday morning entertainment.  It was a cold, dreary morning so some inside stuff was perfect for today.  We started out playing in the Looney Toons Train theme kids play area.  I like that the ground is soft, and the climbers are pretty squishy too.  They also close and clean it from top to bottom quite frequently (a must during cold and flu season).  It was kind of crowded, but still fun! 

Gotta give the birdie a hug

We then headed over to Chick-fil-a for their "Tot Time," featuring one of our favorite local singers, Oh! Susannah.  She performs at this location every Monday at 11 am- noon.  The music was lively as always, we ordered a yummy yogurt and fruit parfait, and put on our dancing shoes, of course.  Man, those waffle fries and shakes were calling my name, but we resisted.  Maybe next time. 

If you're happy and you know it shout, HOORAY!