Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Whispering, Shouting, and Adventuring at the Building Museum

One of the amazing perks of being a "mom blogger" in the Northern VA area is that there is a great network of people out there.  There is always someone to get advice or ideas from, make playdates with, and new friends to make.  Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a local bloggers event, NovaLive.  It was put on by the fabulous Micaela from supernovamommy and Andrea from Real Housewives of Northern Virginia to benefit the charity Mission Sleep.  I met many ladies who I have followed for a long time online, and it was so nice to finally put faces to blogs! 

Recently, I discovered the blog Whispers and Shouts, a witty, funny, and down-to-earth blog written by Dawn, the mom of two adorable twin boys.  I love her outlook on life's ups and downs, and her take on the hilarious things her toddlers do and say.  She also blogs about her adventures in the DC area (sound familiar)?  I was so excited to meet her and find out that she was following me too! 

This weekend, she invited us to go back to the National Building Museum.  On Monday morning, we met up in DC with Dawn and her sweet kiddos, Calvin and Clark, and we were also joined by their friends, Angela and Andrew.  We had a nice time, and I am so thankful that the blog networking has allowed me to meet such amazing people.  Thank you so much Micaela and Andrea!  Here are some fun pictures from our trip:

Checking out the fountain

Chloe and Calvin showing off their architectural smarts

Building Zone

Once again, loving the doll house.  I think we have an idea for a birthday gift!
Can't wait to do it again sometime soon, Dawn!

Natural History Fun

As you've seen in the last few post, my parents were down visiting from NY last week.  Their original plan was to leave on Saturday, but I suspect that they just couldn't get enough of SOMEBODY in this house.  So, they decided to stay another night, and this gave us the chance to go into the city and check out the Natural History Museum. 

We didn't really take into consideration (oops) that the museum, and downtown in general, might be super-busy because of the holiday week.  After a tricky parking situation, we finally made our way to the museum.  It was very busy inside too, but there were plenty of places for us to move and run around. 

I had taken LB here last spring to see the butterflies, but we hadn't been back since then.  Chloe loved checking out the animals in the mammal exhibit (which makes me excited to take her back to the zoo) and she also though that the butterflies were pretty cool.  Although, once one landed in her hair, she procalaimed that she was "all done."  All in all, it was a fun trip and we were able to see everything we wanted to see. 

Looking at the hippo with Grammy

Oh you know, just pressing buttons!


Taking a peek at the otters

Chloe loved this little tunnel.  The best part was when some middle schoolers packed in it to be funny and she let out a war-cry  that scared them all into running away.  It was awesome. 

Searching for butterflies, or, "boooooouyyys?" as we call them in the business!

One of the pretty butterflies!

Dulles Town Center = Day Saver!

LB was feeling much better, so she and I planned a nice little outing with Grammy and Nonno last Friday.  We watched the weather forecast and everything looked great for an outing to Frying Pan Farm Park, so we jumped in the car and went on our merry way...merry, that is, until the big raindrops began to plop on our car when we were almost there.  Weathermen!  Seriously! 

I racked my brain for something that we could do instead, but since we were already quite a ways down the parkway, I wasn't too familiar with the area.  However, I did recall reading somewhere that Dulles Town Center had a nice play area for kids.  I gps-ed (that's totally a verb, right?) it and we headed over. 

I hadn't been to this mall in years, and even then, I had only been there once, so I remembered very little about it.  It's a really nice mall!  They had a great play area for kids modeled after an airport.  They also had...duh duh duh....a CAROUSEL!  Chloe stood straight up in her stroller yelling, "ride, ride, ride!" when she saw it.  I do know that there are some kids shows at the mall during the week sometimes, and I have been informed by the mom of another fishy lover (Jessie and Taylor) that there is an awesome fish tank in the Nordstroms kids shoe department.   There was also a little train, but when we saw the sun poking through the ceiling windows, we decided to seize the moment and head back to the farm to take a look at some animals.  We did make it, but I'll save a more extensive post on Frying Pan for a nice, sunny day! 

So excited to be on the carousel

A very kid-friendly place---they even had little tables in the food court!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It Cures What Ails Ya

February has been a nasty little month.  Although we had a lot of fun with Valentines Day and our visiting families, I would rename this time, "The Sickness that Wouldn't Quit."  Chloe had a cold and double ear infection.  I got a sinus infection.  Antibiotics for said sinus infection made me sick.  I had a bout of acid reflux.  Gross (thank goodness for Prevacid).  Chloe had another pesky runny nose---turned out to be yet another double ear infection, and this time, it's partner, horrible sinus infection, came along for the ride.  I know I say that I like winter and that I was disappointed in the lack of snow, but I am so ready for spring and consistent "window open" fresh air weather.  We need it. 

So, needless to say, we had our share of doctor visits this month.  From about 6-19 months, this would have been an excuse for me to come home and drink heavily.  LB would kick, scream, sweat, cry.  My blood pressure would sky rocket.  But more recently, she has been much better.  I guess it was a phase, or, it may have been the time we had to do the 4 hour peanut butter challenge and she got to eat giant spoonfuls of PB in the doctor's office that broke her.  I don't know, but she has been much better. 

Grammy and Nonno have been in town, and I was feeling bad for LB and her sad nose and ears, so I decided to treat everyone to a yummy lunch, at, where else, Josie's.  Like I said, it cures what ails ya.  And who doesn't need dessert for lunch (or breakfast or dinner) every once in a while?

Lunch with G & N

Feeling much better already.  She got her own bowl, as I did not want to share with her yucky nose.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Of Georges and Abes

Monday was Presidents Day.  What better place is there to be than in our area to find a fun celebration?  The NY Trupos were still in town, and we found out that there was going to be a Presidents Day Parade in Old Town Alexandria.  We headed over, and it really didn't disappoint. 

It started out with a town crier walking through the streets and announcing the beginning of the parade.  The history buff in me was freaking out!  The whole thing lasted about an hour and a half, complete with presidents, Shriners, clowns, reinactors, Girl Scouts, marching bands...you name it, it was in the parade.  Chloe thought it was pretty cool...and she also thought that she was in the parade; several times, I caught her attempting to get down into the street and march. This girl is too much!  

Presidents Day was a good time to be in Old Town, because a lot of the old buildings were open for free tours (including the Carlyle House and Gadsby's Tavern) and the whole place was buzzing with excitement!  There are so many things going on in Alexandria...it's worth checking their website often! 

Watching things get started with Uncle Marky. And his mustache too.

Here they come!

We snuck away and watched a clown in Market Square

You've got to have a flag at the Presidents Day Parade!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Air and Space (and a new shuttle)

This past weekend, we had a visit from my in-laws, AKA Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Marky.  We had a great time (despite this being the beginning of Chloe's newest ear infection and sinus infection, blah...we are now going on a month of sickness)...

One of the cool things we checked out was the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly.  We had been last year, but this time, Chloe was really interested in the planes (PLANES, PLANES, PLAAAANES)!  She liked both the ones in the Dulles airspace outside of the museum, and the ones inside too. 

A huge plus for this place is that there is a TON of place for moving around.  We were able to let LB out of her stroller for the majority of the time.  Of course, I wasn't able to really take in the history and information about the planes, but from what I gather, it's a pretty interesting place!  Definitely one to check out again!

Pointing out the planes

Chloe and "Uh-Marty"

Checking out the spaceman with Daddy

She is not having a meltdown.  The Air & Space Museum is a great place for floor sliding!

That is a sick face.  However, it is in fact, a happy face, because she is clutching her new space ship!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

From the Mixed-Up Files of Holiday Celebrations

We decided to make use of the kidney beans from the Valentines sensory bin again last week...and it ended up being a confused holiday celebration with some Easter eggs, birthday candles, and Chloe in her Christmas pjs.  I always say I love a good holiday...

Why not?

Friday, February 17, 2012

National Building Museum

For a while, I have heard that the National Building Museum is a great place to take kids.  Last Sunday, we made the trek into DC to try it out, and it didn't disappoint!  It was a perfect place to take the Three Muskateers...AKA extremely busy toddlers...AKA Chloe, Ike, and Cate. 

The main part of the museum is a GIANT atrium area where kids can run around.  Really, it's huge...and there were also giant blocks and a few other things for the kiddos to play with.   Included in the price for admission (under 2s were free) was "The Building Zone," a room geared towards kids under five with blocks, doll houses, a train table, and a life-sized "mini-house."  The only tricky thing was that you had to make a reservation for a time (they only allow 45 people in per hour, adults and infants included), and the only time we were able to reserve was 1:00 pm.  It was a bit close to nap time, but with a lunch, Chloe and Cate made it through and enjoyed themselves (Ike appreciated a good snooze much more on this particular day)!  I'd suggest getting there early to make an earlier reservation. 

Another cool feature of the museum was their Lego exhibit.  They had a number of famous buildings constructed out of the blocks on display, and an impressive amount of Legos to actually build with.  That was fun too! 

We didn't get to check out much more of the museum, but it does seem very interesting.  We'll have to go back...it was a great place to go on a freezing cold Sunday! 

Running through the atrium

Buidling with the giant blocks


The girls using Tinkertoys

Dollhouses are fun!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

Didn't get a chance to post this yesterday...this was last year, Little Bear at 8 months old.   Hope everyone had a nice day with their sweethearts!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cookies Gone Right: V-Day Countdown

Take Two:

Chloe and I headed to the store this morning and bought the tried and true, Pillsbury break-and-bake sugar cookies!  Success! 

We invited out friend Isobel and her mommy over for a play and decorate date this afternoon.  We had a wonderful (and messy) time: (thanks for Laura for the pictures)

Adding some sprinkles

Isobel's yummy face!

Official frosting tester!

Tomorrow's the big day!  Anyone doing anything fun with their sweetheart(s)?  Tuesday is the day that Chloe goes to the sitter, so Mike and I are having a lunch date (!!) in the city! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fail-entines Day Cookies: V-day Countdown!

Last week, Uncle John sent Chloe a lovely Valentines Day package that, along with her adorable Valentines Day tutu and Mickey paint set, included some yummy decorations for sugar cookies.  We were very excited to make some cut-outs and decorate them! 

So, during naptime, I decided to make a package of sugar cookies.  Everything started out well...added an egg, flour, and butter to the mix...UNTIL I realized that I made a misreading (okay, non-reading) error.  I added 2x the amount of butter needed.  Hah!  The dough was way too sticky to make cut-outs, so I just put them in balls on the cookie sheet to see how they'd cook...and, um, they basically deep-fried themselves in the oven.  Although strangely tasty, I don't think they were really fit for human consumption.  Oh well, maybe we'll try tomorrow with some good-old bakery-bought cookies. 

On a good note, we seem to have created a tradition of a "family Valentines date" at Dogfishhead Alehouse in Fairfax.  We went last year on the Saturday before, and we decided to do it again!  It was a lot of fun...we went on the early side (5 pm) and the food came fast and was really good!  Also, I found a new entertainment item to keep handy in the diaper bag---a little container of playdough.  Kept LB entertained until her food came! 

Anyone else have any Valentines Day (or other) project fails? 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

CFB #3: Valentines Celebration---Countdown Continued!

Today was our Valentines Celebration at Camp for Babies.  It was a bunch of fun!  After a quick treat exchange we did a lot of playing together.  We had some yummy snacks (supplied by Mike, including, ahem, Mommy juice, AKA raspberry champagne drinks), and made a big fun mess with this:

Valentines Sensory Bin (many of these out there on the web, but my inspiration was from Mommy and Me Bookclub)

Inside: dry kidney beans and rice, and lots of V-day swag---cups, cookie cutters, confetti, erasers, noise makers, rose petals---fun treaures for burying and finding, filling and spilling!

Still digging in!

Even Mike had some fun...

And here's a clip of the kiddos enjoying:

We also *tried* to make some Valentines shakers (idea from No Time for Flashcards), but the sensory box was too much fun.  So the mommies did most of the decorating.  The kiddos did enjoy adding the bells and pom-poms!  But they were fun, nonetheless:

Two paper plates, decorated the outsides.  The heart cut-out has a plastic bag lining it to seal it up and create a "window" to the inside of the shaker.  We filled them with pom-poms and jingle bells and hot-glued them together!
And, just because it's a super-cute picture...

Waiting for Cate!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentines for Friends: V-day Countdown

Valentines Day, of course, is a great time to send little notes to your friends to tell them how much you care!  We've been busy getting some notes ready, and also playing Valentines note make-believe...

First, a SUPER easy way to make a heart-shaped stamp (from Hands on as We Grow)

We took an empty paper towel roll and pinched the ends into a heart shape.  Dip in paint and stamp away!

A very fun way to make cards for friends!

Don't forget to smush the paint around a little too. 

For our "make-believe" Valentine play, we used an old tissue box (we certainly had plenty around after this sick week), covered it with butcher paper, and decorated it to look like a mailbox.

"Bear Mail" box

We used some old Valentines (so glad I cleaned out my school stuff) and colored on them, then put them in the mailbox. 

We took them out, and put them in again.  A popular activity. 

It was also fun to stuff all of the crayons into the mailbox.  Maybe Grammy would like to get a bunch of broken Crayolas in the mail? 

Even though it was a tough week with being sick and cranky and stuck inside, these little things have given us some bright spots!  Looking forward to Camp for Babies tomorrow: Valentines Fun!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Treat for the Birds: V-Day Countdown

Why should us humans be the only ones who enjoy a treat during Valentines Day week? 

(Idea from playdrmom)

Heart Bird Feeders

Pipe cleaners

Threading cheerios onto the pipe cleaners

Then twist them into a heart shape (we also added another pipe cleaner for a hook)

Daddy thought outside of the box and made an orange!