Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 1- Aquarium, Holocaust Museum, Engraving & Printing

Day 1 : Monday, March 30. It was very windy and kind of cold today. The sun peeked in and out all day. Just when we would think it was going to get warm, we would get hit with these wind gusts. We started out each day with a great breakfast buffet included in our room at the hotel. The kids looked forward to breakfast each morning, especially Alex loved the breakfasts. In the picture below, they are all enjoying the link sausages.

Eating sausage at breakfast the first morning.

Today, we started out at the aquarium. It was a small aquarium, but they did have some fun sea animals. It took less than 2 hours to get through it, and then we walked around admiring the cherry trees and getting lots of pictures.

This cute sea turtle was a favorite of all the kids.

See Dori (from "Finding Nemo") right between their heads. They enjoyed looking at all the fish.

Looking at all the pretty fish

I called this the "Stars and Stripes" fish. How appropriate for the US capitol!

Outside the aquarium, this firetruck was next to the road, and we decided to get a picture.

The girls in the cherry trees.

This is the beaver mascot of the Cherry Blossom Festival. He encourages everyone to not pick the cherry blossoms. Tessa and Jarem had to go give him a hug.

We got tickets for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, but not until 3:30, so after eating our lunches, we spent a couple of hours at the Holocaust Museum before going to our 3:30 tour. Although the Holocaust museum was pretty sad and depressing, I think each of the kids (except Jarem) came out with a new appreciation for life and liberty.

Writing notes about their feelings after viewing the Holocaust Museum.

Next we went to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. We all enjoyed that very much. It was so interesting to see how money is made and to watch the people actually printing money as we watched.

Some of us outside the Bureau of Engraving and Printing...see those little figures at the bottom of the huge pillars...that's us!

This cool bench in the Bureau of Printing and Engraving had dollar bills of all values printed on it. The kids each found the one that they wanted for the picture.

I thought this was very interesting. These machines we saw, fold the bills repeatedly to test the endurance of the paper. United States bills can be folded back and forth on the same crease about 4,000 times before tearing!

There is $1million in this glass case that the girls are hugging in sheets of $10 bills.

Cool money glasses in the gift shop!

Jarem and Tessa both chose the dollar bill they wanted! How do they know how to choose the big ones already?

For dinner, we started out at Jaleo(which had been recommended in an itinerary online), but after sitting down and looking over the menu we realized that bacon-wrapped prunes, squid, and goat cheese probably weren't going to be something our kids would eat(or something we would want to pay for). We ended up leaving and going across the street to Austin Grill and enjoyed a nice dinner of Tex-Mex. It was a much better fit for our family. I guess we just aren't very refined. :)

Each day of our trip, we asked the kids over dinner what their favorite thing of the day was. On this first day, most of the kids chose the aquarium as their favorite thing, although I think Alex's top pick was the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. That was my favorite also.

The girls next to a spider in the sculpture garden outside one of the Art Museums.

Beautiful gardens outside the Smithsonian castle.

We wanted to end our day with the Smithsonian carousel outside the castle, but it was out-of-order that day. Oh well.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring Break--Our Trip to Washington DC

We drove to Washington DC for Spring Break this year. Eric and I went alone two years ago when he had a class there, and vacationed for a week. We loved our trip, and decided that we had to take the kids back in a couple of years. Our move to Tennessee last summer made the trip even more possible because it was now within driving distance! So, here we are two year's later in our nation's capitol.

We specifically picked this time of year because of all the cherry blossoms that are in bloom. There were SO beautiful! Because I took SO many pictures, I'm going to take our trip day by day and explain some of the highlights and pictures from that day. We drove all day Sunday, and arrived Sunday evening. The trip was good and mostly uneventful (which is always good).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"I Love You This Much"

I've been meaning to post this and keep forgetting. One of the things Eric gave me for Valentine's Day was this cute little precious moments figurine. I've been a long time collector of precious moments, and over the years Eric has given me ones that reflect each of the kid's personalities at different stages in their lives. I haven't really collected many in the past few years because I have a pretty good collection, so I didn't have any that represented Jarem.

Thus, Eric picked this one for Jarem, and he did so reminds me of Jarem SO much. I smile every time I look at it. This one is called, "I love you this much". We told Jarem that this figurine represented him when I got it, and for several weeks after and still sometimes, he will randomly open his arms out wide and tell me that he loves me "this much" with his arms spread out wide. It warms my heart when he does this. He is a loving little boy and we're so grateful to have him in our family.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fairgrounds Park

During Tessa's soccer practice tonight, Jesikah and Jarem went to play on the playground at Fairgrounds park. It was their first time being there, and they really enjoyed the big play area. When I went to check on them, they had found a little house, and they were playing "house". Jesikah was the Mom and Jarem was the baby. It was cute. They liked that the park looked like a castle.

Inside the house

Then a few days ago, Jesikah took this picture of Jarem being the baby yet another time when they were playing with Tessa too. Tessa has a baby plush "my little pony", and the pacifier is the baby pony's. He really wasn't not asleep, although he appears to be a pretty good pretender.

It's Called a Redbud!

The purple fields have now mostly faded. I am told the purple weed is called chickweed. However, there's no shortage of purple because now there are trees covered in purple blossoms all over town.

The first time I remember seeing these trees was 2 years ago when Eric and I went to Washington DC. We were at the Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home and plantation). It is situated up on a hill, and as you looked down the hill, you could see all these beautiful purple trees.
A picture we took looking down the hill at the Monticello.

It was such a beautiful place (probably my favorite place that we went). I loved them so much that I asked one of the people there what the trees were called. I had completely forgotten about it until I starting seeing them around town and then I started racking my brain to remember what they were called. This morning as I was driving the girls to school and wondering what they were called, it popped into my head what the lady in Washington DC said, "It's called a redbud." I wasn't sure if I remembered right, so I looked it up online and sure enough, the beautiful purple trees are redbuds. My memory didn't fail me!

Another picture at Monticello
A picture of me by one of the redbuds at the Monticello two years was SO cold that morning I look a little frozen.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Spring Care Package!

Yesterday when we got back from the soccer games, we saw something bright sitting on our doorstep. On closer examination, we determined that it was a sealed easter basket that had been dropped off from the mailperson. It was sent from Grandma Cindi. When we opened it, we found several snap-together Easter eggs with goodies in them, but they weren't your typical Easter eggs, they were in the shape of sea critters! I've never seen anything like it before! They were the cutest things ever...little sharks, blowfish, starfish and clownfish. There was also a little container of bubbles for each child. The kids had a lot of fun with them, and we're definitely saving the eggs to re-use on Easter and probably for many years to come! Thanks Grandma!

The Easter basket with sea creature eggs!

Everyone holding their favorite egg: Jesikah loved the starfish, Tessa liked the yellow blowfish, Alex liked the sharks, and Jarem couldn't decide between the Nemo and the other blowfish

Catching the bubbles after blowing them.

Jarem was so proud of himself for blowing his first bubble...look closely and you'll see it!

Eric joining in the fun

Tessa is thrilled with the many bubbles she made that are all hooked together. They blew bubbles off and on most of the afternoon. Later the kids and Eric went out and played soccer in the front yard while I planted a few new plants. The spring weather is SO enjoyable. We're trying to soak up some nice weather before the hot, humid summer hits.

Sisterly Love!

Yesterday we had our first soccer gameday! Games were at 9, 11, and 3:30. They all played really well. I'm excited to see them progress as the season continues. I took my camera, but it was missing something...the memory card! (That happens more often than I'd like to admit). :) Oh well, I had my phone and got this picture as the girls had finished their soccer games and were headed back to the car. It was so cute and so spontaneous that I HAD to document it! They walked with arms around each other for a good distance. They DO love each other...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shamrock Cookies

Well, the kids wouldn't let St. Patrick's Day pass without making shamrock sugar cookies! I guess it's becoming a tradition. Since we didn't get them done on St. Patrick's Day, we made them a day late (yesterday). They were happy, so I'm glad we did it (even though yesterday was a crazy day). We frosted some last night and ate them. Then I finished frosting and decorating the rest this morning. The kids will love their after-school snack today!
Jarem spotted the cookies and is ready to dig in.

This is my favorite sugar cookie recipe from my mom:

Sugar Cookies

6T Butter and 6T Shortening (3/4 cup total)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t almond extract
1/2 t vanilla extract

Cream together and then add:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt

Roll out and use cookie cutters to shape. Bake 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

I love these because they are soft, they are quick, you don't have to refrigerate them, and they always turn out!

Scrapbook Fun!

These are some pictures of our girls playing with the neighbor girls (bottom two pages) in our backyard a couple of weeks ago. They are really lucky that their ages match up with these girls and they get along so well. I am lucky that they are nice girls!
The top one is a page of some pictures I took of Tessa before school one day last week. I wanted to do some experimenting with my new skills (thanks to my "Learn Digital Scrapbooking CD") and my new scrapbook goodies, so I had fun making these pages. The pictures in two of the pages I changed to a black and white fade with the color in the center. I thought it added something a little different. Can I just say I LOVE digital scrapbooking! There is NO mess and NO expense. You can't mess up because you can always go back. It is fast too. You can search your backgrounds in minutes and insert it on the page as well as everything else.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fields of Purple

I've been driving by these beautiful purple fields the past few days as I drive the kids to and from school. It is just some sort of weed that grows wild here that makes it purple, but this field in particular just looks so pretty that I wanted to get a picture. The kids always comment on "the purple field" as we pass. Even Eric came home the other day asking me if I'd seen the purple field, so I figured it was definitely worth documenting.

I've been doing some more experimenting with digital scrapbooking and I mentioned it to my friend, Linda. She offered to share all the free digital scrapbooking stuff that she'd found online with me. Before the day was over, I had the CD in my hand with loads and loads of free scrapbooking goodies! I know she spent A LOT of time collecting all these, and I appreciate it SO much. It has been so fun to have all of these materials at my fingertips. Thanks so much, Linda!
It's back to spring weather here...sunny and in the 60's. Yeah! Let's hope it sticks this time. I must be feeling "springy", because I signed 3 of my kids up for soccer. Little did I know how the practice schedules would be...Jesikah has 3 practices a week, Alex has 2, and Tessa has 1. They all have games on Saturday, not to mention church activities on Wednesday nights. I guess that means homework's out in favor of extracurricular activities! :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Snow Day!

Just a couple of days after our 81 degree weather, it snowed! Whenever I ask anyone about the weather here, people tell me one of two things, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 10 minutes." or "The only consistent thing about the weather is it's inconsistent". I think I believe it. We've certainly had a lot of different weather since we've been here. I don't remember ever living in a place where it got to 81 degrees in March!

Last night it started snowing huge flakes (like I haven't seen here before). It was very pretty, and we would have enjoyed it even more had it been Christmastime, but the good news is, the kids finally got enough snow to make a snowman and they scored having school cancelled too! So, everyone except Eric, is getting a 3 day weekend. We had a good time out in the snow, and it wasn't that cold.

The picture above is my first attempt at digital scrapbooking. I've been learning how to use the Photoshop Elements program that Eric gave me for Christmas, and it is a lot of fun.

I'll post a some pictures of our cute "Sally Snowman" below.

Tessa and Jarem on their snowballs.

We're each sitting on the snowball we made.

I liked this picture because I was getting a picture of Tessa sitting on her snowball, and Jesikah just happened to be throwing a snowball in the background.

A picture of the big flakes coming down last night.

Here comes "Sally Snowman" as the kids named her.

I like this picture because it was a spontaneous picture of Jesikah and I looking at each other while we were putting our arms around the snowman. Alex took it before we were ready.

All of us with our snowman. It is a 4 ball snowman because we each made a snowball. Alex's camera has the wrong date for some reason?