Monday, June 18, 2018

Chop On!

Back on June 1st we hit the road to Atlanta to see a Braves vs. Nationals game with Grandmama, Granddaddy, Kelly, and some friends from church. I was CRANKY about it because we had planned to leave for the beach that day (we decided to go the next day) and I needed to be packing for the beach trip AND then we were in the middle of Rain All the Time in Georgia and it just didn't look like any fun. I also have a control problem and the idea of riding a bus (we chartered so we could all ride together) and not having an escape plan (I like to have a way to leave if I need to) was just throwing me for a loop. Thankfully, I got on the bus and went because we had a FANTASTIC time. 




James was HILARIOUS to watch all day long. He is currently the Braves BIGGEST fan. He knows all the players, where they're from, their stats, how old they are, etc., etc., etc. He is one of those people that can tell you the score of a game from years ago (or months in his short lifetime) and knows exactly what happened in that game. It's funny. We've sort of jumped on the bandwagon with him. We've gone from RARELY watching baseball (Eddie likes it, just isn't a die hard fan) to watching EVERY SINGLE Braves game and if we miss it looking up the scores later. We did this during football season, too. James is just ALL into ALL the sports right now.

We had GREAT seats this time. We sat one or two sections closer last time and on the back row of the lower level. It was easy to get up (just climb over the seat!), but this time the section above us didn't keep us from seeing ANYTHING. We look like we're way in the outfield in this section, but they were great seats. And covered in case the rain had continued!



Will isn't quite as into sports, but he enjoyed (most of) the experience. He is ALL into talking to everyone right now. He will walk up to any stranger and ask that person what's on his mind. The highlight of his day was listening to some guys play buckets (I have no idea if it's what they call it, but it's what they were doing) before the game. After they were done drumming, he walked up to one to let them know he enjoyed it and that they did an awesome job! Lol! He also danced (while he wasn't whining that JAMES was sitting next to his friend Gage and why couldn't HE!?!) and ate all the snacks. He has talked a LOT about it since.

(Someone commented that the man next to Will looks annoyed at his dancing...it's Eddie's daddy. HA! He may be annoyed, but he's so used to Will that I feel certain he isn't!)


The highlight of James' night was getting Charlie Culberson's autograph. We read before the game that you could go down to the dugout for "high fives" from players before the game. We made our way down to where the crowd was and waited for a while. We wondered if they might not do it because it was rainy. A few players started to trickle out and Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson came out. Ozzie and Dansby are two of James' FAVORITES players (along with Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman) and James knew exactly who they were. They stood around in the dugout away from us for a bit and James proceeded to YELL their names over and over. They never acknowledged him or the other kids standing by the dugout, but we saw them. Then Charlie Culberson walked out and came over to sign autographs. It dawned on me that we had NOTHING to sign. I finally handed James a ticket and a pen I had in my wallet and got him to sign that. James was THRILLED and Charlie soared to the top of the list for James as well. (For the record, Will was there for a while and then got bored and went to his seat. James persevered so he has an autograph to show for it. Just didn't want anyone thinking that poor Will didn't get one, too. He didn't...but he could have.)

I think this is A.J. Minter

Culberson signing autographs. James is in the Freeman jersey reaching. (If you go and want to do this, the BEST spot is the corner right at the dugout and the wall in front. We were too far back even though we could see into the dugout.)


Ozzie!



We didn't get back home until almost 3AM, but it was well worth it. Great friends, great seats, great time!


(This is a Bryce Harper strike out for the win, which is apparently a BIG deal. He's supposed to be pretty good, but I think he struck out TWICE that night!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Washington, D.C.: Day 3

On our second full day in Washington, the rain stopped and we saw blue skies! (It was the first time we'd had a non-rainy day in a LONG time since it rained all before we left as well!)

We were able to leave a little later on Sunday morning and we headed up to Union Station to catch a D.C. Duck Tour! This was one thing the boys had requested we do. Mom and I love a bus or trolley tour (you get to see so much of a city that way!), so we were happy with this request. It was a 90 minute land and water tour in a "duck." These vehicles were built in World War II as amphibious military vehicles and they've been restored for tours. It was SMALL, but they leave every hour so there are plenty of opportunities to get a spot. We didn't even book ours until the night before so we could be sure it wouldn't be rainy. I would advise getting there early to get a spot. We got there fairly early and were still seated about 3-4 rows back. There are just two seats per section so get 'em while you can! (Four seats across with an aisle between...hope that makes sense) and the further back you are, the less shade their is! This was a fun tour. We started at Union Station and went all the way over to the Potomac where we entered the water, cruised a bit, and then rode back to Union Station. I highly recommend it. The worst part is that they hand out duck "whistles" halfway through and you have to tolerate the incessant duck calling the remainder of the trip. Lol!











From the Duck Tour, we made our way to a Metro stop and tried our hand at riding public transportation. It saved us no time, but we thought we needed to let the boys see what it was about. (Mom and I did WAY better in NY than on this trip...it seemed more complicated to me here!) We hopped off at a stop near the Air and Space Museum and headed there for the afternoon. (We had lunch in Union Station at a Johnny Rockets - do not recommend...but it was quick and close.)

Will LOVED the Air and Space Museum because it was very interactive. My mistake was pulling them away from what they were doing for a docent-led tour. Our docent was AMAZING and had been there for longer than I've been alive. He was VERY knowledgable, but he took FOR.E.VER to tell about everything and it wound up being not child-friendly. The boys were so bored. After two hours we finally broke away from the group to see a little more of the museum alone and then let the boys make dog tags (a souvenir we got when we were there as kids) and let them ride in the flight simulator.









After Air and Space, we hiked up to Old Ebbitt Grill where we had a supper reservation. It was good, but VERY crowded (we waited a bit even with a reservation) and we were tired and cranky. We NEVER allow devices at the table, but we did that night! 


After supper we walked around the Mall and saw some of the monuments and memorials. It was beautiful weather!


















The end of a fun, FULL day! More tomorrow!




Monday, June 11, 2018

Washington, D.C.: Days 1 & 2

It's time to update ye olde blog so that I can remember our trip that we took to kick summer off!

The kiddos got out of school fairly early this summer - May 17th - and we hit the ground running and left for Washington, D.C. the very next day. In hindsight, it wasn't my BEST idea ever, but we wanted to squeeze it in before Memorial Day and summer rush so that we had fewer crowds. We had a pretty great time! It's always interesting traveling with kids. Ours do GREAT in a few areas - walking and not begging for STUFF every where we turn - and they really, really need some work in other areas - fighting with each other and whining.  You win some, you lose some!

We decided on Washington, D.C. several months ago because it's a pretty walkable city (we took public transportation a handful of times and walked everywhere else) and because the majority of things are FREE! We didn't get it all done (not even CLOSE!), but we hit some of the highlights and had a fun time!

Bright and early on Friday, May 18th, we picked my mom up at her house (and squeezed James in the back of the car with a boatload of luggage!) and headed north to Atlanta Hartsfield Airport for the boys' FIRST flight! We got there in plenty of time to grab a burger at Killer Burgers before heading to our gate. I packed plenty of new books and games to try to keep the boys occupied.





Despite Will's nervousness ahead of time (he's my anxious kid - he asked for sleeping medicine for the plane!), the boys did great on their first flight. It's a quick one so they didn't have time to be bored. They loved the snacks and they made a trip to the bathroom (together but alone!) where they realized they had no idea to flush and didn't tell us until later. Whoops!

We arrived at Dulles airport (don't be like us...we took the advice of a friend and will NEVER fly into Dulles again...Kennedy all the way from now on! - It was fine, just TOO FAR AWAY!) mid-afternoon and it was cool and rainy. The remnants of Alberto were still heading north. We grabbed a shuttle and headed to our hotel - Hyatt Place National Mall. 


After we arrived and got settled, we grabbed supper in the hotel's restaurant. It wasn't the best we've ever had and we didn't eat there again (except for the pretty-decent continental breakfast every morning!), but it was convenient. I think we were asleep before 9pm that night! HA!

Saturday morning was a little rainy, but we put on shoes that could get wet and headed out anyway! Our first scheduled activity was at the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence. ("We're gonna steal the Declaration of Independence..." might have been quoted once or twice - name that movie!) We had to pass through the Mall to get to the National Archives, so we got our first view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol. It was beautiful!



We came across some kind of bike race and this kid thought it was fun to watch.




Pictures aren't allowed inside the National Archives, but it was a BEAUTIFUL building that we could've spent hours in. We were shocked at how faded all of the documents are! They are very well preserved and guarded. Will leaned on the glass of one document and a guard quickly asked him to stand up. (He thought he was in trouble and got upset, but the guard was SO nice and wound up talking to us for a long time in another area of the museum.) There are two options for getting into the Archives - you can schedule a time online (for free) or stand in line. We opted to schedule our visit ahead of time. The line for walk-ups wasn't long at all while we were there, but I have no idea if that's because it was raining and the "off" season. 

After our time at the Archives, we headed a few blocks up to a pizza place called Pi Pizzeria. It was SO GOOD. I highly, highly, highly recommend it. It was clean, the servers were incredibly nice, and the food was great! We were very, very impressed by how friendly everyone in Washington was and it really started right in this restaurant. I wish I could remember our waitress' name because she was so kind!




After lunch, we had a little time to kill so we stopped into Anthropologie and J. Crew which were situated almost right next to Ford's Theatre. Times are weird! 

After we'd bored the boys shopping, we went into the museum across the street from Ford's Theatre, which is really the place you're supposed to end your tour there. Thankfully, the park ranger allowed us to visit it first. The boys REALLY enjoyed this. It's pretty interactive and traces John Wilkes Booth's time after he shoots Lincoln. I wish we'd gone back after going through the theatre. Don't miss this if you go! When it was our scheduled time (I did this ahead of time as well, but you can walk right up and get tickets - whatever is left - the day of), we walked across the street. Underneath the theatre is a museum about Lincoln. The boys didn't enjoy this NEARLY as much, but it was still pretty interesting. On the day we went to the theatre there was a ranger talk IN the theatre about the night that Lincoln was assassinated. It's still a working theatre and you can see shows there. You can also go into the house across the street where Lincoln died, but it was closed for renovations while we were there. We really enjoyed Ford's Theatre a lot. We recommend it! The whole day was good!

The home where Lincoln died.

A huge tower of books - all about Abraham Lincoln. Will was intrigued so he stood talking to the ranger for a long time about this. He was really more interested in how the tower was built - it's made of aluminum with the dust jackets of the books on the outside so it's light. (He's my engineer - how was it made? How did they build that?)


The museum was incredibly kid-friendly and interactive. This was an image of Booth being found with audio played with it. They loved it!

(In 1995-ish when we went, you could walk past the balcony where Lincoln was assassinated!)



Since we were close, we rounded out the day by stopping by to see if the Trumps were home. I was SHOCKED at how crowded this was and how far back you have to stand from the gates now. And also how SMALL it is and how close to everything else it is! The White House was the most surprising thing for me from the whole trip! (And, yes, I've been to it and in it before...I just didn't remember!) We chatted with a  Secret Service Agent for a while standing outside. He was very interesting!






We walked around to the front of it and Will said, "I thought the White House would be bigger!" We looked up and realized our little comedian was pointing to this guard gate. Hardy har har! 




After this, we HIKED (and it was a LONG one) back toward our hotel and stopped at Shake Shack for supper. We earned those burgers, fries, and milkshakes that day! Whew! It was lots of fun!!! We were BEAT.


This little nugget wouldn't let us turn his bed down. He slept with his sheets tucked in like this every night!

(We had two hotel rooms - BEST THING EVER - and Will slept with my mom in one room and James stayed with us in the other. They were supposed to swap back and forth but they never did. I will say, Hyatt Place is pretty awesome because they have two queen beds AND a pull out sofa bed. The room was very spacious and the boys could've both stayed with us and not had to sleep together. Score!)

Day 1 (travel day):

Day 2: