Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum

After a few days at the beach, we headed back to DC. It was #2’s 12th birthday, so we had a big day of celebrations (his birthday trip to Hershey happened a few days later). One of the places we went on his birthday was the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center National Air and Space Museum. Quite the mouthful, huh? You can’t take the metro here, but it is near Dulles airport, so it isn’t too difficult to find. Parking is $15, but the museum itself is free.

We really enjoy this museum. It is a giant plane hanger with big planes that won’t fit in the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. There is also an observation tower that takes you up for an awesome 360 view of the area (see above picture). You can watch planes land at Dulles airport from up in the observation tower. We all enjoy watching that!

The Space Shuttle Discovery is probably my favorite thing to see at this museum. It is awesome to see the space shuttle in person! Seeing the damage that happens to the Shuttle from space travel is amazing to see. The Blackbird and Concorde are other favorites of mine as well.

This museum is out of the way, but if you have the time (and a car), it is well worth a visit! We went for the first time on our last trip, and obviously enjoyed it so much, we had to return again!

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Sonic the Narwhal 

This is Sonic the Narwhal. #4 named him and #3 hates the name but hasn’t come up with anything different, so Sonic it is. #4 loves Sonic. He sleeps with him every night. He took him to preschool this week when it was his turn for show and tell.

We love Narwhals! We got Sonic at the Natural History Smithsonian when we were in DC. There was a Narwhal exhibit while we were there and we were so excited about it! We got to see Narwhal tusks – it was a cool exhibit. Maybe someday we will get to see one in person… We even have a narwhal Christmas ornament.

Of course, every time I think of Narwhals this is what comes to mind:

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Assateague National Seashore

While in Ocean City, we were able to drag the kids from boogie boarding and check out Assateague Island National Seashore, which is famous for its wild horses! I was wondering if we would actually get to see any horses, but there were many to see, a couple up close too! I guess the horse poop everywhere should have been my clue that it wouldn’t be hard to see some horses. The first turn out/viewing area on our drive had a herd of them together.

When we pulled into the parking lot, we saw one just wandering around. It went to the outdoor showers first and got a drink of water. It then wandered around the parking lot checking out all the cars. My kids thought it was quite amusing. We kept our distance from the horses (as ALL the signs warn!), but there were many that were getting WAY too close (shaking my head!)

You can sit and play on the beach and in the water – there are lifeguards on duty! Maybe next time we’ll take an afternoon to play on the beach there! There are a few short trails that you can hike, but otherwise, there isn’t a whole lot of hiking to do. If you are wanting to take some of these trails, take BUG SPRAY! We did not have any and were eaten alive! It was horrible. Take bug spray, you’ll thank me! (on my list for next time!)

It doesn’t take long to get here from Ocean City and well worth the short drive to see the horses. We just went to the National Seashore part, but there is also a State of Maryland park area (we have a Pass for the National Parks, so it didn’t cost us… I’m not sure of the cost of the Maryland part). There is also an area in Virginia, but you can’t get to it from the Maryland side of the island in a car. The parts you can get to via car are very limited.

Your kids can also earn their Junior Ranger badge. Probably the main reason the kids were willing to leave their boogie boarding and go. You can’t print it out beforehand online, so you must visit in person. We knew that we wouldn’t be done with the books before they closed, so they gave us the address to mail them in. They mailed the badges back to us very quickly – one of the quickest turnarounds of all the parks we’ve mailed in!

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Keeping it real

I always want to make sure I am keeping it real on here. I often write about different places we travel to or adventures we have as a family. I love traveling and doing things with my kids – it brings me the most joy in this life. It’s not to say it doesn’t have its bumps in the road….

Let me just tell you about our trip to the Pumpkin Patch this weekend.

It was cold outside, so I think it took about an hour to get everyone dressed, then drag out all the cold weather gear – like hats and gloves. Once everyone had peed (or so they claimed), we got the car loaded up. Before leaving the driveway, #2 & #3 start fighting over what they should watch on the car entertainment system. Seriously?!?! They could bring their own tablets and watch/play whatever they want. Crying starts. WE HAVE NOT EVEN LEFT THE DRIVEWAY!

I tell them we are getting out of the car and not going. If they are fighting now, I am not dealing with them. I get out and get #4 unbuckled because I am serious. Nothing like taking an hour to get ready to call it all off. #2 & #3 see I’m serious, stop fighting and get along over what to watch. MIND YOU, the pumpkin patch is ONLY 20 minutes away. I mean, how could they possibly not do with entertainment for a whole 20 minutes?!?!

I start to get #4 buckled back, and I smell poop. I ask #4 if he has poop in his underwear. “Yes” was his reply (he has wiping issues sometimes). Ugh! If he knew that, why didn’t he say something before! Husband takes him in to change him. As he is getting changed, he decides he needs to pee, because he didn’t pee when I told him 20 times before we left….

All cleaned and changed. Back in the car. Not even out of the neighborhood when #5 is sick of sitting in the car already. He is backwards, so he can’t watch the video – seriously, it is only a few minutes drive…. Give him my phone with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Finally, make it to the pumpkin patch with no more problems.

They start playing and having a great time sliding and going through the hay maze. We take the Hayride around the farm and I notice that #3 has a HUGE hole in the toe of his shoes. Why did he not say anything? “I didn’t think it mattered that much” was his reply. The bottom of his shoes were wrecked up too. He is HARD on shoes! Not sure what he does at school with shoes, but he goes through 3-4 pairs a school year (expensive or cheap shoes… neither seems to last longer than a few months with him!). Great.

We look at the animals/petting zoo, which #5 thought was fantastic. He loves animals. Then head to the corn maze. It was VERY muddy to the corn maze and the big kids and I were not so sure it was worth it. #3 was INSISTENT on doing the corn maze, so we made our way over there. Now, not more than 2 minutes into the corn maze, #3 was like, “Why, are we doing this?” “I want out of here!” “I am tired of walking!” Seriously?!?! He is the one that wanted to do this. I just ignored him and made him keep going. He’s lucky everyone didn’t strangle him.

Made it out of the corn maze. It didn’t take us too long, regardless of what #3 would tell you. Then we played on more slides, tunnels, and in the giant wheat play boxes (think sandbox with wheat). Then down the giant slides & hay maze again before playing the duck races. A fun time was had by all.

Then we were able to convince them it was time to go to the pumpkin patch to pick out pumpkins. #2 and #3 immediately forget about what their pumpkin plans were and want the biggest pumpkin they first see. #5 kept picking up all the small pumpkins he could carry and put them in the wheelbarrow. It was adorable. #4 found a pumpkin he could pick up and was happy. #1 found her pumpkin and then chased #5 around the patch while #2 & #3 debated what pumpkins they wanted. #5 eventually started throwing himself down on the ground. Not sure if he was being silly, or was just done with the whole pumpkin patch. He did it a few times and it was rather amusing for us (at least it wasn’t muddy here!) He wasn’t crying or screaming, just throwing himself down.

Finally got all the pumpkins picked out and then paid for. They were ready to go. #3 wanted to go down the big slide again, which we let him do while we got everyone else (and the pumpkins) loaded up in the van. We made them all take their shoes off before getting the van all muddy. We tossed #3 shoes into the garbage there as he got into the van. There was nothing worth saving at that point!

We got Cheesy-stuffed burgers on the way home for lunch. Mmmm…. I think I deserved it 🙂

While we had our road bumps, we had a fun, enjoyable day. Yes, nothing ever goes smoothly. Sometimes things take 5 times longer than they should, but it is worth it when you see their faces light up with excitement when they find “their” pumpkin, or when they love sliding down the big slide by themselves, or when they find the exit to the maze all by themselves. Life is an adventure and I choose to remember the best parts of the time we have together.

FYI – I took #3 to Target later that afternoon to buy another new pair of shoes. Wonder how long this pair will last?!?!

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Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center

On our way to Ocean City, we decided to stop at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Site Visitor’s Center. It is seriously in the middle of nowhere. However, it was totally worth the stop! This was an AMAZING museum and I learned so much about Harriet Tubman. She was a freaking SUPERHERO! This stop may have been one of my favorite of the entire trip. I had no idea how much we would like it and that we would learn so much about this incredible lady! Seriously, this needs to become a must stop for everyone (at least once!)

Did you know Harriet was injured as a child (a weight was thrown, meant for someone else, and hit her in the head!). She suffered side effects from this almost life ending injury her entire life. She was taken from her family at the age of 6. Her real name was Araminta Ross. She, of course, helped many slaves out of slavery through the underground railroad, going back and forth – putting herself in danger each time – to help more people, especially her family, escape slavery. Did you also know that she served in the Civil War? She helped blow up bridges and dismantle torpedos. She was AMAZING!

She ended up remarrying (her first husband remarried while she was on the run) to a much younger man (22 years younger!) – you go, girl! They adopted a baby girl – Ahhhhh! How wonderful!

Seriously, Harriet Tubman is my hero now. I did not know all of this stuff about her. Sure, I knew about the underground railroad, but I never really knew/thought about all she accomplished. She deserves to be on the $20 bill!

I HIGHLY recommend visiting here, if you’re ever on your way to Ocean City MD! Worth the small detour!! If you can’t make it to Maryland, read her biography  – it is WELL worth a read!

You can also earn to your Underground Railroad Junior Ranger badge here! YAY! The great thing about this badge is ANYONE can earn it from home! So even if you can’t get to one of the NPS sites, you and your kids can learn about the Underground Railroad with the Junior Ranger packet. Then mail it in to get your badge!

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Just Laugh

I often say that if kid #5 had been kid #1, he would have been an only child. Now we are much more chill/experienced parents, we just brush most of his stuff off.

Yesterday, I was working on getting our 40lbs of Zaycon Chicken prepared to go into the freezer (chopped, ground, etc.), so my husband was making sure our toddler stayed out of trouble. (I just had to stop writing this to grab my keys back from him before he stuck them in the electrical outlet). Mind you, he is a work from home dad, so he knows the trouble he gets into on a minute by minute basis.

He was playing with #3 and #4, and I told him he should go check on #5. I yell at my daughter (#1), asking what #5 was doing (As he was up near her). She said, “He’s in your room watching PBS kids.” Ok, that is semi-believable, but I didn’t trust it. I am elbow deep in chicken so I tell my husband again she should go check on him. He finally gets up to check on him…. He comes down a few minutes later with a grocery bag full of wet toilet paper to throw in the garbage. I tried so hard not to burst out laughing. You cannot trust that kid for more than 2 seconds…. (ugh, I hear him opening the fridge now… He was trying to get himself Chocolate milk)

Apparently, He was stuffing toilet paper in the toilet. Not only was he stuffing it in the toilet, he was apparently elbow deep in the toilet trying to shove it down the hole…. Ok, that is a new one!! So he got him cleaned/washed/sanitized and unclogged the roll of toilet paper from the toilet. He said while he was cleaning up the toilet paper, he went into the bedroom and was quietly playing with a shape sorter, so innocent like he would never cause trouble. Of course, as soon as he came down to throw away all the TP, he started to get into things on the bathroom counter.

He went to change his diaper, and he refused to get another one on. He wanted a bath. Well duh, dad! I’m sure he was thinking, “Dad! I was playing in the toilet. That is disgusting! I really need a bath now!” Ha! Probably just wanted a bath in the first place and this was his way of asking for it?!?! There are much easier ways of asking for a bath….

This boy cannot be left for one second! Good thing he is adorable!


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Holiday Inn Ocean City

On our trip to DC, we took a few nights to spend at the Beach. We love the Beach. We live within an hour of the beach (on the other side of the country) and take any chance we get to enjoy it! When looking for a new area to live, having a beach within an hour or so is a MAJOR qualification on where to move! It takes forever to get there from my parent’s house though! It takes no time to get through many states on the East Coast (seriously, from their house we start in Maryland, go through Virgina, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania in less than an hour!), but for some reason, it takes 3-4 hours to get to the beach in the same state? Doesn’t make sense!

Anyway, we always enjoy our time at the beach – especially since they have WARM water! We stayed a couple of nights at the Holiday Inn Ocean City. It was right on the beach/boardwalk, but we booked it because they had waterslides, and my kids are all about waterslides!

Our room was large and big enough for all of us! I am always excited when we get a room big enough for all of us! Plus, there was a full kitchen in the room, so we didn’t have to eat out the entire time we were there. Full-size fridge, oven, and stove top. However, the kitchen did show the age of the hotel. Their appliances could use an update/refresh. They all worked fine, just looked old.

Our room overlooked the waterpark/pool area and the beach. It was beautiful. We watched the sunrise over the beach from the comfort of our room. We could easily walk out to the beach, set up, and play for hours. My kids LOVED to Boogie Board. I think they could have done it all day long! There was the outdoor waterpark area, with 2 waterslides, a vortex, shallow play area, and a small lazy river. The waterslide was SUPER fast. Probably one of the fastest waterslides I’ve been on. There are lifeguards, but there is no order to the waterslides, it’s a free for all! There is another outdoor pool, which was quieter with fewer people that my older kids enjoyed more. There is also an indoor pool, but we didn’t make it to that one. It was empty every time we saw it (we could see it from where we got on the elevator), but would be great when the weather isn’t so great! You receive rubberbands to wear to show that you are a guest and can enter the pool area. You also get tokens for pool towels.

They also have changing rooms with showers available. I wish we had known this when we first arrived and our room wasn’t ready. Alas, we did take advantage of them after we checked out! Super nice to change and shower before we headed home (but was after we had to check out of our room!)

If we head back to Ocean City on our next trip to DC, I would have no problem booking a room here again! It was a GREAT way to spend our Free IHG nights that we get each year with our IHG credit card (rooms here go for quite a bit of $$ during the summer!)

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