Mallory: Mommy, I learned a spell to make a book come off the shelf to you.

Me: Oh really? How does it go?

Mallory: Peas and carrots, carrots and peas, come to me book, please please please.

Me: Ha! That's good. It would be nice if it would really work.

Mallory: If what would work?

Me: The spell.

Mallory: What spell?

Me: The spell you just said.

Mallory: But why would that be nice?

Me: Because then you would have magical powers!

Phoebe: What matches the flowers?


The trip

Last Thursday night, with the help of “Mappy” (our borrowed GPS unit, so christened by the girls), we drove up to Washington, DC, for a few days of fun with Aimee and her family. And millions of other people, as it turns out, although why I expected the crowds to be thinner in July I do not know. Lesson learned, along with the cardinal lesson of parenting, which is that your children will never enjoy the parts of the vacation that you think they will most benefit from. Also: food in museum cafes is very expensive.

On Friday we went to the Natural History museum, where we saw the elephant

And the blue whale

And my favorite animal, the penguin.

From 2009-07-20

Then we paid $22 (!) to see butterflies.

It was around this time that Phoebe stated she wanted to go back to the hotel. Instead, we pressed on to the National Air & Space Museum to find Amelia Earhart’s plane, which unfortunately was not on display due to exhibit maintenance. Also, the museum was absolutely thronged with people (had something to do with the anniversary of the moon landing, I’m sure.)

Mallory’s favorite thing: playing with magnets in the gift shop:

Phoebe’s favorite thing: chasing pigeons on the Mall:

I would have liked to have gone on to the American History museum, but the children were done. So we went back to the hotel and swam, and then had dinner, and then let the kids run around in a park near the hotel. My nephews, by the way, are just wonderful kids. Funny and sweet and easy-going; Mallory and Phoebe, who were initially disappointed that their only girl cousin wasn’t along on the vacation, ended up having a great time with Rhett and Noah. Not one argument amongst the four of them in two-and-a-half days together, which is pretty amazing.

The next day, it was off to the zoo!

We waited a long time for a train:

And by the way – my children in particular were incredibly whiny both at the museums and at the zoo (My feet hurt! I’m tired! I want ice cream!) but all four of them were perfectly well-behaved when we were doing less exciting things, like waiting for a train or sitting in restaurants. I don’t understand it, but there it is.

The National Zoo is a lovely placed, well-planned, with spacious enclosures for the animals. This means, of course, that the animals are very difficult to actually see, especially if you’re a little short person. Mallory’s favorite animal is the giant panda, so we had to wait in, if memory serves, three different lines to try to catch a glimpse of it from three different viewpoints. I think she was a bit disappointed in what she was able to see:

But she was excited by this:

I forget what Rhett and Phoebe were doing here, but it’s funny:

Here they are in a T-rex skull:

Mallory loved seeing the baby gorilla; Phoebe enjoyed the “ephelants.” These moments of pleasure, however, were interspersed with oh so much whining; we finally had to rent a stroller to quell some of it:

But the girls really only cheered up when we shelled out cash for these:

...followed by twenty dollars worth of ice cream.

But this is my favorite picture of the day:

This was taken when we were leaving the zoo – and look how happy the kids are! Look at those smiles! They forgot about the heat and the crowds and the difficulty of actually seeing the animals we came to see. They loved the zoo! they said. They didn’t want to leave!

We adults knew better, though, and my advice to anyone out there reading this is – do not go to the National Zoo on a Saturday in July. You’re welcome!

Our trip back to the zoo was horrid; due to maintenance on the line, we had to wait almost an hour for a train, and the one that eventually came was packed with people. We were squished together like sardines; Aimee, Noah, Phoebe and I ended up on one end of the car, just hoping that Chris, Mallory, Seth and Rhett were somewhere on the other side – we couldn’t see through the crowds. The kids were troopers, though (Mallory told me later, “I just kept saying to myself, soon we’ll be to Boston, to Boston, to Boston” – our stop was “Ballston”) and we all managed to get off at the right stop without being crushed by the doors.

The next morning Aimee and I got up early to go see the memorials on the Mall. It was nice being child-free for a while, and the views were great too:

Then, alas, we had to go our separate ways. Aimee and family went off to a baseball game, while we headed north to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, which was full of pop culture memorabilia like this (three guesses as to whose idea it was to go to this museum):

If you guessed Chris, you're right!

But it was pretty cool, and the girls liked it too:

The museum was right by Orioles Park; here is Phoebe on the “4” representing some player or another – because she’s 4, of course.

And here is Mallory on the 8 (for Cal Ripken) even though, as she kept saying, she’s not 8 -- but apparently the Orioles haven't retired the number 7 yet.

Traffic was awful on the way back, and we didn’t get home until almost 11 p.m. I have yet to recover, but the laundry at least has been done and I’m at the point where I can start repacking our bags for our next adventure, next week.

It was a great trip, despite the whininess and the crowds and the fact that I got to see almost nothing of what I really wanted to see (there was an exhibit on the Lost Colony! I love the Lost Colony! Couldn’t drag the kids through it, though). But I got to see my sister, so that’s good enough for me.


On the way home...

Phoebe sang this song:

Washington DC is my favorite place
It was fun there
And I want to go back
And play with Rhett and Noah some more
And I liked the zoo
And the pool
And I wish we didn't leave ever again.

Details and pictures to come.


There goes the neighborhood

A few days ago Mallory went out to get the mail and came back with a spiral notebook. “Look what I found in the street!” she said, handing it to Chris. Chris examined it, and found it to be the property of one “Pac-Man,” the (apparent) leader of a trio of aspiring rappers, according to the doodles on the front cover. And inside the notebook were pages and pages of Pac-Man’s “lyrics.”

Now, I know very little about rap or hiphop or any kind of “tunes” that came out after, say, 1997, but I’m here to tell you – these lyrics were bad. Oh so bad. Some were actually obscene, which only added to the hilarity. Most of the “songs” were on topics that you would guess would interest a teenage boy – sex, money, smoking marijuana. One sample strove toward social commentary, as it lamented how hard it was to get a job in this “reasciene” (recession, we determined, after a few minutes of puzzlement). But it was this verse that brought us to our knees:

Girls are a dime a dozen
So why am I hanging with a penny?
I’m just like Forrest Gump
Been told to run by Jenny.

Chris and I were helpless with laughter. Forrest Gump? Forrest Gump? Amidst the “blunts” and the guns and the groping of his “bitches,” a reference to Forrest Gump? Who is this person, anyway? Some tough gangsta, that’s for sure.

Thanks for the laugh, Pac-Man. Your notebook is on our bedside table, should you care to retrieve it.


Summertime is not blogtime

...and I don't know why, because I'm here at work every day just as I am the other nine months of the year.

Except! On Thursday night we are off to Washington DC, to meet Aimee and her family for a few days of sightseeing and zoo-going.

And! The next week (July 27-31) we're off to Myrtle Beach with Chris's parents for a week of beach-going and pool-swimming and lazy-river-floating.

Strange! That my packing lists (which are totally in my head, and thus not terribly useful) now include: the phone charger, the camera charger, the Kindle charger, the laptop charger, and the GPS charger. Everywhere we go, we are plugged in to something.

Someday! A post of substance.



On our way to the town park on the Fourth of July, we saw this funny fellow:

At the park, Mallory and Phoebe "painted the town":

and decorated cupcakes:

and decorated visors (Phoebe's hands were sticky, thus the unhappy face):

The best part of birthdays? Cake batter:

Mallory woke us all up very early on Phoebe's birthday so Phoebe could open her presents. She got a Tinkerbell baby doll:

a book about herself:

a Rosetta fairy:

a card:

Here she is receiving birthday wishes:

This was her favorite present, a Rosetta fairy costume:

We went swimming, and then there were more presents, like this Build-a-Bear puppy (Build-a-Puppy?) from Mimi:

and some My Little Ponies:

Phoebe requested that we eat at Applebee's, where she was delighted to be presented with some balloons:

Daddy decorated her cake, as usual (have you gotten the idea that Phoebe likes fairies?):

Finally, the candles and the wish:

She had a good day. "I'm four!" she said before she went to bed, and then, with great excitement, "and I get to be four tomorrow too!"


And now she's four

Spinning in the driveway
under a pink parasol
pink dress
pink shoes
pink cheeks
She says:
"Mommy, watch! When I dance with my gumbrella,
I look just like Marian Poppins!"

Happy birthday, little girl.


This just in

There's a wallaby on the loose in my hometown.

A wallaby. On the loose. In suburban North Carolina.

She jumped the fence at the vet's office. Her name is Sydney.

I kind of hope she hops past our back yard while I'm out there with the kids today.

A wallaby.

Wallaby darned.