Thursday, October 31, 2013

Alexandria Boutiques & Air and Scare

I love Alexandria.  I like to pretend I live there.  And it would be great if I did since it is so close to Brian's work, but we don't.  But I love all of the boutiques on King Street, and have been wanting to get in them for a while.  I finally got my chance when I read about Alexandria's Boutique Trick or Treat last Saturday.  We dressed up the boys and headed there for a great afternoon checking out lots of new places.  I have lots of places to take my little sister to shop now when she comes out here next.

We took a break midway through to go to an author visit at the local bookstore, Hooray for Books!  We were one of only a few there, so it was awesome that Theo basically got his own personal reading from the author of a pretty popular children's book.  And since we are focusing heavily on numbers right now, Ten Timid Ghosts was the perfect story at the perfect time.  The author/illustrator Jennifer O'Connell even did a drawing using input from the kids.  And Theo got his first signed book.

(I forgot to mention that the cool people at the comic store were so impressed with Theo's Superman costume, that even though they weren't giving out treats they tracked us down on the street to give Theo a FREE comic book.  He spent about the next two days totally absorbed in it.)

 After this, we let the kids nap while we drove out to the Udvar-Hazy National Air & Space Museum's annual Air & Scare event.  This is free, being a Smithsonian, but requires a $15 fee for parking.  They stayed open extra late for this event, and it was packed.  Besides the candy stops, there were story, craft, and activity stations.  Our three year old had a great time.

Racing his "witch on a broom."
I should have mentioned last year that none of our Halloween costumes could be complete without the help of my hubby.  He is surprisingly crafty, and has a knack for figuring out how to get things to work.  Every year he willingly completes whatever I ask.  This year, I unfortunately did not get to pick out the costumes.  Theo got it in his head that he should be Spiderman, and since there was know way I was making that, I talked him into Superman.  I don't think he really knows who either of these  heroes are, but he was convinced he needed to be Superman.  We almost had him convinced to be a "knight in shining armor" (from a favorite Sesame Street episode).  He agreed once we explained the sword he would get.  And the fact that Eli would be a dragon.  But, he recently went back to just wanting to be Superman.  So, Eli was paired up as Batman, naturally.

These were pretty easy to put together.  We found the shirts and tights at Wal-Mart and some tights/socks and undies at Target (this is the second year in a row Theo is wearing girl's tights) and then got fabric, felt, and ribbon (yellow belt) at Joanns.  I put together Theo's cape based on this tutorial, and we threw socks and hose over Theo's rain boots to make them red.

While this was Theo at 44 months, his father was the same character many years ago at 38 months of age.
 His brother was Batman too.
For Elijah we went ahead and paired him as batman too, since he didn't have an opinion on the matter.  His cape was a lot more complex when I realized he should really have a hood and a bat-look to it.  I basically came up with it on my own, making a newspaper template to fit him, and using these three tutorials for ideas.  Super Hero Hooded Towel, Bear Hooded Towel, Cape Expectations

Brian then made Eli's black gloves, and their emblems also.

For more costume ideas, check out these links for 2010-2012 and 2014.

National Building Museum

Last week we again made it into downtown DC.  It was the first time we've been there since the whole shutdown.

I have a love/hate relationship with parking in DC.  There are crazy, particular signs everywhere about the parking, but no one seems to follow them.  All the parking around the National Mall says you can't park there until 10:00, and then it is only 3 hour parking.  But every time I have driven down there, almost every free spot is already taken by 9:00.  So, we chanced it and took a parking spot there, and didn't get ticketed.  But we still moved after our official 3 hours was up, and had to go into a metered spot because no one else moved after three hours.

Anyway, we always get there too early after dropping dada off at work, so we decided to park there and then walk to the National Building Museum not too far away.  It ended up being so chilly, that we stopped in a Cosi and grabbed a very expensive cup of hot cocoa and a banana.  Theo then proceeded to tell everyone we passed on the street that his hot cocoa was keeping his hands warm...  he is such a chatterbox.

We headed to the G street entrance to the museum because we've heard that's the best way to get a stroller in.  We still had to wait a few more minutes before they opened, but Theo kept busy telling everyone else waiting how he'd been here before (for the festival).

Once in, we went ahead and bought tickets for the whole museum.  You may just buy tickets for the "building zone" which includes 45 minutes of play time there for $3.  I wasn't that super impressed with the area.  I thought it would have more unique building kind of toys, but it was your pretty typical selection.  If in the area, and needing to kill an hour, we might come back, but I don't think we would make a special trip of it just for that.

Regular admission is $8 for adults, and $5 for kids 3-17, so Eli was free again.  For that price we basically got the timed admission into the building zone, and then 6 other exhibits that are currently open, though we only saw 4 other galleries.  Out of those galleries, the two most kid friendly ones are on the second floor.  The House & Home exhibit had an interesting collection of artifacts that Theo liked talking about, but unfortunately he needed to take a restroom break shortly after we got inside, and then we were behind one of the many pre-school groups we saw there, so we didn't get to see the rest of it.

The Play Work Build exhibit was definitely the hidden gem of this museum, and what I expected the building zone to be more like.  It had an interesting collection of building materials, and even a computerized block play experience.  Theo could have stayed here all day, but our timed entrance to the building zone came while we were still here, so we had to hustle down there.

Best photo I could get, he was on the move the whole time.

I should also mention that they was setting-up for an event that the Great Hall was having, so there were some other kid friendly activities that supposedly take place that weren't happening this particular day.  I would consider going back and buying regular admission again, and getting one of the toolkits (the pattern one probably) if I knew there weren't going to be any events going on, and once the new Disaster exhibit opens next year.

While I probably wouldn't recommend this museum to someone visiting with young children that only have a day or two in the city, it is interesting to visit if you live near enough to not make a whole day of it.  (They do have a pretty good gift shop too, and a cafe.)

On to the next museums...

We parked near the Air & Space Museum, which Theodore recognized, so he requested we go in there as well.  We had a few minutes to spare, so we went in the "How you Fly" exhibit.  Theodore had a good time playing with some of the interactive machines.

And though we started the day with hot cocoa, I wanted to end it with ice cream, which I always get at the National Museum of American History.  We picked just two exhibits to tour first, luckily right next to each other, the On the Water and FOOD exhibits.  The water exhibit is a huge collection of model ships, with some other artifacts added in.  Theodore asked SOOOO many questions about them, and was surprisingly focused on the tiny ships and their details.  I had to push him through the exhibit (rather than chase him through it like some).  The boys weren't as interested in the new food exhibit, which now includes Julia Child's kitchen, and a whole bunch of other artifacts talking about how food has changed in the last 60 years.  I've been thinking of this myself recently as I've been going through some of the family and church cookbooks in my collection, and found the exhibit to be very interesting.

And, I can't resist taking at least a few photos of the boys with all the sculptures we come across.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cows 'n Corn Fieldtrip (Theo's first fieldtrip)

Knowing we'd be going to a farm for Theo's field trip, we haven't really hit up as many local farms this fall as we might have otherwise.  We were all excited to join Theo's school for a morning on the farm.

Cows 'n Corn is located a county over in Midland, VA.  The farm is open to the public with a large corn maze, ice cream, and lots of play equipment for the kids.  For our field trip, they split us into groups and rotated us through four stations. 

First, we got to go on a hay ride.  Theo was pretty funny correcting a kid who was holding a piece of straw and calling it hay.  He apparently learned this difference between all the farm and fair visits to Indiana.

 Their Holsteins are a bit spoiled-they have an automatic back scratcher (yellow), that was something I've never saw before. 

Next they got to go learn a bit more about a heifer, and pet her, as well as some other farm animals.

The third station was a butter-making demonstration.  The kids all got their chance to shake the cream until it turned to butter, and got a taste.  Theo was the first in line to claim his cracker.

 And the fourth was pumpkin class, which included a story reading by a calf puppet.  Theo has been really into our hand puppets lately, so this was perfect for him. 

 Lastly, there was plenty of equipment to play on throughout the farm, including a rope spider web, crawling tubes, wooden trains, and a huge stack of hay bales.  And, of course, all the kids got a little bit of ice cream.

 Elmo especially enjoyed the field trip (he is going everywhere with us lately).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Recycled/Reused Toys for a One Year Old

I really don't know why we buy toys for our boys at all.  Our kids would be fine with sticks, cardboard boxes, blankets, silverware, measuring cups and all of our recyclables.  They are both explorers, and seem to have long attention spans with each toy they explore.  But we do buy them.  And I LOVE toys, especially those for very young children.

Lately, Eli has been having too much fun getting into the two cabinets that are not locked in the kitchen, and pulling books off the bookshelves in the living room.  So, I finally put together some more busy bag type activities for him to keep him out of my stuff.  Almost all of these activities/toys were made from stuff already around the house.

Pipe Cleaner Poke:  Simply putting some pipe cleaners into a clean Parmesan cheese container creates a fun toy.  Big brother took his turn enjoying it too.

Fabric Pull:  Some squares into a wipes container saved us from having to hide the real wipes container all the time.

Cupcake Sorter.  I've been keeping the cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towel for weeks now, but don't really have anything to do with them.  This was my first use.  This one and the last idea came from here.

Lid Drops:  A while back I went ahead and put a hole in a milk jug so he could use it to drop lids into.  Recently I made this one from a cocoa container.  This quick and easy one was a quick favorite with him.  While designed as another place to deposit lids and caps, he quickly decided it was better as a bowl when he put his spoon inside to stir.  Additionally, he has fun taking the lid on and off, as well as shaking it too.  Another great idea from here.

 Puff Push:  I had done this back in the day for Theo, and Eli has taken to it.  He's really good with it.

 Shaker Bottles:  I've also found a lot of these ideas on pintrest.  Just filling a bottle with something interesting to see/hear has provided Eli with a lot of entertainment.  This is one I now throw in the car for carseat entertainment.  The one filled with beads (left overs from an algebra film canister activity ages ago) was originally his favorite, but after a while he has really started liking watching the glitter swirl inside the second one.

 Can you tell he's enjoying them?