Andrew had some interviews to conduct on Thursday (for research purposes) but he had time to walk us over to the Air and Space Museum beforehand, which was nice for me because my sense of direction is terrible, and nice for him because he loves the Air and Space Museum.
Here are the kids sitting on the lawn of the mall in front of the Capitol Building.
This is what the kids looked like when we visited in 2012 (only it was November instead of September and we only had three kids, not four):
My, how time flies! And speaking of flying...once we made it to the museum we were immediately directed to an exhibit called "How Things Fly," where the kids got to explore basic principles of flight. We attended a demonstration and both Miriam and Benjamin got to volunteer to try things, which they thought was fun.
I don't think we stopped by this particular exhibit the last time we we were at the Air and Space Museum, so although this exhibit has been at the museum since 1996 it was new to us this trip. The kids had a lot of fun playing with all the hands-on exhibits.
Andrew also accompanied us to the Wright Brothers exhibition. It was fun for us to get to see the 1903 Flyer after our visit to Kitty Hawk back in March. I don't think Benjamin remembered much about that trip (he often seems to be in his own little la-la land lately where he's definitely General Washington and there are flying sharks and things like that) but Rachel and Miriam certainly did.
After this, Andrew left for his interviews and I was left all alone with four children. Talk about feeling outnumbered!! I stuck Zoë in the front carrier, Rachel and Miriam vowed not to stray from sight and to do their best to help keep Benjamin under control and to do the museum at his speed (if he lingers, we linger; if he rushes through, we rush through) so that we could avoid either losing him or experiencing an epic meltdown.
"And if you're good," Andrew promised as a large tour group walked by, "We can have food for dinner!"
I am still laughing about that. I don't know how many people heard that line or what they thought but just thinking about it makes me giggle. Naturally, we always feed our children food at dinner, but Wednesday was a travel day, which meant we subsisted on: chips, grapes, GoGurt, carrots, Pirate's Booty, and little packets of applesauce. By Thursday, the promise of a real meal was a really good lure for the children.
Hilariously enough, Andrew made dinner this Monday (which was a pleasant surprise to come home to after hiking because I thought he was going to be late on campus, but apparently the thing that he had didn't last as long as he'd thought) and his dinner included sautéed mushrooms. Miriam spent all day yesterday doing chores to "earn a yummy meal without any mushrooms" (she decided on that motivation all on her own). It was soccer night, though, so that meant peanut butter and jam sandwiches eaten in the van was what was for dinner (dinner of champions), so tonight she's expecting a yummy meal without any mushrooms.
I didn't take many pictures of the rest of our time at the museum because I had Zoë in the front carrier (she wanted to nurse) and was pushing the stroller (sometimes with Benjamin in it) and chasing after the children. The camera wasn't my priority...
But here are the kids with of their heroes: Amelia Earhart!
And here are the girls playing with a model of the solar system:
This was the one place they got stuck at while Benjamin was skipping off to see the Mars rover. Other than that they remembered that they had to go at his speed, stopping to read signs when he was fascinated by something long enough to stand still for a few seconds, and skimming furiously when he was breezing by exhibits. It's a hard thing to have to always put your interests aside to please the little ones in your life (but I suppose it's also good practice for parenthood).
Zoë decided to have a little on-the-go nap. Unfortunately for her and for me, this is where she naps best (in the front carrier, in a milk comma, and only when we've forced her to walk a mile or more).
(To answer your question, Crystal): It really wasn't too difficult to have us all sleep in the same room. We'd put the kids down for bed and then would hang out in the living room until (a) they had fallen asleep and (b) Zoë was ready to sleep. Most night were pretty okay because she was so worn out from touristing that she'd easily conk out by midnight or 1 o'clock.
Our last mission before we left was to find the spaceship Enterprise. Rachel wanted her picture in front of it, so naturally Benjamin decided he wanted his picture in front of it as well, which meant I got this lovely shot of Rachel rolling her eyes and being all annoyed:
But here's a shot of her proud and smiling to compensate for that:
Speaking of Rachel, I put her in charge of packing her own stuff. We made a list of things we needed to pack and then I said, "I'll leave you to it." I figured she's old enough to pack for herself, and I let Miriam pack for herself as well. The sooner they become self-sufficient, the better.
When we woke her up on Wednesday morning—early, so we could hit the road—she moaned and groaned and asked if she could travel in her nice, cozy pyjama pants.
"I don't think so," I said. "We're going to stop and do things, like Yorktown, and I don't think you want to experience all of Yorktown in your pyjamas so I think you should wear actual pants."
She was not happy about it, but when I handed her her Star Wars leggings (which I happened to be folding at the time) and said, "Here, wear these. They're just as comfortable as pyjamas," she decided it was an okay compromise.
When we were sitting in the car on Wednesday morning, almost ready to back out of the driveway, I reminded the girls that (a) they'd done their own packing and (b) I had not checked what they'd packed. "Do you have everything you need?" I asked. "Underwear? Socks?"
"Oh! Socks!" Rachel said. "I forgot socks!"
She ran back into the house to get socks.
"Now I have everything I need!" she said.
But on Thursday morning when she was getting dressed she cried out in horror, "I forgot to pack pants!"
So yesterday's pants it was, which was fitting since they were space themed and we were visiting the Air and Space Museum (later we'd swing by Target to pick up a couple more pairs of pants for her; being out and about all day meant the kids were getting pretty filthy so wearing one pair of pants all week long was not an option). "Aren't you glad I made you wear pants in the car?" I gloated.
Anyway, after trekking through the Air and Space Museum everyone was hungry so we headed out to have a little picnic lunch of leftover snack food from our drive. Benjamin spent all of lunch chasing after squirrels or being squirrelly himself. At one point he was picking up pebbles from the path when he found a nice, big clump of chocolatey-brown pebbles. He picked it up and said, "Now I have a rock collection...of dog poop!"
And it was. Dried dog poop. Oh, boy!
"Put that down!" I ordered. "Gross. Wash your hands. Why? Why, Ben, why?"
I ask that question a lot.
While we were eating we got to watch a protest pass by, which the kids thought was interesting.
They were yelling and waving their signs the whole way down the mall, which was pretty empty so much of their efforts were wasted. But now I'm a little more informed about horse meat so I suppose their protest weren't entirely in vain.
After lunch we walked over to the National Museum of American History where, once I again, I didn't take very many pictures due to all the herding of
Here's Rachel by a suffrage wagon:
Speaking of women's rights, the kids enjoyed this little laundry station quite a bit. There's a little ringer-meter on that board and you have to twist the handles to twist the cloth inside and the meter will go from "dripping wet" to "bone dry" (or something like that). They weren't able to get the needle to move very far, but I was able to wring it out to "bone dry" twenty times in a row, which, by their grading rubric, classified me as a "professional" clothes wringer, not to brag or anything.
Here are the kids reading The Anti-Slavery Alphabet, published in Philadelphia in 1847:
If you're interested in reading it, yourself, there's a copy of it here. This version of the alphabet is a little more forceful and I enjoyed reading it as well. Here's an excerpt:
W Stands for Woman. In Slavery-life,
Full many are mothers, but no one is wife.
For decency's sake, form of wedding there is,
But the parties are claimed by the master as his;
And the children are sold, and the father is sold
To this or that trader, "to have and to hold;”
And the woman is whipped, for the motherly moan
And the cry of a heart that is left all alone.
O master all monstrous! is conscience amiss
In dooming the sham of a wedding like this!
And then it gives a little footnote that says, "Certain Southern ladies claimed, not long since, that they care as tenderly for slave mothers as Northern ladies care for poor white mothers. 'Possibly that is true,' was the reply, 'but Northern ladies do not afterwards sell the baby!'"
Ouch. The truth hurts, don't it!
Here's Miriam in front of an outfit from some music video, I think (around the 1970s of the "Snapshots of African American Communities). She gasped and said, "That's beautiful!"
Here's Zoë pretending to be the president:
By the time we'd worn out the afternoon walking around the museum, Andrew texted me to say that he was finished with his interviews and we could meet up for dinner. The kids and I went outside to meet him, but we were stopped on the sidewalk.
"You can't go this way," a police officer informed me.
So I stopped and looked up Andrew's location on my phone. He was just down the street...but I couldn't go on and I didn't want to go around anywhere or I'd be sure to miss him. I decided just to stay put and let him find us. We waited in front of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and soon enough Andrew texted to say that he could see us and would meet up with us in a minute.
Then a young woman, quite smitten with Benjamin, who was waiting near us said, "Do you know why we're all waiting here?"
"Because they closed the sidewalk," one of my children snarkily replied.
"Well, yes, but do you know why?" she asked.
"President Obama is inside the new museum giving a speech. He'll be leaving any minute now and if you wait for a few more minutes you'll get to see him drive by!"
And so we waited for a few more minutes and watched the motorcade drive by, like an impromptu parade. We waved at the president and the president was waving, too, so basically we met President Obama. Basically.
And then we chased the motorcade back to the White House (but not really because we had to wait for it pass completely before they'd let us go...but we really did walk to the White House after watching the motorcade pass by).
Here's Miriam in front of a statue of Alexander Hamilton:
We couldn't get any closer because it was all blocked off (too close to the White House, to just let any old riffraff in there, I guess), but here we are at the Department of the Treasury:
I'm sure the Department of the Treasury has loved the musical Hamilton because I doubt very many people were excited to see it before the musical came out. Just saying.
And here we are at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:
It's hard to get a picture of them all looking at the camera at the same time...
We went to a nearby McDonald's for some "real" food—the children had earned it, after all—and then headed back to Amanda's house to rest our poor, tired feet.