Starting School! A ramble

Our boys will begin kindergarten this week.

I think I need to say that again because even though I’ve said it a lot in the last few months, the gravity of the idea still hasn’t quite sunk in. (Hence the wandering mess that I’m sharing with you here.)

E and M are starting school this week. They will be in kindergarten. They will be real students in a real school.

I started this post on Sunday. The ultimate Sunday–the last Sunday of their little childhood! Holy big deal!

Here’s what is getting me all emotional–the change, the huge, massive shift in our lives, and in all of our identities.

For these last five and a half years, the boys have been in some kind of daycare/childcare, but we’ve always had so much flexibility. Since A and I both work from home and especially since I became self-employed, we’ve been able to do schedule things whenever we want. I can pull them out of daycare for a random trip to Seattle, or for a birthday outing, or just to go have a special day together. It’s always especially nice to be doing fun things on weekdays, when all the other kids and grownups are at school and work! It feels like we’re playing hooky and getting away with something. And it feels like freedom.

But this is a really big transition. We’re now chained to the school year, the school day, the school calendar. They will be in school for the next THIRTEEN YEARS, which is basically forever. We’ll have to do our vacations, our special days, on all the holidays just like everyone else. No more freedom, no more spontaneity. (Sure, we can do a random day off I suppose, but I don’t think I’ll actually want to do that much. I’m too much of a rule follower and I do believe that attendance is important.)

This kindergarten transition is also about the boys ‘belonging to the world’ more and more (I just read that phrase the other day, isn’t it perfect?). We’ve had a little of that with daycare, where all these people know our kids and we don’t know them. It seems really weird and it makes me feel protective and cliquey, like hey, they are OUR boys, why do you know them. But of course that makes no sense. They’re going to have a new life at school, with new skills and new influences and new friends. None of which we have any control over!

They’re big little kids. They’re independent. They love math problems and they’re starting to sound out words. They don’t know how to tie shoes. They don’t know how to swim. They hold my hand when we cross the street. They lay down and cuddle on the couch with me. They pile on my lap so I can read them a book. They are best friend brothers and I think they also play with other kids, but probably mostly each other. How will they do at making good friends with other kids? Will they only hang out with each other? How much of a bad influence will they get from other kids? (I freaking hate the big after-school kids at their daycare who have taught them all kinds of terrible things.) Will they totally lose their innocence? Will they grow up too fast and want to stop being sweet little boys?

From now on, they are students. School-age children. And we are school parents! We’ll join the PTA and volunteer with school events! This is a whole new level of adulting and I feel a little blindsided and intimidated.

Another funny thing is that the day is the FIRST day of school. And I have to keep remembering with a little bit of shock and dismay that then they KEEP GOING. Forever and ever! It’s not just one day, it’s the first day of the rest of their lives! Ack!

Will they have homework? (Not in kindergarten, thank goodness. But I’m sure it will start after that.) What if it’s terrible and annoying? How much of a pain in the ass is schoolwork and projects and stuff going to be? What if one or both hates going to school?  What if someone cries or throws tantrums about not wanting to go to school? How will we deal with packing stupid lunches every day? Will they make friends? Will we make friends with the other class parents?

This is a huge transition for us too. I’m having a really hard time because I’m so used to school from a teacher point of view. From a parent point of view, this is completely new and different and this summer I’ve felt so helpless! I know absolutely nothing!! I also know nothing about what I *should* know and expect! For someone who likes to be in control, this is difficult.

I bought their school supplies several weeks ago, because someone on FB had to tell me to look on the school website to see the list. How would I have known to look on a website for a school supply list?! Was I supposed to know that?! Why does everyone else know this? Why do I know nothing? Why is the our district school website such a terrible labyrinth of bureaucratic confusion? I feel so new and bumbling!

We haven’t bought them new backpacks for school. I didn’t know what size backpack they’re supposed to have for kindergarten when they’re still so little. There are so many sizes of backpacks now, did you know that?! What do they even bring in a backpack? Are they going to be carrying notebooks and binders and pencil pouches? Two years ago I got them these little backpacks that we’ve been using for traveling and summer camp and daycare change of clothes. The lunch boxes that we got them two summers ago don’t really fit in the backpacks, so what *does* go in there? I don’t know if we’re fancy enough to get those metal bento box style lunchboxes that would fit. It doesn’t seem very special to just use the same old backpacks–but now it’s three days before school starts so have I completely ruined the Special First Day of School?!

This is their VERY FIRST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! Shouldn’t it be the most special of them all?! Am I making not enough of a big deal about this? Why haven’t I been able to plan better for this?

We’ve been able to roll into daycare whenever we wanted, and pick them up whenever we wanted. Now we’re locked into an actual, firm schedule. Miraculously, our school doesn’t start at the crack of dawn. We’ll be able to maintain their normal morning routine (wakeup between 7/73, breakfast, playtime, leave around 830), so we are very happy and relieved about that.

We are also super excited about physically going to school. It’s only a few blocks away—we timed it this week and it took less than NINE MINUTES to walk there!! We’ve been taking them to a daycare is 20 minutes away for the past FOUR YEARS. Each roundtrip to drop them off or pick them up was an hour. So there were two hours of daycare driving every day!! We will save so much gas and so much time! Plus, a little exercise and fresh air! (This is very easy to say in sunny August–we’ll see how I feel in dark and rainy November…)

We have one boy who is excited about kindergarten, and one boy who is nervous about kindergarten. They’ll be in the same class, so I think that will be really nice and helpful for them to have their best-friend-brother right there. They’ve never been apart or in separate classes, and I think going through the transition to real school together will be good.

I guess I just need to remember to take one thing at a time. Our kids are good kids and I think they’re going to do really well in school. It’s just a new part of our journey together as a family.

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FIVE!

  Here’s all the stuff M and E have been up to in 2017 as four year olds and the first month of five. I read over the Four post and a lot of their behaviors and stuff is still the same.

These boys are kids now. Not toddlers or little preschoolers anymore. They have lost all baby talk and sound like real little kids now. They still have sweet little boy voices, though, especially M. They say “drawl” for “draw” and E still says “helicoffter”. They love saying “actually” and doing that little head shake that 4 and 5 year olds do. They still have big chubby cheeks too. Here’s them getting to work like mama and daddy. 🙂

They are such kids in other ways. “This is boring” is a frequent sentence heard in our house. They think it’s hilarious to copy everything we say. They shorten words like little millenials! Breakfast foods mostly: oatmeal=oat; cheerios=cheer; pancakes=pank; french toast=french. 🙂

They’ve been in full time daycare/preschool a little more than a year now and it’s going well. In September they moved up to the 5s class, advanced pre-k. Their learning has started to expand so much. Their unsavory vocabulary has also increased, thanks to the older after-school kids. Grrrr.

They can write their names, they can write all the letters and numbers, they can write if you dictate to them. For awhile M drew his name with a backwards C. E doesn’t always write his letters all in the right order. They’re pretty good at trying to spell out words, except for vowels, which are always so tricky.

They can also do math! They can do very simple addition on their own and some of it they’ve seemed to memorize, like two plus two and three plus three. They can also mentally subtract. Just this morning I was doing a “spot the difference” with E, and there were six differences. We found some; he counted four and then said, “Only two more!” I am not super familiar with all the age milestones but I feel like that kind of two-step mental math is pretty impressive at this age.

Behavior wise, they are definitely five year olds. They get very hangry at the end of the day when I pick them up from daycare. There is FREQUENT and annoying whining. Here is a mean-mama photo I took of E: We were at the ICE CREAM SHOP and he had a tantrum because his ICE CREAM was in a cup not a cone.

They love crafts. They draw people now! It is so adorable! They also like making necklaces with pipecleaners and plastic beads, making bracelets with those tiny rubber bands (which are every-damn-where all over the house), drawing with markers, coloring, cutting paper into “tickets” (tiny squares) or snowflakes.

For extra-curricular activities, we put them in gymnastics for another term, which was wonderful. The teacher is SO patient and kind, and added new skills each class. And then we finally put them in a swim class for the late fall! We’ve been meaning to for, um, years now, but the Saturday morning classes fill up instantly. This time we decided to try a weekday evening class, which means we had to go straight from daycare. It actually worked pretty well. The boys loved it! That teacher was also fantastic–super patient, loved playing lots of little games with them.

Big travel year: Another visit to Washington DC this spring! We got to spend four days with A’s parents in Virginia and then two days in DC. This age was great, because they could understand so much and communicate so well. Plus they were so excited for everything, and that made it so much fun for us.

We did our yearly coast overnight trip to Astoria in September. It was our first time there, and it was great! (Except that the entire gorge had just caught fire, and the smoke rolled all the way out to the coast and made the sky awful.)

They continued to be scooter speedsters this year, racing down hills with confidence. They got bikes during Grandma and Grandpa’s visit in October and man were they excited! They ride well and definitely still need training wheels.

They’ve grown a lot. They still haven’t gained a ton of weight though; E has weighed 39 pounds and M is about 41/42 pounds forever. They’re in 5T clothes and size 11 shoes. Their feet don’t seem to grow very fast, and they wear out the velcro on their shoes faster than they outgrow the shoes themselves, which is annoying.

M has become an expert on the monkeybars this year! He has conquered all three sets at our local school playground. E finally learned how to really do the monkeybars while we were in Astoria.

Our house is officially de-babied! I took down the last baby gate in front of the stairs early this year. And we finally got big kid beds this spring! I can’t believe we kept them in their crib toddler beds for so long. They started wanting us to lay down with them, so we had to contort and fold ourselves, and it was super uncomfortable. One day I was like, I’m over this! and made the beds happen that weekend. I found these cute twin beds/bunkbeds on craigslist and we got awesome new mattresses and bedding at IKEA. They also slept in real beds at the hotel this summer and while visiting grandparents!

This summer they went through a huge phase of Ode to Joy. They would request to watch a certain concert fragment at night before bed, and they came up with their own interpretation of the words:

I can stop and make any venya
Us every morning save the things
Hark then im shoe petals
In California zumfit way ma foss

Ode to Joy

On TV/Netflix, they really like Paw Patrol, My Little Pony, Spirit. They really liked Magic Schoolbus for awhile too. Curious George occasionally; Daniel Tiger, Little Einsteins and Super Why are no longer of interest.

This summer M declared that he doesn’t come to snuggle in our bed anymore in the mornings. E does most mornings right when their owl clock turns green at 7, and snuggles with Daddy for awhile.

Bedtime is supposed to be 830 (meaning we leave their room around then), and on weekend days when they run around, it works great and they conk out quickly. During the week it’s much harder since they have so much more energy, and we don’t leave their room til 9 or later. Ugh.

Oh man, big news from this summer–they attended summer camp! That was the first time they’ve been in such a brand-new place, with brand-new teachers, and even in a brand-new language! It was at the language-immersion camp where I worked for the summer, so I was close by and got to see them a lot. It was so sweet, seeing their little selves with backpacks and new lunchboxes, starting to learn some Spanish, participating in the field days and stuff. They did really well and I was so proud of them.

The boys play together all the time. Last month I saw them play “Egg” where they both say “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeg” and the first person to finish saying “egg” loses. They make up games with random materials. They love running and racing in the kitchen/living room. They love playing hide and seek. They love playing with Hot Wheels cars. They make forts, they pretend to be monsters, they pretend to be babies, they pretend to be superheroes. They are so creative, and we adore seeing them be fun and creative and interesting *together.*

They’re old enough for lots of puzzles and board games! They love Chutes & Ladders, Paw Patrol, Uno, Ring It, Monopoly Junior Party. M has a hard time losing games though, and will either pout, or quit playing, or start crying loudly if someone else wins. We also subscribed to High Five Magazine, and added on Puzzle Buzz and Hidden Pictures magazines.

They moved up to harness car seats! It’s kind of my favorite because they can buckle themselves into them! Makes daycare pickup AWESOME, especially when it’s cold/windy/rainy–I can just jump into my own seat and they also get into their own seats. (They’re always whining about being hungry while they do that, of course.)

This year they really discovered Legos! They got some real sets for their birthday and really liked putting them together. (So did Daddy!)

The boys’ Halloween costumes were a little random this year, from Costco: a skeleton knight and Superman.

Their 5th birthday party was at the Lego store, Bricks & Minifigs Portland.  The boys and some friends had a great time playing with Legos! And eating snacks and cake. (Adorable and delicious mini cakes by Jam Cakes!)

These kids are growing up so much. They’re still so little but they think they know everything already! And they love learning and knowing things. They are sweet and exasperating and whiny and wonderful.

Astoria! Coast Trip 2017

Our summer coast adventure this summer was to Astoria! We hadn’t been there before, so it was fun to explore a new place. We went on Labor Day for two nights, so there weren’t too many people aorund. Unfortunately, it was also when that horrible Eagle Creek fire started, and the smoke followed us all the way out to the coast.

Our first stop was actually past Astoria at Fort Stevens the famous beach with a real life shipwreck (the Peter Iredale). The boys had a blast playing in the water, climbing the ship, and playing in the sand.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn, of course, which is my favorite hotel because it always has a reliable good free breakfast, and usually a pool. We brought the boys’ floaties and they loved going swimming! They were so cute–flapping so hard around the pool, puffing out their cheeks to hold their breath.

But perhaps even better than being cute, the swimming totally wore out the boys and they went to sleep really fast and easily. Usually vacation bedtime is *terrible* so this was a very welcome surprise. They shared a big bed–this was our first time traveling without a pack n play or a kid tent. What an exciting move up, to not need special places/equipment for them to sleep!

The next day, we drove out to Cape Disappointment and enjoyed being the gorgeous woods to see the lighthouse and the Lewis & Clark Center. (The boys were not terribly enthused about most of the outing; there was a decent amount of whining and complaining.)

On Day Three, we visited the Astoria Column! The boys walked all the way to the top with us, all 165 steps! And then about thirty seconds later they were like, okay let’s go back down.

We also found this huge playground called Tapiola Park, and the boys had a fantastic time running around playing on day two and three.

tapiola park astoria

Overall it was a really fun trip! I love going on family adventures and exploring new places. 🙂

Riptide!

This is my new friend Jeff. He rescued me from a riptide in Maui.

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That morning, my sister and I went snorkeling at Honolua. It was amaaazing. The sky was perfect. The little cove is totally protected from wind so there are zero waves. It wasn’t very crowded. There were sea turtles! We were snorkeling for maybe an hour, and I could have happily stayed another hour or two.

So I couldn’t wait to get in the water again when we had time later that afternoon back at our own hotel. There were waves out front, but I saw people out in the water. I made sure to read the sign again and I thought I understand. I asked the couple who was just coming in if it wasn’t too choppy out there. They said, no, it’s fine! and asked if I was alone. I said no, my people were right there on the beach behind me. They also said there was a good snorkeling spot right past the last buoy.

So I headed out with my rented waterproof camera and swam out. I was near the buoys, maybe five feet to the right. Around the last buoy I was noticing the waves were pretty rough and it was making me a little nervous. I ducked my head down to look under the water, took one quick photo, confirmed it wasn’t very clear, and turned around to head back to shore.

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I started swimming and after a couple minutes realized I hadn’t gotten closer to shore, and was still just a few feet in front of the last buoy. I tried a little more and still made no progress. I was stuck.

It did not occur to me that I was in a riptide.

I hung out for awhile, watching out for the waves. They looked 3-4 feet high, and they freaked me out. I was worried about getting under one of them and being pushed underwater. Thankfully they weren’t really coming my way.

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This of course was a bad thing and meant I was in the riptide! I did not understand this!

There were a few rolling waves that lifted me up, and one got some water over my head, which added a little more panic. Then I realized that I had drifted even farther out, now a few feet past the last buoy. This was not good.

So I decided to yell for help. I yelled out, HELP! as loud as I could. It felt weird because I wasn’t really panicking or in actual danger, but I was also stuck. I was starting to get a little bit tired and felt just a glimmer of a little panic. I yelled HELP! I NEED HELP! some more. Nobody seemed to hear me. I waved a couple times. I could easily see my family on the beach. They waved back and I waved my arms again, and yelled out a few more times. I should have waved a lot more.

Then I saw that they had heard me–they suddenly stood up. I saw my sister charge into the water and call something to me.  But I couldn’t hear her. Then I saw two men start swimming out to me.  Jeff might have gotten there first but the other guy was right behind. I don’t know if they knew each other or not. Anyway, Jeff swam up to me and just said pleasantly, Need some help? I said, yes please. He told me to take his hand, which I did, and he proceeded to swim on his back, towing me to the shore. Nice and easy. I introduced myself, and I asked if he was a lifeguard and if he had done this before. He said no to both, which really surprised me since he seemed so at ease rescuing me. He got me in, and everyone twittered around me freaking out. I hugged Jeff and thanked him a bunch, as did the family. He was like, aw no, you did all the work. (Which clearly I did not! He was just that nice.)

There was a bunch of talking and rehashing on the shore. Onlookers asked if I was okay. Official people from both hotels came to see if I was okay and if everything was alright. I assured them I was. My family told me that they only heard me yell once and that the extra waving of arms also told them I was in trouble, and that they had enlisted the help of the two men.

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A couple minutes later, a lifeguard Jetski roared up! We assured him that I was fine. (He almost seemed disappointed that there was no rescue needed.) Then a couple minutes after that, a fire engine screamed up. Apparently someone at the hotel on their balcony, saw me yelling and called 911! So I had to chat with the firemen and give them my info and reassure them that I was fine and did not need any medical attention.

This all made me feel really silly and dumb. All that attention and people out of their way to help and rescue me. I was totally fine! What I kept telling folks was that I’d been fine, but I may not have been for much longer. If I’d still been out there long enough to be rescued by the jetski guard, I would probably not have been fine.

Which is weird, because I had been floating in the ocean all week. So I wasn’t in danger of drowning, right? The waves, though…I really really did not want to be stuck in the waves. Of course the water had calmed down by the time I was out and dry!

I swear I read the sign about it before I went in, but I totally misunderstood what it meant. After I got out, everyone was like, oh you have to swim sideway/parallel to the beach to get out of a riptide. I was like, yeah, but I didn’t understand that I was in a riptide! My brain just narrowed focus to: “I’m stuck; big waves; I need to get out of here”

And for the record, like fifteen minutes later, Jeff and his brother had to go rescue a couple who had gone out on some paddle boards.

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I went back to read the sign after the hullaballoo died down (and we took some sunset pictures). I had to stand there and study the thing for like five minutes and finally it clicked what it meant and how I’d misunderstood. Oh, and my sister said she’d never even noticed the sign at all, all week! That’s not good if the sign is not super clear and super obvious. To me, I think there needs to be a big sign–maybe a four-sided one so visible from all directions–that is all red and says DO NOT SWIM HERE. And/or they need a second set of buoys and make the sign say DO NOT SWIM BETWEEN THE BUOYS.

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So that’s the story of how I got caught in a riptide. It sounds super dramatic and life-threatening, but it really wasn’t.

However, I spent a lot of time afterward thinking about it: re-hashing it, trying to figure out what I could have done differently, re-imagining being stuck out there with those waves that looked so ominous. (I mean, they weren’t giant storm waves or anything, but with the sandbars and reefs they were breaking not far from me, not just at the shore. Literally, looking at this picture I took out there even now gives me a feeling of dread and slight panic). Then imagining getting dunked by one of the waves. Then trying to re-design the sign to be more obvious. I felt kind of silly to put so much thought into it after the fact.

I guess the lessons are pretty obvious: Don’t swim alone. Look for breaks in the waves and avoid that. Don’t go out in choppy water. (Even the other times we’d gone snorkeling the waves weren’t that big or that frequent.) Always keep an eye on anyone in the ocean because things can change so fast. Don’t let small children anywhere near the ocean. And of course, if you’re stuck, swim parallel to the beach.

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The Secret #11 Most Surprising Thing I Learned My First Year as a Mother

I never really posted about it, or even mentioned it to anyone in real life, but I was really nervous, even a little terrified, of having these babies. Partly because holy shit twins, and because I’d never had my own babies before, so I was scared of how hard it would be and what life would suddenly be like. But I realize now that I was also scared because I didn’t know *who* I would be. I thought I’d magically turn into/have to become someone different, someone who was beatifically selfless, and endlessly patient, and mother-y adult-y, and of course focused *only* on her babies.

A long time ago, I wrote about the things that surprised me the most about my first year of motherhood.

A few days later, reading a comment somewhere, I realized the biggest, most important change that surprised me:

I still feel like myself.

I didn’t become a whole new person once I had grown two humans with my body. It didn’t magically change my personality, my likes and dislikes.

Now, to be sure, plenty of things about my life have changed. I have a lot less time to myself, weekends aren’t just for sleeping and lazing about the house anymore, etc etc.

But the core of who I am is still very much there. I’m definitely the same person I was before I had babies. I realize this shouldn’t have been a revelation, but I think in Western culture “motherhood” is such its own idealized persona and identity and pigeonhole. There isn’t a lot of open discussion about how motherhood and the rest of a woman’s life co-exist, with the exception of an awestruck, how did you do it all?! When the reality is that millions of women are doing all of it, all the fucking time, and just living their full, chaotic lives.

I do think motherhood is a tough, exhausting job. Stay-at-home-parenthood is an EXTREMELY tough job, especially with twins. (I only did it for a few months, and it wasn’t even full time.) I completely respect moms and dads who stay home with their kids.

But no, I don’t think it’s the world’s hardest job.

Many people say that having children is the best thing they’ve ever done. And honestly, I’m not sure I feel that way. I’ve had some incredible adventures in my life, all of which have made me the person I am now. Those past experiences can still hold up as something amazing that enriched me, while parenthood can feel like an ongoing experiment sometimes! And now I get to use my past adventures to enrich and shape my kids’ experience, and share things from my own life with them, seeing it through their fresh innocent eyes.

It is amazing to be a parent. To be the hero, the one who matters most, who is the end-all, be-all to a tiny person. I am incredibly grateful, and awed, that I am two people’s mother. That is insane! It’s such a gift, and it can be a burden too. (Sometimes the weight, the enormity, the miraculousness makes me tear up, even five years later.)

But I also still get to be me, an entire, well-rounded adult human outside of parenting.

Some links to read that are more eloquent than I:

Motherhood isn’t the “world’s toughest job”

Newsflash: Motherhood is not the world’s hardest job

You probably already know The Honest Toddler and Bunmi Laditan, who is the genius behind it. She is goddamn BRILLIANT. Follow her immediately if you aren’t already. I read this post of hers and was like YES OMG YES:

I thought having children would make me a mother. Instead it made me a person with children.

I look in the mirror and instead of seeing the beloved, timeless archetype, I’m just me.

when the word “mama” slips out of my youngest’s lips I’m still surprised and honored. You talking to me? Surely, there’s someone more deserving of that title, I think, looking around, but no, he’s addressing this unkempt collage of contradictions and reluctance. The keeper of all things.

Fun Bath Toys, plus a GAMECHANGER

We’ve had bath letters for a long time (two sets, of course, so they could both spell their names at the same time #twinproblems), and then I found some little water toys at Target. We had those retractable bath crayons, but they broke almost immediately. And that’s disappointing for toddlers and grown-ups alike.

Awhile back, I decided to add some new fun to bathtime. I found some different bath crayons that looked a bit more hardy, and some water-coloring tablets. Both were a resounding success! The crayons held up beautifully to lots of scribbling–zero breaking. The color drops are really vibrant, and fun to watch dissolve.

Also I have to tell you about this little thing that changed our lives–the Lil Rinser, a bath hat hair cover thing. Our boys HAAAAATE having their hair washed, mostly because they haaaate getting water in their ears and in their eyes. If you hold this thing on their head while rinsing, the water does not get in their hair and eyes!! TODDLER MAGIC!!

Other popular bath toys include plastic cups and funnels for filling and pouring, and a collection of rubber duckies. They get them at our dentist and we’ve gotten some as little tourist trinkets, and they play with them a ton in the bath!

What are your kids’ favorite bath toys?

*Amazon links are affiliate. Thank you for your support of this blog!

Big Family Trip! Part 2: to DC!

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On Sunday after the Easter fun, we packed everything up and headed back to DC. (We left an HOUR EARLIER than planned, which is a goddamn miracle.) Andy’s sister told us about the Air & Space Museum at Dulles Airport, which was right on the way, new to all of us (we visited the one on the National Mall on our last trip of course), and broke up the drive perfectly. Super perfect! It was a really cool museum—tons of airplanes of course, and a freaking SPACE SHUTTLE. I was blown away.

We also got these super awesome green-screen photos!

We stayed for about two hours, and drove into DC and parked at our hotel. We walked to the zoo (with stroller!) and wandered around a bit. The boys enjoyed seeing the animals, and so did we, but we all started getting tired and hot and hungry. Grabbed a super quick dinner across the street and then got set up at the hotel.

Speaking of the stroller–we didn’t need it during our time in Virginia, obviously; we brought it with us for airports and for going around town in DC, since there’s so much walking for sightseeing. It was helpful for sure, though the boys seemed to use it as a crutch. Like immediately wanting to sit in the stroller instead of waiting until they were actually tired. They so rarely ride in strollers anymore, so I’m sure it was nice for them to have the option to just sit down. If we hadn’t had it, I know we’d have heard SO much whining about being too tired to walk. (And I just cannot carry a forty-pound person very long or very far.) In general, I would not have guessed one would still need strollers for four-year-olds, but I was glad that I’d been too lazy to sell ours. (We also still have our Ergos! And used one (briefly) as recently as Christmas!)

Monday morning we went to the National Postal Museum. It’s part of the Smithsonian and I’d never heard of it! I guess since it’s not on the Mall it never crossed my radar. Bad tourist! There were some really neat exhibits–an old mail train with cool sorting bags and slots, a game to try using the zip-code machine (it’s this weird keyboard and we all failed at it), some mail scanners, and more. There was a table to try sorting mail, with a person there helping. We learned that members of Congress can sign an envelope instead of paying postage! Apparently it’s so they can communicate easily with their constituents, or for official purposes. A president cannot do this. And you can send mail to the president without including an address…since there’s only one place it can go. Same for Santa. Then there’s a computer station to make your own postage. You can see the boys’ efforts below. 🙂

After lunch at Union Station, we walked over to the National Building Museum. I also had never heard of this one. It was gorgeous. The space is huge and open with enormous pillars and even though I saw it on the website, my jaw still dropped when we got there in person.

There’s a “play zone” that you have to get special tickets for (you can see E playing with a huge toy house below)…but the boys liked another play area even better. It had blue foam blocks to build with. They played for almost an hour before our ticketed time to the other play area, and then for another hour until the museum closed.

Tuesday we packed everything up and went into town one more time to the American History museum. We walked through the transportation exhibit and then hung out in a play area. There was a miniature version of Julia Child’s kitchen, a big fun play structure, some books, and more. On the way out, I made us stop for a family selfie with something DC in the background. 🙂

The boys did well on the metro. They liked tapping our cards for us, and walking up and down the escalators. They behaved very well on the platforms, warning us if we went past the bumps too close to the edge, and sitting quietly on the trains.

The flights home were also very smooth and easy. Andy and I both have pre-check, which means the boys get to do it too. It was amazing to not worry about long lines at security! During the layover in Atlanta, we were sad to find out there are no play areas. So, knowing the next flight would be long and go into bedtime, we made our own playtime. I found a mostly-empty gate and they ran around the chairs in circles. Then I had them hop and jump on the floor tiles. Got them nice and worn out. They watched yet more tv on the flight and finally at 10freaking30 they were tired enough to lay down on my lap and sleep (I was sitting between them). It was really sweet.

Then I noticed someone had wet pants. Good thing I always travel with extra clothes. I had undies, socks, and shorts for them in my backpack just in case, and thank goodness too!

After Andy took him to the bathroom to change, he saw the other boy had even wetter pants. He got changed too, and we smacked ourselves for not having them go potty one last time before going to sleep. Oops!! But that was the only hiccup in our whole travel day.

We picked up our checked bags, got the shuttle to the economy parking lot, and finally arrived back home. It was SO wonderful to get back into our own bed! What a fantastic experience this whole trip was.