The Blond Barons

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Today’s adventure was a total audible by Mom upon learning that the Fire Museum of Maryland wouldn’t be open to walk-in visitors like ourselves until the end of April. So… what’s just as exciting as fire trucks? Airplanes! I’m not quite brave enough to take all three to the Air and Space Museum by myself, so a quick Google search led me to the College Park Aviation Museum, a relaxing 25-minute drive from the house (and there’s a drive-through Starbucks on the way, so bonus for me).

Henry and Eli LOVED it (Sam was just happy I’d packed the Goldfish crackers). As soon as we walked into the main exhibit area — with planes suspended from the two-story ceiling — Henry threw up his arms with joy and Eli hopped up and down pointing at everything he saw. It was worth the price of admission right there ($8 total for the three of us; Sam was free).

The kids dressed up as pilots, learned how planes stay in the air, flew flight simulators, did crayon rubbings and climbed all over the “Imagination Plane” — a 1939 Taylorcraft BL-65 — that let them push buttons, pull throttles, play with rudders and steer the control wheel. A fenced-in outdoor area had wooden plane riding toys (much like Cozy Coupes) for them to pilot, and it was all situated next to the College Park Airport — so we got to see planes take off and land while enjoying the fresh air.

We came home for some quiet time and snacks, went on a bike ride, chowed down on sweet potato and black bean burritos for supper, relaxed with some “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and the kids are now all snoozing peacefully.

Time to find tomorrow’s adventure…


Nature boys

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After dropping Dad off at the train station yesterday morning, the three amigos and I ventured to the Meadowside Nature Center in Rock Creek Regional Park. With thick flakes of snow tumbling down, it seemed like a good morning to explore nature indoors. The center reminded me of the awesome nature centers back in Cleveland — the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center not far from Uncle Joe and Aunt Colleen’s and the Rocky River Nature Center in the Metroparks.

An indoors “woods” with stuffed creatures (“They’re dead,” one young visitor so eloquently put it) and buttons to push that cued animal sounds; manmade caves for the kids to climb through, a hands-on frontier house with wooden toys and tin dishes; a “Curiosity Corner” with puzzles, games, books and aquariums with frogs, fish and… yes… snakes.

H,E&S had such a blast yesterday, they asked to go back today. Why not?! On this trip, we ventured out back to see some of the wildlife exhibits, including a turkey vulture, a barn owl and a bald eagle. There was a fun poster that let the kids test their “wing-span,” and an exhibit that explained the difference between a red-tailed hawk and a red-shouldered hawk (Henry asked me to read that one to him twice, then he looked at me with that dismissive “Duh, Mom” look. Hey, I’m just reading the sign, kid.)

The house is peacefully quiet now and I’m settling in to formulate tomorrow’s agenda with my assistant, Verbal. Good night, everybody!


Sidewalk chalk and bird seed

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The trick to controlling the chaos is to plan activities… LOTS of activities. So today the Smith boys fed the pets, helped Dad hang curtains, played on their LeapFrogs, watched some Caillou, helped Mom make lunch, ran to Target for some odds and ends (and earned Cadbury eggs for their excellent behavior!), rode their bikes on the sidewalk, drew with sidewalk chalk, met neighbor Larry and his dog Ginger, played hide-and-seek, sorted recyclables, made pinecone bird feeders, played with Matchbox cars, built a train track, helped make supper, played rescue boats in the bathtub, read some books and — eventually — fell asleep.

Here are some of the highlights of the day:

Curtains: Our landlord here had a few sets of red curtains and a set of blue curtains for us to use as we pleased. Eli wanted blue curtains for “his” window and Henry chose red, and I must admit the dual colors look pretty great. Sam got stuck with the extra set of red curtains — sorry, pal.

Chalk: We played hopscotch, play tic-tac-toe and drew a barn with a chicken on the roof laying eggs and a cow in a field beside it eating grass. City kids with country hearts — I love it.

Meeting neighbors: While the rowdies were racing their bikes up and down the sidewalk, we met Larry — who lives up the street – and his puppy Ginger. Eli quickly hopped off his bike to greet them, introducing himself and saying that “we have a dog named Huckadoobie and we have cats named Verbal and Minerva and my baby brother Sam is sleeping so we have to play outside and that’s my mom Emily and she says I have to ask you to before I pet your dog so can I pet your dog?” Eli held out his hand for Ginger to sniff, just like I taught him, and scratched her head.

Bird feeders: We’ve been hearing a variety of different birds chattering in the trees around the house, and I’m determined to learn what they are. I know chickadees, blue jays, robins and sparrows… but beyond that, I’m lost. To help us along the way, the kids and I made bird feeders out of pine cones we’ve collected at the playground, plus some peanut butter and bird seed. I think more peanut butter went in Henry’s and Eli’s mouths than went on the pine cones, but we set out some delicious treats for our fine feathered friends.

Signing off to come up with a new slate of activities for tomorrow… good night, everybody. 🙂


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Instead of loading the gang and all of our gear onto the Metro for another museum exploration, we opted to just hang out in the neighborhood today. We walked to playground to run ourselves silly on the basketball court, play some improvised tennis and climb all over the play set. After a quick nap, the boys headed back outdoors to soak up the sunshine and 65-degree weather — playing with sidewalk chalk and racing Matchbox cars on the driveway — while Dad whipped up some homemade pizza.

The neighborhood playgrounds (including the little plastic one in our backyard) have been a hit with the boys this week. The slideshow includes pics from today (black and white) and some snapshots from earlier this week.

Snowy day, rainy day

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It snowed Monday and Tuesday, and today it was rainy, so we’ve done our best to come up with creative activities to keep the three amigos entertained. Monday we bundled up in our snowsuits to make snow angels, “snow cones” with sugar sprinkles and to have a friendly snowball fight. Tuesday we made a cardboard parking lot with numbered spaces, then tagged a good chunk of our Matchbox cars (and a few Rescue Bots) with corresponding numbers. Henry and Eli had a blast zooming everybody in their assigned spots, while Sam squealed with delight snatching them up as soon as they were parked.

Today we loaded up the supervan and headed over to the Kensington Park branch of the library for story time. We listened to stories, sang a few songs — and when the librarian asked if anybody had a birthday today, Eli promptly raised his hand proudly and announced his Uncle Adam turned 10 today. 🙂

An Uncle Adam throwback -- Christmas 2011 with Henry.

An Uncle Adam throwback — Christmas 2011 with Henry.

Happy birthday, Uncle Adam! Here’s hoping the weather here tomorrow is as beautiful as it is there in Texas.

The Smithlings go to Washington

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Yes, indeed, the Smith family said a bittersweet farewell to Cleveland last month and journeyed east, where Dad started a new job as a senior designer at The Washington Post.

We’ve explored new playgrounds; roamed our new neighborhood; located the nearest Target and Starbucks, the best grocery store, church and library; and applied to a few preschools. Mom’s got her eye on a few job opportunities, but right now she’s soaking up time with three of her favorite guys.

Since landing in Maryland two weeks ago, we’ve visited the National Zoo (thanks again for the membership, Plain Dealer friends!)  — a trip we took with Henry and Eli last weekend while Grandma Stormy entertained Baby Sam — and the Natural History Museum, a trip we took today with the whole family. Sam was a trooper, happily taking in the sights all day from the comfort of his stroller, while H&E ran from exhibit to exhibit.

Henry gasped with glee when he first caught sight of the dinosaur skeletons and advised us all not to touch the tentacles of the giant jellyfish — “you can only touch the tops.” Thank you, “Finding Nemo.” Eli was pretty wide-eyed through the whole museum, though he truly lit up when he got the chance to run free on the Mall.

We sat in the window seats at Potbelly’s to chow down sandwiches and cookies for lunch — H&E shared their Midwestern charm by waving and blowing kisses to passersby.

All three Smithlings zonked out on the train ride home, where we romped in the back yard, grilled up some hot dogs and enjoyed the 60-degree weather. At bedtime, Dad asked H&E about their favorite parts of the day.

Henry said he loved the pterodactyl flying over the “dinosaur bones.”

Eli said the hot dogs… with mustard, of course.

Good night, everybody!

Birthday parties and brand new chompers

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Wild and crazy times here at the Smith house, as Henry and Eli celebrated friend Emerson’s third birthday and Sam apparently cut two teeth while we were at the party. Say what? Trust me, Mom is confused, too.

For the past month or so, Sam has been waking up at all hours, drooling, gnawing and all over behaving like a child who is cutting teeth — yet no teeth. Mom chatted with Grandma Marty on Friday night and Saturday morning about how there are no teeth yet but it sure seems like they’re coming… Mom goes to birthday party with Dad, Henry and Eli, leaving Sam with Grandma Marty and Grandpa Mike … Mom comes home… suddenly Sam has two teeth. As the one who has nursed Sam for 7 months, I was certain I’d be the first to know when he’d cut a tooth — let alone TWO teeth. Alas, no. All the same, the kid has two bottom chompers.  Check back for documenting photos.

The birthday party: Henry and Eli’s pal Emerson from daycare turned 3 and celebrated with an awesome party at Memphis Kiddie Park. It rained all morning long, but it stopped just in time for the party. H&E rode merry-go-rounds, airplanes, boats, race cars, horses, trains, Ferris wheels and a roller coaster with their pint-size pals for more than 2 hours. It’s no surprise they zonked out before 7 p.m. Great, great day. Thanks to the Millers and to G&G Hamlin for making it all happen!