D.C. in 4 Hours: Walking the National Mall

DC-monument2

We only had about four hours to spend exploring Washington D.C. and we were traveling by foot the entire time. According to my pedometer, we put in over 10,000 steps in D.C. mostly just walking the National Mall. We fully intend to come back to D.C. and stay for a weekend at least so that we can do it right because there is so much we didn’t get to see. That said, we had a great time.

Map it: If you are planning a trip to D.C. I recommend looking over a map of the area, especially the National Mall, and figure out what you and your family want to see most. We walked the mall and saw the Washington Monument, The World War II Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and everything in between.

We also briefly visited the Smithsonian Castle and even more briefly walked through The Natural History Museum (sadly just as a way to cut across the street and be in air conditioning for a few minutes). If we’d had more time, I would have spent the whole day exploring all the different Smithsonian Museums which are all FREE!

Pro tip: If you don’t have all day, I recommend hitting the Smithsonian Castle which has lots of mini exhibits from all the other museums, giving you a taste of all the museums in a fraction of the time.

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1 – sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial 2 – Standing in front of the Washington Monument 3 – Reading names on the Vietnam War Memorial 4 – Admiring the Washington Monument from afar 5 – The infamous Lincoln Memorial statue!

The kids were such troopers that day, keeping up with us as we eagerly walked the mall to see all the different memorials. Dan and MM were really impressed with the Washington Monument – Dan was marveling at how the bricks on the monument are actually a slightly different color almost halfway up as they ran out of money building it and had to regroup. My favorite thing was definitely the Lincoln Memorial which I’d looked forward to finally seeing after the first day of our trip. I think BB most liked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, not that she understood the importance of it. She honestly just liked the pretty reflections.

The in between moments:

Aside from all the big exciting things we saw, here were some of our smaller moments and memories of Washington DC.

1. We parked outside of the city and took a train into D.C. The hardest part of this process was trying to find the ideal train station to park at. Most of the cities around D.C. are quite urban and the first one we went to was both difficult to navigate and kindaaa sketchy. Another reason to just get a hotel in D.C. proper next time?

tantrum

2. By the time we walked the length of the National Mall and got to the Lincoln Memorial, BB was absolutely exhausted and not happy about the crowds either. She needed a time out before we continued walking and I was worried that we’d pressed our luck walking the whole way. Luckily she perked up and we all made it back to the train station in one piece! Bring water bottles and stay hydrated or consider getting tickets for one of those tour buses.

ducks

3. There was a random piece of fencing in the reflecting pool and ducks were hanging out around it. While I marveled at how absolutely normal the city was with all the same amounts of construction, disarray and litter that you’d find in any major city, BB simply thought it was a bridge that she should walk on so she could go say hi to the ducks. She was very disappointed when I refused!

whitehouse

4. After leaving the Vietnam Memorial, we kept walking to see the White House. We were coming from behind but had been hopeful for a good view. This was about as good as the view got. If we’d had any semblance of energy at all, we might have tried to walk around and see the front but we were low on energy and time and had to settle for this view and keep walking for the train station.

DC-monument

5. Most of our pictures on this trip obviously were of the kids but MM did offer to take this picture of Dan and I so that we could be in a picture, too. I think it came out really good!

It was a long day with a lot of walking and a few moments of disappointment – mostly when we realized how little we’d actually have time to see, but we enjoyed our afternoon in D.C. and can’t wait to go back and see everything else!

Weekend Link Love: August 22, 2014

link love

Well the kids survived their first week of school and I survived my first week of having two kids in school full time. It’s crazy to think how quickly the week went by but my calendar assures me it really is FRIDAY already. Which means it’s time for my weekend link love roundup!

Here are three great things I saw online this week.

  • Walking in Circles by Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy was a great read. I love the idea that we are walking in circles with our loved ones, crossing paths for shorter and longer periods as we go but ultimately arriving at the same place.
  • A Meal Fit For a Doctor by Alton Brown in case you want to bring fish fingers and custard to a new level tomorrow when the new season of Doctor Who premiers!

Thanks to Scary Mommy for sharing this awesome back to school video – definitely made me laugh!

Have a great weekend guys!

5 Little Happiness Boosting Ideas.

this is how we do

Lately I’ve been feeling weighed down by the little itty bits of every day life. The kids and marriage are great, I have wonderful friends, my family is doing well and the weather is gorgeous. The mental checklist of “Big Happy Things” can be checked and double checked. So the blahs are coming from the little things – the ruts and routines that we fall into and repeat daily because we haven’t asked ourselves why recently.

So I’ve been taking baby steps towards cutting out any ruts that aren’t working as a routine for myself or my family and reevaluating those itty bitty details of daily life. How can I cultivate habits that build me up instead of slowly draining me. Here are some of my ideas.

  1. Clutter for me is often a big culprit to my over all mood. Sometimes, when a room has gotten out of control, I can feel my mood darken just by walking into it. Piles of clutter are an unfortunately common occurrence in our home (yours too?) and though I’ve never found a way to eliminate it entirely, I do try to find new ideas to tackle certain areas and improve their functionality. A new basket to hold the 8,000 remotes in the living room, a bulletin board to hang up all the random schedules and important school information. Or even just finding an actual home for the things in our house which seem to be nomadic by default.
  2. Drama shows are addictive but as someone who tends to get highly absorbed by the lives of the characters in these shows, sometimes there are just too many fictional people to worry about. Lately I’ve been gravitating towards comedies and I’ve been slowly cutting down on shows that don’t make me laugh / leave me feeling happy, like the dramas that have been too dramatic and are weighing on my soul. If you are flipping through your DVR and feel any animosity towards watching a backlog of shows that have recorded, give yourself the freedom to walk away. 
  3. Similarly, read something happy. There is plenty of time for lofty literary fiction or thought provoking non-fiction. If you need a lift, I highly recommend reading something funny. I love all the new celebrity / comedian memoirs that have been coming out lately and picked up a copy of Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch at the used book store this week. The first pages of the book instantly made me smile – just what the doctor ordered!
  4. Listen to an uplifting song and if possible, dance. Liven up mundane chores or long commutes with music that makes you happy. If the morning DJ on your daily commute irritates you, stop listening to the station and find something else. Take a break from paperwork and have a mini jam session until your head is back in the game. I recommend: Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor or Iggy Azalea these days but I’m guessing you already have a few songs in mind of your own.
  5. If all else fails, get outside and take a walk or do some laps at the gym. Exercise is a great mood lifter even though up until the workout, it usually feels like a terrible idea to me – I never regret getting in a good walk. Bonus boost: listen to those uplifting tunes while you walk or find a good friend to walk with you. Then it feels less like exercise and more like a break.

These are just a few of my favorite ways to lift my mood.

What are your favorite tricks for getting happy?