Friday, April 19, 2013

Breaking News And Memories of my Mom for Curly Girl

This blog is a diary to my Curly Girl.  Sometimes it will be to remind her of things we did, and sometimes it will be of things I remember and want to share.  Today it is the latter.

I sit here right now after the ambulance has taken away the criminal that is still remarkably alive after the attacks on Boston. Watertown is cheering and I have tears in my eyes. I am giddy.

Today I picked Curly Girl up from Grandma early because we are having a storm.  I wanted to make it home before the traffic.  The downside is that A) We couldn't go out and play ... and B) I really didn't want to go out and play because I wanted to watch the news.

She won't ever let me sit and watch TV so I planned painting and craft projects before dinner and and a long bath afterwards.  So I could watch the news....

She had none of this.  I kinda, sorta engaged but she caught on. She got irritated and yelled at me -- MOMMY!  C'mon!!! 

I had a flashback...

1973.  I was 7.  It was summer.  I had control of the TV.  Until the Watergate hearings.  But SAM seemed to be in control of everything.

I had to Google tonight to know the exact name to whom I am referring.  I just remember him as SAM. He was Sam Ervin. I hated him.

I had a clear schedule of Captain Kangaroo and Gilligan's Island.  But this, before there was a 24 hour news channel, and before there was more than one TV in the house, interrupted my whole world.  Mom said it was important, and she changed the channel against my will and sat there and watched SAM no matter how much I protested.

So, Curly Girl, a bit of history for you.  My Mom, your grandmother, really thought she might be brought up in the Watergate Hearings. It's silly to think now, but she really worried about it. Your great-uncle Jack was a Secret Service Agent, and when he flew with Nixon to Knoxville to do a huge Christian gathering with Billy Graham (another reason I didn't like Republicans from an early age -- Nixon and Billy Graham took my Daddy away for weeks so he could sing the choir and I was bitter) Uncle Jack called my Mom from Air Force 1.  My mother, from whom I apparently got most of my DNA and attitude, decided that might be a great time for her to complain about Nixon, telling Uncle Jack that she voted for Nixon for his second term because he said he would stop Vietnam, but it didn't happen and now her son (your Uncle Rob) was up for the draft.  She demanded "What is he DOING?  When is he going to STOP THIS WAR??"

Uncle Jack said, "Susie, Susie calm down!"  And suddenly another voice came on the line who said...

"Jack--  does she know she's being recorded?"

So she watched those hearings like a hawk.No matter how much I needed to have my Gilligan time she worried her name would come up.

I also remember that no matter what, when Daddy came home every day, whatever channel I had on was turned to the news at 6.  And Mom and Daddy would sit down and watch.  They might have been diverted if I had been on fire or had a bone sticking out of my skin, but other than that, they watched the news.

So, all of this came flooding back to me while Curly Girl was protesting my watching the news, but I watched the news. Some might say I'm a bad Mom.  I say it's a good example if done in moderation.  I say that watching Watergate and the news every night ended up turning me into a newsy.  Given the choice, I'm always on a news channel.  I take pride in knowing what is going on.  I go to sleep with news on and wake up with news on.  That's how I like it, and I'm proud of that.

I wish I could ask my Mom if her objective was for me to know current events.  I don't know if it was that thought out on her part, but it IS that thought out on my part.  I want Curly Girl to have working knowledge of world events that are age appropriate for her.  I want us to discuss events and get her opinion and share mine.  

So, in the end, I guess I don't hate SAM (that much) after all....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pop Up Flowers -- A Spring Toddler Craft Idea

Our new normal these days is to bribe curly girl with a craft in order for her to sit down to dinner.  Once she eats her dinner, we have a project to work on.

This super easy and cheap craft idea made her very happy! 

What You'll Need:
Paper Cups (bigger than Dixie Cups, but smaller than Solo Cups)
Paint (we used acrylic in pink and yellow)
Construction Paper

  1. Cut a paper cup in 4 or 5 places from the top of the cup to the base.  Spread 'petals' out to form a flower.
  2. Begin painting!

    3.  While your toddler is 'Monet-ing'  cut out the stem and leaves from green construction paper and glue to a full piece of dark construction paper.  Use this time to discuss the simple flower parts (stem, leaf, petals) and discuss how mixing paint makes different colors.

    4.  Allow paint to dry and adhere the flower to the construction paper with glue.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Leesburg Animal Park -- When Mommy Gets to Ride a Camel Everybody is Happy

Curly Girl loves her animals.  So when I entered an online contest and won free passes to Leesburg Animal Park  I went to the website and began talking to her about the animals she would see.  Ponies, Llamas, Donkeys, Bunnies, Cows, Monkeys, plus a myriad of others...but she was all about the goats.  Don't know why, but she wanted to see the goats.

Leesburg Animal Park is about 30 miles west of DC.  It is easy to find, with the parking lot on a main road close to the Dulles Toll Road.

We got there shortly after it opened at 10 a.m.  A cup of animal feed is included in the admission fee for each person, in a cute little ice cream cone no less, but we ran out quickly and bought more for $5 that lasted us the rest of the visit.  We went through the petting zoo with the animals behind a fence.  Bulls, Goats, Alpacas, Sheep -- she was enthralled by it all!

But the Turkey who was hanging out in the middle really captured her attention, though he didn't seem to care about the ice cream cone she offered.

Upon leaving that area beware of the sandbox. A lot of toys and tools to dig and play with others, it is a great attraction.  But it seems to be a sand pit where toddlers are stuck for hours -- all of the parents said so, and we too, had to haul her off against her will after a while to see the other things. I would suggest hitting this on the way out, or when you just want to sit on a bench and take a break.

From there we hauled her to the Pony Ride.  Always a hit with the Curly Girl, she waited patiently for the staff to saddle the pony so she would be the first ride of the day.  Pony rides are $3.50.  The guide was very sweet with her.

A great spot is the Contact Zone where you can pet, feed and walk among animals.  Pigs, baby cows, sheep, goats, llamas and more welcome you and your cup of feed.  I could have stayed in there forever!  Watching the interaction between Curly Girl and the animals was priceless!
A 'wagon ride' is free with admission to see the larger animals.  Board the wagon and it will take you among antelope, Scottish Highland cattle, Zebra, and Donkeys.  The ride stops in the field and the animals approach the wagon for you to pet and feed them.

Next to the wagon ride is a beautiful pond.  You are encouraged to feed the ducks and fish.  I have NEVER seen fish this thick!  On special weekends you can fish there -- it is a fisherman's DREAM!

A concession stand sells hamburgers, hotdogs, BBQ sandwiches, and snacks.  Close to that are 3 different play areas to relax and picnic.  Curly Girl especially loved the Noah's Ark slide (though the slide is super fast --just look at the pic!  That was NOT a soft landing, bless her heart!) You can also find a stationary choo-choo train and a Happy Cow Bouncy House -- both of which she loved!

But the event of the day, at least in my mind, was the Camel Ride.  I have never been on a camel, though I always thought I would do it in Egypt one day (but that never happened).  So I was over the moon when I found out they had camel rides!  Normally Curly Girl's Daddy goes on rides with her, but I bumped him out immediately and took her myself!  I am so happy I have a memory of riding a camel with my little girl!!

Leesburg Animal Park is a great place to spend the day with kids of all ages.  It really isn't a 2 hour place, so you should come prepared with a picnic or prepare to buy lunch there.  There is really so much to do that takes a lot of time, as children really do get lost in time in sandboxes and play areas.  

We will definitely be back! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Spring Toddler Crafts-- Sequin Butterfly

Curly Girl loves crafts!  So I bartered this behavior over dinner... 'If you eat your chicken and your carrots you can paint!'.. so she did. (It doesn't always work but this time it did!).  While I watched her play I realized she was working her fine motor skills!

What You Need:
Toilet Paper Cardboard Rolls
Acrylic Paint (we used purple)
Construction Paper (for wings -- we used yellow)
Sequin (we used multi-color)
Elmer's Glue
Black marker

  1. Paint a toilet paper cardboard roll  with acrylic paint-- (we used purple)
  2. Cut out Butterfly wings in construction paper and apply glue for the sequin to adhere.  Make sure you make a 1/2 inch tab on the wing to glue to the toilet paper roll. (Our tab is folded under the wing in this picture)
    3. Apply sequin to glue on butterfly wings.  This is great to promote fine motor skills.  Curly Girl   was obsessive about getting a sequin to the place she wanted it to go!

    4.  Apply Googley Eyes and make a Smiley Face with a marker

      5.  Glue wings on the toilet paper roll and let dry.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When Do You Talk To Your Toddler About The Meat On Their Plate?

How do you explain to your kid -- today, or one day -- that the meat on their plate are the animals we sing about and have in our fish tanks?  I am not a vegetarian or vegan, though via my guilt I wish I were.  Curly Girl eats meat as well.  I try not to think about it.  But today it came to a focus for me. And I am feeling very conflicted today.

We went to a Kid's Trout Fishing Day. A local stream was stocked with trout from a hatchery nearby for the event.  You just show up with your kid and you are handed a rod, reel and a nice bag to hold the fish you catch.  I stupidly had images of Andy and Opie on a path from their creek having wholesome bonding time.

My Daddy fished in the Atlantic and the Gulf once or twice a year with his company, always bringing the fish home in a Styrofoam cooler. My mom would gripe about the smell, but he was always so proud! I caught one fish in my youth in a lake near the nuclear reactor plants in Oak Ridge,Tennessee.  God only knows what mutation juice is in that water. When Daddy helped me get that fish up on the bank, I swear on my mother's grave, that non-fish stood up on his little fins and  politely walked right back into that water. I'll never forgot that mutant.

While planning this fishing trip Curly Girl's Grandpa and Daddy were recalling memories of fishing in Missouri with their elders. This is a family legacy, and Curly Girl's Daddy is serious about it and good at it.  I personally watched him reel in a 30 pound Wahoo on a boat in Barbados and nearly pass out on the deck from the fight he just won.  I asked him what would happen if we actually caught one with Curly Girl, and he said he would throw it back.  I was all good with that. I assumed that's what anyone would do at a kid's event.

We found a spot and Curly Girl's Daddy put the bait (corn kernels) on the hook and sunk it, and gave it to Curly Girl, who held the rod for approximately 5 seconds.

And then she was done.  So she and I hung out. My job was mainly trying not to let her fall into the water.

Then the carnage happened. The guy next to us caught a fish. Once that big trout was up on the ground and flailing, the guy announced he would 'put him out of his suffering', and then proceeded to beat the fish's head against a rock. Not once, not twice...I don't know how many times you need to hit a fish on a rock to knock him  out, but this guy went overboard.  I turned away, put my hand to my ears to stop hearing the sound, and even Curly Girl's Daddy admitted he had to turn away from it.  It was horrible.

It was the only 30 seconds of the entire day Curly Girl was completely still, watching the homicide.

It bothered me, but she didn't understand it.  She won't remember it, I pray.  But what happens the day she figures out that when you pull a fish out of a stream for fun that he dies and lands on your dinner plate?  What about those animals she loves at the petting zoo?  Hell, let's talk E-I-E-I-O?

So I asked for advice.  I was told by several friends to eat less meat to prepare for the day she questions.  Good advice.  I'll take it.  I was told to let it happen naturally, have a carnivore/herbivore discussion of the food chain, and not to direct but inform her when the time comes.  I agree with that too.  Many of my friends have vegetarian and vegan kids who made their own decisions early on.  I'd be down with that.  I was told by a vegetarian friend that her child had never eaten meat, but she was preparing for the discussion as well, and would let him decide. One person told me to be honest and open and to prepare Curly Girl in advance.  Put it in her head now.  She told me that when her daughter began eating real food they simply sang one of the songs Phoebe from Friends sang at a gig at Central Perk:

The Cow in the Meadow

Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo,
Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo.
Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up,
And that's how we get hamburgers.
Now, chickens! 

I would LOVE suggestions and thoughts on this issue!  Please comment.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pet Expos are Perfect Day Trips For Kids

Curly Girl loves animals!  We didn't know how far the extent of her love for critters went until we attended Super Pet Expo at Dulles Expo Center west of Washington DC.  Today we learned she's ALL GOOD with reptiles!!

This Super Pet Expo at Dulles Expo Center ends Sunday, March 17, 2013.  Look for and plan to attend  Pet Expos in your town coming soon!

Super Pet Expo promotes Dog Dock Diving and Agility Expositions, Pony Rides, Reptile interactions with Bobby G. Pets and Extreme Reptiles, hundreds of  great exhibitors and many cute dogs who will interact with your child while you meander through the exhibits.

We got there right when they opened at 10 a.m. I recommend getting there when they open.  Entry was quick, and even quicker with tickets purchased online at
Tickets free for 3 and below, $8 for 4-11, and $13 for 12 and above.

We learned by being early risers there are no lines.  We went straight to the main stage, but got distracted by the Pony Ride.  At $5, the pony ride was a bargain!  Curly Girl went screaming to the ponies and was only happy once she was riding.  Because we were there early and there was no line, they let her stay on until there was a demand, so she seemed to stay on that pony forever!
Next to the pony ride was Extreme Reptiles -- a very cool organization we now officially love at www.  I could not have asked for a better introductory experience for my child with reptiles, and upon speaking with and getting to know the folks, we were comfortable with all they offered.

For $1 for adults, we were able to tour their exhibit of several beautiful snakes behind glass.  For $5, we were given the opportunity to take a picture with a SunGlow Boa!   Daddy held the snake, Grandpa held his breathe, and Mommy took pictures while officially having an anxiety attack -- but Curly Girl held that snake's face so gently and confidently I thought she might kiss him!!

Hundreds of exhibits are attractive -- those that were most attractive for us were anything that could appeal to our 2 dogs/2 cats/1 fish/ 1 toddler equation.  So we focused on that.  I came away today with far more than our admission costs in Dog/Cat/Fish  food and treat samples.  This is really a good deal for those with furry/finny friends!

We loved watching the dog and puppy free play area.  Anyone who brings a dog can let them into the play area!  Curly Girl loved watching the dogs!  We attempted to go to the agility and dock diving, but the chairs were already taken, and there was little standing room.  If this is your focus, get there early to claim your spot -- they are taken quickly!

Our Favorite Vendor, and one we will keep the business card for future birthday parties  is Bobby G. Pets.  We happened upon them on our way out, and they made our day!  Check them out at  See their animals below!

The kids on the staff were AMAZING!  Every patron who entered, child or adult, was treated like they were the only one in line.  I was shy to ask to see and touch the other animals, as I was afraid the staff might be too busy. But  it turned they were happy to do so!  They were incredibly friendly! We had so many interactions with reptiles -- Here are only two but we had many more!

Petting a Bearded Dragon

Petting a Python

ONLY OFFERED SUNDAY:  (I'm HATING I'm missing this!)    Smithfield the Painting Pig will be appearing at Super Pet Expo!!  He and his owner Fran Martin  have appeared on national television programs including Oprah, Live with Regis and Kelly, Ellen, Pet Star and America’s Got Talent. One of Smithfield’s favorite activities is painting original Pig-Casso’s. Simply put, he picks up a brush, walks over to the canvas and paints.

I'm sad Curly Girl and I are missing the Painting Pig.

PROS:  Great kid-friendly exhibits.  A way to explore animals not otherwise accessible.

CONS:  Can fill up quickly and be unmanageable.  Go early! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leprechaun Hat Pit Trap -- We're Over These Mischievous Leprechauns!

This year the leprechaun infestation in our house is out of control! I know these little guys will be gone after St. Patrick's Day. But until then, they are causing mischief all over the house!  Green toilet water, trails of shamrock confetti, green milk, and even St. Patty's stickers on all low surfaces that the little creatures can reach.  I've had it!  So Curly Girl and I  made our own Leprechaun Trap!

Our hope is that the leprechauns will not be able to resist the gold coin, climb the ladder to get it, step on the false top, and fall into the pit. 

I found this idea on and attribute it to

Leprechauns have big egos, so a giant version of their own hat is irresistible to them. Once they step on the false top, you'll have caught your own pet leprechaun.

You'll need:
Cylinder Oatmeal Container
Green, Yellow, and Black Felt
Gold Coin
Oatmeal Clay (oatmeal, flour, water)

The hat is a recycled cylinder oatmeal container wrapped with green felt secured with Elmer's School Glue. To make the trap, we cut a hole in the lid, then cunningly concealed it with a circle of green felt that will give way when the leprechaun steps on it.

Leprechauns love to break rules. The sign telling them NOT to climb the ladder is sure to lure them in.

Natural materials make these woodland creatures feel at home. The ladder is made from twigs we found in the yard held together with glue.  Climbing to get to something higher is sure to entice the wee adventurers.

So that the top doesn't give way too soon, use a lightweight bait, such as a gold coin.  Leprechauns can't resist cold coins!

What to do with the oatmeal that came out of the container?  Make Oatmeal Clay and make a rock for the base of the warning sign.  1 cup oatmeal, 2/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup water and green food coloring.

Crafting Gone Bad Warning -- I somehow made it to 47 years old not knowing food coloring doesn't wash off. So I'm so glad we ran out of time for Curly Girl to make the rock, otherwise she would have gone to daycare today green as the Hulk.  The other kids would be all 'What's up with the green kid?'  Dodged that bullet!  I, however, will be the one to galavant around today with green hands!

Good luck trapping your leprechauns!  I'm finding from my research online that very few leprechauns are actually trapped.  Despite powerful bait like Lucky Charms cereal, gold coins, and doll shoes (leprechauns are cobblers by trade), most hopeful leprechaun trappers have caught only chocolate gold coins and candy bars, accompanied by notes taunting them with "Good try," or "Can't catch me!" They really are wiley.

As everyone knows, leprechauns hoard pots of gold, and if caught, must reveal the treasure's location to their captor.  So wish us luck!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sending Hugs to Papaw and Great-Grandma

I struggle all the time with the fact  that Curly Girl's elderly family members aren't close by.  Her Papaw and Great-Grandma, both in their 80s, are far away in Tennessee and Missouri.  We can at least call Great-Grandma, who is still sharp as a tack, but I can't talk to my Daddy anymore.  He suffered two major and many minor strokes in the last few years which has rendered him unable to speak.  So phone calls aren't even an option, and he doesn't want to email.

When Curly Girl was born, I was great at sending pictures.  I have since slacked off and feel really guilty about it.  I also feel guilty that while there have been a few trips to Tennessee to see her grandfather, and one trip with Great-Grandma coming from Missouri for her Christening, she has not been able to spend quality time with them, and therefore won't have many memories.  So I'm going to try to step it up a bit and do more about that -- talk about them, tell stories and use their names in songs we sing.

Curly Girl is a GREAT hugger.  Her little hands and arms wrap so tightly around you, and when she hugs you she says "Awwwwww".  It's so cute!  Her Grandfather and Great-Grandmother are totally missing out on this experience!  So we made them  'hugs' to send in their next pack of pictures, which I finally found time to get printed.

We traced Curly Girl's hands on construction paper (that was WAY more time consuming and dramatic than I anticipated) and cut them out.  We then held her against her will with her arms out to measure her arm span with ribbon.  We attached the hands to the ribbon with tape and made the sign.


These are going out in the mail today and will hopefully give a virtual hug to her Papaw and Great-Grandma, two beautiful people I intend to keep in her memory.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Easter Fun at Ticonderoga Farms -- Bouncing, Sliding, and Egg Finding

Easter comes early this year, and it seems all of Northern Virginia is gearing up for the festivities in the next few weeks. So I love that Ticonderoga Farms, located in Chantilly, VA west of DC, offered their Easter Festivities a week earlier than others.  We visited Ticonderoga last summer, and absolutely loved it.  A picture of Curly Girl and her Daddy from last summer on Virginia's longest swinging bridge is forever on his laptop background. So this month when the weather was warm and Mommy needed a day trip out, I was THRILLED to see they were opening for their Spring Easter Festival.

Admission varies by season.  For the Spring Easter Festival admission is $11.95 for anyone over 2.  Admission can be paid by credit card, but be sure to bring cash to buy bamboo for the petting zoo and for anything you might want in the concession stand.

Ticonderoga can be a whole lot of A LOT, so if you have a toddler who can only handle so much, you need to plan.  Upon entering, you can't miss the slides.  And by slides, I don't mean anything you relate to in a playground -- you have to CLIMB THAT MOUNTAIN.  We had been there before, so I didn't want to do that first, because I knew there would be the "One Mo Time? " ad infinitum.  But, it's there -- we couldn't escape it -- and Daddy and Curly Girl hit the slides first.  And second...and third... you get the picture....

Luckily Easter Bunny was going to be at the Big Red Barn to do the Easter Egg Hunt.  Curly Girl was intrigued by this and left the slides willingly, but upon finding nothing immediately going on there that Mommy promised, she only stayed because there were a lot of mud puddles. Ticonderoga had actually warned patrons through their Facebook page that the area was muddy due to the snow storm earlier in the week, so everyone was prepared.  Except for me -- who forgot to bring the boots.  While Easter Bunny was getting his Easter Egg Interns in a row to do what they need to do, we got plenty muddy.  Which, honestly, doesn't bother me in the least.  Though, seriously, I got a few looks (That's a whole n'other blog -- Why Are You So Obsessed About My Kid's Shoes at a Farm? OR She's Not DROWNING in the mud puddle, so What's Your Problem??)

Anyway, Ticonderoga did a great job with explaining the process of the Easter Egg Hunt, separating the kids into like age groups (3 and under and 4 and above). Daddy coached Curly Girl about how she should attack the hunt, and she was successful because they provided PLENTY of eggs. Even with the crowd, we did not want for eggs. The prizes in the eggs included candy, bracelets and plastic animals.  The plastic cricket was the big winner of the day for Curly Girl! Ticonderoga Farms graciously invites you to take the eggs home, or leave them to recycle on your way out.

After the egg hunt, we found ourselves at the Spring Animal Petting Zoo.  Chickens, Roosters, Goats and Peacocks abound.  Curly Girl was afraid of the goats last year, but this year she couldn't leave them alone!  Be sure to bring cash to buy bamboo -- as the best way to interact with the goats is to give them a snack.

Down the path, we find ourselves at a crossroads -- Bouncy Pillow or Bouncy Cow Train? Who can choose??  We went to the Bouncy Pillow.  I was so proud of my Curly Girl!  A huge inflated pillow  (my estimation of 1/8 of a football field?) with  kids way bigger than her bouncing on the top -- she climbed on just to be bounced off -- having no footing.  I thought there would be tears but no!-- after each faceplant she bounced up laughing and just kept climbing. When she got bounced off she sized it up and she attacked that bouncy pillow from every angle until she got it! She  was relentless, and she got up there and bounced on the top with the big kids. I will always remember watching her first perseverance at Ticonderoga Farms.

But would we ever leave the Bouncy Pillow?  I doubted it, not without tears.  Until.... Bouncy Cow Train passed by.  Oh yes!  Off the Bouncy Pillow lickety split!

Bouncy Cow Train -- A tractor, with a cute as can be driver who assured me he had never lost a kid, linked to varied sizes of carts -- some that are big enough to hold adults holding children, some only big enough for a toddler/small child, all powered with some sort of axle that makes each Smiley Cow Face cart bounce.  Don't attempt this if you have neck issues.  I rode it last year and thought I probably needed a neck brace.

Curly Girl was focused,  climbed in her Cow, showed no fear, and didn't give a rip that while she was on the Bouncy Cow Ride, Mommy and Daddy were standing wringing our hands wondering if she was OK.  Of course, cute as can be tractor driver was right, he didn't lose my kid, and she had the bouncy ride of her life.

Ticonderoga Farms offers a great Hayride right next to Bouncy Cow Ride.  I heard the amazing guy that runs it and wanted to do it too, but Curly Girl was winding down.  We will next time! 

We ambled back, going through the playgrounds.  There is Noah's Ark, with everything a kid could want in a playground!  A great place to climb and slide and swing! 

We went to the concession area, with great colorful concrete tubes to play in and bought lunch.  We brought our own drinks, but wanted to check out the food.  We got two hot dogs (one for Curly Girl, one for Mommy) at $2.50 each, and Daddy wanted the Turkey Leg at $7.  We had a beautiful picnic and played in the tubes, and then we were ready to go home and take a nap.

Pros: For a toddler, everything is kid friendly -- moving from one area to another is easy!  So much to do!

Cons:  Bring cash.  We weren't told upon arriving, even though we asked, that we needed cash inside.  You need cash for the Bamboo to feed the petting zoo animals, and for concessions.

We will definitely be back for other festivals at Halloween and Christmas!  Check out Ticonderoga Farms at

Friday, March 8, 2013

Day Out with Curly Girl -- Bugs, Bones, and Microscopes -- Smithsonian Natural History Museum

I doubt a lot of what I do as Mommy, but one thing I know I do well is day trips!  I'm good at it because, to be honest, I'm not good at staying home with my kid.  We can have great quality time for a few hours, but then we get bored.  At least I get bored.  I think she's got enough of my DNA that she does too.  I noticed even in her first few days and weeks of life, if she got fussy I would just take her someplace -- the grocery store, the pharmacy, a restaurant -- and suddenly she was fine.  We're two peas in a pod that way -- put a trip in my future and suddenly everything is pretty rosy.

I plan to live in museums while I raise my Curly Girl.  I want her to be comfortable in museum settings and since the Smithsonian is literally a few miles from us, I hope she will use it to do research when she's curious about history, science and art.  Curly Girl's Daddy doesn't see it that way. Museum trips usually start out as a bribe on my part and grumbling on his part, but then on the way home he is effusive in his love for the place he almost didn't come to.  He always goes to work and tells people how fun it was! So it was with our recent trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Too much to handle with a toddler, you must pick and choose what you will focus on.  This day we focused on the Butterfly Pavillion and Orkin Insect Zoo, and then hit a few things that struck our fancy on our way out.

The hands-down favorite of any kid is The O. Orkin Insect Zoo on the 2nd Floor of the Museum where visitors can observe live insects and their many-legged relatives. Volunteers conduct tarantula feeding demonstrations, work with live insects that visitors may touch and hold, and answer questions about the many-legged creatures that live in the Insect Zoo. It's pretty cool.

Curly Girl braved holding a huge catapillar.  She even went back and attempted an abduction to take him out of his tank.  Luckily a volunteer saved the creepy crawler while I drug my kid out screaming.

Next up was the Butterfly Pavillion.  Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 kids 2-12.  The exhibit takes scheduled groups every 30 minutes.  You can purchase timed tickets to avoid standing in line.  We were greeted by hundreds of butterflies as we strolled through the tropical setting. Curly Girl tried to hold the butterflies, but it's a good thing they are pretty quick. 

On our way out we happened upon the Discovery Room (located right next to the bathrooms, so everyone who needs a diaper change can't miss it).  The room features activities using real Museum objects and interactive, hands-on experiences that allow visitors to explore the natural world at their own pace, guided by their own interests and sense of wonder.  Curly Girl was intrigued by the exhibit of real human bones and spent a lot of time with the fossils and the microscopes.

The National Museum of Natural History is known for the dinasaur exhibit, and we did walk through there, but at this point in time Curly Girl showed no interest.  I'm sure that will change!

We visited on a Saturday morning.  We found parking on the street and were able to get in and out quickly.  We visited for just under 2 hours, and had spent enough energy to eat lunch and go down for a long nap.

Pros:  Interactive exhibits will be attractive to kids of all ages, and hold the interest of moms and dads as well.

Cons:  She kept asking to see a Horsey.  You have an entire Hall of Mammals and no horsey?  REALLY??

Nevertheless, horsey or no, we will visit again!