FRIDAY:We had a long weekend and it's been a quiet Sunday afternoon recovering. On Friday Tad took the day off and traveled with us to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's mansion and estate. I've been looking forward to this trip for years and we finally made it after I decided to take the bull by the horns and organize a homeschool trip. After I chastised all our fellow travelers to please make it down there on time, we found ourselves a half hour late due to unbelievable amounts of traffic passing through Baltimore and DC at 7:30 in the morning. So, lesson number one is if you want to experience Mt. Vernon expect lots of traffic.
We spent lots of time in the wonderful museum, watching an introductory movie, working our way around the time line of the life of our first president and stopping in the "Please Touch Me" Room which I thought was a real hoot. It was staffed by people who didn't seem to like children and designed by people who didn't seem to know what it means when you invite a child to touch something. The chairs were covered with notices reminding adults not to sit in them because they are child-sized (any adult who has spent 10 minutes with a child usually has a desire to plop down in those chairs in order to get face to face with their playmates). There was a big dollhouse replica of George Washington's mansion with furniture so fragile it could only be "checked out" room by room by the child's chaperone and used while the child was very closely supervised and the museum staff hovered nervously over them preventing any miniature furniture faux pas. There was a board with buttons that lit it up (not sure what that was for since my children repeatedly got reprimanded for pushing the buttons so I finally just kept them away) and there was a tall thingy with spinning panels. Again, not so sure what that was since the children got chastised for spinning the thingys as well. The only thing they didn't get in trouble for was sticking their faces in the Washington family portraits and sitting at the table making letters out of the letter dolls which Ben and Philip and JM spent quite a bit of time doing.
Moving on from there, we approached the mansion only to find a long line which nobody wanted to stand in (it was *hot*!) and so we meandered through the gardens (flower gardens and vegetable gardens which Ben and Philip enjoyed) in hopes of a finding a shorter line later. We encountered a costumed docent who told us all about George Washington's spy ring, the Culver Group which we thought was lots of fun but I'm not sure the kids were so impressed. On the other side of the gardens we found sheep which made the girls beg to go to the pioneer farm site which was down a steep hill which I had run out of enough steam to navigate. So they left me sitting on a bench whilst the rest went in search of sheep and horses. I guess the only thing they found were sheep and chickens - and a long, hot walk. On our return trip, the mansion was still a long line away so we gave up on it. We never did see the inside of the very building we had traveled for 3 hours to see...sigh...oh well...
We hopped in the van and traversed the three miles to the Gristmill and Distillery which may have been the highlight of the day. JT was fascinated with the mechanics of the mill and Tad was delighted to see the inner workings of the distillery. That was a great spot for the kids who got a break from the heat in the stone gristmill building, had a wonderful docent who answered every question great and small and experienced lots of loud and interesting machinery. On the return trip we broke up our stay in the traffic with a trip to Five Guys for french fries for the ride and arrived home in time to tumble into bed and prepare for the next day.
Saturday we got up and went to Hershey Park. Adora and I debated long and hard and fished around for a sitter for Miah and Nate and finally decided to just bring them along. Adora was excited about seeing Miah get on some of the rides and was looking forward to being the big mom in the little Busy Bees. It was a great trip for everyone as it worked out just fine for Adora and Tad to take turns with the big six going on the coasters and rides while Tali and I sat on benches watching the mini carousel and the Ladybug coaster go round and round. I let Nate navigate us around the park until he and Miah crashed in the afternoon. I brought my pillow to lighten the load on my bum and we managed to run into Aunt Great and crew a few times. It's obvious who had the camera since all the pictures are of the very little people. Although, not wanting to spring for the $15 post-ride picture of the roller coasters, Ben and JT reenacted Philip's reaction for me when we met for lunch. I have been dreaming, though, of the day when I'm not pregnant or nursing and I actually get to run around an amusement park with my bigs and jump on some coasters....I suppose by then my bones and my bladder will be too worn to make it much fun...If only the kids understood the sacrifices we moms make for them!
On Sunday we had a visit from our bishop. We had to get to church a bit earlier than usual to allow for the traditional manner of greeting the bishop at the door. Once we were seated, David took one look at the hat the bishop got to wear and the array of seminarians he brought with him and whispered in my ear, "Mom is it his birthday and are those all his friends?" I've written about that visit in more detail on the other blog.
It's been a long, tiring weekend but we had lots of fun. I'm glad for a Sunday afternoon rest. Tomorrow it's back to the grindstone...