Archives for posts with tag: day trips


I’ve been sick with a nasty infection for what seems the last month. It’s been pretty yucky at times and has left me pretty exhausted. Being sick for so long has reminded me how much time I spend with Little B playing as I’ve spent so much time missing our time together. But that’s neither here nor there as I’m hoping to finally be on the upswing of things (and with today’s “predicted” snow it couldn’t come at a better time).

This weekend, thanks to Brooks having to go to DC for work related reasons, The Boy and I tagged along to make the outing a day trip to one of our favorite cities. The National Museum of Natural History has always been a favorite, though we tend to go, always, with too little time and too much enthusiasm. Only one of those is a problem.


The museum’s dinosaur exhibit is going to be closed to the public later this year (April one of the volunteers told us) until the year 2019 (that isn’t a typo). So we wanted to make sure to visit that area before we didn’t have the ability to do so for a long time. Plus, who knows where we’ll move to next and we might not be in DC for even longer. Coinciding with the closure of the exhibit is the opening of their Qrius interactive lab for teens (and tweens). This particular exhibit opened in December and although they are only open for a few hours in the afternoon for the general public (being open to school groups during the day) it’s a pretty amazing spot to  explore. The whole lab is set up for exploring, learning, and curiosity. Tons of specimens are available for kids to handle, explore, and inquire about. Staff members and volunteers are readily available to answer questions. We obviously didn’t spend enough time in this area and I’m already looking forward into March for a possible outing to the museum just to spend a few hours there with LB.

The Boy and I lost about a week of school due to my being sick enough to not be able to teach so we took Sunday as a homeschool day, taking the two hour car ride into the city to read over and discuss some of the teacher guides available for download off the NMNH website. Armed with that knowledge we checked out very specific areas of the museum to both check out what we had just learned about and to reinforce the knowledge. Win win in my book. We got to field trip it with Dad in tow, a rarity in itself, and made up a lost school day.


For those day tripping it to this area of DC, there is plentiful parking nearby. We parked in a garage a few blocks away for 16 bucks and ate in one of the restaurants nearby. Big Brooks is great about using different apps to not only find good places to eat but finding parking and mapping it all so we aren’t walking around lost. We ate at a restaurant called Oyamel right across from our parking deck. It specializes in Mexican cuisine. This particular restaurant is a far cry from the usual Mexican fare you can normally find at your local restaurant. I’m not sure who their chef is but the food was ridiculously good. The restaurant is set up like a Spanish tapas bar, with small portions of food that are either meant to be shared or eaten along with various different choices. It can obviously get pricey but it’s definitely worth it. And the corn tortillas are made fresh. You can’t beat that.


As for myself, I’m looking forward to not being sick. It sounds cliche but I’m definitely sick of being sick.

Grateful for another day, always.


So, after what seemed like a really, really long week (we just got back from PA on Sunday, Three King’s Day, my birthday, etc.) Saturday was upon us and I was itching for a day trip. To be fair, Richmond is so close calling it a day trip seems a little foolish, however, when you piece and put together a day with something new or pretty amazing I think it qualifies.

Big Brooks had apparently been to Buzz and Ned’s a few days before. It’s apparently hailed as Richmond’s best or most authentic bar-b-que joint. Daddy Brooks was raving about how it was delicious, amazing, and other over used but quite accurate adjectives. Meanwhile, we’d heard about the place from B’s best friend who implored us to some day just go, we wouldn’t regret it. So off we went to Buzz and Ned’s, who apparently was featured on the TV in a contest with Bobby Flay (and won, that’s important to mention). 

The place was packed but we were able to find a parking spot (score!) and the food was incredible and totally worth the wait (they were, after all, busy, and I’m thinking perfection takes time). It was pretty amazing and we may or may not have licked our fingers. 

For those in the Richmond area planning on going to Buzz and Ned’s, the prices are pretty comparable to eating elsewhere, though if you think about lunch prices in most places Buzz and Ned’s would be a bit pricier. But if you split a large meal (who would do that?!) two people can eat for about 15 bucks. We chose to forgo that and just enjoy our meals, while sharing. Big Brooks had a half rack of ribs (so so good!), BB had catfish (which I declined to try since I’m not a sea-foodie), and I had the pulled pork because it just calls to me. 

After stuffing ourselves properly we headed to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which happens to be free. How great is that? We only had about 90 minutes before our movie started at Bowtie Cinemas (located on the same street, down right smack dab from Buzz and Ned’s and very close the VMFA). The art museum, which we LOVE, has a current exhibit called something to the effects of Hollywood Costumes and which happens to be free to the military thanks to their participation with Blue Star Museums. The free entrance saved us 50 bucks between the three of us and we were quite grateful after throwing caution to the wind at Buzz and Ned’s and eating whatever we fancied, regardless of the price (I tend to be more frugally minded most days… I may have lost my mind at Buzz and Ned’s, I’m just saying).

The exhibit was AWESOME! It deserves all caps. The place, being Saturday was PACKED! That was hard only because The Boy and I are used to going to museums and being one of the only ones there. They had so many great costumes on display and did a wonderful job through videos and descriptions of explaining the art of hollywood costuming: entertaining and educational, my favorite combination. Some of our faces: Harrison’s costume from Indiana Jones, one of Superman’s suits, Spiderman’s, pieces from Gone with the Wind (be still my heart!), and Marilyn Monroe’s famous dress where the subway grate is blowing beneath her. There were tons more but definitely our favorite area was the one dedicated to action movies. The exhibit runs through mid February and if I can swing it The Boy and I will head back during the week when it’s less crowded to check it out again. 

The movie we attended, Hercules, was okay. I’m not big on rating movies but it was definitely good for a 10 year old boy who loves Greek mythology. We were both a bit put off by the Hollywood take on Hera giving Hercules’s mother a night with Zeus so that her infant son could save humanity. Seriously, Hera?! The woman was incredibly jealous and B and I have loved reading about her supposed antics involving all the women Zeus had flings with. The woman was jealous! Beyond that, the cinematography was lacking at points and there were points I guffawed at the acting or little mistakes here and there that were pretty obvious to me (who wasn’t too engrossed in the story), but we had fun and The Boy loved it, so win win! 

Loved spending the day with my boys, and although next week promises to be a bear with activities and the start of my semester, I’m so grateful for a day with nothing on the plate but enjoying the time spent with them. Life remains ever so sweet. 


The dragon for the modern lion dance that we were unable to enjoy but which we were able to admire 🙂

I had my little rant on The Facebook about how rude the parents were at this particular event, so I won’t go into that here because quite honestly, that aside, we really had a good time. Little B was oblivious to most of it so he had a blast and was sad when the event ended and it was time to go.

I like to take events like this and turn them into something a bit bigger, so knowing that we were going to be in Richmond for this event D.Brooks and I scoured the web for a good Chinese Restaurant in Richmond (Chinafest – Chinese restaurant, that’s gold 😉  ).


Funny side note, when we arrive at the Chinese Restaurant Little B says all surprised, “Gee how funny, we were just at the Chinafest, now we’re eating Chinese!” As smart as my little cookie is he’s yet to figure out that there’s careful planning involved in some of our outings! 😉


paper cutting at one of the demonstration tables

Thankfully the Museum has TONS of parking, and at 5 bucks a car that’s a steal for a metropolitan area. The Chinafest only ran for four hours. I think an all day even would have been better because there was so much to see and do that we were unable to do it all, even though quite frankly we really, really wanted to.


working on their snake puppets


They had a traditional lion dance, modern lion dance, and a martial arts demonstration. Note to self, next year watch from above like all the smart people peering down from the galleries. It was so crowded that the only performance we were able to see was the Traditional Lion Dance, and only because we were in the front row-ish.


The Boy’s name in calligraphy

They had all kinds of demonstrations as well: calligraphy, pottery, wood block printing, paper cutting, etc. Those were awesome to see but even more fun to try out for ourselves.  The artists involved in these art forms were easy to talk to and were happy to answer any questions.


koi fish kite decorating

B had his name written in calligraphy with four different characters standing for the sounds of his name. I asked the gentleman to translate what the sounds stood for and I can remember two of them (I did write them down for B) : gentle and “manly.” Nice! That’s a good combination in my book!


Big Brooks exploring the museum on his own whislt The Boy and I were occupied with koi fish making

There were also opportunities for the kiddos to try their own hands at some art: silk screen painting, snake puppets (for the year of the Snake!), koi fish kites, and block printing. They also had a fun photo booth with Chinese opera costumes to wear that was a lot of fun. Plus EVERYTHING was free, including the photos and all the art projects. You can’t beat that!


one of my most favorite pieces at the museum – i have a thing for circles. LOVE them!

We will definitely return for the festival next year, though we might thicken our skins a bit before we go 🙂


one of big brooks’s favorites


Big Brooks checked out some of the exhibits in the lower gallery while The Boy and I worked on his Koi Fish Kite. Love these pictures!


ImageLittle B has been rock climbing with Peak Experiences for a bit now (i’ll have to cover that in a later blog post) and the super nice homeschooling Momma that coordinates that activity also plans history field trips with another homeschool group in Richmond. She was kind enough to invite the Peak Experiences families to join in on some of her outings, including this one to The Museum of the Confederacy.

Little B and I covered the Civil War extensively last year as part of his history curriculum. We’ve visiting Gettysburg several times, have seen movies and documentaries, read countless books, and have checked out various websites online. Living in Texas for six years gave us a good education on that part of our nation’s history. Living in Virginia, however, is proving to be a history gold mine. Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War there is so much to see and explore.

Mind you, when I was growing up I was taught in various public schools (we moved around quite a bit) that the Civil War was not caused by the issue of slavery. I love that the The Museum of the Confederacy takes the correct historical approach and does not sugar coat the paramount cause of the Civil War.


From the get go our tour guide was full of information. She was quite surprised by how much our group (comprise of elementary aged kiddos) already knew. I love tours – The Boy not so much. He’d rather peruse at his own pace. But I love that the guides tend to be incredibly well versed in whatever the subject matter at hand is, and that they can delve into various subtopics when questioned or probed for further information. The kids asked some pretty cool questions, we saw up close some articles belonging to various people involved in the conflict, and the kiddos were treated to a special session on slavery and the Underground Railroad.


For me this is all about bringing history alive for my little guy. It’s about making these events not just relevant for him but more concrete than something you can read in a book or see in a documentary (though those things are great as well).

One of my favorite moments in the tour was laying eyes on one of Sherman’s famous neck ties:


I had read about these on my own when I was younger and had always imagined them to look quite different (much larger in fact). Our guide even mentioned how the soldiers, bored, would host contests to see who could twist their rail the most times around a central object, like a piece of wood.

Our visit to The Museum of the Confederacy ended with a tour of the South’s White House (which shows how clueless I was about that since I had no idea one existed). It’s directly adjacent to the museum. Now for those of you who love Richmond’s White House I truly hope to not offend you when I state how gaudy I found some of the rooms in the house. I would have taken photos to defend my opinion but alas, we were not allowed to take any.

Apparently, faux pas everything was in high fashion; perhaps lack of money had something to do with this too. There were so many fake things trying to pass off as real things that it looked really tasteless. For example, in the entryway there was wallpaper that was supposed to resemble marble blocks. But it failed miserably and just looked awful.

My favorite tid bit about the house was that there were a few slaves who worked there and apparently one is believed to have started a fire in the basement before running away. Apparently in the confusion and mess of the fire no one noticed he was missing until it was too late. Smart man, if you ask me!

Because Little B had two basketball games immediately after our scheduled tours we were unable to visit the whole museum properly. For sure we’ll have to return at a later date to check out all the exhibits the right way.