Category Archives: DC Day Trips with Kids

Summer Bucket List 2013: A Mid-Summer’s Update

Anyone else cringing at the sight of  “Back to School” commercials on TV? One wonders, is it necessary? Couldn’t they at least wait until August 1? Or do they start in July because we’ll start seeing Halloween decor coming out on August 1?

#EnoughAlready

I refuse to acknowledge any of it because we are still in the throes of summer in Wired Momma-Land and I thought it time to update you all on the status of my summer bucket list, to give you a bit of a distraction from the Great #RoyalBaby watch of 2013. I’ll address what I’ve knocked off my bucket list and the unexpected things I’ve added, taking the lead is dinner without pants. And with that:

The fearsome Captain Hook (James Konicek) in PETER PAN AND WENDY at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit:  Margot Schulman

The fearsome Captain Hook (James Konicek) in PETER PAN AND WENDY at Imagination Stage. Photo Credit: Margot Schulman

 Children’s Theater

Earlier this summer, recall I vowed to head to Wolf Trap – both regular Wolf Trap for the evening shows under the stars – and the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods  . That’s what I said. Here’s what I’ve done – I purchased three tickets to see a show at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods and guess what? It poured rain all morning. Therefore, this item remains on my bucket list.

As for puppet shows, unfortunately we missed  “Bathtub Pirates” at The Puppet Co., but my plan is to see the “Dinosaur Babies” puppet show, maybe even this week. (For anyone keeping score, I’m currently 0 for 2).

Ready to hit the carousel at Glen Echo Park after the "Cat in the Hat"

Ready to hit the carousel at Glen Echo Park after the “Cat in the Hat”

But wait….we did see “Cat in the Hat” at Adventure Theatre and LOVED IT. Here’s a link to my review and it’s still not too late for you to head there for some indoor summer fun!

We also saw  “Peter Pan and Wendy” at Imagination Stage and loved that one too – here’s a link to my review! You still have a few more weeks to check that out as well.

But wait, there’s more on the outdoor entertainment front. Strathmore Backyard Theater has an ongoing outdoor entertainment series for kids that I haven’t yet been too – look for me there this summer…that’s what I said at the onset of summer. We haven’t yet been there either BUT my plan is to go on Thursday- fingers crossed for good weather.

Outdoor Fun

Earlier this summer, I said that Mr. WM wants to hit every water park he can find. So far, we’ve hit our fav water park on Fenwick Island in Delaware twice and I have a strong feeling we’ll be there again this coming weekend. So – check.

Paddle-boating ready at Cunningham Falls State Park

Paddle-boating ready at Cunningham Falls State Park

I noted that Mr. WM also wanted to hit Cunningham State Falls park. It’s absurd that we’ve never been and NOW I can say that we have been and enjoyed a lovely day of a short (again, emphasize short) hike and then frolicking in the lake, a picnic on the beach and then we took a paddleboat out for about an hour. I’d highly recommend this as a fun outing, however, I’d urge you to arrive early. When we left around 3pm, there was a long lineup of cars waiting to enter the state park.

Earlier this summer, I vowed to hit outdoor music. Thus far, I missed all the outdoor

Loving the butterflies at Brookside Gardens

Loving the butterflies at Brookside Gardens

concerts at  Brookside Gardens  in June BUT we did hit Brookside Gardens for a day-time outing and loved strolling around the grounds and visiting the butterfly exhibit. So much so that we are probably going back, possibly tomorrow.

The National Zoo is always on our bucket list – year round – and I loved the great red panda escape pulled off by Rusty earlier this summer. We haven’t yet hit the Zoo but we’ll get there, we always do, before school starts.

Earlier this summer, here was my vow: Given our proximity to the water and the youngest WM’ette’s love for all things pirates, hopefully we’ll hit up the Pirate cruise in Annapolis, Baltimore or the new one that just launched in Georgetown.  Here’s my review of the Annapolis experience if you haven’t yet been. Update: haven’t done any pirate cruises yet BUT have done pirate mini-golf in downtown Bethany Beach a few times, does this count?

Requisite summer activites: fireworks, sparklers, corn on the cob and mini golf

Requisite summer activities: fireworks, sparklers, corn on the cob and mini golf

Outdoor Bucket List Promise from Early in the Summer: For a weekend day trip idea, I recently learned of the boat cruises from Annapolis to St. Michaels. We once had a weekend get-away without children to St. Michaels and it was lovely but that was almost seven years ago and we haven’t been since. Based on the reviews, it sounds like the kids would love the cruise from Annapolis to St. Michaels. Or better yet, maybe I need to ditch the kids and husband and instead hit the yoga cruise out of Annapolis with the ladies. Thoughts??

Update: Haven’t done any of the above yet but there is still time. I hereby declare summer extends through September. Seriously.

Outdoor Bucket List Promise: Beyond taking the girls to see a Nationals game, I think it’s time we hit a game at the Bowie Baysox, every year I regret not getting there because I hear the whole experience is really kid friendly and cheap. Update: We have tickets to go at the end of August to see the Bowie Baysox with friends!

Look at that smile....oh my

Look at that smile….oh my

Movies

Earlier in the summer promise: We’re also really looking forward to “Monsters University” opening later this month and the Despicable Me Sequel!  Update: My girls went to see Monsters U with their summer camp and loved it. They also went to see “Turbo” and loved it. I need to get them to Despicable Me 2 bc I also can’t wait to see it. But how could I possibly mention summer movies without a shout-out to my evening with Channing Tatum?? Who would have expected that to emerge from this summer, eh?

Books

Earlier this summer, I noted how much I love to read, especially through the summer. I did download “Room”    and devoured it. It is a disturbing book but what kept me going was not just the perspective of a very innocent 5-year-old but the fact that it really is as much a book about motherhood and resolve as it is about kidnapping and abuse. I have  “The Interestings” downloaded but am currently reading the hilarious “Where’d You Go Bernadette?” which is a great change of pace after Room. Next up I’m going to read “The Tragedy Paper” which was recommended by the same friend who recommends most book titles to me and my sister is also reading it and is totally absorbed in it. Earlier in the summer I finished “The Kingmaker’s Daughter” and basically couldn’t put it down.

Date Night

Here was my pre-summer vow: I want to go on more dates this summer. One of my fav summer dates was the year we did the sunset kayaking and then ended up at Founding Farmers for dinner. Time to repeat that one or find another one that’s equally as fun and unique to summer time.

Update: We suck in this category. And frankly, I didn’t even realize it until just now. I’ve had a fabulous evening out to Le Diplomate with my BFFs. I had a great dinner out with Mr. WM and my sister and brother-in-law to celebrate a birthday but we haven’t had just a date night for us. Time to get that one sorted out, I’d say.

#Fail

#WhereDoesTimeGo?

#DoesMyDateWithChanningTatumCount?

Summer 2013 Bucket List Additions

Dirty Girl Mud Run

Unfortunately, prior plans are going to prevent me from participating in this one but I hope others will participate in the Dirty Girl Mud Run on Saturday August 10. It’s right up my alley and I hate that I am missing it – a mud-filled obstacle course – for women only – seriously – doesn’t that sound super fun??? It’s for women ages 14 and up and proceeds are donated to breast cancer charities. This one is a no brainer people. I hope you’ll sign up!

Dinner without Pants

And last but not least, Dinner Without Pants. I’d highly recommend this one. Otherwise known as spontaneous dinner out with friends and kids straight from the pool so you go in your swimsuit cover-up and it’s okay because it’s summer. There is nothing more fun, more summer-y and more relaxing than this, seriously. Do it.

Happy Summer Everyone. Feel free to add your summer favs in the comments, or on the WM Facebook page because that’s where all the fun happens, and join moi in WM-Land & keep ignoring those invasive “Back to School” commercials.

#IHatePackingLunches

#HappySummer

Summer Fun 2013: Day Trip it to Dutch Wonderland

I am going to do a few things this summer. First, I’m going to blog less, unwind more and enjoy outings with the kids. I am vowing to this one. I trust that if you only hear from me once a week, it doesn’t mean everyone will go away, it just means you, too, are enjoying your summer. Yes?

Second, I am going to sporadically bring your summer outings ideas. In fact, I had intended to write about my summer bucket list by now after a friend texted me hers but I’m still finalizing that list. It’s been really fun to think about.

With that, I bring you one day trip idea: a day trip to Dutch Wonderland, nestled in the heart of Lancaster, PA. If you haven’t been yet, and you have young kids, then I suggest you add it to the top of your list….and for those of you who are wondering if you can make it a day trip my answer is…absolutely…positively..without a doubt..YES.

Last summer, right around this exact same weekend, on a Sunday morning, we loaded up the kids into the car, I shoved a big breakfast down their throats and made innumerable threats that I was not providing them with snacks for the entire duration of our drive to DW…so don’t ask…..and we pulled out of our driveway around 8:20AM. DW opens at 10AM and it was promising to be sunny and scorching hot all day, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Also, as a general rule of thumb, as much as I love my own sweet oppressors children, I pretty much loathe other people’s complaining children and annoying adults in large public spaces…so normally I would attempt a DW trip in the middle of the week – assuming I would be facing less crowds than on a lovely weekend when school is out for summer. Obviously I packed my own patience along with snacks for the kiddos.

Happy park-goers at Dutch Wonderland. Photo Credit: WM

Just under two hours later (and plenty of complains for snacks and “are we there yet?” pleas), we rounded the corner and saw the shining gates of the castle and Duke the smiling purple dragon…and cries of jubilee erupted from the back seat of the vehicle. All prior trauma from .02 seconds ago was forgotten. Suddenly no one was hungry. Suddenly no one’s tummy’s hurt…and miraculously…..suddenly no one was crying. Thank you, Duke the Dragon, where have you been all my life?

Check one for Dutch Wonderland, Mr. WM elatedly noted as we pulled into the parking lot because…parking is FREE unless you want priority parking right next to the gates and that will run you $10. As any avid fans of Mr. WM know, and there are millions of you, he’s not paying for priority parking when free is a few feet further from the gate (note: if I were alone without him, you better believe I would have paid the extra $10 for priority parking. #princess).

We mapped out our strategy in advance – we being moi and Mr. WM. We knew that we were not letting the tykes know of the water park option until we exhausted the rides, our logic being we didn’t want to deal with them complaining about being wet, plus by later in the day, it was likely to be too hot to be standing in line for rides. Mr. WM actually wore his swim trunks all day, I packed mine in the backpack with the girls’ – as much as I considered parading around in my string bikini all day long. Also important to note – on this sort of outing – I forgo fashion for practicality. I am not likely to be seen sporting a backpack much any other time of the year, typically preferring a more stylish messenger bag to tote all the crap for the kids – but for an outing like this one – a backpack stuffed to the brim  -with towels, extra plastic bags for wet clothes, extra underpants, sunscreen and water bottles – is the only option. Just as Mr WM carrying said backpack was really the only option for moi. #princess

DW’s brilliance in making you enter and exit the park through the gift shop overflowing with happy, smiling, soft cute stuffed animals is genius on their part but another hassle for the parents. We handled it by continuing my series of morning threats….this time reminding them multiple times as we approached the gates “Coming here is your present today. You are not BUYING ANYTHING. DO NOT ASK.”

No one has ever accused me of being sweet. #BitchyPrincess

Their eyes filled with longing and tear water tears as we paraded them through the gift shop with tunnel vision for the main entrance. There were no lines to speak of to enter the park and we immediately veered left to ride the Sky Ride to the back of the park, soaking in the aerial view of the other rides.  We started off with the kids enjoying the Bear Ride – my then 6-year-old claiming she’s too old and sophisticated for such a ride and then barely able to contain her smiles during the ride. Then off to the bike maze and the bumper cars, which all four of us rode, with the singular goal of ramming into the other two as much as humanly possible for the duration of the ride.

Check two for DW – so far – the lines were nothing to speak of – as in – we would walk up to a ride and get on it right away. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Also, we’d made a pit stop to the restroom and they are in impeccable shape, very clean with the added perk of a step stool under the sinks for the little ones to stand on to wash their hands. I also noted an ongoing stream of stroller traffic and parents parking the strollers with ease around rides, along with many many very pregnant women, who easily found shaded seating on benches throughout the park. Again, this place is really geared for families with young kids and even the smallest detail wasn’t overlooked, in my opinion.

Power hungry older sister proudly noting her higher status at the ride height chart. Note – she did this each time we passed one.

After some negotiation, my older one agreed to ride Huck Finn’s Leapin’ Frogs with her younger sister (I think she became power-hungry from the color coded chart dictating the height requirements for the rides…being that she was in the second to tallest category, this filled her with pride and a false sense of worldly sophistication. Truth is, she enjoyed the toddler geared rides just as much, if not more, than her then 3-year-old sister).

Next we hit the Double splash flume in logs ride…which quickly became the WM top favorite ride of the day. Mr. WM and the eldest WM sat in the front of the log, me and WM’ette rode in the back…and my youngest in particular has a need for speed – so they laughed and squealed as we rushed down the slope with water rushing into the log. On that ride, we actually waited the longest amount of all the rides that day – which was a grand total of about 5 minutes. I think our youngest would have ridden that ride until darkness fell and they kicked us out, if we’d let her.  We rode a few more rides, played a few games, admired the cute little chicks in the cages and then hit the Frog Prince water show. We were conned into spending $8 on lemonade and popcorn but both were delicious and the water show was excellent entertainment and a nice break from the increasingly hot sun.

Before we knew it, it was 1pm and the kids were hungry for lunch and it was time for the big reveal – water park time. If your kids are like mine, then you are familiar with having a sand kid and a water kid. My oldest has always been the water kid – doesn’t matter if the ocean is 40 degrees, she’s in it until she turns blue and has no interest in the sand. My youngest has always been extremely sensitive to temperature and would much rather build a sand castle. As such, the water park was a thrill for our oldest. There are three sections of the water park and even the section for the youngest, smallest kids, with some water gently spraying around little mini-slides, held little appeal for her. Meanwhile, the oldest was tearing through all the options and rode each of the three water slides multiple times over. This is the part of the day that presents a challenge if you are planning a day trip to DW without your partner or spouse….I’d recommend you go with another set of friends then because it is extremely difficult to keep an eye on more than one child -unless they both want to do the exact same thing at the exact same time – and when does that ever happen except in the movies?

One side of the DW water park

Divide and conquer was the approach that worked best for us, along with scoring a seat in the shade, which still was quite easy despite how crowded the water park side of the park was by early afternoon. I noticed they have cabana rentals and we totally enjoyed the Beach Boys blaring through the speakers – it just added to the fun, summer atmosphere of the entire afternoon.

We probably lasted about 45 minutes in the water park because of our younger one…and lunch time hunger. DW has many options for lunch but because of the convenience, we opted for lunch by the water park, and dropped $23 on two orders of chicken strips, a hot dog and a bottle of water. One order of chicken strips would have been sufficient because the portion size was so large.

After lunch and slurpees, the girls were starting to drag, so we soaked in another one of the multiple shows DW offers throughout the day (options include Curious George, story time with a Princess and a Knight, and a Dragon water show, among others), the Badland Bears music show. Again, these animated moving bears sing country songs, the Beaver was mine and Mr. WM’s favorite, while our oldest liked Foxy on the keyboards, and more than anything, it was a 20 minute rest under a shady tree.

We wrapped up the day with a few more rides and headed home around 4pm. The park remains open until 8:30pm but the heat was zapping everyone’s energy and we figured, we should just leave while we’re ahead, no sense in waiting for an epic breakdown to taint our otherwise happy, relaxing and fun day trip. We barely left the gates of DW and my youngest was fast asleep and remained that way for the entire 2 hour ride home.

Overall, we give DW a huge thumbs up. There are outlets across the street and plenty of hotel/motel options if you’re looking to explore Lancaster, PA  but I think it’s an easy day trip for anyone from the DC or Baltimore area. Admission is $35.99 per person ages 3 on up. The park is beautifully maintained and landscaped. The bathrooms are clean and the staff are eager and ready to help. The youngest I would take a kid- to actually ride rides and participate in the fun – is about 2.5 years old and I saw kids as old as 9-12 there having fun. To me, it’s a great way to introduce younger kids to the idea of an amusement park without all the noise and chaos and lines that come with the bigger parks. The variety and frequency of shows throughout the day also offer a great reprieve for tired little feet or short-on-patience parents, so definitely grab a show schedule on your way into the park.

For more on my Summer Fun 2013 series, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma community page on FB, it will be the most fun you ever did have.

Disclosure: DW granted me free admission to the park last year but my opinions here are all my own.

 

Summer’s Around the Corner….Helping You Plan

We are less than two months out from summer break – insane, right?  With that in mind, to help you get your creative juices flowing in how best to schedule some fun activities during the dog days of summer, today I bring you a guest post from Amy Suski, local blogger and co-founder of DCMetroMom. The thing is, Amy didn’t just start a blog, she’s gone on to do something many bloggers dream of: publish a book. Amy teamed up with her other DCMetroMom partner, Claudine, and the fabulous Micaela Williamson, formerly of SuperNOVA Mommy fame, to publish Kid Trips: Northern Virginia Edition. Their book came out earlier this spring and has received tremendous press attention and praise from local parents. And all for good reason. These women are the trifecta of DC-area based kid activity knowledge, not to mention business savvy, social media savvy entrepreneurs who are providing all of us an excellent resource to make our lives easier and more fun. I’m proud to turn the pages of WM over to them today, in Amy’s voice, and introduce you to their book and what you might find in it. With that, I give you Amy:

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Book-CoverIn my twenties, I lived and breathed city life in the District: working on K Street, shopping boutiques, going to the theatre, strolling the art galleries, biking along the Potomac, and dining at trendy restaurants every chance I got.  But while I was busy streaming into the city for work and play, NoVA was sneaking up on me as a happening place to be.

Over the last decade, Northern Virginia has really come into its own and can boast much more than proximity to D.C.  While preserving its historic old towns, gardens, and parklands, Northern Virginia has forged ahead to create its own identity as a terrific family destination all its own with super-fun seasonal events (Spring Egg Hunts, Summer County Fairs, Fall Pumpkin Patches, Winter Festivals), family-friendly performance venues, nature centers, oodles of indoor play-spaces, innovative playgrounds, art studios, interactive museums, farms, and so much more.

With so many new things happening in NoVA I wished for a guide to steer my family on its travels.  Although there were a lot of big name family travel guides for D.C., I couldn’t find a comparable book dedicated to NoVA.  So, after years of living in and exploring the area, I teamed up with Claudine Kurp (co-founder of DCMetroMom.com) and Micaela Williamson, a.k.a., Super NoVA Mommy, to create a guide especially for families living in or visiting NoVA.   Between the three of us we’ve pretty much dragged, chased, and strolled all seven of our kids across the entire area.  As local bloggers we’ve also had unique opportunities to visit and review many terrific activities and performance venues so we feel like we have an insider’s track on helping families find the best that NoVA has to offer.

There are so many reasons to explore NoVA and we hope our new book will help guide families along the way.  Just a few of my personal favorites featured in the book:

+ Carousel and playground at Clemyjontri Park in McLean

+ Tot-rock concerts at Jammin Java in Vienna

+ Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods at Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center in Vienna

+ Museum, farm, and gardens at the Mount Vernon Estate

+ Artist studios at Old Town Alexandria’s Torpedo Factor Art Center

+ Art programs for Children at the Greater Reston Arts Center

+ Children’s garden at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria

+ Farm fun at Frying Pan Farm Park and Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum

+ Sprayground parks in Arlington

+ Miniature Train at Burke Lake Park

+ Leesburg Animal Park

+ Marine Corps Museum in Quantico

+ Hiking at Great Falls

+ Super Science Saturdays at Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum in Chantilly

+ National Battlefield Park and Historic Train Depot in Manassas

For hundreds more local attractions, “Top Picks,” “Insider Tips,” seasonal events, and parenting resources get your copy of Kid Trips: Northern Virginia Edition through Amazon or as an ebook on Kindle, Nook or Smashwords (coming to iBooks soon).  To sign-up for monthly newsletters, updates, and blogs visit www.gotrips.com.

About the author:  Amy Suski and her husband are parents to two sons, a daughter, and a rambunctious boxer dog.  Before motherhood Amy worked in Washington, D.C. as an attorney and is now writing, editing, and volunteering.  She is co-founder of DCMetroMom.com and co-author of Kid Trips: Northern Virginia Edition.

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Thank you so much Amy for contributing today! I hope everyone will consider supporting these local moms, their book can be purchased for $8.99 on Amazon and it’s well worth it to give yourself a whole host of ideas for lazy summer days! You can also find these lovely ladies on Facebook.

As always, I hope you’ll “Like” the Wired Momma Facebook page and if you’d like to contribute a guest post, please email me at wiredmomma@me.com.

Spring Break Marches On…..What To Do?

Here we are on day 3 of Spring Break and as I started poking around online, looking for some options for something fun today, I started to consider if I should take the girls to Butler’s Orchard for Bunnyland this year. I am not sure if we went last year. Then I did a quick search on my own blog (how strange is that? To search yourself for a post to remember if you want to go do something?) and I stumbled upon the below blog post from April 15, 2009. At that point, I was about two weeks into my new career of not working full-time, I had a 3 year old and a 5 month old. Not sure I will be hitting Bunnyland this year after the below reminder…heh heh.  In the meantime, KidFriendlyDC put together a pretty great list of spring break ideas.

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Seriously, who leaves a place called “Bunnyland” super pissed off, I wondered to myself on Monday as we headed back to the car.

As we headed into week two of spring break (umm….I am not on board with breaks from school, FYI), me and the girls packed into the car for another trip to a farm…on yet another cold and almost rainy spring day (umm…where the f is spring this year?). This time we were headed to “Bunnyland” – hog heaven for three year olds…..open fields with bunnies, spring chicks, lambs, moonbounces, big slides, an easter egg hunt, hay rides. Seriously – what could be stressful about that trip?

And this time I loaded DD2 into the Bjorn, instead of the stroller, figuring though my back would be crying “Mercy”, it still would be easier than the stroller because DD1 wouldn’t need a ride on this trip. I hadn’t considered how difficult it is to get shoes back on a wriggly squirmy three year old after a trip in the Moonbounce, with a 15 pound baby strapped to my chest, when making this executive decision.

I also never considered lazy as hell mothers and obnoxious pre-teens when venturing out to Bunnyland.

And so began my journey to the point of rage in this otherwise innocent, spring-time outing. So let’s get to it. Will I become one of these worthless parents, I wondered, after more time at home?

Why do parents bring their children to public places to then not pay attention to them? Why was I helping some 2-year old down the slide while her mom talked on her cell phone, not paying attention? I could have swiped the kid. Get off your f’ing phone, I wanted to shout to her.  I’ve got my own kids to pay attention to.

And then there was the tricycles. Umm…get your f’ing kid off the tricycle when there is a line of other toddlers waiting patiently (which in itself is shocking) and your kid has ridden around and around and around for 15 minutes. Saying outloud each time he passes “ok johnny, this is your last time, we need to share” – doesn’t actually get him off the bike. And guess what, we all know it’s easier to let them keep riding because then you stand there and gossip with your friend instead of dealing with the inevitable tantrum – but I don’t give a shit. Get your kid off the tricycle. We eventually had to abandon the tricycles without riding as I said very loudly “It’s nice that you waited in line for SO LONG while the other kids didn’t SHARE” as I glared at the lazy as hell moms and continued to the fateful egg hunt. Next time, I’ll handle it much less passive aggressively, trust me.

Ahh…the egg hunt…where I ripped into some aggressive 12 year old pre-teen who pummeled my kid to rip an egg out of her hands.

“DO NOT trample toddlers for eggs. Where are your manners. Go find another egg and leave the little kids alone.”

I shouted to her – in a fit of rage in bunnyland.

Why was I playing offense and defense in bunnyland? What the hell? What was sweet and innocent about this trip?

Fortunately, DD1 had a great time in Bunnyland and was pretty oblivious to all the other chaos happening around her. Meanwhile, I could feel my blood pressure rising. I swear, having two kids has made me even less judgmental of other parents because now I am barely faking it until I make it – but lazy parents who stand around and aren’t courteous to other kids and don’t even pay attention to their own brats really PISS me off. If I reach the point of so zoned out in mommyland that I become this way, well then, that’s the first sign that it’s time for me to go back to work.