#dcnovaadventures Smithsonian American History Museum

With my parents in town we made our way to the Smithsonian American History Museum. They had never been, and we hadn’t checked it out in awhile. They have done some changes in their displays since we’ve been, and it was neat to see what they had changed up.

Places of Invention and American Enterpise

The Places of Invention and American Enterprise sections were new to me and had some really cool things. Within those exhibits you can trace Advertising across the decades – from radio to television ads and other things that trace American democracy and capitalism through the decades. There was a docent on hand who happened to be talking about the Altair 8800 and went into more detail about the period of history. That is what I love about the Smithsonians!

The First Ladies

The First Ladies section has been a mainstay of the museum, and they have added the additions of Michelle Obama and Melania. Melania’s dress in person, from the inauguration, is hands down the most exquisite thing I’ve ever seen. Michelle’s which I was absolutely nuts for in photographs and on the tv screen, didn’t translate well in person. Fashion like that is always fascinating to me. Dresses on hangers can look terrible until you put it on. Hillary Clinton’s Inauguration dress is also a top favorite for me, and she looked gorgeous in it. Some of my daughter’s favorites included Jackie Kennedy’s pale yellow State Dinner dress and this beautiful one shoulder sequin dress worn by Nancy Reagan.

Music and Innovation

The Smithsonian also added a small jazz section where they housed instruments from famous jazz and regular musicians, like Poncho Sanchez and Willie Smith. Hang around for a meal and head to the Jazz Cafe, where you can enjoy a bite to eat while listening to jazz.

   

Super Heroes

The Super Heroes collection showcases the evolution of super heroes through the decades, showcasing comic books and various memorabilia including Captain America’s Shield and Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman Costume. Of course you can also get your photo next to Val Kilmer’s Batmobile! This Exhibit runs through January 12, 2020.

In ‘American Stories’ you can see a part of Plymouth Rock, check out Apolo Ohno’s speed skates and Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves. Moving pieces of the exhibit include a living mask of Abraham Lincoln and the video camcorder that caught the first plane going into the Twin Towers. This exhibit will be rotating and will take the opportunity to share different pieces that represent our American history – from well known pieces to lesser known like ornate Firefighter hats from the 1700/1800s. I like this exhibit particularly because it contains a wide variety of artifacts from those with typical historical appeal to old toys and pieces from many time periods all in one space. Items that you might not typically see all in one place.

Another new exhibit that we didn’t have time to get to was called ‘American Democracy: A Leap of Faith. This exhibits shows us items that highlight the fight for democracy and the path to achieving it, including everyday citizen’s and their participation. It looks really neat and I can’t wait to get back to check it out.

As always, this is a hit for families, and my kids (especially the older two who are 13 and 11) really enjoyed it. It also really highlights a lot that Washington DC has to offer visitors in one place because of the variety of items displayed and significance of the items (with the crowing glory being the Star Spangled Banner).

I think living here we can sometimes take these museums for granted, maybe we visit once or when family comes into town. But the exhibits change frequently and you might miss something really cool. The free museums in our area are truly incredible, and while going into the city might be a frustrating prospect to some, its something that is so worth it in my opinion.

happy learning!

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5 Unique Gift Ideas for Christmas

  1. Magazine subscription – I love this one and have used it for my kids before. Its super fun and is like a present every month! I’ve even given a subscription to my mom as a gift before. Did you know that Amazon has discounted magaizine subscription links? You can also get Kindle versions of the magazines as well. I’ve linked some of my favorites below:

2. Subscription boxes with activities – These are super fun, because like activities, it is something exciting every                                  month! Whether you have a little baker, an artist or a scientist, subscription boxes are a great way to keep your kids                            learning for fun!

3. Activities – This is a fun one too, and one we have used before to gift our children special activies like Parkour classes                       for our oldest, and archery for our daughter. Find something they need for that class and use that as an opportunity to                         a) buy it and gift it (I mean, lets face it, you have to buy it anyway. Make it feel more exciting by wrapping it in a box),                           and b) a fun way to let them know they get to do said activity!

                     Ideas – soccer ball and shin guards for soccer classes, ballet bag for ballet                                     classes, special leotard for gymnastics, bow and arrow for archery classes.

4. Keep It Simple – Another way to keep it simple and keep yourself focused is something my mom has done for years.                          Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read. Keeps you focused and doesn’t                        let you get out of hand. Make it a theme!! If you have a kind into Harry Potter, add the illustrated version to your                                    bookshelf this Christmas and include these Harry Potter socks, Harry Potter Lego set and find something in the need                         category that might be themed like school supplies, or something like that!

5. A Trip – Sometimes an event or a trip during Christmas, or a gift right after Christmas is a perfect opportunity to teach                         kids about saving, and how to make an exchange. We aren’t going to spend a bunch of money on toys are stuff like                             that. Instead, we are going to spend money on this amazing trip. I have a friend who is going on a Disney Cruise for                            Christmas. Next year I hope to be in Europe right before Christmas so that will be a part of our gift.

Christmas can be such a great time, but can easily fall into being all about THINGS! We have such an amazing opportunity to bring more to our children, and show them how things don’t always have to be the same. Sometimes its about toys and silly things, because there’s a lot of Christmas magic in that. But, sometimes, its about memories and the experiences.

Do you give unique or interesting gifts at Christmas? I’d love to hear about them!

 

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30 Movies to Watch With Your Kids {if You Were Born in the 80’s}

There’s two reasons why I share movies from when I was a kid, or movies I loved as a kid, with my own children; 1) movies today kind of suck for kids and 2) I’m a sentimental person. Sharing stuff that I loved as a kid with my own is pretty awesome! Movies today feel totally inappropriate for the age they are marketed to, and often there are things that I just plain don’t like. Is it just me or are all parents dumb now too? And not the Tim Taylor, Danny Tanner kind of dumb, where the parents actually end of being right and the kids come around and end up being respectful. No, parents today are the kind of dumb where they are stay dumb, do dumb things and the kids are the smartest ones in the room. Pass!

This list composes not only movies from my childhood, family movies we watched when I was a little bit older and my sister was young, and movies from my mom’s childhood that we watched as kids. Many of these movies aren’t as flashy as today’s flicks but they are none the less important ones I feel like the next generation needs to have in their lives!

Man of the House

Angels in the Outfield

The Adventures of Huck Finn

Mighty Ducks

That Darn Cat

The Sandlot

Back to the Future (Probably best meant for older kids, includes Adult Content. Common Sense Media Review)

Jurrasic Park (Common Sense Media Review)

Richie Rich

First Kid

Spy Next Door

Home Alone

Jumanji

Men in Black (Common Sense Media Review)

The Parent Trap (we prefer the original)

The Little Rascals

Space Jam

Casper

The Secret Garden

The Little Princess

Galaxy Quest

Flubber (Original and new versions)

Shaggy Dog

The Incredible Mr. Limpet

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!

The Santa Claus

Davy Crockett

Charlie the Lonesome Cougar

Spy Kids

A Kid in King Arthur’s Court

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Visit San Diego Like a Tourist Part 2

Back again to share with you another day in San Diego and some fun ideas for your trip to the sunshine state. Today’s post is a day full of fun, experiencing Balboa Park which is definitely a tourist destination, and also includes a couple fun local favorites for food and drink. When visiting anywhere I love to not only see the normal tourist destinations but also check out some of the local’s favorite places. On my personal list always is 1) a local record store and 2) a speakeasy style bar.

A top spot on my list was Balboa Park.

Balboa Park is a 1200 urban cultural park with open space areas, museums, art museums, gardens, the Zoo, places to eat, theater and more! It truly is remarkable to look at it and really fun to walk around in. Historically it is also very incredible. Balboa was a spot for the 1915/16 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition. Named a protected park in 1835, Balboa is the oldest parks dedicated to public recreational use and is also on the register of historical places. If you get a chance to visit this place, take out a chunk of time to really walk around and explore.

Also, got to hang out with my best friend’s brother, who was an amazing tour guide and got me to ride my first scooter! I know, I live in DC with them everywhere and I’ve always been too afraid to try. It was a blast and I absolutely recommend it!

We had the chance to check out the Botanical Gardens that are located within Balboa Parks. And apparently it is one of the most photographed areas of the park. It was built for the 15-16 Exposition and is actually the largest of its type of structure, which apparently is called ‘lath’ which is the tiny slats like a trellis, that is usually hidden under plaster. You can see it in my pictures below.

The buildings themselves are also part of the art!

Visit the cool restaurant and bar inside the grounds as well. They make a mean old fashioned, and have really cool art within the green space inside as well. Balboa Park is a visual treat!

A must visit is Extraordinary Desserts located in the downtown area of San Diego. They have a more extensive menu at their Little Italy location versus the Bankers Hill location, but both has amazing and super fancy desserts. It was pure heaven!! Their Vietnamese coffee is also excellent as well.

A quick Lyft ride away is Record City. I love checking out record stores in general. They make me happy and its exciting to see what will be in them. This one was a gold mine and I found some great stuff and the prices were really reasonable. The store staff was great. I was a little bummed they didn’t have a listening station, but the place was really packed full. They will play a record on the store record player if you want to listen to something as well. They have a good mix of new records and old, and probably the most soundtracks I had ever seen.

This might be the perfect time to pick up some in and out if you’re hungry (although you might still not be hungry after your treat at Extraordinary Desserts). I always get as much In and Out as I can whenever I’m in California because I never know when I’ll be back. If In and Out isn’t you’re thing, maybe Poke is. So, you get in your car and head over to Good Time Poke. You walk in and instead of sitting to eat the friends you’re with keep walking and head towards the large freezer doors. You’re confused about what is happening but you roll with it because why not?! You open the freezer doors and walk through into the coolest Tiki Bar/Speakeasy that you can’t get into through any other way. You’ve made it to The Grass Skirt, where they mix Mezcal and Absinthe like its no big deal. They have a small outdoor (but secluded) and the inside has some surprises as well! Definitely super fun and something that should be on your list.

One place I never got to get to was the Gaslamp area! I heard they have some amazing speakeasy, weird and cool bars as well! But the Grass Skirt is super fun and their drinks are amazing!!

Do you have favorites in the Downtown Area or Pacific Beach? I’d love to hear them!

Check out my first Visit San Diego Post here!! And stay tuned; I have one more post about my time in California coming up!!

 

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Why I Substitute Teach

 

At the beginning of the 2017 school year I got the itch to do something big. Its something that I had thought about for awhile, and if you go back to college Rheanna, it was something that was on my heart. Children have always been a huge part of my life. I remember helping my parents teach Sunday School, and then teaching it myself as soon as I was old enough. I originally went to school for education and got my AA degree in Elementary Education before I transferred to a four year. At that point in time something shifted and I chose to work in juvenile justice and got a degree in Criminal Psychology. There was always a small part of me that wished I had continued down that path, but hindsight is always 20/20. As I pursued my degree in criminal psychology I continued to take education classes.

Life went on, as it does, and through the years I did a lot of “teaching”. Sunday School, preschool teaching and lots and lots of volunteer work. As a mom I chose to stay at home. It was something that I always felt was a priority for me personally. We found ourselves in the DC area in the most amazing neighborhood, with the most amazing elementary school I had ever seen. My kids love it, and even my teenager misses it. I love it, and have been blessed to meet so many amazing people and have my kids loved on by some of the best teachers ever. But the luckiest part is that the staff at the school felt comfortable enough to hire me as a substitute teacher. I got the idea in my head from one of the teachers after a discussion about substitutes. They are desperately needed, with truly qualified and wonderful substitutes being hard to find. I had never really considered the idea yet here I was, being able to give back to the school that gives so much to my own family. When I received the letter of recommendation from our Principal it made me cry. I have never felt so part of a community before and this sealed that love.

As a military family, one that moves and for the meantime believes they will be here for a long time, I never really imagined what my life would look like this far down the road yet here we are. I teach because I love children and always have. The ability to help their brains grow and stretch, to watch them light up when they make a connection and know that you maybe play some simple roll in that. But one of the biggest reasons I teach is for the teachers. So that they know that someone that loves their kids and is doing their best to temporarily take their place so that they can rest easy is a joy. They love the kids so much and want that best for them. Even teachers need a break, but they have so much on their plates. Many times they are gone for trainings and assessments and aren’t actually taking a break. They are growing themselves, and learning how to be the best teachers they can be. So, if I can do a little bit so that they can do that without worry its the very least I can do.

I love all these kiddos as if they were my own, and I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing. I get to be a part of all of their lives in a tiny way every once in awhile and it is sometimes very very hard, yes, but a lot of the times its just a little bit of magic.

So a shout out to all my fellow Substitute Teachers! Its not easy to go into a classroom that isn’t yours and do the best you can to help little minds learn, and we certainly don’t get paid very much to do it. But that’s not why you do it I know. THANK YOU!!

If you know a substitute teacher in your life give them a little love today. They are an unsung hero and often the butt of jokes and the dread of kids in storybooks. Teach your kids about substitutes and how to be the best students for them. Your kid’s substitute teacher will thank you.

have you ever substitute taught or thought about it?! ask me your questions or tell me your stories in the comments!

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