DC/NoVA Adventures ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

On September 17th, 2020, the memorial dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower was dedicated in Washington, DC. Located within a short walking distance of the Capitol Building in DC, the memorial is designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is also the architect behind such well-known buildings as the Guggenheim Building in Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. The memorial sits on a 4-acre park and includes two large pillars, several statues, and quotes from Eisenhower. Not only does it depict scenes from his Presidency, but it also pays important attention to his childhood and the importance of Abilene, Kansas, as well as paying homage to his military service. Several artists contributed to the memorial, including Nicholas Waite Benson who was the inscription artist. Benson has also inscribed the WWII, Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorials. The large stainless steel tapestry depicts the beaches of Normandy, which connect Eisenhower’s service and the peace he maintained during the President. The two large pillars on either side of the memorial are the height of the cliffs of Normandy that American soldiers had to climb that day.






Who was Eisenhower?

I consider Eisenhower to be an interesting sort of President. While I wouldn’t consider him as unknown as say Rutherford B. Hayes or a Chester Arthur, but I WOULD consider him to be unassuming. What exactly did he do? The site location of the memorial as a whole was chosen carefully to connect parts of DC politics that are connected to Eisenhower. It is surrounded by the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Air and Space, Voice of America, and the Federal Aviation Administration. President Eisenhower was the first president to direct federal aid to education, signed legislation to the department that preceded the Dept of Health and Human Services, lead the charge in creating the Air Force, creating the Air Force Academy, and helped create the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The list goes on and on of the small of significant parts of history that Eisenhower had an impact on.

A behind-the-scenes impact

The impact of Eisenhower rings loudly today as we think about the quiet steps that Eisenhower took to impact positive change, presiding over eight years of peace and prosperity in the United States. He sent troops down south to help enforce desegregation, pushed for the desegregation of Washington DC, and completed the desegregation of the military that had begun before his election. He also signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. And despite all the drama surrounding the design and creation of the memorial I love its simplicity and symbolism and hope that that shines through and inspires visitors to learn more about him.


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American History Museum

National Inventors Hall of Fame

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National Inventors Hall of Fame

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Add the Artechouse to Your Visit DC List

If you are heading to DC anytime soon, or live here, then you need to be heading over to the Artechouse! Artechhouse is a digital art experience, heavy on the experience. I kept hearing about it all over social media but had never made the time to visit. Today I packed up the kids and headed over. From now until March 10th you can see the current installation by Fuse* – Everything in Existence. It was one of the most incredible things that I have experienced recently, and my kids loved it!

Combing art and technology, the purpose of this current exhibition is to push the boundaries of what you believe our existence truly is. Stretching your senses and overloading you totally. It was such a hypnotizing experience, both soothing and over-stimulating. How that was accomplished I have no idea, but in the midst of the sound and sites, I found my children laying down on bean bags just taking it all in. Make sure to download the Artechouse app before going in!

You can visit the Artechouse during the daytime, or come back in the evening for a 21+ experience. There is a bar located inside Artechouse that includes the drinks in the visual arts experience through their app. Artechouse also offers military and student discounts, so take advantage of that.



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Summertime Fun for Families in Washington, DC! {Military Discounts Included}

I’m really excited because Summertime is on its way! Although here on the East Coast, Mother Nature is really trying to hard to keep it at bay. We recently had some ridiculous number of days {like 27 days} straight of some type of rain with absolutely no sun. It was really starting to wear on me. But, looking forward to summer helps pull me out of the funk. Getting out of the house is my jam, and as an extrovert this should come as no surprise. I try to get the kids out of the house a lot during the summer vacation and they are all about it. In most of posts about getting out with the kids I’m always talking about how important it is to travel with your kids, even if its local. My kids love going on the Metro, into DC, road trips – so try to make it something normal for your kids.

On to the good stuff! So, you find yourself in the DC area this summer, now what?! There is so much to do here and one could easily get overwhelmed, but there’s a few things that we do almost every year and as much as we can. So while I could go on and on about the things to do, here are a few of our favorites!!!

1. Twilight Tattoo –  This is an event on Fort Myer Army base, open to civilians as well. It is sort of hard to describe, but its a show really. And really, its almost best described in descriptive words – Singing, cannons, guns shooting, guns twirling, bayonets and horses!! Twilight Tattoo kicks off the season and we try to go at least once, but really going more than that is my goal. We pack up a dinner, bring a blanket and hang out. I would show up 45 min early, picnic and then when the show starts you’ll be ready to go. What is so great about it is we give the kids the camera and they head out on the field after the show to snatch pictures and talk to the soldiers. It really is a great opportunity for them to get up close and personal.

2. Baseball Games – I love baseball in the Washington, DC area. We have the major league Washington Nationals, and the minor league Potomac Nationals. Both of them offer military discounts (the Potomac military tickets are such an affordable price) and are great for the whole family.

3. The National Mall – There is so much to do down in the National Mall area. We frequently go down there and just hang out. Walk around, let the kids run around in the grass, take a picnic. Sometimes its super crowded, sometimes its not. If you head down there, make sure you snag your tickets for Washington Monument. They are free to request online (with a small fee) or you can just show up first thing and hope for a walk on.

4. Smithsonian Museums – If you’re going to head out down into DC there are a ton of museums to check out, with the majority of them being free. Our personal favorites are the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of American History.

*visiting the Wizard of Oz props at the American History Museum*

5. The Spy Museum *military discount*- If you’ve got older kids or the opportunity to sneak away with just adults, make sure to check out The Spy Museum. Aside from the Crime Museum, this one is my favorite! The store itself is full of cool things. There are also special guests and speakers…including real-life retired spies, that come into the museum from time to time. Go around the corner to Shake Shack to eat and you can thank me later.

6. Blue Star Museums – from Memorial Day to Labor Day Blue Star Families, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, offers free admittance to museums across the country. The link takes you directly to museums in Washington, DC, however check out museums in other states as well. There are some really good ones on this list to check out. In particular check out President Woodrow Wilson House, The Dumbarton House and the National Building Museum which have quite a hefty admission fee.

7. Mt Vernon – This isn’t located in DC, but just outside. It’s worth the trek out if you’re staying in the city. They have a great discount for military, but also if you purchase online which is nice. Also, ages 0-5 are free which I think is just so cool. For the free rate to go up so high is something I feel like you never see, so that’s why I like to mention it. Lots of places to run around outside and get your ya ya’s out before the house tour, or as a reward for being good through the house. It is a very manageable length of time inside the house. If you are visiting during Christmas time try to take the special house tour. It is the only time of year they open the very top level. They also have the Christmas camel out and fun actors.

8. Fort Myer MWR – Fort Myer is accessible fairly easily by Metro. Most people take the Blue or Yellow Line to Pentagon and you can walk over if need be. Hop on over to the community center for discounted tickets to various sites in the DC, Virginia and Maryland area. If you are close to another base near you, you can probably access the tickets you need there as well. But there are lots of local specials that you may only be able to access here locally.

9. Busch Gardens and Water Country USA – if you’re a local for feel like taking a drive you can check out Busch Gardens and Water Country USA down in Williamsburg! You can use your Waves of Honor discount to snatch free and/or discounted tickets! Check out my post about Busch Gardens, and tips for doing it with kids on the cheap!

10. Great Falls – We love going to Great Falls. The falls are gorgeous, but there’s open grass area for hanging out, throwing a ball around or having a picnic (bring a trashcan, its a take in, take out park). There are several walking trails and lots of shade. It’s humid here, so you have to contend with that, but its fun.

11. RecCenter or Base Pools – There are tons of indoor pools at all the local rec centers, as well as great pools on one of the local bases in the area. We spend a lot of our summer at the pool on base, but we have used the Rec Center pools before and they are really great. If you want to get really wild and crazy you can travel out to CubRun Rec Center out in Chantilly. There they have indoor slides and water park attractions, with a rec center price tag.

12. Baltimore – Take a trip out the Baltimore Harbor area for the day or overnight! The Harbor has attractions and sites like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, Science Museum, Children’s Museum, the Aquarium and huge historic ships that are docked there. Most of those things have great military discounts available. Check out my post for more details on that.

13. Delaware City, Delaware – This is definitely worth the trip if you are looking for something that is maybe more than a daytrip, but still close enough that you don’t feel like you are packing up for a huge, complicated vacation. We had so much fun in Delaware City!

I could go on with so much more. The DC/VA/MD area is so full of so much to do! You could even branch out further a take a day trip up to Philadelphia or head up to Annapolis. Not to mention one of the beaches like Virginia, Bethany or Ocean City. The options are endless and could take three or four blog posts to get through and still barely have scratched the surface. So have a great summer and drink it all in! There are sometimes it really does feel like a magical place, even after four years of being here.

happy summer!!!!

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5 Tips for Being a Tourist with Kids

 Let’s be honest…traveling with kids can be quite an experience, but more often then not when you are creating a family trip you do with children in mind.  Whether that be to Disneyland or another theme park, or maybe even a camping or beach trip, usually you have your children in mind and you are staying within that one location.  But what if you want to be a tourist?  Or maybe you have family coming into your town and you will be serving as their tour guide.  How do you do that with kids?  Walking around for hours staring at landmarks or going through museums might not be the ideal situation for children under a certain age.  For us, living in a location where people want to visit (and not just because of us) is pretty cool.  It not only gives us the opportunity to really SEE our city, but have our children experience it as well.  So how do we keep our kids busy and involved on our many tourist visits?

1. Keep them actively engaged!
If you happen to be visiting anything associated with the National Parks they have what is called The Junior Ranger program.  I remember going through the Junior Ranger Program and it can be lots of fun.  You can morph the program to fit your needs, ranging from tons of involvement from you, to self-guided for older kids.  The programs include simple booklets for kids to fill out and turn in for a patch or pin, or actual events run by park rangers.  If it’s a place your children have been before have them help you be the tour guide.  My oldest loves to tell people all about the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.  You’d be surprised at what they might be able to tell you.

acting out a scene for the Washington Times at Madame Tussauds, DC

2. Get them a camera
Pick up a disposable camera or let them use a phone or other point and shoot.  Yes, they do make disposable cameras still and my kids love them.  Have them take pictures from their own perspectives.  Bring them out once an hour or so if you know you are going to be out.  Its a great distraction for your kids and an opportunity to engage them in whats going on around them.

3. Pencil and Paper
This is one of my simplest tips and tricks for traveling with children.  We try to refrain from technology with them if possible.  It’s not a need, it’s a want.  This last week we were out in DC for at least five hours and not once did we take out technology for any of them.  At their antsiest times we pull out that pad of paper and pencil/pen and they are quite content.  We let them go to Michael’s/Target dollar bins and pick out their own little notebooks.  We take these with us everywhere, car trips, restaurants or any other time we might be waiting for a long time.

4. Snacks
This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’ll just include it.  When we are walking around for long periods of time we tend to snack a lot.  We often don’t eat regular meals when we are out like that, and we usually pack a lot.  Pack hearty foods like granola bars, but easy to eat foods like fruit snacks or go-gurts are good ideas as well.  I make use of the ziploc snack bags when we are on trips like this.  They are easy to hold and fit the perfect amount of food in them.  We also keep in mind hydration, bring more then you think you need and we always pack juice because I know that I tend to feel like I have low-blood sugar on trips like this.  A little juice goes a long way.

5. Just Have Fun
Surprisingly enough this can be hard for me.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming to travel with three kids and I let life pass me by freaking out with the kids over silly things.  You’re making memories, even though they might not be ones they will remember, they are memories none the less.  To see the looks of awe and wonder on my kids faces when they see really neat things, or when they really begin to understand what it is they are looking at is priceless!

inside the Washington Monument the Week it opened!  The best day
of my Seven Year Old’s life! 

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DC/NoVA Adventures – The River Farm

This summer I’ve been looking for some fun stuff to do with the kids.  I’m all for going to the pool and forcing the kids to develop those beautiful imaginations of theirs….however, what I really love is checking out this beautiful TriState area of ours.  While I imagine we will be here for awhile, I feel like we should live like this could be our last year.  So I set off in search of fun things to do and see for little, or no, cost.  I discovered The River Farm, in beautiful Alexandria, VA overlooking the Potomac River.

The River Farm is 25 acres of beautiful landscaped area which was once part of George Washington’s estate.  It is also the home of the National Horticulture Society.  One of the coolest things you can see is a set of White House gates that were first installed in 1819 as part of the repair to the building after the war of 1812.  Some of the flowers and shrubbery that surround the house is 100 years old!  Can you believe it?  As a side note this place is also available for weddings and heaven help me I would get married all over again at this place.  Goregousness doesn’t even accurately describe all the hidden and out in the open gems on this property.

 The White House Gates

 My new Dream House

Entrance to The Children’s Garden

The Meadow

I definitely recommend adding this to the list of places to see.  It can be low-key, the kids can get some energy out and you can see all the beauty nature has to offer.  The kids ran and explored and it was absolutely lovely!

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