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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National Inventors Hall of Fame

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10 Things Your Kids Will Love in Washington, DC

As I’ve been writing about my travels and sharing some of my favorite places in my own backyard I decided it was time I asked the kids what their favorite places in our city are. Kids can have such unique and wonderful perspectives that should be listened to. What the kids think is exciting or special might not be the same to me or an adult. And when you’re planning a trip with kids, getting a kid’s perspective could be helpful. Some of these are seasonal events, but they were part of their Top 10, and believe me this was quite a discussion.


Artechouse {1238 Maryland Ave SW}

You may have seen my post about the Artechouse – their current exhibit is up until March 10th, but I’m sure that whatever comes next for this place will be equally as wonderful. My kids loved this place and have asked to go back. That tells me that this is a hit with all three of them.

See my Artechouse post here


Smithsonian Natural History Museum (specifically the rock/gemstones) {10th Street NE & Constitution Ave NE}

One of our favorite museums in the Smithsonian system is the Natural History Museum. There is a lot of cool stuff to see, but the kids’ favorite part is the rocks and gemstones portion. You can touch a piece of Mars, find your birthstone and see the Hope Diamond.

Washington Monument {National Mall}

When my oldest was in Kindergarten he was given a project at school. He had to make a poster about him and include his favorite place. He chose the Washington Monument. Before all the kids were in school I would pack a lunch and take the kids down to the Mall and spend the afternoon walking around, running and playing in the dirt. It was such a wonderful time, and I truly believe it is then that they fell in love with our little city. Note, there is more construction going on at the Monument now and you can’t go up. It doesn’t look like the construction in the picture (that’s from when we first moved here after the earthquake damage), but there is construction going on.

Lincoln Memorial {National Mall}

This is one of my favorite places to go but was the top of the list for my daughter. For me, it has a little something to do with Lincoln being one of my very favorite Presidents. When asked to put it into words why she liked it, it was a little difficult for her. “It’s just a really special place to go, mom,” was the response I got.  I remember going for the first time and being in awe of the site of it. The fact that I was actually standing in front of something that I had seen in pictures and movies, and read about, was so cool.


DC fourth of July Parade and the fireworks

This item on the list is obviously something that only occurs once a year, but if you’re planning a trip to DC over the holiday or you live here, I would highly recommend giving this a shot. We chose to get a hotel for two nights in the city so that we could be there the day before, and then not have to drive back home after the events. The very thought of fighting that traffic makes me want to cry, so that was a big nope. The crowds that gathered to watch were not as bad as I thought they would be, and the kids had a blast with ZERO technology. Hanging out right by the Washington Monument was also a good choice, and getting through security wasn’t an issue at all. Look for a “Fourth of July in DC” post to come soon!

Christmas White House tour and/or National Christmas Trees

Another seasonal item and one you need to get tickets for is the White House Christmas Tour. We were blessed to be able to do it very soon after we got here and I took the two bigs with me. Standing in line and waiting would have been difficult for Phillip, as I believe he was only two when we went. We had lots of fun and the did a great job. The two oldest were five and seven when we went. But, if you can’t get tickets the kids highly recommend checking out the National Christmas Tree and all of the state trees. Find YOUR state and see how each one is decorated.

Great Falls Park {9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean VA}

While not in DC, it is just a short drive and a great way to spend the day. Pick up or pack and lunch, bring a football or a frisbee, and spend the day outdoors. There are different levels of hikes that you can go on, a great Junior Ranger program. The falls are truly breathtaking and definitely something you should see. They have a great open green space for eating or throwing a ball around. Pack the insect repellent because our east coast bugs are no joke!

Cherry Blossoms

If you’re traveling to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival I’m going to warn you now that you could show up and there will be no Cherry Blossoms. There have been several years where ran has come, promptly knocking all the blossoms off the trees. But sometimes it all works out so beautifully and you get some great shots. Prepare yourself for the crazy, especially if you are going to go during the festival. Lines for the metro are crazy, and it will be crowded. We like to go a day or two before the festival depending on when the blossoms actually bloom.

Just Walking Around DC

I included this one because this is something that all three of them mentioned to me. They truly do like being downtown, checking out the buildings and all the history around. They don’t tire of it and that makes me one happy mama! Spending time down there, despite the traffic and despite the crowds is such a good idea. My kids are comfortable navigating on the metro and are slowly getting an understanding of where things are when they are down there. Walking around and checking out all the memorials and monuments is a great way to spend your day.

National Harbor (Ferris Wheel)

The National Harbor is a fun place to go in general, but we recently went up in the Ferris Wheel for the first time. It’s not really my favorite thing at all and I spent the majority of the time with my eyes closed, but the kids absolutely loved it! Get breathtaking views of DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Ones that are hard to replicate because we just don’t have skyscrapers here. Keeps our skyline nice and pretty.


what would your kids add to the list?

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Let’s Go On An Adventure!!

I’m constantly telling my kids we are going on an adventure. It’s what we say whenever we are leaving the house to go somewhere other than errands or the grocery store. However, Mr. Air Force and I have occasionally hidden the fact we are going to the commissary (cue crying children). Mostly though we use it to get them excited. The importance of adventure in life can not be understated!! There are times to stay home, do chores, clean up the yard, spend the day playing outside and reading books. There can never be to heavy of an importance placed on this. But adventure is surely the greatest! The time spent exploring and discovering something new with your children is so exciting. An adventure could be anything – a road trip, going bowling, visiting the Tulip Farm or seeing a Civil War Battlefield. Our life as a military family can be hard, and frequently our Mr. Air Force isn’t here. The desire I feel to have these adventures is surely compounded by this fact. I never know when he won’t be here to have that adventure with, and I don’t want to wait! Its a feeling only someone who lives a life that me could truly understand. It’s like the feeling that comes when its time to PCS, a strange mix of emotion, excitement and dread. So take those adventures, anytime you can! It doesn’t have to be far or cost a lot of money. An adventure is almost a state of mind, and I want my children to have that.

So…where was our latest adventure? We went to the Tulip Farm! It had been on my bucket list for a couple years now, and it just never seemed to work. There’s a peak time to go, and of course something was always coming up when that time came. This year, I was practically stalking the website and decided to go for it! It ended up being such a fun experience for the kids. We had a blast, outside in God’s creation, have simple fun and it was wonderful. I’m excited to experience Burnside Farms through the seasons, as I’ve heard they have Summer flowers too!!! And for my military readers, you can snag yourself a military discount there too!

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Santa HQ Has Arrived!!

While we typically do not begin our Christmas celebrations until after Thanksgiving, we always make an exception when it comes to man up North. Santa has officially arrived in Northern Virginia, so we went to check out the amazing HGTV Santa HQ in Tyson’s Corner! One of the best parts about Santa HQ is the fact that I can make reservation. And mom’s everywhere rejoiced right?


The Santa HQ people are fantastic as well – helpful, efficient, kind….all things that I look for in an experience that can be a little anxiety-filled and stressful. You want this experience to be fun and as stress-free as possible, and every time we’ve stopped by to visit Santa here its been a great experience. For that, I am truly thankful.

Check your Naughty or Nice status, download the elf app to see the special interactive displays, work on Santa’s sleigh, and check on the elves.

And of course we had to stop and get our picture with Tommy from The Tommy Show!! 
You never know who you might run into here at Santa HQ

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Thomas the Train comes to Baltimore {Baltimore, MD} #DCNoVAadventures

A Day Out With Thomas is coming to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and while it is an expensive outing, this penny-pinching mom thinks it is well worth every penny!

We first heard about A Day Out With Thomas last year, at the height of our Thomas obsession. The stars aligned – hubby was home, we loved Thomas and I had a special coupon code. I hesitated for half a second only because it isn’t cheap, but I knew this would be a special family day experience. We had never been to the museum there, however I had heard that it was a pretty cool place to visit for train loving people. There are several vintage trains to venture into, a hands on station for the kids, lego and train building stations and docents. As part of the special “TDO” events there were pictures with Sir Topham Hat and story times. These were both organized extremely well, with fast moving lines and pleasant workers. We weren’t forced through the lines either. The kids got to hug him, high-five him and we took our own pictures! That was a pleasant surprise.

The fun didn’t stop there. Once you headed outside there was a whole world of fun waiting for you! There were several rides for the kids (that usually cost money but were included in the special admission). They had bounce houses set up as well as musical entertainment. Outside they had food vendors that were fairly reasonable and places set up to eat.

The ride on Thomas was an in and out type deal, and actually the policeman on their motorbikes were quite the entertainment. The kids loved them!!

There was plenty of staff, lots of security and the organization was fabulous!

If you are looking for a very special experience in your hometown you can’t find anything better than this. It was a wonderful time and I would absolutely, four star, recommend this event to you. Grab your tickets soon!

Thomas is coming to Baltimore April 24-26th and May 1=3rd
You can purchase tickets here 

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