American Girls

In 1986, educator, writer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Pleasant Rowland, began designing and producing a range of 18 inch dolls. An avid history lover, Rowland was inspired to create the dolls by a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. She believed that young girls might become interested in history by exposure to dolls associated with historical events and periods. Each doll she designed related to a specific historical time period and was accompanied by books, clothing and other accessories.

One of the first "American Girls".
One of the first “American Girls”.

Rowland’s company was a runaway success. From dolls, the line expanded to include clothing for both the dolls and their owners, books, dollhouses, furniture…you name it. She set up stores in major cities and held events centered around the dolls. Mattel came along in 1998 and bought the Pleasant Company – now renamed American Girl –  for $700 million…yes, you read that right!! Today American Girl sales are second only to Barbie.

I was vaguely aware of the American Girl phenomenon before we moved to the US. One of the American women I met in Antwerp ‘warned’ me about it but I still didn’t really grasp the overwhelming marketing juggernaut that is American Girl. Olive and Edie were introduced to the dolls at the homes of our neighbours’ and through conversations at school. After doing a bit more research I endeavoured to keep them out of the house as long as possible!! But when Edie’s birthday rolled around this past January all she wanted was…you guessed it…an American Girl doll.  Richard and I begrudgingly acquiesced. At least we were confident it would get played with – Edie is legendary for the amount of dolls, stuffed animals, figurines, pieces of paper…and all manner of other bits and bobs that get roped into her elaborate games. Olive, on the other hand, has never been a doll or stuffed animal kind of girl…but once she clapped eyes on ‘Isabelle’, carefully cocooned in that giant red box, we knew just what she’d be asking for come April 13th. And so despite my best efforts, we know have two of the blasted dolls – Isabelle and Lillia.

Isabelle is the girl of the year - in another stroke of marketing genius, a special doll is released for only one year...only 365 days to buy the clothes, ballet shoes, dance studio...aaaaaaaaah!!!
Isabelle is the girl of the year – in another stroke of marketing genius, a special doll is released for only one year…only 365 days to buy the clothes, ballet shoes, dance studio…aaaaaaaaah!!!

Today the girls and I made the big drive into the mega mall that is Tyson’s Corner, home of the American Girl store. I had promised them a “this is only ever happening once and will never be repeated again” day at the store which included…I’m embarrassed to type this…getting the dolls hair done (!), lunch in the AG bistro and a chance to ooh and aaah over all the, not on the cheap side, merchandise.

Well my butt was never going to fit in that chair!
Well my butt was never going to fit in that chair!
Isabelle looks like she has been dragged backwards through a bush. Must have a word to Edie about her grooming standards...
Isabelle looks like she has been dragged backwards through a bush. Must have a word to Edie about her grooming standards…
Yes - what you are seeing  did actually happen!
Yes – what you are seeing did actually happen!
"Mum...you have to take a front and back picture!"
“Mum…you have to take a front and back picture!”
Isabelle scrubs up pretty well.
Isabelle scrubs up pretty well.

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Julie from the 1970's is totally cool. She even has her own VW!
Julie from the 1970’s is totally cool. She even has her own VW!

After the hairdos and the racing around the store it was time for lunch in the pink, flower bedecked bistro.

Must make sure the most important guests can sit up at the table.
Must make sure the most important guests can sit up at the table.
I think I am the most popular mother in northern Virginia right about now :)
I think I am the most popular mother in northern Virginia right about now 🙂
My special highlight - a hook for your doll so she can accompany you whilst you pee - genius!
My special highlight – a hook for your doll so she can accompany you whilst you pee – genius!
Can now tick that one off the list.
Can now tick that one off the list.

Back home the girls played for hours. There was a school set up and cubbys and funny voices and outfit changes and then videos made of all the fun. Best part though was the sound of two sisters playing happily…mmm…perhaps those dolls aren’t too bad after all??

 

 

Take me out to the ballgame…

The game of baseball is believed to have originated in England. Both baseball and rounders were played in England and are thought to be regional variations of the same thing – the name, I guess, depending on which part of England you were playing in. Whether you referred to it as rounders or baseball, the game is thought to have derived from a fifteenth century English sport known as “Stoolball”. This somewhat scatological term is nothing to do with number twos (!) – it’s actually a reference to the milking stools that were used as wickets, because stoolball was traditionally played by milkmaids. (By this point in my research I was laughing out loud. Stools, milkmaids…I think I would pay good money to see that!!)

Unfortunately this was the best image of stoolball I could find - apologies for the lack of buxom milkmaids.
Unfortunately this was the best image of stoolball I could find – apologies for the lack of buxom milkmaids.

The early form of baseball was brought to North America by English immigrants, where it is first officially referred to in a 1791 bylaw from a town in Massachusetts – the game was not allowed to be played near the town’s new meeting house. By the early 1830s, games of baseball were popping up all over North America, but it wasn’t until 1846 that the first officially recorded baseball game was played in the United States. On June 19th in Hoboken, New Jersey, the New York Nine defeated the New York Knickerbockers 23 runs to 1. The Knickerbockers were responsible for putting some structure around the game – establishing rules around the number of innings, types of pitches allowed and type of ball that could be used.

New York Knickerbockers
New York Knickerbockers

In the mid 1850s, New York went baseball crazy and the game started to be referred to as the “national pastime” or “national game”. Leagues and associations were formed and admission was charged at the big games. Today, I’m told, it’s NFL or American Football which holds the title of national sport or game, but baseball is still very popular, based on the crowds we witnessed at Nationals Park last Sunday.

Our neighbours invited us to watch the Washington Nationals play the Texas Rangers. This was a pretty big deal as our neighbour is from Texas and it’s not often that the Nationals meet the Rangers on the field. This is due to one of the many confusing aspects of baseball. In the US there are two leagues – the National League and the American League and each of these leagues is split into East, West and Central divisions. Because the Nationals are in the National League and the Rangers are in the American League, it’s rare that they face off against each other, so it was a particularly good game to see. Plus they didn’t just play one game – they played Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Another confusing aspect is just how many games there are…I won’t go into that because I’ve probably lost many of you!! I’ll just get back to the game we watched!

Nationals Park...home of the Washington Nationals...who up until five years ago used to be the Montreal Expos and were based in Canada...I promise that's the last confusing thing!!
Nationals Park…home of the Washington Nationals…who up until five years ago used to be the Montreal Expos and were based in Canada…yet more confusing things!!
We made sure we donned appropriate Nationals attire.
We made sure we donned appropriate Nationals attire.
Baseball sculpture thing inside the stadium.
Baseball sculpture thing inside the stadium.
First pitch of the game.
First pitch of the game.
"Mmmm...not a patch on an All Blacks test!"
“Mmmm…not a patch on an All Blacks test!”
The Ranger's secret weapon is their Japanese pitcher. Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan - the first team was established in 1878.
The Ranger’s secret weapon is their Japanese pitcher. Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan – the first team was established in 1878.
Keeping the crowd entertained is an important part of a baseball game. This is called the President's race!
Keeping the crowd entertained is an important part of a baseball game. This is called the President’s race!
Thomas Jefferson was the winner and he strolled around showing off his winner's belt.
Thomas Jefferson was the winner and he strolled around showing off his winner’s belt.
Edie indulging in some ice cream dippin' dots. Other important baseball snacks are peanuts and Crackerjack - kind of like caramel popcorn.
Edie indulging in some ice cream dippin’ dots. Other important baseball snacks are peanuts and Crackerjack – kind of like caramel popcorn.
The Nationals mascot wasn't too happy. After nearly three hours, the Rangers were victorious - two home runs to nil.
The Nationals mascot wasn’t too happy. After nearly three hours, the Rangers were victorious – two home runs to nil.

I have to say that my personal highlight came halfway during the seventh innings. This is when what is referred to as “the seventh innings stretch” takes place. Everyone stands, stretches and then sings Take Me Out To The Ballgame…felt like I was in a movie!! We sounded nothing like this…

So all in all it was a very fun afternoon. I don’t think we’ll be rushing out to buy season tickets but I’m sure if the opportunity presents itself we’ll be happy to venture out again to the old ballgame!

Special thanks to Tim, Corene, Madison and Chase for being such wonderful hosts and for patiently answering all my dumb questions 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Full Bloom

In the Tidal Basin area of Washington DC you will find approximately 3,750 cherry trees. In 1912, the people of Japan sent over 3,000 cherry trees to the United States as a gift of friendship. In Japan, the flowering cherry or Sakura, is held in very high esteem. It is viewed as both a symbol of the impermanency of human life, and the transformation of the Japanese culture through the ages.

Sakura in full bloom at the Tidal Basin.
Sakura in full bloom at the Tidal Basin.

A cherry blossom festival is held every year, usually timed to coincide with what is known as the peak bloom. It’s officially peak bloom when about 70% of the blossoms are open and the bloom usually lasts for several days. It’s a very hard thing to predict but peak bloom usually happens between the last week of March and the first week of April.

Joining hundreds of others in the predawn darkness to take a look at the bloom.
Joining hundreds of others in the predawn darkness to take a look at the bloom.

Naturally it’s all very weather dependent. Cool, calm weather can extend the length of the bloom whilst rain and wind can bring an abrupt halt to what is an incredibly beautiful sight. You might remember last year on our way to spend Easter in St. Michaels, we stopped in at the Tidal Basin in the hope of seeing the bloom but we were too early. Easter last year was late March and the bloom didn’t unfold until April 9th.

Blooms as far as the eye could see.
Blooms as far as the eye could see.

This year Thursday April 10th was predicted to be peak bloom kick off. Richard was inspired by some pictures of this year’s bloom taken at daybreak that he spied in the Washington Post on Thursday morning. He suggested we get up super early on Saturday morning so we could catch a glimpse of the blossoms as the sun came up. And so we did, joining hundreds of other people who’d had the same idea.

Taking in the view from the Thomas Jefferson memorial.
Taking in the view from the Thomas Jefferson memorial.
Early morning light on the Washington Monument.
Early morning light on the Washington Monument.

It was beautiful – well worth the 4:30am start! And it also made for the perfect excuse to visit our favorite (so far) DC cafe for coffee afterwards.

Bloomin' marvellous!
Bloomin’ marvellous!
Nice to be doing the touristy thing again :)
Nice to be doing the touristy thing again 🙂

This week sees us doing a whole lot more of “the touristy thing”. We decided we haven’t been taking enough advantage of the travel opportunities available to us here, so in an effort to remedy that we are going to be spending Easter in…Puerto Rico!! (I get excited just typing those two words.)

No doubt I will have lots to say about that trip and oodles of photos to bore you all with, so stay tuned 🙂

And just when you thought you'd seen enough...here's some more blossoms!
And just when you thought you’d seen enough…here’s some more blossoms!

 

National Museum of the American Indian

We were invited into DC to have dinner with friends on Saturday night and decided to stay over and take the chance to visit another of the district’s myriad of museums. Olive has been studying Native American peoples at school and so we decided to make a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Opened in 2004, this striking building is the first national museum to focus exclusively on Native Americans from Northern, Central and Southern America.

The National Museum of the America Indian.
The National Museum of the American Indian.
There's always fun to be had wandering amongst the museums which line the National Mall.
There’s always fun to be had wandering amongst the museums which line the National Mall.
Winter gear is a must at the moment!
Winter gear is a must at the moment!
We knew we were in the right place when we spied this chap...
We knew we were in the right place when we spied this chap…

The opening of the museum has not been without controversy, with many criticisms aimed at the lack of ‘scholarship’ in evidence and too much focus on the present day. We all found it really interesting. The building itself was stunning; the exhibitions were varied and informative; and there was a great hands on area for kids. What struck me was the huge diversity that exists in this group of peoples that often get lumped together under the term ‘Native American’.

One of the current exhibitions features dolls dressed for 'The Grand Procession'.
One of the current exhibitions features dolls dressed for ‘The Grand Procession’.
All incredibly detailed and richly colored.
All incredibly detailed and richly colored.

In the activity center the girls tried their hands at balancing in a kayak, testing snowshoes, exploring different types of housing and listened to a presentation on weaving.

Testing our knowledge at the quiz station. Olive, no surprises, was the winner.
Testing our knowledge at the quiz station. Olive, no surprises, was the winner.
Trying out the kayak.
Trying out the kayak.
Tipi girl.
Tipi girl.
Finding out which plants produced good dyes.
Finding out which plants produced good dyes.

I have to admit to being guilty of thinking only of North American Indians when hearing the term Native Americans, but there was so much to learn about the people of Central and South America too.

There was a brilliant display of Aztec, Myan and Quecha artifacts.
There was a brilliant display of Aztec, Myan and Quecha artifacts.
Lots of gold on display.
Lots of gold on display.
Artifacts related to Dia de Muertos or the day of the dead.
Artifacts related to Dia de Muertos or the day of the dead.
Ceramics from Central America was the focus of one of the exhibitions.
Ceramics from Central America was the focus of one of the exhibitions.
So much to see and learn from.
So much to see and learn from.

After eating at an Ethiopian restaurant on Saturday night and then spending Sunday immersed in the indigenous cultures of America, we were feeling very multicultural, and so lucky to have these amazing opportunities. We had such a great weekend that we’re thinking of squeezing in another trip to DC this weekend. We’re hoping to pay a visit to Christmas in Middleburg which is held in a gorgeous village not too far from Winchester, and then continue on into DC for the annual boat parade in Alexandria. With all that is going on at the moment we may be trying to do too much (!) but our adventures this weekend hammered home just how much there is to experience here.

Tomorrow is a very exciting day for the girls. They will be singing on a float in the Winchester Christmas parade dressed as characters from Charlie Brown. I will be sure to see you back here with a report!

Lots more pictures from our weekend if you click on the link to my Flickr photos. Take care everyone – 12 more sleeps!!

I love you…a bushel and a peck…

We had grand plans on Saturday to head into DC and attend the Library of Congress National Book Festival. It sounded wonderful – loads of great author talks, books signings, heaps for the kids – but by Friday afternoon we were all exhausted and Richard had to fly to Belgium late Saturday so I made an executive decision to skip it. We should have at least two more chances to experience the festival before we leave the US, so we opted for a quieter day at home which we hoped would culminate in victory on the water in San Francisco! Ha – those plans were foiled.

Instead we made a visit to one of our local markets – Marker-Miller Orchards – to do a wee bit of apple picking.

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At Marker-Miller you can pick your own fruit, take a wagon ride and sit on a rocking chair on the porch whilst the kids run around in the play area. It’s always busy and a quick glance at the licence plates in the car park tell you that people come from many other states to load up on fresh fruit and vegetables, and the baked goods, cider and preserves you can buy in the shop. It reminds me a lot of living in Hastings and going with Mum to get our produce from one of the numerous orchards not far from where we lived.

Play time!
Play time!
The much coveted rocking chairs on the porch. People hover behind them waiting to pounce when one is vacant.
The much coveted rocking chairs on the porch. People hover behind them waiting to pounce when one is vacant.
Practising for my old age :)
Practising for my old age 🙂

Picking apples in the US requires the use of technical vocabulary – specifically the words bushel and peck. Bushels and pecks are measures of volume, with a peck being equivalent to 2 gallons and a bushel being equivalent to 4 pecks or 8 gallons. So if you ever wondered just what the “peck” Peter Piper was picking, now you know!

Peter Piper and his peck!
Peter Piper and his peck!
Richard making the big decision - peck sized bag or bushel sized?
Richard making the big decision – peck sized bag or bushel sized?
Olive Piper picking her peck!
Olive Piper picking her peck!
Edie Piper eating hers!
Edie Piper eating hers!

When the girls were very little we used to visit the library at least once a week and we’d always come home with kids music CDs. Our library had a great selection and the wonderful Dan Zanes was one of our favourites. We loved to sing along to his rendition of a song called Bushel and a Peck – we had no idea what those two words meant but we loved belting it out – especially the “doodle oodle oodle” bit!

Bushel and a Peck was written in the early 1950’s and was introduced in the musical Guys and Dolls. Here’s the hugely popular Doris Day version…

Right I’m off to do something with a bushel load of apples! They may be hurled at the television later this afternoon!!

Take care everyone. Missing you all and sending lots of love xxx

Outside…

It’s official – Spring is finally here and not a moment too soon! Much as the snow was beautiful and such a novelty we were getting a bit tired of it. Edie’s words on our last snow day – even though it meant a day off school – were “I’m sick of snow!” Those 5:30am automated phone calls from roboto lady saying “Winchester Public schools are closed today” were getting a bit old too. Thirty degrees today and we are still a couple of months off summer!

Our first taste of a change in the weather came on our way home from Spring break in St Michaels. We took a detour to Great Falls National Park, not far from DC. The sky was blue, the sun was bright and we were treated to the amazing spectacle of the Potomac River  building up speed and forcing its way over a series of steep, jagged rocks and then on through a narrow gorge.

Great Falls - pretty darn great!
Great Falls – pretty darn great!
Ok - so I've still got my jacket on but it came off soon after.
Ok – so I’ve still got my jacket on but it came off soon after.
Even got to see a kayaker tackling the rapids.
Even got to see a kayaker tackling the rapids.

On Saturday we spent another sunny afternoon at nearby Sherando Park for the annual kite festival. We had great fun flying our own kites and watching those flown by avid kite runners. One of these kites was decorated in a traditional Maori kowhaiwhai pattern. When the MC for the day asked the children gathered around him if they knew where the Maori people came from, the general consensus was “China”! He clearly couldn’t hear us hollering out “New Zealand” from the other end of the field 🙂

Kiwi kite runner.
Kiwi kite runner.
Edie looking quite the professional kite handler.
Edie looking quite the professional kite handler.
This dog kite was one of my favourites.
This dog kite was one of my favourites.
Flutter, flutter.
Flutter, flutter.

On Sunday we hiked (that’s what you call tramping in these parts) up to Buzzard Rock. Both girls coped really well with the climb and we were treated to spectacular views.

Note the very practical tramping gear. One must stay fashionable whilst out in the woods.
Note the very practical tramping gear. One must stay fashionable whilst out in the woods.
Woody Woodpecker was in the woods on Sunday too.
Woody Woodpecker was in the woods on Sunday too.
View with buzzard.
View with buzzard.
Made it to the top :)
Made it to the top 🙂
Pretty pleased with herself.
Pretty pleased with herself.
Checking out Yogi Bear's campsite.
Checking out Yogi Bear’s campsite.

This weekend we will be celebrating a very important milestone. Hard to believe but our wonderful Olive Mia will be turning seven. Stay tuned for the obligatory birthday report! Take care everyone. Missing you all and sending lots of love xxx

Natural History Saturday

We spent today at the Natural History Museum in DC. I’m not going to write much about it – those of you who’ve been following along since we left New Zealand will know how many Natural History Museums we have visited – so I won’t bore you with yet another description!

Suffice to say we had a great day and now that we have ticked off the Natural History Museum we can start visiting the myriad of other museums on offer in DC.

The great rotunda inside the Natural History Museum.
The great rotunda inside the Natural History Museum.
One of the great things about the DC Natural History Museum is the amazing collection of fossils.
One of the great things about the DC Natural History Museum is the amazing collection of fossils.
They were surprisingly beautiful.
They were surprisingly beautiful.
Fossils, fossils everywhere.
Fossils, fossils everywhere.
There were lots of bones too.
There were lots of bones too.
Even a set of Moa bones which these two Kiwis were delighted to find.
Even a set of Moa bones which these two Kiwis were delighted to find.
We met caterpillars...
We met caterpillars…
that were quite happy to be held...
that were quite happy to be held…
and butterflies...
and butterflies…
that were very happy to hold onto us!
that were very happy to hold onto us!
We hung out with a friendly chimpanzee...
We hung out with a friendly chimpanzee…
and played with the skulls...
and played with the skulls…
of some of our earliest ancestors.
of some of our earliest ancestors.
We admired the paintings on display...
We admired the paintings on display…
and caught up with a couple of film stars...can you spot them?
and caught up with a couple of film stars…can you spot them?

We finished the day with pizza in Alexandria’s old town district, and for the first time in our five months of living here, we said “yes” when asked if we wanted a box for leftovers – great pizza.

Very quick update over at my How To Make an American Quilt Page and a big Happy Birthday shout out to our fabulous cousin and niece, Molly – hope you are having a wonderful day!

Take care everyone – missing you and sending lots of love xxx

DC

Late on Saturday afternoon we packed up the car and made the short drive from Winchester into Washington DC. One of our neighbours had suggested that we might enjoy spending a night at Washington’s famous Willard Hotel, the hotel where every US President has either slept or attended an event. It is also the place where Martin Luther King, Jr wrote his famous “I have a dream” speech. Visiting so close to Christmas meant we would get to experience the hotel all decked out in its festive attire, and as it is right in the heart of DC, we could explore many of the nearby attractions on foot.

The foyer at the Willard.
The foyer at the Willard. Carol singers were entertaining the guests as we arrived.

After we’d checked in and done lots of oohing and aahing about how beautiful everything was, we headed out to grab a quick bite and have a look at the National Christmas Tree. There were crowds of people admiring the tree which is located very close to the White House – or as Olive and Edie like to call it, “look! Barack Obama’s house”.

The National Christmas Tree - a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia.
The National Christmas Tree – a Colorado blue spruce from Virginia.

The next stop on our nighttime exploration was the Lincoln Memorial. This classic Greek temple style building houses a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln, and inscriptions from two of his most famous speeches. It would have been a stunning site by day, but by night it was incandescent, seeming to bathe the surrounding area in a warm glow.

The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
The Abraham Lincoln Memorial.
Honest Abe with a couple of Kiwi admirers.
Honest Abe with a couple of Kiwi admirers.

From here we strolled down one side of the Reflecting Pool ending up at the National World War Two Memorial, a memorial to all those Americans who served during the second world war.

Olive exploring some of the 56 pillars that form the memorial.
Olive exploring some of the 56 pillars that form the memorial.

By this time we had a couple of pairs of tiring legs so we headed back to our beautiful room at the Willard. Throughout our walk that evening we were treated to many views of the Washington Monument, which is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. The base of the monument is circled by a ring of American flags which, after the tragic events of Friday, were gently fluttering at half mast.

The Washington Monument.
The Washington Monument.

Our goal for Sunday was a visit to the United States Botanic Garden. I’d read about their amazing holiday exhibit Season’s Greenings, on this blog and so after a fabulous breakfast Willard hotel style we began to walk towards the garden.

Enjoying pounding the pavements in a big city again.
Enjoying pounding the pavements in a big city again.

On the way to the Garden we discovered the US Navy Memorial, which consists of a statue known as The Lone Sailor overlooking the Granite Sea – an exact replica of the world’s oceans. The girls had lots of fun identifying different countries and oceans etched into the ground.

Edie was initially reluctant to approach The Lone Sailor - she was convinced it was one of those awful performance artists :)
Edie was initially reluctant to approach The Lone Sailor – she was convinced it was one of those awful performance artists.
Just for you Mrs Olga - we're standing on Puerto Rico!
Just for you Mrs Olga – we’re standing on Puerto Rico!
Our visit would not be complete without a bit of stomping all over New Zealand :)
Our visit would not have been complete without a bit of stomping all over New Zealand.

The Botanic Garden is located on the grounds of the US Capitol, so we were able to tick another landmark off our list.

The Capitol.
The Capitol.

After a quick look at the Capitol’s exterior we joined the queue outside the Botanic Gardens. Fortunately we’d arrived early and it wasn’t long before we were inside enjoying the wreaths, garlands, living Christmas ornaments, model trains, buildings made entirely from plant materials and a huge display of poinsettias.

Grrr - a green bear!
Grrr – a green bear!
One of my favourite parts of the exhibit. So beautiful and delicate.
One of my favourite parts of the exhibit. So beautiful and delicate.
Thomas the Tank Engine was a real crowd pleaser. Behind him, you might be able to make out the outstretched plant man.
Thomas the Tank Engine was a real crowd pleaser. Behind him, you might be able to make out the outstretched plant man.

As well as enjoying all the Season’s Greenings exhibits, we wandered through the conservatory where we were able to see so many varied and eye catching plants.

This creeping cactus was one of my favourites - looks like it belongs under the sea.
This creeping cactus was one of my favourites – looks like it belongs under the sea.
I also loved seeing the huge variety of orchids on display.
I also loved seeing the huge variety of orchids on display.

After leaving the gardens we wandered the streets for a bit longer, checked out a downtown Christmas market and stumbled across the Petersen House, which is where Abraham Lincoln died, a day after being shot at Ford’s Theatre.

Lots of people queuing to visit this historic site.
Lots of people queuing to visit this historic site.

Despite the shock and anxiety I was feeling after the senseless loss of life on Friday, we were able to enjoy our weekend – it felt important to be doing something positive with those I love the most. I shall add only one word to the thousands that have already been said or written about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary…

arohanui
arohanui

Air and Space

If you read any of the posts about our trip to New York City on my previous blog, you will remember how much the girls wanted to visit the Museum of Natural History. Not out of any great educational or scientific desire – no it’s because that’s where the movie Night At the Museum takes place! You may also know that there is a second Night At The Museum film, and this time the action moves to The Smithsonian – a cluster of nineteen museums and a zoo which can all be found in Washington DC. In fact when we broached the subject of moving to the United States with the girls, one of our big selling points was that we would be living not too far from the place to which Larry Daley ventures to save his friends from the New York Museum – confused yet?!

Larry’s trusty sidekick in the sequel is none other than acclaimed aviatrix Amelia Earhart, and during the film she and Larry head to the Air and Space Museum, home to the bright red Lockheed Vega 5B, which was flown by Earhart across the Atlantic in 1932. Last week Edie watched the second Night at the Museum DVD at least twice, so when we discussed making a trip into DC to visit one of the Smithsonian museums, there was only one option – “we have to go to the Air and Space Museum and see Amelia’s plane!”

In honour of the brave and dashing Amelia Earhart, us girls donned tight trousers, boots, scarves and leather jackets – the only things we were missing were flying goggles. Once we reached the Air and Space Museum we headed straight for the big red plane.

New Zealand branch of the Ameila Earhart fan club!

The Air and Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world, and almost all of the craft on display are the originals. We spent a very enjoyable few hours wandering the halls, watching a 3D movie about the Hubble Telescope and having fun with many of the hands on activities.

The French hot air balloon which was the first to carry people up into the air in 1783.
Found some flying goggles!
Interior view of the museum.
Not quite flying goggles but they’ll do for a 3D film.
Suit worn by first female astronaut, Sally Ride.
We had a bit of a laugh when we came across these! It’s a Skyhawk as used by the NZ Airforce and, even funnier, their first year of manufacture was 1959 – same year as my bon homme Richard was born 🙂

We are very lucky to live close to DC and over the coming weeks and months we’ll be making more trips into the city to explore the other fifteen Smithsonian museums and the countless other sights, sounds and experiences on offer in the nation’s capital. I’ve subscribed to a blog called Kid Friendly DC and am already overwhelmed at the huge array of things there are to do with children.  And all great blog material too!

If you want to check out more images from our day at the Air and Space Museum, head on over to my Flickr page.

This week is a very important one in the United States. On Thursday Thanksgiving will be celebrated and our neighbours have very kindly invited us to join in their celebrations. It’s a time to focus on being thankful, and right now I am very thankful for the opportunity to have all these wonderful experiences and the opportunity to share them with you.

Take care everyone and stay tuned for a report of the first Croad Thanksgiving xxx