Summer vacation in South Dakota: Part 3

As you probably read in our previous posts, Noah and I recently visited Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod in South Dakota. We still have a few more stories to share…because we of course couldn’t visit South Dakota in the summer without taking full advantage of the great outdoors!

One of the things Noah was really looking forward to this trip was canoeing with Grandpa Rod. Noah went on his first canoe ride earlier this summer on the Potomac River in DC. He loved it, and so he was so excited to go canoeing again when we were in South Dakota.

Noah had fun helping Grandpa get the canoe all cleaned up and ready to go.

There are a lot of great canoeing and kayaking spots by Grandma and Grandpa’s house; we chose Oakwood Lakes State Park near Brookings. And we actually went canoeing twice! Here are a few photos from our first canoeing and kayaking trip…

Here’s a short video of Noah and Grandpa canoeing too. Yeah, Noah had a blast! (As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.)

We snuck in some beach time that day too…

And Noah had just as much fun on his second canoe trip. Check it out!

Another thing that Noah was really looking forward to was riding his bike. Since Grandma and Grandpa live in the country, their roads are quiet and long. Their roads are really flat and straight too – the perfect combo! (Our bike trails in Virginia are really curvy and hilly, and congested with people too…so not quite as smooth sailing.)

Here’s a quick video of Noah on his bike too. Yeah, as you can see, Noah had a nice open space to ride!

We went for evening walks on the country roads too…

We spent a lot of time just playing inside too, especially since it was really hot some days and storming some days too. Noah, Grandma, and Grandpa played trains and cars, watched movies, played games on the iPad, and put Legos together.

Oh, and Noah wanted to make sure we mentioned the yummy donuts from Grandpa’s donut store (the Ward’s Store)! Mmmmm…

Our trip to South Dakota went by fast, but we had an AWESOME time! We’ll see you again soon, Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod!

Categories: Bike riding, Fun outings, Grandparents, Nature, South Dakota, Summer, Vacations | 1 Comment

Summer vacation in South Dakota: Part 2

As I mentioned in our previous post, we recently spent a week with family in South Dakota. If you missed our post about visiting the Watertown zoo and camping at Lake Poinsett, you can read it here.

We also spent a day in Brookings. Noah was so excited to visit the Children’s Museum of South Dakota. We’ve been to this play museum on previous trips, and Noah loved it. It’s one of his favorite places!

Noah had a blast playing with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod. They fixed the blue car (it always needs repairs!), went grocery shopping, helped build the frame of a house, used the conveyor belt to move foam blocks, learned about the movement of air and water in the “Splash” room, and made designs on the giant Light Bright. Whew! Check it out!

One of the new exhibits since our last visit was the “Airway Adventure.” Noah and Grandpa created different airflow paths in this giant structure by rearranging the tubes and adjusting the connection points. They tested their paths by watching colorful handkerchiefs blow through the tubes. Very cool!

And of course, we couldn’t go to the Children’s Museum without visiting the dinosaurs!

Grandpa and Noah worked their way through the Tangle Town maze (another new exhibit for us). Six tons of willow saplings were woven together to create this prairie maze. Awesome!

Noah found his way through an underground tunnel system too…

Yeah, Noah had another great visit to the Children’s Museum with Grandma and Grandpa!

We worked up quite an appetite, so we headed to Cubby’s for lunch. Noah and Grandpa played tic-tac-toe while we waited for our food.

After lunch we hung out at a nearby playground for a while before hopping back in the car to head home. It was a nice afternoon to be outside!

Stay tuned for another post on Noah’s recent adventures with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod. Yep, there’s more!

Categories: Fun outings, Grandparents, South Dakota, Summer, Vacations | 1 Comment

Summer vacation in South Dakota: Part 1

A few weekends ago, Noah and I flew to South Dakota to hang out with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod for the week. Here are a few fun photos from our flights there.

Our first full day there, we met Aunt Jenny and Cory and Wyatt (Noah’s cousins) at Bramble Park Zoo in Watertown. We saw camels, monkeys, jaguars, lemurs, snakes, bears, and more. Check it out!

We visited the barn too and saw llama, goats, horses, and pigs.

Noah, Wyatt, and Grandma Debbie even fed some of them!

The boys also had fun running up and down the sand pile in the playground area.

They panned for gold too but didn’t have any luck. Bummer, right?!?!

After we finished at the zoo, we headed to the state park at Lake Poinsett to camp for the night. Here are a few pics of Noah hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa at the cabin.

Noah had a great time playing with his cousins at the beach.

Noah and his cousins also played soccer, raced cars, and tossed bean bags.

We went for a quick walk by the beach at sunset too. Yeah, what a nice view!

And of course, you can’t go camping without making s’mores! Messy but yummy…

The next morning, Noah and his cousins played at the beach one last time before we packed up and headed back to Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod’s house. We were in South Dakota for a week, and the weather was the nicest on the days we were at the lake. Yeah, we really lucked out!

Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s recent adventures in South Dakota. There’s a lot more to share!

Categories: Animals, Cousins, Fun outings, Grandparents, Nature, South Dakota, Summer, Vacations | 2 Comments

A fun weekend with Uncle Chris!

This past weekend, Uncle Chris flew from Ohio to DC to hang out with us for a few days.

Noah was so excited to show Chris his bike riding skills…

It was hot that weekend, so we spent a lot of time swimming at the pool in our complex too.

We hung out at the house a lot as well. Noah and Chris played with Legos, trains, and airplanes – surprising, I know!

We had some fun outings though too. Saturday morning, we hopped in the car and had breakfast at one of our favorite local spots – Sugar Shack Donuts. We all had different flavors: Noah had sprinkles, Chris had s’mores, Ryan had bacon maple, and I had sea salt caramel. Yummy!

We also went kayaking and canoeing on the Potomac River. Our good friend Lauren joined us too! We started at the boathouse under the Key Bridge in Georgetown. We paddled by Roosevelt Island and the Kennedy Center, and we turned around at the George Washington Bridge. We were on the water for about two hours. Check it out!

This was Noah’s first canoe ride. He had a blast and did great!

Whew, we packed in a lot of activities those few days! We definitely all slept well that weekend. Ha.

Uncle Chris flew home Sunday evening. We had a very fun weekend, and we’re looking forward to his next visit. We always love having visitors – hint, hint, hint!

Categories: Bike riding, DC, Fun outings, Nature, Our neighborhood, Summer, Swimming | 1 Comment

Innovations in Flight Family Day

Two weekends ago, Ryan and Noah went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. They really lucked out too, as they just happened to be there on the same day as the annual Innovations in Flight Family Day – score!

The Center has two massive hangars full of military, recreation, and commercial aircraft – but Noah and Ryan spent most of their time looking over the special outside display featured at the Innovations in Flight event.

They got to see Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner up close…

They saw quite a few planes from the Air Force too, including an F-16 Fighting Falcon, a C-17 Globemaster, and an A-10 Thunderbolt, which is also known as the Warthog.

They also saw an Osprey from the Marine Corps.

They saw a B-2 Bomber fly overhead as part of the display too…

An added bonus: Noah got to “drive” an ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) truck – very fun!

And of course, no trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center would be complete without seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery. It is enormous!

They checked out some of the military aircraft in the hangars too, including this Sikorsky helicopter.

Yep, Ryan and Noah had a very fun afternoon at the Innovations in Flight event. The Udvar-Hazy Center is definitely one of their favorite places to visit, so we’ll be back again soon!

Categories: Airplanes, Fun outings, Trucks | 1 Comment

Family fun in New York City: Part 2

As you probably read in our previous blog post, we recently made a quick weekend trip to New York City to visit Aunt Jenny, Uncle Sean, and Abby, Nathan, and Cory (Noah’s cousins) while they were there on vacation. If you missed our post about going to the top of the Empire State Building, you can read it here. We saw some amazing views!

After we finished at the Empire State Building, we hopped on the subway with Cory, Abby, and Aunt Jenny and headed to Coney Island in Brooklyn. The ride took about an hour.

Once we got there, we headed straight to the amusement park for rides, rides, rides. Our first ride was the giant Ferris wheel. Going on this ride first was a good way to scope out the amusement park, boardwalk, and beach. Yeah, we had some great views from the top!

Noah and Cory went on a few other rides together too. Noah especially enjoyed the Wild River log ride since it was hot, hot, hot that day!

Noah also went on the Trapeze swings with Abby.

Ryan got in on the fun too. He went on the Cyclone roller coaster and Air Race with Cory.

Noah had fun watching Cory on the Electro Spin too.

Here’s a fun video of our crew on the rides. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

After we were finished with the rides, we headed to the boardwalk and beach. Noah loved wading in the water and playing in the sand.

Yeah, we had a great time at Coney Island!

When we got back to Manhattan later that evening, Noah and Ryan went straight to the hotel to play buses for a while, and then Noah zonked out early – he had a busy day! The rest of us went back to the Empire State Building, since it was just a short walk from our hotel. Here’s a photo from the street…

And here are a few photos of the nighttime views from the top – very cool!

The next morning, we visited One World Trade Center.

We got a special tour from one of Ryan’s colleagues that works there. While we didn’t go all the way to the top (there are 104 floors), we did visit the staff lounge and coffee shop on the 60th floor. We saw some amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and lots and lots of skyscrapers.

We also visited the FEMA offices and saw some of Ryan’s New York City colleagues.

We briefly visited the 9/11 Memorial as well.

Then we headed to Penn Station to catch our train back home. We rode the train all the way to Alexandria (its final destination was Richmond). We of course still stopped at Union Station in Washington, DC on the way through. The coolest thing about our stop at Union Station was watching our train switch from an electric locomotive to a diesel locomotive, since electric locomotives can’t run on the tracks south of DC. It was fun to watch!

And here is photo of Noah and Ryan at our Amtrak station in Alexandria.

This was Noah’s second trip to New York City. He’s already excited to go back again. Yep, we had an AWESOME weekend with Aunt Jenny, Uncle Sean, and Abby, Nathan, and Cory. We’ll see you all again soon!

Categories: Cousins, New York, Summer, Trains, Vacations | 1 Comment

Family fun in New York City: Part 1

Two weeks ago, Aunt Jenny, Uncle Sean, and Abby, Nathan, and Cory (Noah’s cousins) were vacationing in New York City. Since they were so close, we made a quick weekend trip to NYC to visit and see the sights with them.

That Saturday afternoon, we boarded the Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington, DC. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves trains – he was so excited!

It took about 3 ½ hours to get to Penn Station in Manhattan. Noah enjoyed watching the speedometer on Ryan’s phone along the way. The train was going 65 miles per hour when I snapped the photo below, but we got up to 125 miles per hour at one point – yeah, really fast!

We didn’t get to New York City until suppertime, so we headed straight to the hotel to relax and hang out for the night.

Noah really wanted to ride the subway (who wouldn’t at age six?), so that was the first thing we did the next morning.

After our subway ride, we hopped in a taxi to meet the rest of our group. Taxicab selfie!

We met up at the Empire State Building. Here is the view from the street.

And here is a pic of Noah and his cousins in the lobby.

We rode the high-speed elevator to the 80th floor and got a sneak peek of the great views…

And then we took a short elevator ride to the 86th floor Observatory, which is the highest open-air observation deck in New York City. We saw some incredible panoramic views of Manhattan, the Hudson River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and beyond. Check it out!

This was Noah’s second time going to the top of the Empire State Building. His first visit was last year with Cory, Aunt Jenny, Grandma Debbie, and Grandpa Rod. Pretty cool!

Stay tuned to read more about our weekend trip to New York City. We have a lot more to share!

 

Categories: Cousins, New York, Summer, Trains, Vacations | Leave a comment

A fun field trip to the zoo!

A few weeks ago, the kindergarten classes went on a field trip to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. I tagged along too as a chaperone.

Noah was so excited to ride the school bus with his buddies!

As always, Noah’s favorite animals at the zoo were the giant pandas. We saw two of them. And yep, it was lunchtime at the Giant Panda House!

Noah also really liked the gorilla in the Great Ape House. The gorilla was huge!

The kids saw lots of other animals too, including bison, elephants, flamingos, an ostrich, and a tiger. Check it out!

Did you spot the tiger? He’s in the lower left-hand corner of the picture above. He was taking a nap…

Tracking down all those animals was tiring! Here’s a photo of Noah and his friend taking a quick break and having a snack.

Yep, Noah and his classmates definitely had a great time at the National Zoo. This was Noah’s fourth trip to the zoo. We still haven’t seen all the animals yet, so we’ll have to go back again soon!

Categories: Animals, DC, Fun outings, Kindergarten | Leave a comment

Celebrating Noah’s 6th birthday!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Noah’s 6th birthday. Yeah, he’s growing up fast!

As part of the birthday fun, the weekend before the big day, we took Noah and his friend to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. If you missed our previous post about our trip to the aquarium, you can read it here. We all had a great time!

On his birthday, Noah got to wear this fun hat at school, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to him during lunch – pretty cool!

The kindergarten classes were supposed to visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo that day. Unfortunately, the field trip had to be postponed because of the rain. Noah was really bummed (he was looking forward to seeing the pandas on his birthday), so we snuck in some indoor fun after school instead. We rode the metro to the Lego Store!

When we got home, our good friend Barbara came over to help us celebrate. We had Papa John’s pizza (Noah’s favorite!) and chocolate cake. The cake had a cars theme – perfect!

Noah opened some of his presents that night too. He got lots of cool stuff for his birthday: Legos, books, a fire truck, a New York City bus, pullback cars, and a Spiderman toy – all the necessities for a six-year-old!

Noah also got a model train set – that was his big birthday wish. Ryan found this cool 1976 Lionel train set online – a lucky find on eBay! Ryan had a lot of fun setting it up in the basement beforehand. He even made a “grassy” tabletop for the track. Noah loved it!

If you’re curious about the hearing protection…yeah, the train is a little loud…

Noah’s birthday was low key this year, but he definitely had a great time!

Stay tuned to read about the field trip to the National Zoo. Noah still got to see the pandas, just a few days later than originally planned.

Categories: Birthdays, Kindergarten, Legos, Trains | 1 Comment

A fun trip to the National Aquarium

Two weekends ago, we drove to Baltimore to take Noah and his friend to the National Aquarium. We visited this aquarium over Thanksgiving and Noah loved it…and so he wanted to visit again as part of his birthday fun.

Our first stop at the aquarium was the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit. We saw blacktip reef sharks, whiptail rays, angelfish, puffer fish and more.

We learned about shark teeth and what sharks eat too…

But our favorite part of this exhibit was the giant green sea turtle named Calypso. In 2000 this sea turtle was rescued when she was stranded in Long Island Sound. She weighed six pounds at the time and had a bad infection in one of her front flippers. They had to amputate her flipper because of the infection. She could not be returned to the wild, and so she was donated to the National Aquarium. It’s estimated that Calypso is about 20 years old and weighs 500 pounds. Yeah, that’s a big turtle!

We didn’t see Calypso on our last trip to the aquarium, so she must not have been out and about – she’d be hard to miss! Ha.

Next we headed to the “Living Seashore” hands-on exhibit. The boys got to see clearnose skates up close – so cool!

They learned about beaches through this fun interactive digital touch table…

And they got to see moon jellies up close too!

Then we walked through the maze of massive aquariums. We saw anemones, cardinalfish, clownfish (Nemo!), tangs (Dory!), sea stars, eels, sea cucumbers, groupers, creole fish, cowfish, seahorses, and porcupine fish, just to name a few. Whew, so many fish!

In the “Amazon River Forest” exhibit, we saw yellow dart frogs. Can you spot them? Yeah, ewwwww…

One of the coolest things we saw was scuba divers feeding some of the bigger fish in the “Atlantic Coral Reef” exhibit. Check it out!

But as cool as that was, their favorite exhibit was definitely still “Shark Alley.” Of course!

As we walked out, we passed through the underwater viewing area of the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit, and we got an even better view of Calypso and the blacktip reef sharks…

Here is a photo of the boys posing outside of the aquarium…

And here is a photo of them on the car ride home. Yep, they were tuckered out. It was a busy afternoon!

Noah had a great time at the aquarium – we all did! Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s birthday fun!

Categories: Animals, Aquariums, Birthdays, Fun outings, Maryland | Leave a comment

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