Author Archives: hlcombs

Easter at the White House

We lucked out this year and got tickets to the White House Easter Egg Roll that was held last Monday. Here are a few pictures of us on the South Lawn.

Noah really wanted to do the egg roll, so that’s where we headed first. The president came out to speak while we were standing in line, and we had a great view since the egg roll was the closest activity to the White House.

Here is a short video too. As 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.

And here are a few pictures of the U.S. Marine Band that played before and after the president spoke.

Now back to the egg roll: Noah’s technique was more of a heave-ho than a roll. Ha! This was his favorite part of the day.

Then we decorated cookies…

Other activities included an Easter egg hunt, music, storytime, and lawn bowling. And on the Ellipse, there was a long line of egg cutouts for the states. Here is Noah with the Virginia and South Dakota eggs.

As you can tell from all the photos, it was a very chilly day to be outside, but we had a great time. It’s not every day that you can hang out at the White House! More than 30,000 people attended the Easter Egg Roll over the course of the day—pretty cool!

We went to the Easter Egg Roll in 2013 and 2014 too. The 2013 egg roll was notable because we got to hear President Obama read a book during storytime, and the 2014 egg roll was extra special because Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod got to join us since they were here on vacation. Here is our collection of wooden eggs from the White House…

It’s been a lot of fun to experience the same events at different ages and see how Noah’s interests change as he gets older.

Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s Easter festivities with friends and family. The last few weeks have been busy!

Categories: DC, Fun outings, Holidays | Leave a comment

Another fun father and son day

Last Friday was Noah’s first day of spring break. Ryan took the day off from work to have a “Daddy-Noah Day.” Ryan let Noah choose what to do. Can you guess what they did? They rode buses, metros, and trains! Ha.

They took the bus to our metro station, and then they rode the metro to Union Station in DC.

From there they rode the MARC train to Baltimore for the day. The MARC is the commuter rail line in Maryland. Noah hadn’t ridden a MARC train before, so he was really excited. It’s not much different than Amtrak or the commuter train in Virginia, but it was something new nonetheless.

The ride to Baltimore took about an hour. Noah enjoyed watching the speedometer on Ryan’s phone along the way. The train got over 90 miles per hour.

Here are a few pictures of Noah outside of Baltimore’s Penn Station.

They had lunch at a nearby restaurant and walked around awhile, and then they headed back to Penn Station for their train home. The return trip was especially fun because they got to ride on a double-decker MARC train—very cool! (The train that morning was just a single-level train.)

When they got back to Union Station in DC, they hopped on the metro and headed home. Whew, they covered many modes of transportation that day! Noah was one happy kid.

Yeah, it was a very quick trip to Baltimore, but the outing was more about the train ride than the destination—though Baltimore is a lot of fun. And the spring break fun didn’t end there, because Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don arrived the next day. Stay tuned to read more!

Categories: DC, Fun outings, Maryland, Spring break, Trains | Leave a comment

Fun outings in January

January was full of fun outings. One afternoon Ryan and Noah went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in nearby Chantilly, VA. This is one of Noah’s favorite places to visit.

Their first stop was the James McDonnell Space Hangar where they saw the Space Shuttle Discovery—so cool!

They went on a simulator of a shuttle launch too…

Then they walked through the Boeing Aviation Hanger, which is full of military, recreation, and commercial aircraft.

Here are pictures of Noah in front of the Boeing Dash 80 (the precursor to the Boeing 707) and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (the world’s fastest jet-propelled aircraft and most known for its reconnaissance missions during the Cold War).

For another fun outing last month, we drove to Baltimore to visit the Port Discovery Children’s Museum with our good friends Joe, Bekka, and their kids.

The kids had a blast “driving” and putting gas in the car, going grocery shopping, matching shapes on the “Widget Worker” conveyor belt, climbing in the massive three-story treehouse, learning about the movement of water and air in the “Wonders of Water” exhibit, running through a giant maze of boxes, and much more. Whew! Check it out…

And the fun didn’t end there! The last weekend in January, we went to the annual Washington Auto Show in downtown DC. Noah had a blast at the auto show the past two years, so he was really excited to go again this year.

The show featured more than 600 new cars and trucks from over 30 auto companies—so cool! Noah was able to sit in and “drive” the vehicles. The big kid hopped in some of the vehicles too. Check it out!

And yes, all the horns were deactivated! Ha.

Noah also got to race a remote control car…

Yep, we had a great time at the auto show, and we definitely plan to go again next year.

We hope 2018 is off to a fun start for you too!

Categories: Airplanes, Cars, DC, Fun outings, Maryland, Space, Trucks | Leave a comment

Fun outings over winter break

As you probably read in our previous blog post, we had a wonderful Christmas (in our pajamas!) – and the rest of Noah’s winter break was just as fun too.

One afternoon we drove to Baltimore to visit the National Aquarium. We had been to the aquarium a few times before, and Noah loved it – and so he was really excited to visit again.

Our first stop at the aquarium was the Dolphin Discovery exhibit. We got to see a colony of seven Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The exhibit staff (all marine mammal experts) talked about how the dolphins learn, play, and interact with each other, and they also discussed how they care for and teach the dolphins.

This was Noah’s first time seeing the dolphin show – it was really cool! The female dolphins are named Jade, Spirit, Maya, Bayley, and Chesapeake. The male dolphins are named Beau and Foster. Check it out!

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

Then we walked through the maze of massive aquariums in the “Atlantic Coral Reef” and “Shark Alley” exhibits. As always, the sharks were Noah’s favorite part!

We also spent a lot of time at the underwater viewing area of the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit. We got a great view of Calypso (the giant green sea turtle) and the blacktip reef sharks.

Yep, Noah had a great time at the aquarium – he always does! And the fun didn’t end there…

On New Year’s Eve day, we went to a women’s basketball game at George Mason University in nearby Fairfax, VA. The Patriots were playing the Davidson Wildcats from North Carolina. Here are a few photos from the game.

And of course, no sports event is complete without a giant tub of popcorn…

The Patriots won 74 to 61. The basketball game was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

That night we headed to Old Town Alexandria. Our church participated in First Night Alexandria, which is the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration featuring music performances and kid-friendly activities. We decorated sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles…made noisemakers with paper plates, dry noodles, and string…and posed for a few pictures in the photo booth. “Cheers!”

Yeah, we had a lot of fun during Noah’s winter break. January was full of fun outings too (some of Noah’s favorites!), so stay tuned to read more.

Categories: Aquariums, Fun outings, Holidays, Maryland, Our neighborhood, Sports | 1 Comment

A very merry Christmas in pajamas!

We did a lot of traveling in 2017 (and November and December were busy!), so we stayed home for Christmas and kept the festivities fairly low key – but we had lots of fun.

We spent Christmas Eve day with our good friends and neighbors Catalina, Craig, and their son. We had brunch at a restaurant in our neighborhood, and then we visited at their house awhile. The day was definitely bittersweet since they were moving the next day. We miss you all!

That night we went to the Christmas Eve service at our church in Old Town Alexandria. It was fun to hear Noah sing along to some of the Christmas songs. (And don’t worry, no one was harmed with the candles! Ha.)

After church we had supper at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Alexandria. Yep, Feliz Navidad!

Noah was so excited for Santa to visit, so he went to bed fairly early. Here’s a picture of Noah in front of his Christmas countdown stocking…

On Christmas morning Noah opened his stocking from Santa, and then we opened presents from each other and our families. Here’s a picture of Noah in front of the Christmas tree before the wrapping paper starting flying.

If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves trains. He had been asking for an electric metro train set, and Ryan found this cool Lionel Metro-North train. (Metro-North is the commuter railway that runs services between New York City and suburbs in New York and Connecticut.) Noah loved it! Check it out…

Noah got lots of other fun stuff too, including a Hess truck and camper, a telescope, a globe, books, and games.

Oh, and don’t worry, the big kids got some cool stuff too! Ha.

After we opened presents, Ryan made French toast for a late breakfast (so good!), and then we started preparing the main Christmas feast. We made ham, homemade mac-n-cheese, and French onion potatoes. We were stuffed!

That night we spent a few hours playing Noah’s new games. Here are a few pictures of us playing Bananagrams (like Scrabble) and Yahtzee. The competition was fierce! Ha.

And as you probably noticed, we stayed in our pajamas all day. It was great!

We had a wonderful Christmas, and we hope you did too! Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s winter break – there’s more to share!

Categories: Holidays, Our neighborhood, Trains | Leave a comment

Two very fun father and son days!

Noah had a very fun holiday break. (He was out of school for about two weeks!) He spent the first two days of break hanging out with Ryan while I finished up the workweek.

That Thursday they hopped on the bus to our metro station, and then they rode the metro to DC.

The main reason for their trip to DC was to check out some of the holiday model train displays. Their first stop was Union Station. They saw this cool Norwegian-themed display – check it out!

And here’s the Christmas tree decorated with Norwegian flags…

Ryan took a few pictures as they left Union Station too.

Next they walked across the National Mall to the U.S. Botanic Garden. Along the way they stopped by the Capitol to check out the National Christmas Tree. Yeah, it was definitely a nice afternoon to be outside!

At the U.S. Botanic Garden, they saw the annual garden railway. This year’s train display was themed Roadside Attractions and featured national landmarks constructed from plant materials. They saw the Corn Palace and Mount Rushmore from South Dakota, Longaberger Baskets from Ohio, Niagara Falls and the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand in New York, the Capitol building in DC, Santa Monica Pier in California, the Leaning Tower of Niles in Illinois, and much more. Pretty cool!

And here’s a short video too. Just 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.

Yep, Noah had an awesome first day of winter break, and Friday was just as much fun too! They started the day by having breakfast at Nectar Bistro here in Alexandria. Noah loved the waffles!

Ryan left the rest of the day up to Noah. Can you guess what they did? They rode buses! Ha. They hopped on a Fairfax Connector bus and rode to the Franconia-Springfield metro station.

From there they hopped on the local Springfield bus that goes to the shopping mall.

Noah was able to sneak in a few rides while they were at the mall…

Then they jumped on the bus heading back to the Franconia-Springfield station, and they rode the metro home from there.

Whew, they covered many modes of transportation that day! Noah was one happy kid. And the winter break fun didn’t end there because Christmas was just a few days later. Stay tuned to read more. (Yeah, we’re slowly catching up!)

Categories: Buses, DC, Fun outings, Holidays, Our neighborhood, Trains | Leave a comment

So much holiday fun!

December was busy with holiday festivities. Earlier this month we went to the annual Scottish Christmas parade in Old Town Alexandria. Check it out!

Here are three short videos of the bagpipes too. The first video is of the Alexandria Pipes & Drums, and the second video is of the Kiltie Band of York, Pennsylvania. And you’ll definitely recognize the song in the last video!

Just 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 videos. 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.

That weekend Noah also helped decorate Christmas stockings at church. He had so much fun!

Last weekend we went to the National Capital Trolley Museum in nearby Colesville, MD. If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know this is one of Noah’s favorite places to visit, because it has an awesome collection of streetcars.

This visit to the trolley museum was extra special for two reasons. First, our good friends Adam and Yvonne and their kids were with us. And second, we got to ride the streetcars with Santa!

In case you’re curious, we rode two streetcars with Santa. One was from the Netherlands and the other was from Toronto.

The kids had fun inside the museum too. They enjoyed “steering” the model streetcar along the tracks and turning on the signal lights.

That night we continued the holiday festivities by baking gingerbread cookies. Noah had fun rolling the dough and using the cookie cutters. As you can tell from Noah’s shirt, we got flour everywhere! Ha.

Noah helped decorate the cookies too. Aunt Edna would be so proud. And yes, we saved a few for Santa!

We hope you’re having the happiest of holidays! Merry Christmas!!!

Categories: Fun outings, Holidays, Maryland, Our neighborhood, Trolleys | 1 Comment

A Fun Thanksgiving Staycation

This year we stayed local for Thanksgiving weekend. We started the festivities with some arts and crafts.

Here’s a picture of Noah and his turkey.

We spent Thanksgiving with our good friends Matt and Carolyn and their family. Our contribution to the feast was homemade macaroni and cheese. Noah had fun helping with the noodles…

We had an amazing feast: smoked turkey, Brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese, salad, homemade bread, pumpkin pie, and more. It was so good!

Noah got in some good playing time with his buddy too. TRAINS! Yep, it was a great Thanksgiving all around!

The next day we continued our “staycation” at a hotel in Old Town Alexandria. We had a lot of fun lounging around and swimming in the hotel pool. Check it out!

That night we had supper at Sweet Donna’s BBQ, one of our new favorite local restaurants. Ryan and I had a sample platter of ribs, brisket, and pulled pork, and Noah had macaroni and cheese and cornbread. So yummy!

Saturday morning we did some holiday shopping in Old Town Alexandria for Small Business Saturday. And to continue the theme of shopping local, we stopped by Popped Republic on the way home to get some gourmet popcorn.

That evening we put up our Christmas tree. Noah couldn’t wait any longer! And just like the past few years, quite a few of the ornaments ended up being clustered at the bottom in the front – yep, thanks to the shortest decorator! Ha.

That night Noah also wrote a letter to Santa to share his holiday wish list. Hopefully Santa thinks Noah has been a good boy. We’ll find out soon! Ha.

We had a very fun Thanksgiving weekend. Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s holiday festivities – there’s much more to share. We hope you’re enjoying the holiday season!

Categories: Fun outings, Holidays, Our neighborhood, Swimming | Leave a comment

A fun day trip to Richmond

A few weekends ago we rode the Amtrak to Richmond for the day. Noah wanted to go on another train ride, and Richmond is nearby destination that we hadn’t visited before. We boarded the train here in Alexandria, and the ride took about two hours.

Richmond’s Main Street train station is really pretty, especially because of the clock tower. The station opened in 1901. It was closed for about three decades because of flood and fire damage, but it was renovated and reopened in 2003.

We hopped in an Uber and headed to the Science Museum of Virginia. The museum is located in Richmond’s old Broad Street train station. The station was open from 1919 to 1975. The building was bought by the Commonwealth of Virginia and reopened as the science museum in 1977.

Here are a few model trains that we saw in the rotunda area. One model is of a Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad train. The RF&P was one of the main railroad lines that serviced Broad Street.

Also in the rotunda, we saw this massive Foucault pendulum (it demonstrates the Earth’s rotation). We watched the pendulum a handful of times throughout the day, but we only saw it knock down a few pegs.

Then we started to explore all the hands-on exhibits. We started in the “Speed” area. Noah got to play air hockey against a robot, measure the speed of his running and baseball throw, and learn about the flow of air using magnets.

Noah had fun rearranging these gears and giant rubber bands to create the best setup to maximize the rotation of the main gear. He got that main gear to spin at about 200 revolutions per minute.

We saw this cool replica of John Glenn’s Mercury spacecraft (Friendship 7) too.

Another cool exhibit was a simulator of various wind speeds. Check out this short video of Noah experiencing 80 mph winds from a category 1 hurricane. 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 were extra lucky that day, because the museum was hosting the RVA Makersfest. At this annual gathering, Richmond-area businesses and groups set up interactive displays to inspire kids to tinker, create, and build.

Noah got to “drive” this cool remote control truck that was built by high school students in Richmond.

He made cool spiral designs with this circular wooden gadget made with wheels, gears, and sidewalk chalk.

And of course, no building event would be complete without Legos – lots and lots of Legos!

While we were outside, we got to see this Chesapeake & Ohio locomotive that was restored by the museum. This steam engine was built in New York and could go 70 mph.

We also got to see this “Aluminaut” submarine that was built in 1964 and donated to the museum in 1995.

Next we headed back inside for a quick lunch at the Periodic Table restaurant. Science everywhere! Ha.

After lunch we headed downstairs. Noah made designs with the giant Light Bright and learned about the Bernoulli Effect (about high and low air pressure) with a beach ball globe and air blower.

Ryan and Noah posed for a picture in this shark cage too. Ha.

Then we headed to the “Boost” area. Noah’s favorite activity here was using a computer to make music with real percussion instruments. Check it out!

Here’s a short video too. Yeah, this was really cool.

We had lots of other fun in the “Boost” area too. We played memory games, timed our biking speed, drew complex pictures by following instructions, and worked with other kids to stack play food on trays in an assembly line. (And no, we won’t be quitting our day jobs. Ha.)

There was also a cool exhibit that measures your height and weight and determines what you should be able to fit inside. Noah can fit in a garment bag!

Next we headed to the second floor to visit the science lab, Ecolab, and animal lab. We saw a beehive, insects, snakes, and more. There were more 10,000 bees in the hive, but the staff person was able to point out the queen bee – pretty cool!

We even got to see one of the museum’s rats play basketball! The staff explained that they used operant and classical conditioning to train the rats to play basketball and soccer. Noah thought this was pretty cool! Isn’t she cute? Ha.

As we headed out of the museum, we took a few minutes to spin the big stone balls. Yes, Noah got wet…

Yep, we had a great time at the science museum!

By the way, if you’re wondering if I just happen to know all the science stuff I wrote about here, the answer is no (though Ryan probably does). But I have a handy camera to take pictures of all the explanation signs…and there’s always help from Google too. Ha.

Then we headed back to Main Street station for our train ride home.

Here’s a short video of the train pulling into the station too…

It was a quick trip to Richmond, but we had a lot of fun! We definitely plan to visit again.

Categories: Animals, Fun outings, Legos, Trains | Leave a comment

Another Fun Halloween!

October was full of Halloween festivities. Check it out!

Picking pumpkins – We started the Halloween season by visiting the annual pumpkin patch at Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill here in Alexandria. Noah picked out some AWESOME pumpkins.

  

Yeah, Noah always loves pulling the wagon through the pumpkin maze, but that means the big kids didn’t have to carry them. Ha. Picking pumpkins was a great way to get in the Halloween spirit.

Carving pumpkin – We also carved a big jack-o’-lantern to help decorate our house. Noah helped Ryan hollow out the pumpkin (so much pumpkin goo!), and then he watched Ryan carve the funny face.

We even roasted the pumpkin seeds…

Trick-or-treating – Noah dressed up as a shark this year. On Halloween night we went trick-or-treating at a nearby townhouse community…the same area we’ve gone to the last few years. There are a lot of houses to visit without having to do much walking, so it’s perfect for trick-or-treating. Many of the homeowners there go all out with their spooky decorations and costumes too.

We came across a few of Noah’s friends too. Here’s a pic of Noah and his good buddy from preschool.

Noah had a great time, and his pumpkin was FULL of candy by the end of the night!

Just for fun, here’s a flashback at Noah’s previous Halloween costumes. He’s been a dragon (twice!), monkey, tiger, dinosaur, and firefighter.

We had very a fun Halloween season, and we hope you did too!

Categories: Fun outings, Halloween, Our neighborhood | Leave a comment

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