Trains

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

So much fun in Florida: Part 1

This past April, we flew to Florida for a few days to visit Disney World and Cocoa Beach. We went to Disney World two years ago for Noah’s 4th birthday. We had a great time then, so we were really excited to go back! (And yes, we’re definitely behind on a few of our vacation posts!)

Here’s Noah on our flight to Orlando…

Then we took a 45-minute bus ride on Disney’s Magical Express…

We got in really late, so we went straight to bed – whew!

Our first full day at Disney World was pretty low key. We spent the morning and early afternoon at the Disney Springs marketplace area. Here are a few photos of our bus ride there…

While at Disney Springs, we ate lunch, did some souvenir shopping, and played at the Lego store. Noah remembered this Lego store from our first trip, so we of course had to visit again! Here are pictures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the Seven Drawfs made out of Legos – very cool!

And here are a few pictures of Noah building too…

Midafternoon we headed back to the Wilderness Lodge to go swimming. We stayed at this hotel on our last trip too. Noah loved the pool then, so he was really excited to swim there again this trip. Check it out!

After swimming we had to quickly wash up because we had special supper plans at Chef Mickey’s! To get there, we took a short boat ride from the Wilderness Lodge across Bay Lake to the Contemporary resort. Here are a few photos from of our trip across the lake…

Another one of Noah’s favorite memories from our first trip was the monorail. Yeah, you know how much he loves trains! We had a few minutes to spare before our supper reservation, so Noah and Ryan hopped on the monorail for a quick trip around Disney World.

Here’s a short video of the monorail pulling into the Contemporary hotel. 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.

And here’s a selfie from their ride!

After the monorail ride, we headed to Chef Mickey’s for supper. Noah got to eat with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald Duck – the whole gang was there! Noah had a great time giving high fives and hugs. He got them to sign his special autograph book too. Grandma Debbie made this book for our last trip; it was fun to use it again and compare signatures.

As Mickey would say, “What a magical day!” Stay tuned to read more about our spring break trip to Disney World. The next few days were filled with rides, rides, rides!

Categories: Disney World, Florida, Legos, Spring break, Swimming, Trains, Vacations | 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

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

More winter break fun with Grandma and Grandpa

As you probably read in our previous blog post, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don flew to DC from Ohio to celebrate Christmas with us. If you missed our post about our Christmas festivities, you can read it here.

We had lots of other fun during their visit too. The day after Christmas, Noah went on a short Amtrak ride with Grandma and Grandpa. They boarded the train at Alexandria’s Union Station. The best part about Alexandria’s small station (compared to DC’s Union Station) is that you can stand railside and watch the other trains go by while you’re waiting.

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(Random fun fact from Ryan: There are many Union Stations in the United States. Union Stations have multiple railroad companies sharing the same building.)

They rode the train 45 miles south to Fredericksburg, VA. Their trip took about an hour.

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Ryan and I drove down to meet them, and they beat us – by about 90 minutes! Yes, it took us 2 ½ hours to drive those 45 miles. Pesky DC traffic! When we finally met up in Fredericksburg, we had supper at the Capital Ale House restaurant in the downtown area. Noah and Grandma played tic-tac-toe while we waited for our food.

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Going to Fredericksburg was a fun outing – but yes, all of us will be riding the train next time! Ha.

We spent a lot of time just hanging out at the house that week too. Noah, Grandma and Grandpa read books, did some arts and crafts (they painted a wooden boat), and played Legos – lots and lots of Legos!

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We also went to the park at Noah’s school when the weather was nice. Here are some photos that Grandma Cindy snapped…

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And here are a few pictures of Noah with Grandma and Grandpa at the airport before they flew home. We’ll see you again soon, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don! We had a great time!

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Categories: Fun outings, Grandparents, Our neighborhood, Trains | Leave a comment

A very merry Christmas with Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don

Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don flew to DC from Ohio to celebrate Christmas with us. We like to travel, but it’s always fun to have family here for the holidays too.

The first few days of their visit were busy with holiday preparations. Noah helped Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don make nut rolls. Mmmm! He loved rolling the dough.

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Noah also got in the Christmas spirit by building a gingerbread train with Grandma Cindy. And yes, some parts of the train were edible!

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On Christmas Eve we went to Old Town Alexandria. We stopped by the big Christmas tree in front of City Hall. Smile!

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Then we went to the Christmas Eve service at our church.

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When we got home, we took a few photos in front of our Christmas tree before we got in our pajamas. We clean up well, right? Ha.

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On Christmas morning we opened our stockings from Santa and presents from our families. This was definitely the Christmas for Legos – so many Legos! Noah also got books, magnetic blocks, trains, a trolley, a truck and board games. Lucky kid!

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One of Noah’s favorite presents was the Lego Amtrak train that Ryan constructed ahead of time. Ryan didn’t have instructions to follow, just his imagination and a lot of help from random Lego sellers on the internet. Ha. It’s pretty awesome – check it out!

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Here’s a short video of Noah’s new Lego Amtrak train in motion.

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.

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

After we opened all of our presents, we enjoyed a huge Christmas dinner – and we were stuffed!

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We had a wonderful Christmas, and we hope you did too! Stay tuned to read more about Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don’s visit – there’s much more to share! And since we still have our Christmas tree up, we’re not really that behind with holiday posts, right? Ha.

Categories: Grandparents, Holidays, Trains | 2 Comments

A great day trip to Philadelphia

Last Saturday we rode the Amtrak to Philadelphia for the day. Noah wanted to go on another train ride, and Philly is a fun nearby destination. We boarded the train at Union Station in DC.

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The trip took about two hours – can’t beat that! Noah enjoyed watching the speedometer on Ryan’s phone along the way. Our train got up to 123 miles per hour at one point – super fast!

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After we arrived, we hopped in a cab and headed to the Please Touch Museum to explore all the hands-on exhibits.

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Noah’s favorite part of the museum was driving the SEPTA bus – shocker!

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Noah also got to drive a flatbed truck, trolley, car and dump truck.

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While in the construction area, Noah used a wheelbarrow to move blocks from the back of the dump truck to the conveyer belt.

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In the Please Touch Garage, Noah got to work on a car engine, fill up a gas tank and rotate racecar tires.

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Noah also got to shop at the grocery store, visit a hospital emergency room and play trains too – so much to do!

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In the Water Works area, there was a small-scale canal lock that simulated large locks like those used on the Panama Canal, Suez Canal and Saint Lawrence Seaway. Noah enjoyed watching the lock fill up with water and then opening the downstream lock gates to allow the boats to flow out. Pretty cool!

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He also learned about currents and the effects of gravity and air streams on water flow.

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Yep, we had a great time at the children’s museum!

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Next we rode the PHLASH bus to downtown Philly. We had a quick lunch and then went to Reading Terminal Market, which was one of our favorite finds from our last trip to Philly. Reading Terminal Market is a massive indoor farmer’s market. The market has a HUGE selection of produce, meat, cheese, baked goods, etc. from local farmers and producers. Many of the vendors cook, grill and bake right there too, so the place always smells amazing! We just stuck to desserts this trip. Noah picked out chocolate-covered pretzels, and Ryan chose truffles – yummy!

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The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, so we spent a lot of time just walking around the downtown area too. First we came across City Hall.

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Then we goofed around at the Board Game Art Park. As you can tell from the photos, Noah had fun playing on the huge Monopoly, Parcheesi and chess game pieces.

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And of course, Noah wanted to ride the Philadelphia subway too. So we rode the subway here and there just for kicks, and then we rode it back to the Amtrak station.

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So if you’re keeping track, we covered quite a few modes of transportation on our trip to Philly: car, train, taxi, bus and subway – whew! Ha.

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We had a blast in Philadelphia. It was a quick trip but definitely a lot of fun. Noah fell asleep shortly after we left the Philly Amtrak station. Yep, he had a busy day. According to Ryan’s phone, we walked over 14,000 steps!

Categories: Fun outings, Pennsylvania, Trains, Trucks | Leave a comment

Noah’s first trip to New York City!

The last week of May, Grandma Debbie, Grandpa Rod, Aunt Jenny and Cory (Noah’s cousin) flew out from South Dakota to visit us and see the sights. (Yeah, we’re slowly catching up on blog posts!) While they were here, we made a short overnight trip to New York City. This was Noah’s first trip to NYC – he was so excited to see the tall buildings!

We woke up early (really early!) to catch our 5:00 a.m. Amtrak train from Union Station in Washington, DC.

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If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that Noah loves trains, and he was especially excited to ride the Amtrak with Cory and Grandpa Rod!

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It took about 3 ½ hours to get to Penn Station in NYC. After we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we grabbed a quick snack. Yeah, the best donuts in Manhattan are from the street vendor on the corner of 33rd St. and 8th Ave. Make note! Ha.

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Then we walked to the Empire State Building. We rode the high-speed elevator to the 86th Floor Observatory and saw some incredible panoramic views of Manhattan and beyond. Check it out!

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After lunch we headed to South Street Seaport for a sightseeing cruise on the Hudson River. Here are a few fun photos of our crew boarding the Zephyr…

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On our 60-minute cruise, we saw the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and lots and lots of skyscrapers!

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Here are a few fun facts that we learned from our tour guide: 1) Lady Liberty is now 130 years old; 2) she was designed by the same engineer that designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris; and 3) she stands 111 feet tall, her nose is four and a half feet long, and her waist is 36 feet in circumference. Pretty incredible!

And here’s a photo of Cory on the Brooklyn Bridge…

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Next we visited the 9/11 Memorial.

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Here is Cory standing in front of the Survivor Tree at the memorial…

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Then we headed back to the hotel to relax. Some of us stayed in for the night (it had been a busy day already!), but Cory and Aunt Jenny were ambitious and walked to Times Square.

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The rest of us grabbed a quick bite at the restaurant on the 26th floor roof deck of our hotel. Check out this great view! Madison Square Garden (where the New York Knicks play basketball) is the circular-shaped building on the left – yep, just down the street.

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Here is a photo of the Empire State Building that Cory and Aunt Jenny snapped on their way back from Times Square – very cool!

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The next morning, Noah and Grandpa Rod went on early walk to find coffee and chocolate milk. It didn’t take long since there is a Starbucks on every corner there! Ha.

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After that we all split ways so that we could see different things. Noah really wanted to go to the new Lego store, and since it was hot, hot, hot that day, that was fine with me. Noah had a great time playing in the Lego Lounge and looking at the many awesome Lego creations, including a street scene of the Flatiron District (the neighborhood where the Lego store is located). So cool!

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While Noah and I relaxed in the air conditioning, Cory and Aunt Jenny were busy walking around and visiting Madison Square Garden, the Rockefeller Center and Central Park. Yes, they were adventurous!

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We all met back up later that afternoon and had a quick bite before heading to Penn Station to catch our train back to DC.

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Here are a few photos from our ride home. As a fun side note, my phone has an app that clocks the your speed. Our train got up to 126 miles per hour – wow!

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Stay tuned to read more about our week with Grandma Debbie, Grandpa Rod, Aunt Jenny and Cory. We have many more fun adventures to share!

Categories: Cousins, Fun outings, Grandparents, Legos, New York, Trains | Leave a comment

Another Eggcellent Easter

Noah had another fun-filled Easter this year. The Friday before Easter, Noah’s preschool had a huge Easter egg hunt in the park across the street from the school. While the Fishies and Froggies waited for their turn, they entertained the crowd by singing the alphabet. Check out this short video!

(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.)

Now on to the most important part: the egg hunt! Ready…set…go!!!

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So many eggs!

And here are two short videos of the “Eggstravaganza” too. Yeah, these little egg hunters were fast! Go, Noah, go!

Noah’s loot included candy (of course!), miniature dinosaurs, stickers and fun-colored Band-Aids. Can’t beat that!

We spent Easter Sunday with our good friends Matt and Carolyn and their family. We had an amazing Easter feast: homemade pizza, lamb sausages, salad with roasted cauliflower, hummus, and roasted eggplant. It was so good! We were stuffed!

After lunch Noah and Jerome had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard. Jerome’s Uncle Chris did a great job hiding the eggs, but the boys found them all! Their buckets were full! The eggs had dinosaur stickers and candy – score! They also got a few “real” dinosaur eggs that hatch in watch. Stay tuned for more on that!

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Here’s a short video of Noah and Jerome posing. Yes, a video of taking photos! Ha. “Cheese!”

After the egg hunt, we headed back inside for dessert. It was Matt’s birthday, so we celebrated with chocolate cake. Here’s a short video of Noah and Jerome chanting: “We want cake! We want cake!”

And here is a photo too. Thanks for giving us a good reason to binge on yummy cake, Matt!

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Noah and Jerome snuck in some train time between all the festivities too. They were definitely busy boys that day.

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This was our second Easter with Matt, Carolyn and Jerome (and now Baby Sophie too!). We had a great time!

The Easter fun didn’t end there. Noah got lots of Easter goodies at home too. The Easter Bunny brought him a Lego police car and truck set, a few Hot Wheels cars, and some more candy – very cool! He also got candy and stickers from Grandma Cindy and Grandma Debbie. Yeah, he definitely hit the Easter jackpot! And don’t worry, we didn’t eat all the candy in one sitting. Ha.

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

Categories: Fun outings, Holidays, Legos, Maryland, Our neighborhood, Preschool, Trains | Leave a comment

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