Friday, October 9, 2015

Summer family vacation: Washington DC & Jo's bday

during our summer, we had a week-long extended family vacation in DC. our trip was jam-packed and full of tourist sightings! we saw many many many things you only get to see on tv or movies. our feet & legs were amazingly sore upon our return but it didn't matter much because a bucket-list item got crossed off. :)
check out the other parts here & here
the morning we headed out, it just so happened to be Jonah's birthday (July 4th). I had prepared something special by painting a shirt that said "it's my birthday" so that people would wish him a happy birthday (we had his celebration the day before).

that day, was a big day. 

it was jonah's 5th birthday.
it would be his first airplane ride.
he would get to jump on a hotel bed without us getting mad at him (everyone's wish come true)
and he would watch an amazing fireworks display at our nation's capital 

however, traveling with kids? yeah...hard. so i'm putting a little tip list at the end of these next few blog posts about do's & don't's in Washington DC when you're traveling with children. scroll on down if you wanna check it out, or skip it all and check out the tips at the very end. 
did you know that airports are really big and kids legs are small? we checked our stroller with our bags and that was a big no no. wait to check your stroller at the gate of your flight. the boys would easily grow restless waiting to board.
we finally boarded and i was a happy nervous-wreck. i didn't know how the kids would handle the flight. we made sure to bring their phones + ipad + headphones and it did the trick.
but elena? i was totally unprepared about having toys, distracting ones at that, so gary & i had to wrestle her fidgety body until she would fall asleep. luckily the people beside us were extremely understanding and fell in love with her as well.
after a connecting flight in Charlotte, we finally landed in DC.
we took a shuttle to our hotel (nowhere near the DC area) and yes, I had to bring a carseat and two booster seats for all of my children (extremely inconvenient, but safety yo). check with shuttle services if you need them as well if you're traveling to DC with small kids.
 the view from our hotel lobby? wowzers!
we arrived, we checked out the place, we unpacked, then we headed straight for the heart of DC. 
we relied on public transportation and let me tell you what a hectic thing THAT is....(but on second thought, i'll spare you). people were everywhere!! they were here to celebrate & watch the amazing fireworks! 
the national mall had thee most beautiful greenery. it was all eye-candy for me. 
it started pouring on us and we quickly went inside to one of the coolest museums at the national mall: the national museum of natural history where you could probably spend an entire day at. 
we quickly parted ways with our group to satisfy the boys' curiosity in the oceanic section. i was so surprised when jonah stood still at this specific picture. i'm not sure what he loved about it. he didn't ask me what it was, he didn't turn away, he just stood there - still. maybe he was in awe of its magnitude. maybe he had never seen a whale in comparison to a human before. i am not sure. but i loved this moment, so i captured it.
and if you're wondering why Andrew is so grouchy, it's because he's the worst at pictures when he's got stuff to do. in other words, he was jumping from spot to spot just taking everything in and had no time to stop for mom's pictures...ya know? 
and finally, we made our way out onto the streets so we could grab a bite and a spot to watch the fireworks at. and a little birthday boy was getting super impatient for that sun to go down. 
....and FINALLY!
fireworks every year for your birthday? how sweet is that! and it was a great display --especially the finale.
we were exhausted and we were ready to go home though. later on, we found out Bruno Mars was playing at a stage around the Washington monument...so yeah, we were pretty bummed we missed that awesomeness. 
and 2 more things: i had terrible service amidst the crowded streets of DC that night and it ate up my battery life. i was better prepared in the coming days but it was sure inconvenient when it was happening.
to close up the night when we arrived back to our hotel, the national harbor had the coolest lit up display of the capital wheel reflecting on the potomac river. isn't it cool? 
this is the capital wheel at the national harbor during the day:
our hotel from the river: 
and my people the next morning? yeah, they were o u t. 
since our arrival, the boys were so fascinated by the pool. that's all they wanted to do. swim swim swim. so we indulged one morning.
so yeah. that's part 1. i'm not really sure how many other parts there will be to our washington trip, but just bare with me :)

if you're planning a trip to washington DC, these are some things i learned that were covered in this post:

✔ if flying, bring gadgets + earbuds, toys for infants, and plenty of snacks in that purse!
✔ if hauling a stroller, check it in at the gate before you board and not at the entrance with your bags. make sure it is marked with your name + number.
✔ plan on bringing a portable battery charger - my father in law had one and I used it several times.
✔ be prepared for rainy weather - my mother in law came prepared with plastic ponchos for all
✔ get your walking shoes on! no fancy shoes for walking miles a day here...
✔ plan your public transportation routes in advance or download the app (you get no signal in the metro)
✔ get a good night's rest. believe me, you will be exhausted and editing some pictures or going out will be tempting, but you'll pay for it the next day.

things that i learned to not do in DC:

❌ don't force the kids to do anything they don't want, remember they're little humans too + have their own opinions. indulge in their requests no matter how silly or little they might be.
❌ research events for the day! or you'll miss out on cool concerts at the capital like we did
❌ expect to read a lot of information really quickly to your children if they are still under young and cannot read well/fast. i would read the information signs (they're everywhere!) and then put it in layman's terms to them as quickly & efficiently as possible so that we could keep the flow of moving forward. you don't realize how much time you spend at one place -- it just kinda slips right on by if you're not watching a clock.
❌ have a meeting spot for your group. gary lost jonah while waiting for the fireworks & had a mini freak out panic attack. tell everyone to keep their cell ringers on high.
❌ in an effort to pack more efficiently, i didn't pack my most used camera lens. i chose a new-to-me lens (without test running it first) and i am so SO sorry for that. i missed out on great shots because i chose carrying less stuff over being prepared --this was a dumb move. always be prepared with the proper lens!

so there you go. just some little tips which might seem obvious to some, but still just as important to mention because duh, you're human and you could forget.

i hope you all have a great start to the new weekend and are enjoying cooler temps. i know i am!

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