Friday, July 30, 2010

Yep, Ikea is the highlight of the day...

Okay, so theoretically we are seeing lots of fun and educational sites in all of the places we are visiting on this massive family road trip. But I have to admit, the highlight of our Philadelphia trip so far (you now with the exception of hanging out with my sister and brother-in-law) has to be our trip to Ikea today. I'm probably a little biased (because I love Ikea and the closest one to Oxford is in Atlanta, so we never go there), but our trip to Ikea today was the best. First of all, I love any store that provides a fun place for me to drop my kids off and leave for an hour. Don't get me wrong, I love my girls, but browsing is so much easier when I don't have to do the periodic head count or catch the baby or wrestle the three year old into the cart. So, I got a good hour of browsing peacefully with just the baby. About 45 minutes in, the baby got hungry so we went up to get a little kids meal from the cafe (pasta with marinara, veggies and an apple juice). Now the kids menu in itself is only $2.97 which I think is a good deal, but when I got to the check out line the lady just printed my receipt and said have a nice day. That's right, kids eat FREE until August 13th!! So on top of a peaceful hour of shopping, I fed all of the kids of $0. AND they keep diapers and wipes stocked in the changing area of the family bathroom! Yeah, so maybe I'm easily impressed, but I love a store that makes shopping with kids easier.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Where in the world...Philadelphia Bound

Today, we hit the road and head for Philadelphia. Washington DC has been great, but I'm ready to move on. The kids are getting antsy and are falling prey to some modern day influences that we try to avoid at home. Basically, too much TV, too many movies, too much computer access, too much weirdo kiddie pop music, too much staying the house, too many Capri Suns and way too much getting their way. The kids love visiting with their cousin and I love watching them spend time with family, but it's completely affecting the way they interact with each other. There's so much more fighting and bickering and being mean. It's driving me nuts. So, I am looking forward to heading to our next destinations and getting back to what we are used to in our kids.
We don't have much planned for Philadelphia. My sister in law and I have planned a trip to Ikea (just because I LOVE Ikea) and they just opened a HUGE Whole Foods in her area and I think there are plans to make vegan marshmallow treats. There won't be 1000 TV channels or extensive computer games. And best of all? NO BARBIE!!! Goodbye Barbie and Justin Bieber (whoever you are) and hello vegan marshmallow treats and arboretum!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wrapping up in DC

Tomorrow is our last day in Washington DC. Today we took the kids to the National Portrait Gallery and the Museum of Natural History. I'm not really a fan of the stuffy presidential portraits, but I do appreciate them for their technical skill. What made my day was the gallery filled with the 49 chosen portraits from the annual portrait competition. I have to acknowledge how difficult it is to be inspired to paint when there is so little outside art in my life. Today was inspiring. I think I want to start a long term project (a year maybe), where I create a self portrait each week. That's really the only goal. Mediums and techniques will vary, but I will be the subject. I think I will enter the National Portrait Gallery's annual competition (I picked up the info today) and see where that takes me....

Anyway, after the NPG, we had lunch in the Sculpture Garden (and I got to see a friend that I haven't seen since college.

This metal tree was awesome.

It was a brief meeting, but enjoyable none the less.) and headed on over to see the dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History. Of course it was Bijou's favorite part of the day (she was annoyed that the Portrait Gallery had no dinosaurs). She got to see her favorite - STEGOSAURUS!
Model of what it may have looked like when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

It was too dark and WAY too crowded to get a picture of Bijou with the stegosaurus, so we had to settle for the triceratops skull.

We also checked out the rocks, gems and minerals. Ashni and Jena were both pretty intrigued by the Hope Diamond, but both were more impressed with the toxic fibers of asbestos in the area with crystals. It's is fun to watch Ashni go through and pick out rocks and crystals that she has in her collection at home.

We're all exhausted now, but it was well worth it. Thanks for hanging out with us Uncle Gregory (we'll be waiting patiently for your awesome pictures of our visit).

Monday, July 26, 2010

Where in the world... or The great DC blackout of 2010

The day was going along just fine. We were preparing for our Sunday cookout - pasta salad was being made, apple pie in the works, charcoal going in the grill. The sky was blue , the sun was shining and the kids were entertaining themselves. Then the sky started to look a little gray. "I think it's going to rain, but that will cool things off, so that's good." Withing moments the sky went from gray to black. The wind kicked up and sheets of rain moving horizontally blinded us all. For ten minutes the weather was pure chaos! Thunder, lightning, hail in some areas. With a particularly loud clap of thunder and frighteningly close bolt of lightning the power was knocked out. "It will be back soon. I mean, it flashed for a minute earlier." Um, yeah, we were wrong about that one. After ten minutes the storm was over, but the power was AWOL! For 12 hours we had no lights, no fridge, no stove, no air conditioner, no fans. Has anyone been checking the weather on the east coast lately? Yeah, it's HOT!

The cookout went as planned (without apple pie or cheddar biscuits though, because the power died before I could get them in the oven). We ate, drank and were merry, but soon the guests went to their homes that had lights and air conditioning. So, we played board games, painted our finger nails and toenails, laughed and drank warm soda, all by candle light. We had a blast. It was HOT, but we made the best of it. The power came back in the wee hours of the morning. I was awakened by lights, fans, humming of appliances. It was a welcomed sight. After going through the house turning everything off (including the oven and garbage disposal), I could sleep comfortably beneath the much appreciated and fully powered fan. This morning as I use the internet, listen to the radio in the next room, and absorb the white noise of the air conditioner, the black out becomes just a fun vacation story to talk about later. I'm sure there will be many more over the next couple of weeks of travel.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Where in the world... Hello DC

Today is our first full day in Washington DC. We planned to leave St. Louis around 4am on Tuesday, but lost track of time and long story short, we ended up just getting on the road at 2am instead of trying to sleep for two hours. We drove through a massive thunderstorm in Illinois (at 2am!), but after that the weather was great. The trip from St. Louis to DC is supposed to be about 14 hours, but we got lost somewhere in rural Maryland and it ended up being about 16 hours (but that's what makes it an adventure, right? Yeah...). Surprisingly, the kids did great (and neither of the drivers fell asleep behind the wheel)! I have to admit that staying up for 48 hours was much easier when I was 19 and had no children (staying up that long now is just plain stupid and I'll be paying for it for the next three days, so I don't recommend it).
Anyway, on the itinerary for the next week are:
1. A family and friends cookout with the in-laws and hubby's friends
2. The portrait museum for Jena
3. Dinosaur bones for Bijou
4. A quick trip to see the White House and Washington monument
5. Lots of sitting around and naps to make up for yesterday's loss of sleep.
Unfortunately, my father in law's computer does not have a slot for my SD card and I left all of the camera cords at home, so pictures will have to come later..... Well, it's later and here are pictures.

Apparently Zion is unhappy with her current amount of accessories and would like to add large, flower shaped clip on earrings. I think they make a statement.

Generally we don't allow hula hooping in the house, but when you're this cute with a hula hoop exceptions must be made.

This is what being on vacation has done to rides in the car. No matter where we went, this is what it looked like in the back seat. This is reason enough for everyone to take a massive road trip with their kids.

Just before we go lost in Maryland, this was the lovely view from the car. Not that the view wasn't lovely while we were lost, but things are much nicer when you assume you know where you're going.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Happy Trails...

Today is our last day in St. Louis. Early tomorrow morning we hit the road and head to DC. I've enjoyed spending time with my family, but this trip has been a reminder of why I left St. Louis. For a brief moment we considered coming back here for a year or so until we decide for sure where we want to live. The moment was brief. St. Louis is NOT the place for us. I've had my time here and now it has become a great place to visit for a few days. That's it. It's been fun St. Louis, we'll see you on the next go 'round. Look out Washington DC, here we come!!!

(No trip to St. Louis would be complete without a trip to Crown Candy for ice cream!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where in the world, Part 2

So we are still in St. Louis and as I mentioned we are staying at the family house here in the city. This neighborhood has changes so much since I was a kid. There are so few people left in the area. This lovely dilapidated building is my childhood home. It's hard to believe that the bulk of my childhood was spent in this house.

The "big house", as it is affectionately called is one of the few houses left standing and livable in the neighborhood. The house is over 100 years old (I believe) and still has original hardwood floors, ornate fixtures and woodwork. There are even a couple of original stained glass windows along the front stairs.

Zion and Granny share a granny/granddaughter moment on the front steps. I think they were counting the rocks that Zion had collected from the front garden.

All the kiddos by the big beautiful hydrangea bush in the front yard. We were on our way to the Friday night family meet and greet.

Yesterday was the family picnic. The big girls were in charge of creating this family tree. I drew the tree and they had each member of the family leave their fingerprint "leaf" and name. I was hoping for a fuller tree. Maybe we will leave it unframed here at the house and as more family members gather for other family functions they can add their leaf to the tree. There were more leaves than this by the end of the day, but we have a HUGE family, so we could fill the page with prints.

Jena had a ball playing Davis bingo. She didn't win, but she had fun all the same. I think it helped that her cousin Nia was sharing the bingo card.

Zion ended her day exhausted and filthy, the true sign of a great day.

A little people pow wow.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where in the world...

So we made it to St. Louis yesterday after a surprisingly easy drive. The kids were content and quiet and we only had to make two bathroom stops (okay, maybe three).

We are staying in my family's house a.k.a "the big house". The house has been in our family for at least 60 years and it is the central location for most family gatherings. The big house, at one time, housed my grandparents, their four children, my grandmother's older sister and her nine children. The walls still echo with the distant sounds of generations of Brown children. I love seeing my girls run up and down the same ornately carved stairs that I did before them and my mother did before that.
We spent the day visiting the zoo and the Science Center here in St. Louis. I have to say that we left Mississippi thinking that going up north had to be cooler that staying down south. We were WRONG! It was at least 95 degrees today with humidity so thick it was like walking at the bottom of pool! After passing a few pens with nothing in them (we decided that animals are much smarter than people and they were hiding in any shady nook they could find) we finally got to see some animals. We started in the Insectarium which was heaven for my seven year old bug enthusiast. There was a huge variety of creepy crawlers and a great butterfly house. There were hundreds of butterflies that fluttered around our heads. The girls even got to see a butterfly coming out of a cocoon! We really only made it through about half of the zoo (it was just too hot, except for the penguin house, which was FREEZING), but we got to see lots if things.

Giant horned beetle

Bijou making friends

Watching leaf cutter ants

There' s a butterfly coming out of there!

Studying the map to plot out our next excursion.

Little monkey in the butterfly house.

Hippos are very graceful underwater.





We got to the Science Center too late to spend a lot of time there, but we did get see a few things. Maybe we will try to make it back before we hit the road again.

The highway beneath our feet

Checking to see who's speeding!

The effects of earthquakes on a several different types of foundations.

Touch sensitive animated floor - this was Zion's favorite part of the day.

Triceratops for my dino-loving Bijou!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Where in the world is the family David?

Okay, so still no computer, but we are embarking on our first major family road trip in a few days. Where are we headed, you may ask? Well, we will make a giant loop from Mississippi to St. Louis to Washington DC to Philadelphia to somewhere in Massachusetts then back. We will be on the road for three weeks with four kids! Since I will be with people with working computers, I will be able to update while we travel (given that we all survive being closed in the car for so long). So for the next three weeks we will be playing "where in the world is the family David". I'll be posting pictures and keeping you up to date with all of the fun stuff we're doing.