A thank you dinner for the grandparents!

We always take the grandparents out to dinner to thank them for letting us stay with them…and this time, we went to McGuires Irish Pub just down the road in Destin. We happened to be sitting right at a Pokémon gym so of course we had to take it over. :)

The tradition at this place is to leave a signed/decorated $1 bill stapled to the wall. They have over $1 million hanging throughout the place (see lots of great pictures from RoadTrippers). This was the wall behind us (in the natural restaurant lighting):

And the same picture with a flash:

This is the bill we did. Gramma drew the heart with the year and signer her name; Owen wrote his name on the very left, going up from the O; Katie die her KAtie on three lines; Grandpa David did his GD between Owen and Katie; Major Tom left his mark; and since no one took good ol’ George, I did that plus left our JTOK.

Gramma stapled it to the wall.

Can you see it?

Look here!

White House Tour

Touring the white house has been on my bucket list for awhile but I’ve been too lazy to do anything about it…so through a chance encounter, we met someone (a friend of a friend) who had two openings for New Years Day. At the time I was even MORE geeked because I thought the holiday decorations would still be up and Christmas is totally my thing…but unfortunately, the decorations were already down. :cry: The only slightly bad things were that 1) we would have liked to take the kids, but I wasn’t going to pass this up and 2) we had New Years Eve plans in New Jersey that would be cut a little short. But again we couldn’t pass this up. Uncle Rob was staying with us over the holidays so he watched the kids for us.

First stop: The Ellipse…and The National Christmas Tree.

“The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with handmade ornaments that are unique to each tree.”

Workers were maintaining the trains…

Vacuuming the tracks (I thought this was funny but if you think about it it has to be done).

There were so many people milling about that it took a few minutes before we could get in front of the White House with no one else in our selfie. :) It was also hard to get the White House lined up between us because it was VERY bright and we could barely see the phone screen.

See? White House placement fail.

The hordes.

I just had to. :lol:

Potty break. We sent it to Owen and told him it was a Pidgey (Pokémon) nest.

Starting the queue to get to the tour.

First ID and ticket checkpoint.

Through that building was the dog who sniffed everyone one at a time.

We couldn’t take pictures in one building, and then we were spit out here.

Entering the White House!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much a tour as a regular museum experience. There were lines and hordes of people just like every other museum so you had to wait your turn to poke your head through a doorway for 10 seconds or wait for people to get out of your way to see something on the wall.

I like that you can see my reflection in this one.

Gift shop at the start of the tour! We got a White House ornament.

This was literally a 3′ doorway to poke your head in to take a sweeping look around.

And look what was in the middle of the tour… :) We each caught a few Pokémon and hoped they’d be good ones (they weren’t) but I now have a few I caught in the White House.

We opted not to wait in the huge line to take a picture directly in front of the Presidential Seal and doors so we got this instead. Had we not been trying to hurry, we could have tried to move to the side ever-so-slightly and hidden people behind Tom’s head. :)

And then it was done! They weren’t kidding when they said it only takes 45 minutes or so. I’m glad we did it, of course, but it wasn’t what I expected (though I don’t know why I was expecting an actual TOUR, like with a few people at a time—this is DC! Nothing happens without hordes of people!). The other bummer is that all the Christmas decorations were down. You were also encouraged to ask the guards about the house and the individual rooms and whatnot, but with as many people as were there and how crowded most of the areas were, you almost felt guilty if you held up the line just to chit chat with the guard.

We quick had someone snap this before more people walked out and ruined the shot.

See? The lady took a minute to reframe the shot and…people.

Fun with photoshop.

So, since we were in DC, we had to pick somewhere cool to eat—the Old Ebbitt Grill was on our way back to the parking garage!

The French Toast Breakfast Club (bacon-wrapped ham sandwich, apple compote, pecan butter, Vermont maple syrup) was DIVINE.

And then it was back to the car and off to New Jersey where we were going to be surprise guests!

National Museum of American History

One museum down, 43 to go. :lol:

Original Cookie Monster and Elmo!

It called to me.

Julia Child’s wall-o-cookware.

A model of the cruise ship we first cruised on—the Holland America Zuiderdam.

Three attempts at a family photo in front of the presidential hall.

Our little DJ.

Three hours and done!*

* I’m just not a huge museum fan (or history in general, which is why being in the DC area is pretty pointless for me). This was probably my first choice of all the museums and while I think some of the stuff is cool I just don’t care enough to read about all of it. I probably could have spent a bit more time in the First Lady and Presidential halls but most of the rest was easily done with a quick walk-through. I also very much dislike hoardes of people and being crowded and not able to see things easily so that’s a huge issue here. It wasn’t too bad when we were some of the first 500-1000 people in when they opened but after a few hours when the entrants have doubled? No thank you. The kids also weren’t very interested so they would have really been bored to tears if we took any longer.

Also, Uncle Rob was supposed to have been with us, but he wasn’t thinking and had a pocketknife with him…and since these are federal buildings everyone has to go through security and he could not bring it in with him. He tried to go back and put it in the car, but he would have had to go back through security to get to the car…so unless he wanted to toss it or hide it, he was out of luck (we entered through the parking garage so the car got a cursory check but we didn’t get personally checked and we didn’t have to exit through security so it passed—but to re-enter the building to get to the parking lot, you had to pass security). So he wandered the area seeing the sights and taking pictures.

That’s what friends are for.

After a long crazy day I decided it was time for this:

I also happened to be missing a friend of mine in the neighborhood so I texted her and told her I was on my way to her house and I wanted her to come out for a brief Pokémon walk with me. She met me on the street, decided she wanted some margarita, too (yes, I had brought it with me), so we stopped back our house and got her a cup…and since it was cold and we needed to hold our phones for Pokémon, this was her life hack: wear your coat backwards so you can put your drink (with straw!) in the hood! BRILLIANT!

We ended up walking a bit farther than we’d planned…and my phone died because of the cold…but it was a good night (and this is what the end of it looked like). Good times.

Five member Pokémon gym!

We got Uncle Rob started/hooked on Pokémon so we went out on one of our typical drives/hunts…and the kids took their new plush Pokémon they got from Santa.

And their Pikachu rode with me.

And then we took over a gym on one of our walking trails. We didn’t actually walk the whole trail, though—we just cheated and ran down to the pond.

With Uncle Rob here we can put five Pokémon in at a time!! (Oh yeah, that’s right, Katie now has her own account because I wanted her to stop messing around with “our” account.)

Click for larger version.



Christmas Morning 2016

We set the kids’ phones outside their rooms so they will stay up there until we get up at 7. :) Then they come in and cuddle for a few minutes while mommy wakes up (daddy has already been up for at least an hour). Then it’s downstairs to check out what Santa left… I didn’t take many pictures this year.

A tiara from Grannie and Papa.

A Lego train for under the Christmas tree from Grannie and Papa (complete with all the electronics to make it run!).

Princess shoes from Santa!

Charlie right in the middle of things!

Owen in his MSU hat from Grannie and Papa—we all got one! (It was a very MSU Christmas, which we all loved!)

Katie’s Elsa cape (from Santa!) and wearing her princess shoes!

Trying to get them to sit still with their new hats from Grannie and Papa:

Owen’s favorite gift this morning—a whole box of Pokémon cards! :)

A cool time at ICE!

I’ve been wanting to do this…so since this is our last winter here it was now or never! ICE!® featuring Christmas Around the World — We told Katie we were going to see an ice castle so she was totally on board. :)

Experience the magic of more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and slide down two-story ice slides. All kept at a chilly 9 degrees! Delight in the celebration of cultures through holiday scenes and travel to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves.

They give you parkas to wear OVER your own coats.

Now, I grew up in Michigan. I know 9° weather. I’ve lived in 9° weather. And let me just say my body no longer likes 9° weather. EGADS was that cold. I’m very glad they gave us the extra parkas…

Waiting for the ice slide!

The ice slide!

And this is where my phone died from being too cold. It had only been out 12 minutes! Thankfully Tom’s had been under all his coats so he got his out and his worked better in the cold.

The kids liked it but it was really quite cold. I have to be honest and say I rushed through a bit faster than I’d planned because I was FROZEN. OF course after you exit, the outside 34° felt like a sauna! Then it was back inside the resort where they had lots of things set up to siphon away your money like photos, hot chocolate, mini carnival rides, Build-A-Bear, cookies with Mrs. Claus, etc… Katie really wanted to ride the tea cups and since I’m all about either of them learning to like rides, we spent the $5. She enjoyed it.

Then since it was lunch time and we were close to a yummy restaurant…we went to Succotash (it’s where we ate lunch before the USMC ball). The kids had a bit of hat head. :)

And then after we left we drove around National Harbor Pokemoning for about a half hour!!

Overall I’m glad we went…but it was a big chunk of money for what it was.