Monday, November 24, 2008

Having fun in Baltimore.

Rob has a conference in Baltimore this weekend, and since we could drive there, we decided to make a bit of a family vacation out of it. Granted, Rob is in his conference most of the time, so the boys and I are making our own expeditions, but we're having a great time.

Friday, we drove up to Baltimore, stopping in Staunton, VA first for pizza (and so Rob could fix something on the Domino's computer in the office there--a little side gig he does) and then we stopped again at Tysons Corner Center in the DC area to go to the LEGO store. That store was heaven for my two boys. :) They each chose a Star Wars LEGO set to build while in Baltimore, then we ate dinner and walked around the mall for awhile (trying to miss the majority of the Capital Beltway rush hour traffic...didn't work, it took twice as long to get to Baltimore as our directions said, but that's OK--we were safe and got to listen to a couple of different Adventures in Odyssey episodes in the process). :) Finding our hotel in Baltimore's Inner Harbor was a bit tricky since the streets aren't labeled very well. I noticed the following day that the buildings have the addresses and street names on them; however, you can't see them in the dark! The boys settled down for bed and got to watch the new Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon on tv before drifting off to sleep.

Saturday morning, my friend and Alpha Phi sister, Dana, drove up from DC to spend the morning with us. We went to Fort McHenry together (David had been very anxious to see where the British shelled and where the flag flew that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner--the story is one of his favorites on the For God and Country CD series of Adventures in Odyssey). The weather was a bit chilly, but the boys seemed to have fun seeing the huge cannons, the ships out in the harbor and just running around being boys. We came back to the area where our hotel is, had hot chocolate and coffee at Starbucks and then we came back to our hotel room to build LEGO creations and hang out for awhile. After Dana left for home, the boys and I went for a walk down toward Fells Point since there was a yarn shop I wanted to visit (I'm still in search of a cable needle, or at least double pointed needles--maybe Santa will surprise me for Christmas with some knitting goodies??? A girl can hope.). I didn't find what I initially went in search of, but did get Rob a really nice maroon colored wool yarn for the scarf I will make him sometime this winter. :) I have a bazillion other projects that need to be finished before I'm allowed to start on that one. ;)

The boys did amazingly well on our walk--not so great in the yarn shop, but they did great listening and following directions and having a good time while we were walking around. After the yarn shop, we decided to find the hotel where Rob has his conference. We walked by and then saw that we were really close to Barnes and Noble, so we walked along the water, saw the Coast Guard cutter Taney along the way. We had fun at Barnes and Noble reading books. I read Corduroy and Jan Brett's Gingerbread Friends to Aidan while David was reading a Star Wars Clone Wars guide book. Then, this adorable little girl brought me a couple of Froggy books to read to her too. The Barnes and Noble we went to is AWESOME! It is probably the largest BN I have been to, but the architecture inside (and out) is really cool. The boys probably liked taking the escalator up to the children's book section and back the best. We ate dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries (yum...), and then walked back to the hotel to warm up and play while we waited for Rob to get done with his conference for the day.

Yesterday, Rob had a couple of interviews and presented a paper at the conference, and the boys and I went over to the Port Discovery children's museum. I "made" the boys go through the Egypt exhibit there (because it goes along with what we are currently studying with our homeschool curriculum). We had fun deciphering heiroglyphics and pulling ourselves on this little "raft" across the Nile River--better watch out for crocodiles! :) After we left that exhibit, the boys spent nearly 45 minutes climbing around in the 3-story play structure that is in the middle of the museum. I sat at the bottom where I could see them, for the most part, and instructed Aidan to stay close to his brother and to check in with me periodically). Aidan had a couple of instances where he didn't want to be cooperative, but finally relented and enjoyed tagging along after his big brother. They also went into the R&D lab and put together their own trolleys and made spoons (we have about 5 that we ended up leaving with--they just kept pushing the button to have the machine make more!). After we left that area, we signed up for the gum-making workshop. The boys REALLY liked that part. I mean, what's not to like about playing with powdered sugar? Granted, they were filthy by the time we left that workshop, but they thought their homemade gum was pretty good. We played around for a little while longer, then Aidan started having melt downs, and I had a text message from Rob saying that he was done, so it was the perfect time to leave. Rob walked over to meet us and then we stopped at Starbucks so I could have some coffee (I was on low) and the boys ate their snacks that I packed. We ended up eating an early dinner at the taco place next door to where we are staying, then we walked over to Barnes and Noble to meet some friends of Rob's that he met at the AMCIS conference in August. We tried to go to Ben and Jerry's for ice cream, but they were closed, so we went to Haagen Dasz instead before coming back to turn in for the night.

The boys are currently watching PBS kids and are playing with LEGOS while I am typing. We are going to meet Rob in a little while to go to the Aquarium, so I had better get ready. Tonight, I get to go on a date with that handsome husband of mine, sans children. It should be fun! Then, tomorrow, we head back home with a possible stop back at the LEGO store.