Tag Archives: dc

Week in Review in Photos

I kept thinking I’d get it together to make a post this week.  But with getting ready to travel, getting ready for Destination Imagination, hosting co-op and having a weekend visit from my mother, it just didn’t happen.  But here’s a few pictures from the last week.

We were sent a Flat Stanley by some of our Georgia cousins.  I’m sure they thought we’d take him to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian and the White House and all that.  We did, but first, we took him to DC’s most famous restaurant.

We enjoyed the tunnel in the National Gallery with Nana Bebe before we did Stories in Art.  Really, the Stories in Art program just rocks.  And I suddenly realized that next year we’ll graduate to their Artful Conversations program.  Both are free.  I just love homeschooling in DC sometimes.

We celebrated Mardi Gras in style with a pot of jambalaya made by our budding chef Mushroom with some help from Nana Bebe.

Finally, with a little help, we realized that all those wacky finger games the kids keep doing have actually made their fingers double jointed.  It’s especially weird on BalletBoy’s fingers.


The Great American History Expedition Check List

I’m in the midst of planning for next year and thinking out history.  We’re wrapping up the Renaissance, but soon we’ll sail across the ocean and make it over here to the New World.  I’m not sure what speed we’ll move at, but my hope is to cover American history all the way through to the present, or at least to the second world war.  In February, we’ll take a break to do a big before we go on a huge trip to Africa unit study.  Then, in March, we’ll go to Africa.  Finally, in April, we’ll recover from having been in Africa.  By May, we’ll pick back up with American history. We usually do lots of fun projects and a few field trips with history.  For American history though, I really want to go whole hog and see everywhere with an American history tie in.  I’m actually pretty excited.  Here’s the checklist of places I hope we’ll get to at some point in the next year:

In the District Proper:

  • White House tour
  • Capitol tour
  • Bureau of Printing and Engraving (I have always heard this one is an excellent tour, we’ve just never done it)
  • National Archives
  • Library of Congress
  • Smithsonian Museum of American History
  • Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian
  • Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Museum of American Art
  • Memorials walk – Washington to Jefferson, not skipping the overlooked DC World War I Veterans Memorial
  • Georgetown fun: Tudor House, Dumbarton House, Old Stone House, canal boat ride
  • Ford’s Theater and Peterson House
  • Lincoln’s Cottage
  • Frederick Douglass National Historical Site
  • Pierce Mill (if they ever get around to reopening it)
  • Mary McCloud Bethune House
  • Fort Circle Parks


  • St. Mary’s City
  • Riverdale Mansion
  • C&O Canal at Great Falls
  • Antietum National Battlefield
  • Clara Barton House at Glen Echo
  • Baltimore fun: USS Constellation, Transportation Museum, Fort McHenry, and a roll down a really awesome hill to get some grass stains


  • Mount Vernon
  • Claude Moore Colonial Farm
  • Manassas National Battlefield
  • Gadsby’s Tavern
  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • Williamsburg
  • Monticello
  • Montpelier
  • Appomattox Courthouse Battlefield
  • Cumberland Gap (maybe we’ll do the train again…)
  • Museum of the Confederacy
  • Petersburg National Battlefield
  • James River Plantations
  • Harper’s Ferry (I know it’s not in Virginia, it’s in other Virginia)

Other Spots:

  • Gettysburg 
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Philadelphia fun: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center (or whatever it’s called)
That's Mushroom and BalletBoy having their first introduction to Fala (FDR's beloved little dog). We've really been going to a lot of these spots of historic import for awhile I guess.

We’ve obviously done many of the D.C. places many times.  I’m dorkily excited to actually visit all the Fort Circle Forts.  Some, such as Fort Stevens, we’ve been too, but most we’ve never seen (some aren’t there at all anymore).  Doing some local D.C. history should be a fun part of this.  We’re more than just a drained swamp, you know.  I also hope to get my outrage on a little and indoctrinate the kids into the injustice that is our lives without the right to vote.*  Our church has been doing some D.C. voting rights work that maybe we could look into being involved with.  We need to drag ourselves out to do that great American activity: protest.  One trip is already planned.  We’re going to homeschool days in Williamsburg and staying at Great Wolf Lodge (you know, with the indoor water park!) using the homeschool deals they offered.  I’m pretty excited to see what it’s like to be on a vacation where we seriously see historical reenactors for half the day and go down water slides for the other half.

*You should be outraged that I don’t have the right to vote too.  Especially that we have to pay taxes and don’t have the right to vote.  And that Obama used our rights as a bargaining chip.  Oh, good grief, I didn’t mean to get too much outrage on here.  Sorry.  It’s just that being literally disenfranchised will do that to a person.


Last weekend, we went to the Corcoran‘s Family Day, where we saw a breakdancing/tap dancing performance, tie dyed handkerchiefs, participated in a drum circle, took in the art and generally enjoyed ourselves for several hours.  It’s having amazing free stuff like this that helps balance out some of the other costs of living in the city (you know, the monetary ones).  The kids were super engaged, especially BalletBoy, who seemed to get over his whiny attitude once he was back out in a large group of people again (reminder to self: BalletBoy is an alien who likes to interact with people nonstop, otherwise known as an extrovert).  Here’s BalletBoy making an edible color wheel (Nilla wafers with icing mixed from little pots containing the primary colors).

The exhibit that’s wrapping up now shows off the Washington Color School painters, such as Gene Davis and Thomas Downing.  This was an abstract movement in the 1960’s that utilized lots of bright, big blocks of color.  Our city sometimes seems pretty stuffy what with our government bureaucrats everywhere, so the Color School painters (along with Duke Ellington’s jazz, go-go music, and Ben’s Chili Bowl) is one of our few cool cultural achievements.  You can see some of Davis’s stripes and Downing’s cool circles below.  When you get right up to Davis’s striped paintings, many of them seem to be moving.

Well, after doing all the various activities, we saw the exhibit and BalletBoy immediately noticed all the connections to the activities we had done.  Circles! – like the color wheel!  Stripes! – like the masking tape art workshop!  Dyed cloth! – like the tie dying!  I usually do art the other way around and most of the time when we encounter art (such as through the National Gallery’s Stories in Art program), it’s also done the other way around.  We see the art then do the activity that somehow emulates it.  That works, but with this my brain just went, a-ha!  Clearly doing it backwards works as well to help kids appreciate the art better.

Well, since then, BalletBoy has been inspired.  He’s been hard at work creating lots of stripes of bright color and arrangements of shapes.  This one was on one of the white boards, so it needed to be photographed to be captured anyway.

Christmas in Washington

Some images of the season for you.  First, our favorite DC Christmas tradition is the trains and miniature building sculptures at the U.S. Botanic Gardens.  The sculptures are made entirely from natural materials like bark and leaves.  This year, for the first time, they featured landmarks of the world.  I couldn’t seem to capture BalletBoy because he wouldn’t stay still.  This is him running after Thomas the Train as it passed by the Taj Mahal.

This is two nervous angels in the choir right before their opening performance at the first service at church.  The pageant at our church is a Las Posadas pageant, which draws from a Latin American tradition.  All the music was in Spanish so Mushroom and BalletBoy had no clue what they were singing.

Finally, here’s Mushroom making his graham cracker gingerbread house with a ice cream cone roof.  We got together with our Destination Imagination team so you can see the whole table is covered in various confections and a giant sugary mess.

And now we’re leaving DC for Christmas in North Carolina, as per our usual tradition.  Gifts wrapped up and we’re on our way!

Obligatory Halloween and Rally Post

It was a busy weekend at the Rowhouse.  First, we took a trip to the Rally to Restore Fear and/or Sanity on Saturday.  Here’s BalletBoy boogieing to The Roots down on the Mall.  The rally would have been way better if we’d had cell phone service and could have hooked back up with the husband after losing him on a Metro train so crowded that I feared we’d be crushed.  Oh well.  BalletBoy agreed it was fun to read the signs and he was thrilled to get free stickers in his favorite colors.

Then we ditched the political theater for Halloween celebration Saturday night and, of course, Sunday.  Some magazine just rated D.C. as in the top ten trick-or-treating cities in the country.  We always trek over to what I think must be the biggest party in town: Lamont Street Halloween.  Weird but elaborate shadow puppets, crazy decked out houses, wall to wall people, costume contests (BalletBoy won in one of the children’s categories), and free marshmallow roasting on a bonfire in the middle of the street.  It’s a pretty sweet Halloween setup.  I kinda love our city.

Finally, we did do “Halloween School” this morning with pumpkin dot-to-dots and Halloween themed pages from Lollipop Logic.  Plus, we sorted, counted and made bar graphs to show what Halloween candy we’d be giving out later.  Here’s Mushroom gleefully sorting and counting.