Washington DC at Christmas

One of the cool things about homeschooling is that you can "pull" your kids out of school for an extended field trip without the hassle of make-up work, frowns and sighs from the teachers, official letters sent home stating it is against school policy to provide the make-up work up front because the kids should be in school, etc.However, being that this is our nation's capital, the entire trip was considered school. They spent as much time learning as we could possibly cram into each day and they both loved every second of it. As a bonus, everything was decorated for Christmas, which made it that much more beautiful.Because we left Friday night (the 5th) at about 5 pm, we didn't get there until about 3 am Sat. morning. We took it easy on Saturday and walked to the zoo from where we were staying at the Omni Shoreham. As an aside, I HIGHLY recommend the Omni Shoreham! Beautiful, clean, great service, quick walk to subway, restaurants and zoo. They delivered cookies and milk to the kids every single evening we were there! The lobby and hallways are FILLED with different themed Christmas trees and a sleigh and reindeer vignette in the middle of the lobby.We slept in so late, so we only spent a couple hours at the zoo before it closed. I find it amazing that it is FREE to get in...to the ZOO! We did have to pay for the tickets to go to the special "zoo lights" for the evening.When we were there during the day, we spent all our time in the "Asia" area and saw a total of 3 different types of animals. The red pandas and giant pandas were so cute and so active, that we didn't get very far and spent most of the time observing and photographing them. We got to witness feeding time too. The giant pandas were given their bamboo indoors, which is why the photo you see of him (the baby) eating is weird lighting.The kids can now tell anybody that asks all about how pandas communicate, sounds they make when they are ready to mate, how big baby pandas are when they are first born and so much more. After the daytime zoo trip, we walked back to the hotel, rested an hour, then walked back with DH for the zoo lights. It was snowing and so pretty! We saw more animals during the night time trip than during the day because they we went into the various "houses" of animals. However, it was the lights and the snow that made the evening so magical.The next day was what both kids looked forward to the most; going to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. The most exciting part for DS was riding the subway. He is so funny because he gets an interest, and it becomes all encompassing. Usually his interests seem to point back to maps.For example, in 2004, we visited Captiva Island for vacation and it was hit by Hurricane Charley about 1 or 2 weeks later. This fascinated him and he became obsessed with hurricanes, drawing hurricane maps, tracking hurricanes on maps, etc. He and my husband took up downhill skiing. He started making up ski trail maps. We built a new house in 2006. He started drawing maps of neighborhoods and having everyone select a lot to build a house on. This year he was introduced to the Iditarod and he became obsessed with dogsledding and making up dogsledding maps. The fact that the subway involved reading a map, moves fast, and gets you from point A to point B and is different than riding a car (boring!), He is now obsessed with the subway and trying to convince our city leaders to build a subway system here in Ft. Wayne based on the subway in DC. I just don't see it happening anytime soon...Back to the subject of Washington DC...we spent the entire rest of the day at the Natural History Museum. It was the first time of the 100 or so times we had to go through security while in DC.They have a locker area that costs a quarter (which you get back when you get your stuff), so we deposited our coats and hats. The reason this is important will become evident later. We had such a great time exploring the Sant Ocean Hall, Dinosaurs and Fossils, and the Gem and Geology areas, that we didn't have time to get to the most important to our studies of ancient history, which is the Western Civilzations area before we had to go to the IMAX movie about the ocean. We selected a showing that was close to the clsoing time for the museum. When we got out, the museum was officially closed and we were corraled to the bottom floor to leave via that exit. However, our coats, hats and gloves were on the floor above us in the locker room. We had to get a guard to let us upstairs, unlock the room and turn on the lights. Thank goodness they were willing to do that. I was a tad freaked out. First of all, that place is kind of scary after dark. The entire building gets darker and with all those huge specimens on display...well, let's just say I get a bit jittery-which is totally not like me.

Doesn't this hammerhead in a jar with the eerie blue light look like something out of X-Files?

The next day (Monday the 8th) we took the subway once again to the National Mall to go once again to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum to visit the Western Civilizations area and see cuneiform writing on tablets in person along with all the other cool stuff. They had a recreation of the cave painters of Lascaux, as well as a recreation of what the Otzi the Ice Man looked like when he was alive and his tools, clothing, etc. There was far more than I could ever describe about all kinds of ancient civilizations, how they lived, worked, and what they wore and their artistic sides as well.I tried to take photos of the beads and jewelry they had on display that were thousands of years old, but the dim lighting and everything being behind glass worked against my feeble photography skills. It was really cool though. You will just have to go see it for yourself.The kids knowing what cuneiform writing is and then getting to see it firsthand and recognizing it made a homeschool mom proud! So far we have studied the cave painters and the ice man along with the fertile crescent and Mesopotamia and various cities there. So this trip was very timely for their history and geography studies.

After going through the Western Civilization area, we trekked over to the International Spy Museum. I thought it couldn't possibly take more than a couple hours to get through. However, after 3 hours and it being almost time to close, we had only made it through one floor with another floor to go. Oops! It was a really fun museum. I think the highlight for the kids was going into some ductwork in the ceiling, trying to be as quiet as possible, and then listening to the conversation.

That night we all went for a walk around the White House to see the lights. DH was actually with us for this part of the trip. Poor guy spent most of his time in conferences.

Tuesday (Dec. 9th) was the part I was most excited about. We got to tour the White House while it was all decked out for Christmas. I almost didn't get through security because I didn't see the part where I couldn't bring a purse of any kind. Luckily I had taken everything out except my wallet and cel phone. They lady "prescreening" told me to roll it up and put it in my coat pocket and that maybe security would let me through. I had to take it out of my pocket to go through the X-ray and the head security guy told me I was lucky I could fit it in my pocket. LOL! The tour was really cool and the White House was beautiful. It's just really cool to walk in the same building that amazing people lived and worked in.

After the White House, we ran to the Capital Building for a tour led by Chris that works in Rep. Souder's office. Again, a really neat experience. I did find out why it's called "Capital Hill". It really is on a hill and it feels really high when you are in a hurry. I was huffin' and puffin' by the time we got to the back where the visitor's center is. I didn't carry a camera with me at all that day. We weren't allowed one in either place. Bummer.That night I drug the kids to Beadazzled on Dupont Circle and bought lots of goodies. We went back a second time after dinner. Here's a picture of the goodies I came home with. DH is making a necklace for me with the green Kyanite sticks, freshwater pearls, and tourmaline. No, he doesn't make jewelry. That is another story for another day.I took the next 2 photos at the gem and geology area of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I thought they were good inspiration for making some lampwork beads.


oriental banana

Looks like it was a great trip! I work just a few blocks away from Beadazzled :)

Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners®

what a FUN trip!!! I never heard of the spy museum-thats going on my 'must visit' list!

Jennifer Cameron

Oooohhhh! It would be a very dangerous situation if I worked that close to Beadazzled! we went to the Italian restaurant down the street a block or so. Something like Tomato or something. Obviously not the correct name. But my food was delicious and it had a nice ambiance.The spy museum was a BLAST! I recommend it. Actually, out of my 2 trips to DC, the only thing I've done that was a waste of time was the National Aquarium. It was rather pathetic.


Thanks so much for the nice comments about our hotel! We're ecstatic that you enjoyed your time here and we look forward to seeign you and the kids next time you're in DC!Paul SharpDirector of MarketingThe Omni Shoreham

Jennifer Cameron

Thanks for stopping by Paul. When I told my daughter (7 years old) what you said, she thought I should complain because I didn't get milk and cookies every night too. LOL!

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