All Smiles

Wyatt refused to smile for pictures for years – he would stare straight ahead without a glimpse of smile or deliver a straight lipped expression with his eyes pointed anywhere other than the camera. Something changed over the last year and now he smiles and makes eye contact and willingly holds still when I take his picture. Juliana is anti-pictures at the moment and Ruslan is the class clown of photo opportunities. So I will enjoy this smiling guy for a while.

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Occasionally I bribe the other two to cooperate – note that Ruslan is already sliding toward the edge to run away.

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The Same Yet Always Changing

After eight trips to Disney World, I feel at home when we visit. The familiar sights and sounds of Main Street welcome me and I am excited to visit my favorite places. The sameness of the Magic Kingdom over the years is comforting.

Cinderella’s Castle may be flooded with orange lights at Halloween and draped in icicles at Christmas, but it is still the same iconic landmark where I ate lunch when I was 10 years old and visited again when Juliana was 4.

Although there is usually a new ride, parade or show to see, I look forward to enjoying my favorite rides: Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and my favorite – the Tower of Terror. Experiencing them again with my children – hearing their delighted screams and giggles and seeing huge smiles on their faces – makes everything new and wonderful all over again.

As much as parts of Disney stay the same, the children…the children keep growing. This was especially obvious with Juliana on this most recent trip. She has changed so much since those early trips – she is no longer the little girl next to Minnie Mouse.

Age 4 vs now with Marie and Minnie Mouse.

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Age 2 vs now – I really miss those pigtails. Riding the bus and “holding” Tinkerbell.

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The Best Part of Our Trip

We knew that we wanted to go on a short road trip or two this summer and when Scott found out that Chelsea (English Premier League Soccer) was playing in Washington, DC, we added it to the list. On our last full day in DC we headed to into the city in the morning and planned to visit the original Smithsonian Museum and walked all the way up to the main entrance before we found out it was closed for renovation.

So we changed plans and started walking toward the Tidal Basin – it was a long walk and we were all hot and starting to get grumpy by the time we reached the Jefferson Memorial. We took a break in the shade of the Memorial before continuing our walk around the Tidal Basin. Next we stopped at the FDR Memorial and the final stop was the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Then we continued around the rest of the tidal basin and headed back toward the Mall. The Tidal Basin trail is 2.1 miles plus the walk to and from the Mall. We were hot, grumpy and the sunscreen we had applied at the hotel had sweated off and several of us were starting to burn.

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We walked across the Mall and decided to go to Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch. I have always been dressed up to eat there so I was little uncomfortable walking in wearing shorts and sweaty and with three kids. But they sat us in a back part of the restaurant with other families and we had a delicious lunch, drank lots of water and cooled off.

After a relaxing lunch and desert we walked to The White House and took the obligatory pictures.

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It was mid-afternoon and we asked the kids if they wanted to explore some more or go back to the hotel. The children were not ambivalent about their choice so we headed to the Metro and back to the hotel. Juliana’s face in this picture says a lot about how tired they were at this point.


Back at the hotel Scott and Juliana took a short break and then got ready for the game. They had a lot of fun at the game and Juliana said that it was one of her favorite things about the trip and I know that Scott would agree.

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I took the boys to the pool and let them swim for a while. Then they took a bath and we ordered pizza. They thought it was very fun to ride in the elevator and walk around the hotel lobby in their pjs when we met the delivery man.

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The boys told me that their favorite part of the trip was eating pizza while sitting on the bed in the hotel room, swimming in the hotel pool and of course hanging out with Uncle Nick. So next summer we should just stay at a hotel near Uncle Nick’s house where they can swim and skip all of the walking.

Washington DC – Day 2 – The One with Uncle Nick

Hot, humid, so much walking, wet, tired legs, family, adventure, so much walking, museums, monuments.

Monday was a very long day. By the time we returned to the hotel, the adults had close to 25,000 steps so the children had many more. There were some points where I didn’t think they would be able to walk anymore. They really deserved that swim at the end of the day.

We started our journey with the long escalator ride into the Rosslyn Metro and headed to our first stop – The American History Museum and then lunch.

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Throughout the morning I had been texting my brother who lives in the area and we made plans to meet after lunch. The kids love Uncle Nick and were so excited to see him when he arrived at The Air and Space Museum. I was happy that they were hanging on someone else for a change. Juliana stayed especially close to him, holding his hand and talking non-stop as we explored.

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After Air and Space we stopped for ice cream and it started to drizzle so we stood under some trees until we finished our treats and then started walking toward the Museum of Natural History, or as my brother and I call it – Yay the Science Museum! Instead of slowing down the rain picked up and we were all soaked by the time we arrived. Between the humidity and the rain it was a very wet day.

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There is a cool new exhibit called Q?rius where kids can touch and examine a huge catalogue of specimens. We pulled out samples like fossils and touched them and looked at them under microscopes. I wish we would have known about the exhibit earlier in the day; we didn’t have much time before they closed.

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Once the museums started to close we started walking some more. Each of the kids had a turn riding on Uncle Nick’s back between the Museum and The Washington Monument. The sun was bright and it was hot and very humid. We reached the top of the hill and took a break for water and gummy worms.

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Next stop was the WWII Monument which was new to us. Then we said good-bye to Uncle Nick – he headed home and we took a short break before we continued our walk. Ruslan volunteered to carry the backpack for a while since I was wearing my camera; he is such a good helper.

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Our last three stops were the Korean Memorial, The Lincoln Monument, and The Vietnam Memorial.

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Then we decided to get some dinner on the way to the metro and ended up walking a very long way, taking the metro back to Rosslyn and eating near the hotel. We were all exhausted but of course the kids had energy to go swimming. It was a long day and thankfully they fell asleep without too much trouble.

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Washington DC – Day 1

Since we didn’t have a beach vacation planned for this year we decided we would plan some smaller road trips. So when Scott found out the Chelsea (Premier League Soccer team) would be playing in DC this summer, the family adventure to DC was planned.

We loaded up the van and hit the road on a Sunday morning. We drove most of the way before we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch.

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Then we made the rest of the drive to Rosslyn, VA. We stayed at the Key Bridge Marriot which is located at the end of the Key Bridge, just inside the VA state line. We had a lovely view of the Potomac River and Georgetown. There was a metro stop a few blocks away and that plus walking (oh my, so much walking) is how we got around. After we checked in and got settled we headed to the metro and bought metro passes for everyone.

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Our first stop was Arlington National Cemetery and we walked up to the top of the Cemetery to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the Changing of the Guard. The kids sat quietly (I think that they were happy not to be walking anymore) throughout the wait and the ceremony.

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Then we hopped back on the metro and headed into DC to find dinner. Based on a quick search I found a burger and shake place that ended up being really good and quick which we needed for the hungry children (Burger, Tap & Shake). I had the black cherry milkshake – it was delicious.

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Back to the hotel for bed – hotel sleep with kids is not my favorite, but eventually everyone fell asleep.

Sometimes It’s Like We Aren’t From the Same Family


Last night Ruslan was standing in his bedroom crying after his bath. I went in and asked what was wrong and he cried, “The lotion tasted bad and it feels yucky in my throat!” Feeling very confused I asked he said that he lotion and when he confirmed it, I asked why. “Wyatt tried . . . → Read More: Sometimes It’s Like We Aren’t From the Same Family

A Day in the Life – 2015 Edition

Every few years I try to record a relatively normal day in our life. Usually I make a note to do this in a year where our schedule has changed – for example the year that Juliana started Kindergarten. This was the first year of school of Ruslan and Wyatt so during their last . . . → Read More: A Day in the Life – 2015 Edition

Different Perspectives From Our Family Vacation


We took a quick family road trip to Washington, DC at the end of July. I have lots of stories to tell about our trip. As I was downloading and flipping through the pictures some of them caught my attention. Pictures of people taking pictures and pictures where the story changes.

We were walking . . . → Read More: Different Perspectives From Our Family Vacation

Wyatt’s Second Favorite Day


I made a promise to the kids at the beginning of the summer – they would each get one afternoon at Kennywood alone with me. At different heights and with different likes, taking the three of them together means that someone is always unhappy with the ride choice. Taking one at a time means . . . → Read More: Wyatt’s Second Favorite Day

Eleven Years and Our Winter Get Away

Today Scott and I celebrate 11 years of marriage.

I doubt that Scott and I will ever take a vacation on our anniversary because running away from cold Pittsburgh in the winter is far too appealing. Today is as good as any to finish the blog post I started in February when we . . . → Read More: Eleven Years and Our Winter Get Away