Things to Watch - Netflixing (March 2016)


I've watched two random (but awesome) shows lately.

* The Heavy Water War - Perhaps a series about how Britain kept Nazi Germany from developing the atomic bomb sounds boring. But you haven't seen the suspenseful missions to blow up the "heavy water" plant yet. Totally awesome. Plus, tons of crazy beautiful nordic scenery. And now I'm obsessed with whether Heisenberg purposefully messed up his research for the Nazis.

* 30 Degrees in February - Continuing with the randomness, I became OBSESSED with this Swedish show about vacationers/emigrants in Thailand. Obsessed.


* Mighty Med - According to P, "It's about two boys, comic book nerds, who discover a secret hospital for superheros. They go through many adventures trying to protect the hospital and the show is funny."

* Fuller House - According to F, "It was okay. I've never seen Full House, so I'm not sure what that was like. Fuller House is funny. It has a little bit of jokes that adults would like (about kissing and stuff)."

* Once Upon a Time - According to P, "I love this show. I'm sad we finished all the seasons. It is a fantasy TV show about a kingdom cursed by an evil queen that transfers the kingdom to the real world in a small town in Maine."

* There are also two new Lego shows that look great - LEGO Friends and LEGO Bionicle, but we haven't had a chance to preview them yet.


* Pirates of the Caribbean - It's sort of a classic, right? Especially if you've ever been on the Disney ride.


[Disclaimer- I receive compensation for posting about Netflix, but I decide what I want to write about and what I want to say.]



Places to Go/ Things to Do - Longbranch Nature Center (Arlington, VA) & Random Links

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I know it's a Monday, but I'm not sure how busy we'll be with our spring break stay-cation, especially once the temperatures warm up again. So I thought I'd post random links today instead of on Friday.

Last week, we had a great time at the creek off Longbranch Nature Center, which is one of my absolute favorite places once spring rolls around.

Happy spring everyone! Don't forget to check out last week's awesome new post on 5 Hours 'Til Bedtime.


* 16 amazing camping locations in Virginia. Also, the best stargazing in West Virginia.

* I am OBSESSED with this home makeover.

* North Korea on an iphone.

* This looks like a cool magazine for kids.

* Could you give up your house/apartment/condo and live in a van? I'm not sure I could manage it, but then again, a life on the road would be pretty incredible.

* An abandoned Disney park reclaimed by nature.

* 8 Tips for Taking Amazing Photos (usually I find posts like this rather generic, but these are really good tips. plus the $.99 Skillshare subscription is all sorts of awesome.

* Local readers - doesn't this look like SO MUCH FUN?

* Surfing the arctic circle.

* I was a Whole Foods dumpster diver. There is something disturbing about the amount of food we throw away.


Things to Do - Grateful List (February 2016) & Cherish This Day

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February is always such a long hard month (despite the fact that it doesn't have many days), but we made it through, with some help from the neighborhood's newest donut shop. So so good. Have a great weekend everyone!

And don't forget to check out this week's awesome on Cherish This Day!

* Watching Better Call Saul, Season 1 on Netflix (love!!)
* Watching Mozart in the Jungle, Season 2 on Amazon Prime
* Reading Joshua Ferris's short story, the Breeze (in The Best American Short Stories 2014)
* Attending Oliverio (kids' play) at the Kennedy Center
* Attending Josh Ritter's concert at the 9:30 club
* My new photography books - Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment: The Photography Workshop Series, Annie Leibovitz at Work, Picture Perfect Posing: Practicing the Art of Posing for Photographers and Models (Voices That Matter)
* P reading my old Sassy magazines

* Hi-chew candy (F's friend introduced us and now we're all addicted)
* Restaurant week at Fiola Mare (so. so. good), thank you Ann!
* Hosting the first dinner club for parents of older kids (though this time we will avoid the after party!)
* Sugar Shack Donuts opens in our 'hood (prepare for massive weight gain).

* An uncrowded day at the National Zoo, esp. hanging with the orangutan and reptiles
* Melt - a 2 hour Yin Friday at Journey Yoga (so relaxing!)
* Orange Theory Fitness (so so wonderful)

* The boys' shopping cart fort-making kit.
* My new plaid v-neck shirt (which makes me feel happy).

* This conversation: P - "I'm saving up for a new iphone."; F - "I'm saving up for a TV in our room."; T -"I'm saving up to become a unicorn."
* Our neighbor calling T "old school" because he doesn't like video games and wants to play outside all the time.
* Friends over for the Superbowl (no, I didn't actually watch the game)
* F & T building an obstacle course on our front lawn
* Kickboxing with Jessie 2-3 times a week
* Fitbit challenges in the heart of winter (forced me outside).
* An adorable first birthday cake smash photo shoot
* F, on choreographing We Haz Jazz, "mom, just to warn you, this play is totally random. It has no real plot, sort of like Ghostbusters."
* T's Valentines Day cards, which all said something along the lines of "I like you because you're funny" or "you always make me laugh."
* F performing in the school play while wearing her "This Is What a Feminist Looks Like" shirt (they had to wear something black)
* P - "I've learned that asking people if they're cranky doesn't really work - it just makes cranky people more cranky."
* As always, neighborhood wine nights and happy hours
* Straight As for P and F (T doesn't receive grades yet)

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Things to Read - Book Reviews from a 4th Grader

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For F's birthday (yes, WAY back in October) she saved up a ton of gift cards for a Barnes & Noble shopping spree.

For the last five months, I've asked her to review the books she read, but sometimes it takes awhile to get a post together. So we've been gradually working on this over the winter. Luckily, finally, I have some great book recommendations from my fabulous 10 year old! Just in time for spring!

F's book reviews:

1. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Like many books full of wonderful adventures and incredible tales, this book started off a little boring. But after the first chapter, I could not put it down. It is a story of several kids, all orphans, who have just joined a mysterious society, and they must go undercover in order to stop the evil villain who is terrorizing the world without the victims even knowing it. With many twists and turns and ups and downs, this book will want to make you laugh, cry, and maybe even do a little sneaking around yourself. Four and one half stars, kids 8-13.

2. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Unfortunately, this tale has not yet been explored. Come again for a review!

3. Bud Not Buddy
- This award-winning book gets straight to the point, no patience required. (Which is good, if you are like me.) Bud, Not Buddy tells the wonderful, realistic story of a boy named Bud who has lost his mother and has no idea where his dad is. Taking place during the civil rights movement of the 1960's, Bud is looking for his Dad with some clues his mom has left behind, which takes him to all sorts of exciting and new places. If you liked this, there is also a book about one of the friends Bud meets on the way home: Malone. The follow-up is called "The Mighty Miss Malone", and although I have not read it myself, I want to soon. With a wonderful tale and many adventures, the only thing I would change is the ending, which I thought could have been a bit more satisfying, but does not make a dent in this book's awesomeness. Four stars, kids 9-15.

4. Big Nate in the Zone
- Okay, all you adults, I know Big Nate does not qualify as "real literature", but this book just can NOT be beat. Big Nate, the eternal sixth-grader, is my all-time FAVORITE comic. All the books are so funny, and they make me laugh a little every time. This book is no different. With a single lucky action-figure plastic foot, he turns his life around. But how long will it last? For kids of all ages, this five-star book is "in the zone"!

5. Counting by 7s - This book follows the adventures of Willow, who is an only adopted child and loves plants. But when her parents both die and she has no other family members to go to, she ends up living with someone she just met. With the help of the friendly girl Willow has recently come across, that friend's mother, a lazy school counselor, and a taxi cab driver who is turning his life around, Willow finds home in places she never thought she would. It is an incredible story, four and one half stars out of five. This book will make you feel sorry for Willow, thankful for her Mother, and annoyed at the World's Worst Counselor. For kids 8-13.

6. When You Reach Me
- This book reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time. They are both Newbery Medal winning books, and they both have time travel as a big part of the story. The main character lives with her mom in a low-class apartment building in New York City. She is currently having troubles with her best friend, and she is worrying he does not like her anymore. Meanwhile, her mom has just been selected for a TV show where she could either win big and take home 20,000 dollars or come back with nothing. The main character is struggling to fit in without her best friend beside her, and the mysterious laughing man who lives under the mailbox on the corner just gets weirder every day. Four stars, kids 10-15.

7. Goodbye Stranger
- Goodbye Stranger is an incredible book. It explores the excitement of growing up, and how bullying comes in different forms, and for different reasons. With shifting points of view, it all comes together. As wonderful as this book is, I would not recommend it for children under the age of nine. I don't remember all of it, but I do remember the feminist, the girl who almost died, and Emily, the soccer player who is going through puberty. There is also an unnamed high-school girl who struggles with a betrayal, who the author finally reveals at the end of the story. For ages 9-19, this book will take you an an eye-opening, tear jerking, and very entertaining roller-coaster ride. 5 out of 5 stars!!!!!

8. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids - I have not explored this book yet.

9. Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Reader's Edition - Also has not been read. [Note from Darcy - I bought this for F and offered her a $10 bribe to read it, but it's still on the bookshelf. Maybe one day?]

10. I Am Your Songwriting Journal
- It is a journal that helps you write songs. Need I say more?


Places to Go (Vacation) - "Playing" with Art at Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, NJ)


These photos are from WAY back in December, when we drove to NYC before Xmas. But since we're still trying to figure out our spring break plans (anyone else know what they're doing?), today seemed like a good day to post them.

The drive to NYC is only about 4-5 hours, though sometimes, if traffic backs up, it feels like forever. So I'm always looking for cool places to stop along the way and Grounds for Sculpture might be my favorite yet.

This place has SO. MUCH. ART. seriously, it's almost impossible to see it all in one afternoon. No matter how old your kids are, it's the perfect outdoor adventure during a long(ish) drive because they can run/play and you don't have to worry about them breaking things.

I can't wait to go back. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for students (kids under 5 are free). For more info, check out their website here.

Regarding other fun stops on the way to NYC, check out these suggestions:

* The World's Largest Model Railroad (Flemington, NJ) - This place is crazy crazy cool. Definitely a must see!

* Winterthur, Delaware - Another fabulous place to run and explore. The Enchanted Woods are magical.

* Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum - Because kids like to touch.

* Philadephia's Magic Gardens - This would be a somewhat quick stop, but still a super unique place to visit.

* Any of the Baltimore museums.

* Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA) - This is a little bit out of the way, but the gardens really are huge and crazy beautiful (plus, there are lots of spaces just for kids).


Things to Do/Places to Go - Around . . . (Jan & February 2016)

I haven't done a huge photo post in awhile, so here goes . . .


I love spending weekday afternoons at Longbranch Nature Center with this coolio preschooler.


Sister cheers with hot cocoa (proof that sometimes they actually get along).


The morning crowd. Love these kids.


The kids tried to train Happy the dog. Unsuccessfully.


These three have been besties since pre-K and they're still going strong.


Sometimes swordfights erupt on my front lawn. Of course.

Looking out windows and waiting for spring.

We spent an afternoon at the Smithsonian American History Museum. And my kids fought over a chair.


Winter if my favorite season at the National Zoo.


Because the bears finally come out to play.


And the birds.


We made a few new friends.


Who seemed to enjoy "hanging" out with us.


But most importantly, my kids actually bonded with each other.


T continues to love Arnie the Doughnut.


Saturday morning Sorry games always start off friendly, but they don't stay that way for long.


P's friends curled her hair.


This is my front lawn (you can start crying now). The boys found an abandoned shopping cart and a disassembled bunk bed. Hence the beginning of our "fort building kit".


After the blizzard, we didn't have many more snow days, but we still had some.


Luckily, the fort building kit is a rain, shine, or snow activity.


Cozy nights on the couch.


Dog walking with my favorite 3rd grader.


Umbrellas are so much fun.


P drew her entire class.


And, finally, sometimes we tune everything else out. As we put on our headphones and wait for spring!


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