Monuments, Museums and Teenagers! Oh My!

Teenagers. They’re dirty, moody, starving creatures that arise to see the light of day sometime after noon only to slink back into their cave after raiding the village for food. Fortunately for us, our teen monster is very interested in history. So, when we proposed a trip to Washington, D.C.; he was all for it.

When we started planning this trip, we planned it with Jayden in mind. He doesn’t travel like we do. We go, go, go all day. He doesn’t. So, to ensure that he didn’t lose interest in what we were doing right away we made sure to plan time each day for him to do whatever he wanted. Whatever that might be. Taking a nap. Watching youtube, what have you. Washington, D.C. has so much to see, that there’s no way you could get to everything in a week. So we allowed Jayden to make a list of things he absolutely had to see and another list of places we would see if we had time.IMG_2035

We booked our trip the week following Jaydens last day of school, which brought us to D.C. on Memorial Day. The city was buzzing.  Streets were closed, parades were marching by and food trucks lined the national mall.

Where We Went and What We Learned:

The White House: The White House has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800. The building was burned down by the British during the War of 1812. It takes 570 gallons of white paint to paint the entire exterior of the building. Tours of the White House need to be requested through your member of congress.

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The White House South Lawn.

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The White House North Lawn.

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View of the White House from Lafayette Square.

Vietnam War Memorial: The main part of the memorial, the wall, was completed in 1982. It was fully funded by private donations. Celebrities such as Bob Hope helped with the fund raising. A 21 year old Yale University student won the memorial design contest. The wall was the subject of much criticism and so two statues were added as part of the memorial: the three servicemen and the Vietnam Nurses statue. Tributes and memorials are left at the wall daily. These items are collected and taken to a storage facility in Maryland. They are used in traveling exhibits.

We had the honor of finding the name of a serviceman that had served with my Uncle. This memorial is both beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. No one really speaks when they stand in front of it. There’s a lot of pain and feeling of betrayal here. Admission: Free

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Vietnam Nurses Memorial

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Vietnam Wall

Lincoln Memorial: The memorial was dedicated in 1922 after having taken more than 50 years to get it built. The design is based on the Parthenon of Greece. Bacon, the memorial architect was quoted as saying “a memorial to the man who defended democracy should be modeled after a structure from the birthplace of democracy.” Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, lived to see the dedication of the memorial. He was 78 years old at the time. The steps of the Lincoln Memorial is the site of Martin Luther King Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. There is a plaque indicating where he stood. Admission: Free

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Abraham Lincoln statue inside the Lincoln Memorial

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View of reflecting pool from Lincoln Memorial. Fog is blocking the Washington Monument.

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Lincoln Memorial

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Step on the Lincoln Memorial where MLK stood while giving his “I Have A Dream” speech.

Washington Monument: The Washington Monument stands 555′ tall and was built to commemorate the first President of the United States. The trowel used to lay the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was the same trowel used by President Washington to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol building in 1793.

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Washington Monument reflected in the reflecting pool. 

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Washington Monument

Korean War Memorial: The memorial was dedicated in 1995 by President Bill Clinton and South Korean President Kim Young Sam. The memorial is made up of 4 parts: the statues, the mural wall, the pool of reflection and the united nations wall. The mural wall depicts images from photographs taken during the war. Jayden’s great-grandfather served during the Korean War. Admission: Free

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The Mural Wall of the Korean War Memorial.

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Korean War Memorial. Jayden’s Great-Grandfather served during the Korean War. 

World War II Memorial: This memorial didn’t exist when I visited D.C. back in high school, although its plans were in the works. President Clinton signed a public law in 1993 authorizing the establishment of a WWII memorial. Construction didn’t start until 2001 and it finally opened in 2004. The memorial is dedicated to all those who served and all those who supported the war effort at home. Admission: Free

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial: The FDR Memorial is probably my favorite. The red granite that makes up the walls of this memorial were brought in from my home state of South Dakota. The memorial is divided into rooms, each representing a different part of his presidency. FDR’s words engraved throughout the walls ring just as true today as they did then. Admission: Free

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Words to remember.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. 

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Franklin Delano Rosevelt Memorial

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: The Martin Luther King Memorial is not too far from FDR. It is a 30 foot high relief of MLK made of white granite. From the memorial, you can look out over the tidal basin and see the Jefferson Memorial. The memorials address is 1964 Independence Avenue referencing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. More than 900 applicants from 52 countries entered the design contest for the memorial. Admission: Free

Jefferson Memorial: The memorial was dedicated in 1943 by FDR. Originally, it was supposed to be a memorial to Theodore Roosevelt. The start of construction inspired ‘The Cherry Tree Rebellion’ in which 50 women marched on the White House to protest the removal of cherry trees. Some women even chained themselves to trees at the construction site. Admission: Free

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Jefferson Memorial

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Statue of Thomas Jefferson inside the Jefferson Memorial.

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Jefferson Memorial

US Marine Corps War Memorial: aka the Iwo Jima Memorial was dedicated in 1954 by president Dwight D Eisenhower. The sculpture is based off the 1945 Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of the second flag raising on Iwo Jima by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. The faces on the sculpture are the actual faces of the men in the photograph. Admission: Free IMG_2457

Arlington National Cemetery: The cemetery was established in 1864 and hosts more than 400,000 graves. In 1868, May 30th was proclaimed to be Decoration Day for the sole purpose of decorating the graves of fellow soldiers. The day was later renamed Memorial Day. Arlington is the only National Cemetery to hold service members from every war in US history. There may no longer be any additions to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier due to DNA testing. Admission: Free

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Wilted flower left on a stone after Memorial Day in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Arlington National Cemetery. Tree slowly consuming a headstone.

Museums We Visited and What We Saw:

Holocaust Museum: It’s difficult to find the right words to describe the contents of this museum or the way it makes you feel. It’s something you need to experience in person. You need to read the words for yourself. See the images. Experience the smells. Any description I provide would do it an injustice. You just need to go. Admission: Free, but will need a timed ticket from March-August.

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Holocaust Museum

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Ovens, Holocaust Museum.

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Shoes, Holocaust Museum.

Ford’s Theater: The theater houses a small museum in the downstairs of the theater showcasing articles of clothing, John Wilkes Booth’s torn boot and the flag torn by his spur as he made his escape. After viewing the museum, you’re able to head into the theater where you can see the balcony where Lincoln was shot. Ford’s Theater also includes the house across the street where Lincoln took his last breath. The house was under renovation while we were there, so we could only view it from the street. Admission: $3.00 pp.

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Ford’s Theatre

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Balcony where President Lincoln was shot. Ford’s Theatre.

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Balcony where President Lincoln was shot. Ford’s Theatre.

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House across the street from Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln passed away.

International Spy Museum: The Spy Museum is not part of the National Mall, so it does cost money to get into, but believe me it is worth it! Upon arrival you’re taken downstairs into a small room with columns filled with different aliases. You’re allowed to pick whichever one you want. After making your choice, you commit all the information to memory. After all, a good spy should never be caught with info on his person! All throughout the museum they have kiosks where you can answer questions about your mission. If you answer them correctly, you keep your spy status. However, if you do not, your cover will be blown. The museum showcases spy equipment used during WWII and the Cold War. It even discusses the use of spies as far back as Queen Elizabeth I. Admission: $21.95 pp.

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National Museum of American History: Here we saw the first Da Vinci Robotic arm that’s used in our operating rooms today. There’s a fragment of Plymouth Rock and examples of the government issued clothing options for women during WWII. We saw many examples of popular culture artifacts including the first computer and the same Little People farmhouse that I played with as a child (kind of makes me feel old). Admission: Free

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My childhood toy. National Museum of American History.

National Museum of Natural History: The Hope Diamond is a big attraction here. Get here early to avoid the crowd. You’ll also find fragments of an asteroid that landed in Arizona and if you happen to be standing at one of the balconies you’ll see the lobby where one of the Night at the Museum movies was filmed. The museum was in the process of completing a large dinosaur exhibit while we were there. It looks like it’s going to be amazing. Admission: Free

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National Museum of Natural History, Lobby seen in Night at the Museum Movie.

National Air and Space Museum: I’m a big Apollo 13 fan, so I was pretty excited to see Gene Kranz’s Apollo 13 vest that his wife had made for him. Also because we’re huge nerds, we were excited to read about the USS Enterprise. No not the ship made to boldly go where no one has gone before. It was actually the most decorated aircraft carrier in WWII, earning 20 battle stars. Admission: Free

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Apollo 13, National Air & Space Museum.

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Wasps, National Air & Space Museum.

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National Air & Space Museum, U.S.S. Enterprise.

National Archives: The National Archives was founded in 1934 by FDR. It is home to The Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights and The Constitution. In order to maintain the preservation of the documents, the room is kept fairly dark and cool. The documents are pretty faded and hard to read, and it’s a very busy place so you’ll want to get there as early as possible. Amazing to be so close to these documents. It’s well worth a visit. Admission: Free

Mount Vernon: Mount Vernon is the home and final resting place for George and Martha Washington. The estate was nearly in ruins before the Mount Vernon Ladies Association was founded and raised $200,000 to purchase the home and 200 acres and start renovations. The exterior of the home looks like it’s made of stone, but Washington actually made a faux finish by putting sand in the paint to give the appearance of stone. The property hosts a stable, distillery and a gristmill and you can place your hands on trees that were planted by George Washington in 1785. If you’re a fan of the National Treasure movies, you already know that a scene in the second movie was filmed at Mount Vernon. They even offer a National Treasure tour where they take you to see the filming locations and talk about that secret passageway! Mount Vernon is privately run and does not receive government funding so there is a fee to get in. Admission: $20 pp, 11 and under $12 pp, National Treasure Tour $10 pp

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Where We Ate!

Food Trucks: There were plenty of food trucks along the national mall. We found some Andalusia Style tacos to try.

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Food trucks along the National Mall.

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Andalusia Style Street Tacos.

Founding Farmers: Amazing farm to table cuisine. A favorite, I’ve read, of Michelle Obama’s. The restaurant is owned by more than 47,000 family farms. We had handmade butternut squash mascarpone ravioli, shrimp and grits with andouille, and skillet cornbread with honey.

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Shrimp and Grits, Founding Farmer’s.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli, Founding Farmer’s.

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Skillet Corn Bread, Founding Farmer’s.

Shake Shack: Our son isn’t an adventurous eater. So anytime we can get a burger, fries and a shake that doesn’t taste like fast food debauchery we’re all for it. We were pleasantly surprised with Shake Shack and there is one right next door to the International Spy Museum, so right after our tour we stopped by for a quick lunch. 

Good Stuff Eatery: Another great spot for a really good burger, fries and a shake. We found this one in Georgetown, which we came to love!

Luke’s Lobster: All I have to say is BEST lobster roll ever! Plus their location in Georgetown is really cozy and cute!

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Best lobster roll ever! Luke’s Lobster, Georgetown.

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Cozy upstairs in Luke’s Lobster, Georgetown.

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Luke’s Lobster, Georgetwon.

Pi Pizzeria: A convenient location close to the White House. Perfect for hungry teens!

Wicked Waffle: As the name implies, all their menu items have a waffle component. Everything we had was delicious and the perfect meal after a morning of walking to all the monuments.

Georgetown: Georgetown was a short 10 minute walk from our hotel. We loved the area immediately. The area is filled with little shops, pubs and restaurants. A few of our favorite places include: Georgetown Cupcake, Olivia Macaron, Dean & Deluca, Luke’s Lobster and Good Stuff Eatery. There’s a small park at the end of the main area that contains a memorial for Francis Scott Key. And if you take the path by the river, you’ll walk by the Watergate Hotel, where we all know that Forest Gump got President Nixon in trouble! 😉

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Street View in Georgetown.

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Georgetown Cupcake

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Cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake

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Macarons from Olivia Marcaron

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The Watergate Hotel

Where We Stayed: The River Inn on 25th street is located on a quiet street in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. It’s only a 10 minute walk from Georgetown, which we loved! Also it’s close to the metro. We opted to walk as much as we could while in D.C. The National Mall was only about a 25 minute walk from the hotel. 

Our room was very cozy and had a small kitchen where we could cook our own meals if we wanted. The hotel gave you the option of having them stock the fridge for you. We used it mainly to store leftovers from wherever we had eaten or whatever treats we had found in Dean & Deluca! The hotel had a few tables and chairs outside for its guests to sit and relax. We made good use of them. At the end of a long day, it was the perfect spot to wind down.

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Patio at The River Inn

Since all the monuments and most of the museums are free, our biggest expenses came from our flight, hotel and food. We used Uber a couple of times, but mostly we walked everywhere we needed to go. It is a very affordable family vacation. I’ll share our itinerary for D.C. in my next post.


Jayden Graduated!

Last month Jayden completed a pretty big milestone in his life. Our handsome young man graduated from high school! We could not be more proud of him and what he has accomplished. This fall he will be attending tech school as part of their network administrator program. GSCf5bT5QSq6tYHAc8D5%g+AU5fcDVTTeIybKjP9XrzwSjP8VF0bSSecLDEQ18DM4wfullsizeoutput_21afullsizeoutput_241AA0hs61WTRWW7ZMxMO5rjwGcy8E4DLRJuE2kPf8sWOjw

We threw a graduation party in his honor at our home, and me being the proud parent that I am, I went overboard as is my usual. 🙂 We had remodeled our garage a couple of years ago and turned it into an entertainment space. The color scheme we chose for the garage just happen to go really well with Jayden’s school colors. It turned out to be perfect!

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Since Jayden is going into a computer related field, not to mention that the kid is amazing at everything that has to do with computers, we decided to use a computer theme. A good friend of mine made Jayden’s micro chip cake and also did three different flavors of cupcakes each with its own computer themed topper such as a mouse, the CTRL ALT DEL keys and the power button. They all looked and tasted amazing! The cake topper is a custom bobble head which I ordered off Etsy and no party is complete without M&M’s customized with Jayden’s face! I had actually found a Groupon for the custom M&M’s and got a pretty good deal on them.fullsizeoutput_217Lt3R2scTQaOIQ1VjHUHcpgDTgM5JzAReSFWpuJTvMV+wUgndOOVaTDWOugn9yaS4TAdPNLX7SfTuyn4elWFi0KNgBo8ff1wRSn+b5DrlZZy1cAkO9nuBu4TSuQEyuDey74TgdTKL0flkR9m53z2I66pghAStmJJ27BTvmUrjalhNR1Twfullsizeoutput_212IMG_2255

In continuation with our computer theme, we decided to use our smart TV to display a slide show of pictures of Jayden throughout his life rather than have physical photos displayed. It didn’t take up any extra space and it was really easy to pull images onto a flash drive and plug it in. After I was done looking through pictures and reminiscing of course!

Since we live in South Dakota and you never know what the weather is going to do, we rented a tent and had it set up over the driveway to provide an area with extra seating and cover in case of rain or snow. The weather however, turned out to be perfect. It was an overcast day and it was neither too cold; nor too hot which we were extremely grateful for since the day before was windy, rainy and cold. We were so thankful for the weather that day and also all of our amazing friends and family that stopped by to wish Jayden well. We love and appreciated all of you!


Stay In. Unplug. Restore

Don’t have the budget for a big family vacation? No problem! What if I told you that you could have a fun family vacation right at home? Not possible you say? Well, I beg to differ. Ever heard of a staycation?

A staycation is a vacation you take at home or with minimal travel from your home. And it has many benefits such as financial savings, much needed R&R and quality family time. As impossible as it sounds, it can be done as long as you make preparations and set some ground rules beforehand.

Make Plans

If you’re kids are older, involve them in the planning process. Let them choose what activities they want to do and when they want to do them. If your family likes structure, create an itinerary together. If your family loves spontaneity, place all your activities in a hat and draw one out each day. Try new restaurants on staycation, or gather take out menus from all your favorite restaurants and have food delivered.  If eating out every day is not an option, plan a freezer meal day and put together some easy meals that everyone will love. You should also plan to prep your home ahead of time as well. Have a marathon laundry day and get the whole family to help clean.

Set Ground Rules

It’s important to also set some ground rules for your staycation and the entire family should be involved in its creation as well. Ground rules could include all or some of the following:

No screens (phones, tablets, tv)

No email

No working from home

No outside plans with friends

No independent activities

No laundry

No cooking

No fighting

Budget

Just like any vacation, you’ll need to plan a budget. Set money aside for your activities, eating out or splurge for a housekeeper to clean for you while you’re vacationing. You can set aside money ahead of time and plan your activities based on that amount or you can plan all your activities, then decide if you’ll be able to do them all or if you’ll have to remove some.

Fashion some Fun!

See a movie: Rent a movie to watch at home or go to the theater. Many theaters offer matinee prices if you go earlier in the day. Better yet, hit up the drive-in! Living on the Eastern side of South Dakota, we’re just a short drive into Minnesota to hit up the Verne Drive in.

Have a Movie Marathon: Let each family member select a movie. After each movie, talk about what they liked or didn’t like about it. Who was their favorite character and why? Get some fun popcorn boxes and the boxes of movie theater candy to make it feel like you’re really at the theater.

Go camping: Find a state park close to your area or just go camping in your own backyard. If you don’t own a tent, no worries! Build a blanket fort and sleep in that!

Take A Class: Many communities provide community education classes covering a variety of subjects. Some are free but most cost a minimal fee.

Explore your city: Research your city like a tourist. Look on Pinterest or visit your local chamber of commerce and pick up a free city guide.

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Try Curling!

 

20 Things to do in and around Sioux Falls:

  1. Go to a movie
  2. Visit the Science Museum
  3. Go to the Farmers Market
  4. Go to a sporting event ( baseball, arena football, basketball or hockey)
  5. Check out nearby State Parks
  6. Go kayaking
  7. Thunder Road
  8. Go brewery hopping
  9. Attend sangria Sunday or Thursday Night Porch Series at Strawbale Winery
  10. Attend the Sioux Empire Fair
  11. Go golfing
  12. Go to the zoo
  13. Attend movie night in the park
  14. Go skiing or tubing at Great Bear Ski Resort
  15. Go shopping downtown on Phillips Avenue
  16. Hit the bike trails
  17. Take a class through community education
  18. Go bowling
  19. Visit the Outdoor Campus
  20. Visit the Butterfly House and Marine Cove

 


Magnificence and Merriment in South Dakota

We’re South Dakotans born and raised and even we haven’t seen or experienced everything our beautiful state has to offer; but we’re working on it! For now, we’d like to share some of our adventures from our Black Hills vacation.

Situated in the western half of the state, lies some of the most beautiful country in the Midwest, the Black Hills and of course the Badlands. The two display vastly different terrains and a distinct beauty of their own.

When people hear South Dakota, they automatically think Mt Rushmore. Now don’t get me wrong, Mt Rushmore is a very important landmark and brings thousands of visitors to our state every year, but South Dakota has so much more to offer that many people don’t realize. We’re a very family friendly state. There are so many things for kids to do here, that they won’t know where to start first but they’ll definitely want to see them all!

The first stop on our South Dakota adventure was the Badlands National Park. The Lakota name for the Badlands is “Mako Sica” which translates to “land bad”. Badlands National Park displays 244,000 acres of dramatically eroding landscape, which means that if you visited the park every year you’d never see the same park. The Badlands exist because 75 million years ago the Great Plains were covered by a shallow sea. The park offers a number of hiking trails and allows primitive camping as well, as long as you sign in on your trails. The beauty of the land formations may take center stage of this gorgeous area, but there’s also plenty of wildlife and fossil beds as well.

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Shortly after leaving the Badlands, we arrived in Keystone, SD where we had arranged our hotel stay. From the city of Keystone, Mt Rushmore is just a quick drive up the hill. Mt. Rushmore, the most recognizable icon representing South Dakota displays the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln; four men whose leadership left an incredible impact on America as we know it. The mountain was carved by a sculptor known as Gutzon Borglum, who passed away a few months before its completion leaving his son to complete the project. An avenue of flags lines the pathway to the viewing balcony for Mt. Rushmore. The Presidential trail offers different views of the faces and is an easy trail to navigate. It also allows you to view local wildlife around the park. We didn’t stay for it, but in the evenings there’s a nightly lighting ceremony.

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Mt. Rushmore, Black Hills, SD

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George Washington, Mt Rushmore, Black Hills, SD

 

There’s so many great places to visit and activities for kids in the Black Hills that we can’t possibly  talk about all of them in one post so we’re just going to highlight our favorites.

The Cosmos: the Cosmos was so much fun. It’s weird and it messes with your mind and it’s completely awesome! Balls roll uphill and standing straight is a 45 degree angle. As the story goes, the Cosmos was discovered in 1952 by two college boys looking for a place to build a cabin. When they came upon this area, the “laws of logic and physics seemed to be turned upside down”.  The tour takes about 30 minutes and is very inexpensive. Anyone 12 years and older is $11 per person, $6 for kids 5 years to 11 years and 4 years and under are free.

 

Reptile Gardens: Reptile Gardens holds the Guinness Book of World Records for world’s largest reptile zoo. The giant tortoises were probably our favorite part! They offer a few different shows throughout the day, one being the alligator show where at the end our son was able to pet a baby alligator! They also have a collection of birds and a Prairie Dog town.

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Big Thunder Gold Mine: At Big Thunder in Keystone, you’ll take a tour through an actual gold mine. You learn about how the mine was created, what tools were used, and the history of its original owners. After the tour, we had the opportunity to visit their museum which boasts the largest collection of Black Hills gold mining equipment. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can also try your hand at gold panning. You get to keep what you find and they guarantee you’ll find something!

 

Rushmore Cave: Rushmore Cave is absolutely stunning! A couple of stalactites and stalagmites were photographed by National Geographic. There’s even an area where you can spot a pigs nose! The tour lasts about an hour and costs between $10-$16 dollars per person.  It’s really incredible and should be on your South Dakota vacation list. After our cave tour, we headed over to the Gunslinger 7D Interactive Ride, which was our son’s favorite part. You get to choose from different scenarios and fight aliens or even zombies. Your seat moves and vibrates while you’re trying to fight off the enemies

 

Sylvan Lake: Another picturesque place you need to visit is Sylvan Lake located in Custer State Park. If the drive leading to Sylvan Lake wasn’t beautiful enough, when you finally reach the lake you find yourself inside a postcard of some far away land. There’s plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, swimming and small watercraft such as  paddle boats and kayaks. IMG_9670IMG_9667

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Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, SD

 

1880 Train: I loved trains when I was a kid. I remember getting an electric train for Christmas when I was around 8 years old. Getting to ride the 1880 train was a real treat, it’s a working steam engine! The train runs between Keystone and Hill City, so you get on in either city. We got on the train at Keystone. The trip takes about an hour one way. Along the way, we had the opportunity to see the remnants of old mines, some wildlife and the National Forest. 104925308836160883187925783097421617491340n

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1880 Train, Keystone, SD

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Wall Drug: On our way back home, we decided to stop for the “free ice water” at Wall Drug. It’s a very touristy stop, but it has an interesting history (which you can read about here) and kids love it. There’s numerous fun photo ops in their backyard, quirky displays and some of the most delicious fudge I’ve ever eaten! It was a great end to our short little trip. We hope, you’ll come visit our great state this coming summer. You won’t be disappointed!

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Wall Drug Back Yard, Wall, SD


Thankful, Grateful, Happy

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.” Henry David Thoreau

The picture above is from my dining room. In the frames, you’ll find all the turkeys my son made in elementary school; each one completely different from the previous years. I keep them behind our framed menus so that every November I can flip them out and display them. My favorite is the “Darth Vader Turkey” that we made together. The assignment was to create a disguise for the turkey so he wouldn’t be eaten for Thanksgiving! It was a lot of fun!

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Jayden holding our Darth Vader disguised turkey!

When Jayden was creating these turkeys, he wasn’t worried about making his turkey perfect. He wasn’t thinking about making his turkey better than his classmates. He was just happy to be making the turkey. I am thankful for many things this year, but mostly I’m thankful for my son and the person he has grown to be.

My son knows what he wants and what he likes. He doesn’t feel the need to do certain things because everyone else is doing them. He is a unique individual and lives his life in that manner; he doesn’t let insignificant things bother him or get him down. As a parent, you teach your children to be good people and to be themselves and when it’s time for them to live on their own; you hope like hell that something stuck with them. I don’t have that worry and I’m very thankful for that.

I feel that Jayden can teach us all valuable lessons about life.

  • Stop chasing perfection. No one is perfect. And no one expects you to be perfect. Stop stressing about little details that only you will notice. It doesn’t matter in the long run.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is a death sentence for your joy and happiness. It doesn’t matter what other people have or what they do. Focus on your goals, on yourself and success will follow.
  • Do what makes you happy. Even if it’s not what everyone else is doing.

I’d like to wish everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving this year. Cherish the time you spend with family and do what makes you happy!

 


Tuna Noodle Picnics and Blanket Forts

We got our first little bit of snow today. It wasn’t much, just barely enough to make the ground white before it started to disappear. It’s this time of year that makes me think about all the indoor activities we love that keep us warm and cozy. Although curling up in front of the fire with a bowl of hot soup always sounds amazing, there are other activities that are just as cozy and fun!

Our son Jaydens’ favorite meal is tuna and noodles. Which is really surprising considering he’s the pickiest eater in the world! It’s probably the worst meal you can make. We make ours with bow tie noodles, a can of cream of celery soup, a can of tuna and a little milk. That’s it! But for some reason he loves it! Unfortunately though, his dad hates it so we only made it when he was working a late shift. It  became a fun tradition for the two of us and to make it even more special; we turned it into a weekly picnic.

We’d spread a large beach towel on the floor and pour two glasses of milk. Then, with our plates nearly overflowing with tuna and noodles, we’d sit down on the floor and feast. Sometimes Jayden would tell me about his day, other times he’d turn on his favorite show and tell me all about the characters in it.

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Thick wool socks makes your tuna noodle picnic even cozier!

Another of Jayden’s favorite childhood adventures was building blanket forts. He’d become pretty skilled at them and built them with multiple rooms and levels. He loved having us visit him in his blanket forts. He usually had a working door that we’d have to knock on and he’d show us around. His favorite fort was the one we built on the deck. We put an air mattress in it and slept in it overnight like a tent. It was a lot of fun!Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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Even though our son has outgrown building blankets forts, he will still talk and reminisce about some of the more elaborate ones that we’ve built especially the one we built on the deck. Those memories are well ingrained into his mind. Also, we no longer sit on the floor and eat tuna and noodles, but it’s still his favorite meal, which he now knows how to make himself! Every once in a while, he does ask to have a picnic again and that’s a big deal for me since he’s now 17 and doesn’t spend as much time with us as he used to. Hearing him talk about things we did when he was a child makes me sad because he’s no longer my little boy, but also excited because he now has traditions that he can continue when he starts his own family.

What an adventure that will be!


A Year of Home Adventures!

We are a busy family. We both have full time jobs. Our son has an after school job. We own a home. We have 3 dogs and a cat. As much as we’d love to travel full time, it’s not in the cards for us right now. So, to pass the time between our bigger adventures, we like to come up with little adventures that we can have without ever leaving home.

Ever been on your way to work and heard the radio DJ talking about how today is French Fry Day? What? Seriously? There’s a day for that? Yes there is. In fact, there’s a day for just about everything. If you Google ‘silly holidays’, you can find websites that have calendars dedicated to all the silly, weird holidays for the year.

About 5 years ago, my son and I decided to look through those calendars and pick one day to celebrate each month. Now, my son loves to eat, so the majority of  holidays that were picked by him revolved around food!

Here is the list of silly holidays we celebrated that year:

January 19th: National Popcorn Day

February 20th: National Cherry Pie Day

March 14th: National Pi Day (get it? 3.14…….Nerd Alert!)

April 26th: National Pretzel Day

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We made homemade soft pretzels for pretzel day.

 

May 4th: Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with You!…..Double nerd alert!)

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May the Fourth be with You!

 

June 29th: Pinhole Camera Day (Our only non-food day!)

July 21st: National Ice Cream Day

August 10th: National S’mores Day

September 18th: National Cheeseburger Day

October 14th: National Dessert Day

November 3rd: Sandwich Day

December 18th: Bake Cookies Day

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It’s hard to tell, but we do have flour on our noses for Bake Cookies Day.

Each month, we’d plan what we were going to do for our chosen silly holiday and then celebrate it! We always took a picture to commemorate our day and shared it on Instagram. This year my son asked if we could do the silly holidays again and I of course said yes! Follow us on Instagram to see what holidays we chose and how we celebrate them each month!

We’d also love to see your silly holiday celebrations. Post your pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #sillyholidays.