My 3 year old daughter can spy a carousel a mile away.  Before the carousel is even in sight, it is like she has a 6th sense…the carousel sense.  She can hear that distinct sound that immediately makes you think of carousels.  She can see the beautifully painted “horsies” spinning around in a circle.  We have been on carousels all over the world, however this is a perfect time to remind myself that I need to sit down and organize years worth of digital pictures that are in folders with names like Mem Card 1 or New Folder217 instead of Washington DC and Vienna, Austria!  Of the many carousels we have been on, here are a few of the pictures that I could find!


The carousel in Washington DC on the Mall (and possibly the fastest we have been on!)

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Little S can find carousels in shopping malls too!  This is the carousel at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, FL.

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Did you know there was a carousel at Downtown Disney?  We have been to Downtown Disney three times but this last time was the first with my daughter.  I hadn’t seen a carousel before, but she has no problem finding it! (And this is probably the slowest carousel we have been on)


This carousel in Hampton, Virginia is located next to the Virginia Air and Space Center.  We were leaving the museum and much to my surprise my daughter took off towards this building.  That is her at the very front!


This is what we found inside the building!

Carousels, parks, and water features are things that my kids can spot a million miles away when we are traveling.  What do your kids always tend to locate?

Stop by DeliciousBaby to see where everyone else is traveling this week!

Trekaroo KidsMobile Travels to Washington DC – Family Friendly Activities

I love Trekaroo!  This is one of my favorite websites and I stop by several times a week.  Trekaroo is a great way to find family friendly activities, hotels, and restaurants in a city before you visit.  You can also learn more about your own town!  Got something to say about a family friendly experience?  Stop by Trekaroo and open up a free account.  You can start writing reviews about your favorite (or not so favorite) places right away.   KidsMobile is another great part of Trekaroo.  Every couple of weeks, bloggers all over the United States create lists that pertain to the stop that week.  Well, this week we are on the KidsMobile and it is stopping in Washington DC…one of my all-time favorite places to visit in the United States!  Check out all the great links below!  

Trekaroo’s growing community of families from all across the country have pitched in with their votes for the most kid-friendly stops in Washington D.C. Here’s the line up for 2009!

Best Kid-friendly Hotels in Washington, D.C. – voted by parents

Best Activities for Kids in Washington, D.C. – voted by parents

Some of DC’s top blogging moms and dads have jumped on board the KidsMobile, playing the role of local tour guide.  They are taking us into their fold by sharing with us their inside scoop about what’s fun for kids in their hometown.

Jennifer, a mom who loves the outdoors shares a fabulous list of The Best Kid-friendly Hiking Trails in DC.  Jennifer’s passion as an environmental educator led her to start Hiking Along – a super cool educational program where she leads groups of children, preschool to high school, on hikes and allows them to participate in hands-on science activities to learn about their natural surroundings. She also keeps a blog about hiking with kids.

Dave, better known as SuburbanDaddy, knows that cold weather is just around the corner and any parent of a young child will be eager for his list of The Best Indoor Places for Toddlers Around Washington DC.  He is the creator of Kidburst, an activities guide written by local parents about the Washington DC area with in-depth coverage of kids activities from summer camps to sporting facilities and classes.


Jennifers, tell us about 8 Things (Under $5) to Do in Washington DC with Toddlers. She is an adventurous mom of a 2 and 4 year old who has not allowed having kids to slow her down.  Although she’s based in Florida, Washington DC is one of her favorite vacation spots. She writes in depth about their family’s exciting adventures on Two Kids and A Map


Sujatha is mom to a 9 year old (boy) and 3 year old (girl) and brings us Fun Washington, D.C. Activities that get Kids Fired Up.  This list has some great ideas of places beyond the usual tour of Capitol Hill that will really get kids to perk up.  She writes candidly and casually about their travels as a family and about her adventures in parenting on her blog:  Blogpourri

Amy is a mom who sees everything as a teaching moment and traveling is no exception.  As a local DC mom, she’s got some her favorite Day Trips with Kids From Washington DC.  As a literacy consultant and former high school teacher her blog – teachmama – is full of wonderful ideas about how to weave education into holiday traditions, travel, games and more.


Jill, brings us her list of Must See Attractions in DC with Preteens and Teens.  She is the mom behind her prolific blog Musings From Me that covers a wide range of topics including parenting, travel and reviews of cool products.  Jill has been on the go all her life, living in England, Italy, and America but currently calls Maryland home.

Ms Twixt, brings us a list of What to do with Tweens in Washington D.C. As a mom to 3 tweens girls and a toddler boy, she is an expert on everything Tween.  Her Blog Twixt and Between provides helpful insights on topics that are current for tween girls and their parents. She even has a store in Georgetown Park with adorable age-appropriate clothing, shoes, gifts and accessories for Tween Girls.

Other Resources for Washington DC:

Next stop, Sunny  San Diego, CA

KidsMobile_jumponThe Trekaroo KidsMobile is a blog carnival with a twist.  It’s designed to provide a unique opportunity for mom and dad bloggers to be featured on Trekaroo while

1) expressing their unique point of view

2) getting a web of link exchanges.

Join us for one of our next stopovers.

Power of the Grocery Store

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Don’t underestimate the power of the grocery store when vacationing!  I love to wander the aisles of a grocery store that is new and different from the ones in my hometown, where the most exciting grocery store is Publix.  It is no wonder that I get excited when I see a local grocery, a farmer’s market, a Whole Foods or a Fresh Market and the stores get added to the itinerary.  My kids love to wander the aisles themselves, looking for new candies or other treats that we might let them bring home. 

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On our last trip, we ended up at a Wegman’s by chance.  We had a wonderful time wandering through the the bakery section smelling the wonderful breads and sweet cookies.  There are more cheeses and olives than you can imagine! 

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Grocery stores are a great place to pick up the perfect souvenir to bring home for yourself, loved ones or your housesitter.  We have picked up hot sauce and pralines in New Orleans, beer at a hard to find microbrewery in Northern California, wine at the Biltmore, divinity and taffy in Savannah, and soups, coffees and teas in England and Germany.  It is the perfect gift because the receiver does not have to find a place to store it!

Making a trip to the grocery store is also a great way to save money.  Even if your hotel doesn’t have a kitchenette, you can still pick up sodas, juice and snacks to tide you over in between meals.  You can also pick up bread, meats, cheese, and peanut butter to make your own picnic lunches.

Stop by Photo Friday at DeliciousBaby to check out some other great travel photos!

Colors so brilliant they look fake!

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Living in the Florida Panhandle, we rarely see the leaves change colors.  A lot of the leaves stay green, some change briefly, others go straight to brown.  While we were in Washington DC, we had the opportunity to see leaves that had changed into the most brilliant colors I have ever seen.  They don’t even look real!  I had to touch the leaves to make sure they weren’t silk!

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This post is part of You Capture over at I Should Be Folding Laundry and the theme for this week was Photographer’s Choice!Photobucket

Photo Session in the Hotel Room!

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Not that kind of photo session, folks!  This is a family website!  We went to Washington DC this weekend to visit family.  My dad and stepmom were in town from Germany for work so we flew up to see them for a long weekend.  My sister and her family just recently moved to Virginia Beach so they drove the three hours up to visit as well.  The four cousins hadn’t seen each other since June and it has been much longer since the grandparents had seen all four cousins together.  Before the visit, we had planned to do a photo session to update our very out of date pictures of everyone together.  We had planned on doing the photo session somewhere on the grounds of the Homestead Farm, but unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas.  We didn’t want to wait to take the pictures because we would run out of days and soon it would be time to go back home.  We thought about the hotel lobby, a covered area in a park, and many other options.  We settled on taking the pictures in the hotel room and we are so glad that we did.  A picture of my family sitting on the hotel bed will hang in my living room and will not only remind me of this particular trip but will also be symbolic of the many trips we have taken as a family and the many more hotel rooms we will be staying in! 

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Beautiful hotel rooms are perfect for impromptu pictures!  This particular hotel room has a beautiful head board and a big fluffy white down comforter that made for a gorgeous background.  The lighting was soft and the windows were plentiful. 

My dad, stepmom and the four grandkid cousins:

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My sister and her husband (they are still newlyweds!):

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My sister and her family:

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Me and my sister:

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A few things we learned during our photo session:

  • Snap the “everybody look at me and smile” picture first.  Then let the kids goof off!
  • Utilize the natural lighting coming into the hotel room through the windows.  Place your subjects near the windows.
  • If the sun isn’t shining, most hotels have soft lighting.  Turn on the bedside or table lamp.
  • Don’t worry about rearranging furniture to suit your purposes.  Just be sure to put it back in its proper place.
  • Take a look at your background.  Make sure that you are not going to have to edit out cords, lamps, luggage or half a picture that was hanging on the wall.  Some editing is good, especially if you know what you are doing.  We took a few pictures that were beautiful but we just couldn’t edit some of the stuff out of the shots so they are not fireplace mantle worthy. 
  • Some of the best pictures we got were when the kids were having fun just being kids!

Be sure to stop by DeliciousBaby to check out other great travel photos at Photo Friday.

Homestead Farm – Poolesville, MD – You Capture Autumn

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I know that most people have posted their pumpkin, apple and various other fall-esque pictures weeks ago.  I have not because I live in Florida where fall is a mythical creature to us.  It is hot, hot, hot and then it gets biting cold.  Then it gets hot and humid again.  Halloween is a crap shoot–it is either super hot or freezing cold.  Never in between!  This is what we were doing two days ago:

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I was so excited when I saw that the You Capture theme was Autumn because have I got some serious Autumn pictures for you this year!  This weekend we had the opportunity to fly to Washington DC to see my dad and stepmom who were in town from Garmisch, Germany.  My sister and her family, who moved to Virginia Beach this summer, were able to drive up for the weekend as well.  While we were there, all I wanted to do was see a real live pumpkin patch and apple orchard!  Well, we found the most beautiful farm set in some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen! 

Homestead Farm is in Poolesville, Maryland.  The drive to the farm is unbelievable-beautiful trees in brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges; homes that look like castles; and windy roads that take you quickly away from the city and into quaint little towns.  We knew we were chancing it when we decided to go to the farm because the weather man was predicting 80% chance of rain and rain it did.  That did not stop our fun though! 

In the pouring rain, we took the hayride down to the pumpkin patch where we picked out a pumpkin for my sister and her family to take home with them. 


My two Florida grown children could not believe the number of pumpkins “just laying on the ground” and they thought it was hilarious!




We had the most amazingly beautiful and delicious caramel apple, but unfortunately no one thought to snap a picture before we scarfed them down!  The farm has animals scattered throughout for you to say hi to.

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There are also some great photo opps.

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This is a working farm and they are open about half the year for you pick your own fruits and veggies.  Cherries, strawberries, blackberries, peaches and nectarines as well as apples, pumpkins and Christmas trees.  Everybody at the farm was very friendly despite the rain and the fact that the day we were there their electricity was out too!  There were a lot of people at the farm, but it didn’t seem overly crowded or touristy.  If we lived nearby, we would surely make it out to the farm with the changes of each available fruit or vegetable.  Homestead Farm also has a little store where they sell fruits, vegetables, jams and breads just in case you don’t want to do the work yourself.

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Head over to I Should Be Folding Laundry to see other Autumn pictures.

Potomac Things To Do

National Museum of the American Indian Cafe

One of my favorite places to eat on the Mall in Washington DC is the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian.  The first time I ate there on a recommendation while I was on a solo trip to DC.  This time I brought my kids!  The Mitsitam Cafe is set up in five food stations that show the cooking style and food flavors of the American Indian.  My children loved wandering through the bustling cafe as they watched the people dish up heaping piles of buffalo, cooking over an open flame, make fry bread, and piece together tacos.  The Spring Menu includes items like turtle soup, acorn squash, salmon sandwich, guava tapioca, and blue corn zuchinni cake.  It takes me forever to wander around and finally make a decision about what I want to order.  I finally chose a meal from the Great Plains: an Indian Taco with buffalo chili on fry bread topped with pinto beans, lettuce, chiles and shredded cheese.  And don’t forget to stop by the Meso America region where the guacamole is possibly some of the best I have ever tasted!  I skipped dessert because I was disappointed that I didn’t find my favorite available: pine nut and cranberry cookie.

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Stop by Wanderlust and Lipstick to check out Wanderfood Wednesday.
Washington DC Things To Do