Saturday, July 31, 2010

July Amnesia: where did it go?

A certain phenomenon occurs every year at about this time. You'd think I would have learned to expect it by now, or at least see it coming, and therefore be prepared...but it still sneaks up on me each July, somehow taking me completely by surprise. Let's call it the "Oh my gosh it's almost August and we haven't done ANYTHING on our 'Summer Fun List' yet" Syndrome (wordy, but descriptive, don't you think?)! Because of course, in May or June, I sit down and ponder all the exciting, adventurous, educational, and cool activities we could possibly cram into the Summer Vacation, and then I compile a nice, long agenda to keep us busy for the 9 weeks or so the kids have before returning to jail...I mean school. But then they go visit their grandparents in South Carolina, and June is suddenly over. And after we go to the pool a bunch of times and schedule a few playdates and do our week of camp--good grief July is nearly gone too how did that happen...AGAIN?

Parental Panic sets in. So it's time to get a move on and accomplish some of this Fun Stuff, by golly. Low-Key Summer Mom is about to go all Julie-the-Cruise-Director on your butts, so let's gear up and make some memories! (And no, the 2 times we've played Mini-Golf do not count! They weren't on the List, so we couldn't put that satisfying check mark to show our progress! Focus, people!) First up: Smithsonian (when getting such a late start, it's best to Go Big right out of the gate, I think.) This field trip ranks high for a couple of reasons: we get to ride a Metro train into downtown Washington D.C.; and we get to take in a unique (free!)  museum (extra points for the Cultural aspect, if anyone's keeping score).

We begin with the Metro ride, always an event in-and-of itself. The boys are 10 and almost-7 now, and still love riding trains, as much as they did when they were toddlers. They like manipulating the Farecard machines to get our tickets; they enjoy counting the stops on the Metro map; they delight in looking out the windows at the aboveground stations (heck, even the graffiti on the buildings in certain sections of D.C. fascinates them! AND to get to the Smithsonian stop, you have to: change trains...utter joy). Even I have to admit, no matter how many times I've been there in my life, emerging from the station escalator onto the National Mall never fails to thrill me. Look left: Washington Monument.  Look right: Capitol Building (but don't linger too long, or the out-of-towners who are gazing upward, rather than watching where they're going, just might trample you!)

For Friday's excursion, I chose the American History Museum, which the kids had never been to, and which I had last visited in, oh, maybe the 80s? There were some of the nostalgic things I remembered with great fondness...Fonzie's jacket, Dorothy's ruby slippers, a Kermit puppet, the First Ladies' gowns. These had been joined by some other neat mementos such as Apolo Ohno's skates, and Simba's mask and Rafiki's costume from the Lion King stage play. I enjoyed the painstakingly recreated model of Julia Child's kitchen, after having seen the movie Julie & Julia a few months ago. The boys had fun in the Invention room, where they built a working circuit and tried out a windsurfing demonstration. We all thought the Transportation wing was super-awesome...because, really, who doesn't ooh and aah over old locomotives and turn-of-the-century automobiles? (or is that just us?) I personally found the Military section to be mostly disturbing, but Derek darted around wide-eyed (boys and guns, what is up with that?). I did, however, marvel at the stone block of the Berlin Wall on display. And we all paused for a few moments of quiet reflection in front of the chunk of the World Trade Center from 9/11.

Finally, I deemed that they were sufficiently full of Culture (as they were beginning to get that glazed "I'm done" look), and we were ready to head back home. I felt pleased that we had managed to squeeze at least one Summer Fun Event into July, and had not utterly frittered the month away. Now we can go back to lounging on lawnchairs, sipping lemonade and fanning ourselves...until next week's first planned August Outing!

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