Friday, March 25, 2011

Lamb, lamb, everywhere and not a drop of mint jelly

Since my niece is here for a week, I've decided she needs a blog name, and I'm christening her Luna. This works on many levels, including stories in which Jewel calls out for her, because based on Luna's real name, Jewel calls out "Na! Na! Na!" This could be short for Luna too.

(And don't you worry, you other "Na. Na. Na." in Jewel's life, it's a distinctly different sound from Jewel. She still knows who you are and loves you.)

OK, for the one of my loyal six readers who's still with me...on to the actual blog post.

After finding an unlikely tour guide at the National Cathedral, we went to Mount Vernon on Sunday. This was in part because I'd mentioned it in the list of places that would still be open in the event of a gummint shutdown while Luna was here and she said it would be cool to see.

Except she used whatever term the kids use these days rather than cool, which I can't remember. Yes, I'm an old man.

Added bonuses...for 3B: it's the home of George Washington and includes his tomb. During this Egypt phase that 3B is in, anywhere with a tomb is on the list. It being Washington's tomb is an added bonus carried forward from 3B's War of 1812 phase. Seriously, some days I feel like I'm raising a History Channel host.

Bonus for Jewel: it has sheep. Her favorite song, by far, is Baa Baa Black Sheep. She'll tolerate the variant that involve twinkling stars or letters, but when the chips are down--as in when she's cracked her noggin by falling off something that she shouldn't have been climbing/bouncing/dancing on in the first place and she's screaming bloody murder--singing Baa Baa, as she calls it, in her ear will settle her right down. She also needs to hear it at bedtime, while brushing her teeth and whenever she calls it out during the day. Yes, Mount Vernon does have black sheep. And, as an added bonus we were there during the season of, as our friend says, sheeplets, baby know...lambs.

For those wondering about the new visitor center and movie, we skipped all of that. Did I mention that we took the kids? Yeah, so no movie and boring displays of things and words and total lack of running around.

We headed straight through and outside to the tomb and the slave memorial, which Luna wanted to see. As we approached the tomb, I was talking to Luna, so 3B helpfully read the sign and yelled out the words to me: QUIET PLEASE!

Fortunately, we weren't the only ones who laughed.

Even before we got to the tomb, Jewel and 3B had seen their first sheepage. After the tomb and slave memorial, we went down to the wharf, where Jewel could see even more sheep while I took 3B to the bathroom. By then it was time for our tour, especially since we had to hoof all the way back up that hill to the mansion.

The tour was fantastic. It was as if they'd designed it specifically for either four-year-olds or the average American attention span for meaningful history. You walk through the house as fast as the shuffling masses before you will allow--it's like being in a slow stampede. In each room is a tour guide who talks nonstop about that room, and you hear what they say while you're in the room. Questions? Not so much. And if you want to hear more? Please keep moving.

Which was the perfect amount of knowledge to drop on the little heads we had with us.

After that, it was all running around, all the time, on the east lawn, which slopes down to the Potomac...and to even more sheepies in a field. There was running up and down the hill by 3B and Jewel, sheep watching by Jewel and Tut tomb exploring by Howard Carter, as played by 3B.

Everyone was happy about all of this until it got too cold for the adults and was time to go home, which we were also all happy about. Except maybe Luna, who's been politely wedging herself between the two car seats in the back while we drive anywhere and wrangling electronics for the kids.

I laugh every time I look back and see 3B with my or Mama's iPhone, Jewel with Luna's phone--it's a minor obsession...she even has a gesture that she uses to ask for it, and Luna with nothing.

But, of course the kids get the phones while the adults go wanting. Isn't that what parenting is about? It is for this old man, anyway.

Papa Bradstein will herd sheep 200 miles across Massachusetts in two days to help fight cancer. Please support his sheep drive.

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