the national gallery of art & sculpture garden, the biggest mistake visitors make when visiting washington dc, and other invaluable lessons...

first! the morning was a fail. we signed elle up for cheer lessons, and she's been beyond elated for a month. i took her to her first class yesterday, only to find out after the 40 minute drive, and waiting for 20 minutes that they cancelled the class and never told us. *i have more i could say, but i shall be kind. i am in shock by the things that we experience on a near-daily basis, but alas! kind words, amanda, kind words.* elle & i decided to console ourselves by going to the coffee shop in our building for bagels. but they were closed (doh!!!). so elle decided we should walk to another bagel place nearby ("nearby" is closer to a 5 year old who is in a car, rather than on foot). an hour later, we made it home, incredibly sweaty, grabbed jude, and i took off with the kids so mike could take a stats test. the kids chose to go into the city and see the sights, so we hopped on and picked our destination.
i'm no expert. it's only been a few months, but in our time we have learned a lot about the area. i'd like to share what i feel like is at the top of the "biggest mistakes" list. i think i'll do this often, but for now? it's time for numero uno. 
the biggest mistake when visiting washington, dcthou shalt not put the national air & space museum at the top of your "must see" list!!! 
PEOPLE! we did it too. know that i'm through on the other side i can honestly say, it is one of the worst museums i have visited in all my life. to boot, it's also the busiest. ever. always. without fail. every weekend we have left our comfort zone and gone on an adventure. many of those (at least 8 now), we've visited museums. we have many left to see, but out of all the museums we've seen, none has been disappointing like this one. the national air & space museum is incredibly overcrowded, which means it's impossible to enjoy. you can't get near anything, the bathrooms are always full and dirty, and the overall condition of the museum is embarrassing. the signs have too much wording so you don't understand what you're seeing, and most interactive pieces are broken. it's not kid-friendly. it's not adult friendly. the films are older than me. the carpet and overall condition is worn and rough. 9 times out of 10 the line to get in wraps around the block. everyone comes here first- including us! don't do it! i mean, go, but definitely don't go there first. 
maybe, like 12th. 

alternatively, the museums that i wasn't even aware existed, have been the best!
my favorites thus far: 

1- the national museum of the american indian. they have a kids activity center that is fantastic! amazing! wonderful!

2 - the hirshhorn. it's just the right size. you can see it in a relatively short amount of time, without feeling like you're missing out. sure, we were escorted out by a bomb threat, but even then, we were just wrapping up with our traditional ice cream upon exit. it's cool and refreshing and the gift store is awesome.

3- this one! the national gallery of art (& sculpture garden). it is massive. we have to go back. when mike & i visited the louvre a decade ago, i remember stopping at one point and saying, "we should just leave and come back another time. this is too much! i can't enjoy it all right now- i'm getting overwhelmed!" so we did. same theory here. i just stopped looking because it was becoming too mundane, and when surrounded by monet and renoir, becoming mundane = pathetic.
 rule-bender of the day: jude. the sign said "no wading." so he stuck his head in.   ^^ 
he gets brownie points for creativity. and it was crazy-hot, so i don't blame him.
 bamboozle of the year award: the sculpture garden is the best paris-knockoff i've ever seen. i was nearly giddy! the whole block just felt like an escape to a european destination. how did i not know about this place until now!? we could have sat by the fountain for hours. i almost gave in and got gelato, but that would have done me in. and mike wasn't there, so maybe next time. if you want europe in dc- come here.
 dumbest idea in the city: soft-serve ice cream. it's hot here. like, really hot. more than hot, it's humid. really humid. i should weigh 52 pounds based on how much i've sweat since arriving, alas, i refuel with ice cream and crap, hence why i do not weigh 52 pounds. by the time the man handed me our ice cream out the truck window, it started dripping down my arm. it didn't even make it out the window, folks! by the time i handed it to elle and grabbed by phone, it was actually running. to make matters worse, the end of the cone was pouring like a faucet. i yelled, "get out!" and the kids jumped from the sticky, rainbow-sprinkle-glittered stroller to the park strip and we started attacking like frenzied animals. (melted ice cream is an abomination.) we were hardly out of line, and we devoured the cone right there. sure people stared, but i didn't care. i apologized profusely for being in the way, but we were actually glued there! we were a hot mess in every sense of the phrase. but man, it was so good:)
 elle's favorite art involved dresses. big dresses.
 isn't it stunning in there!? 
somehow, the kids are often more behaved when there's only one parent present. they were really good this day, and we actually ran into a few helpful people who held a door or two for us, and a kind security guard who chatted with the kids and i about the art pieces. quite a treat.
and then we were in spain! espania! i've missed you!
 ... but then my heart stopped. 
we were alone in these rooms. alone! because people don't realize exactly what is just across the street from those crowds, and you can just stare at these works of art. alone! no ropes, no glass, just you and the art.
 and then! the waterloo bridge by monet. three times. incredible!
 ok, if that awesome art wasn't enough- THAT WALL COLOR!!!!!! someone, give me my house back, i want to paint a room that color stat!!!
between the west & east museums. it's saturday. and no one is around!
 walking a lesser-known path.
 public transit lesson of the year: the archives metro stop is totally underrated, and the best i've found thus-far! it's in a great spot. the neighborhood is nice, relevant, and near the good sights. it's quieter than many of the others. for us, it's easy to get to. and now, my favorite. it took us miles of walking and multiple trips to get in/out of l'efant with a stroller, but now that i know about archives, i say l'efant who?
"i told you so" moment of satisfaction: lastly, every penny we spent on a double stroller for my almost 6 and 2.5 year old was worth it. i'm sure people laugh and judge and think we're lazy. we have bought & sold more strollers than i care to admit (6?), and hated them all. as elle got older, we succumbed to social pressure and decided elle was too old for a stroller, but hey! guess what! those people who came up with that theory don't travel constantly with small kids. there, i said it. after trudging through city after city and street after street with a toddler who wanted out, and big kid who wanted in. sore arms, shoulders, and hours of whining, "are we there yet?!"'s we gave in and bought a side-by-side last month. it was the best investment ever. it's the only way me taking 2 kids into dc on my own is even possible and safe! no sore feet for them, or sore arms for us, no whining, no fighting since their seats are identical (compared to our old sit & stand), naps on demand, easy on/off sidewalks, stairs, curbs, and trains, a decrease in sunscreen and heat-related incidences (since their sunshades are massive), and guaranteed seats on the metro! i feel like a whole new woman. it's literally been a life and sanity-saver.

and then, we caught our train just after we walked onto the platform (!!!), followed by a text from mike saying he passed his dreaded exam. BAM! it turned out to be a great day.

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