This week the kids and I drove my mom up to Philadelphia to visit with some friends, and we took the time to go into the Franklin Institute. What a great time we had! We started out in the planetarium--an amazing experience. This was the first time the kids had ever been to a planetarium and the first time for me in a very long time. We were lucky enough to be one of about 20 people, so the kids could move around a bit without feeling overwhelmed. Sam thought it was absolutely incredible, and at one point, was convinced that we were actually moving. I must admit that I felt a bit motion sick at a few points!
After the planetarium, we played in the train room. Julia got to drive a huge engine and Sam served as the fireman--pretty neat set up where the engine actually moves. We also explored the Science Command Center, the Hands-On Science Center and the Giant Heart. The kids played around with water and air pressure, light, made shadows on the shadow-wall, and explored the inside of a heart.
The kids had a blast swimming in the hotel pool, and we spent Wednesday morning at a friends' horse farm. What a lovely place! The barns and the land were absolutely beautiful. The kids enjoyed seeing the horses and feeding them carrots. Of course, the trampoline and toy room were pretty fun, too!
We got to see the Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban while we were staying in the hotel, and the kids and I were all disappointed with it. We've had some really great discussions about the difference that new directors and actors can make in a film. It's been really interesting because Emily is probably the most disappointed, and this is the second time now that she's experienced the disparity between books and movies. It's pretty cool to watch her dissect that slippage.
Today we went hiking at Great Falls National Park. What a gorgeous day! We saw a pileated woodpecker flying around while we were hiking, and found lots of woodpecker holes in the trees. The geology around Great Falls is really cool--lots of schist and quartz.
While hiking we searched for the C & O Canal Letterbox. Unfortunately, the directions are a bit off, but we managed to find it nonetheless after a bit of interpretation. The kids did a great job on the hike, especially after they got over the initial whiny stage. Sam and Julia were troopers and even hiked back to replace the letterbox with me. The Canal itself is really cool, and we got to see a model of the boats and mules that pulled them in the Visitor Center Museum.