Category Archives: Richmond

Day Trip to Gwynn’s Island

Being in Richmond and so close to Uncle John, I just had to take the boys out to Gywnn’s Island to visit for the day.  It was short notice, but we were fortunate enough to make it work and an added bonus…Susan came out to spend a couple of hours with us too.  Colin and Emma joined us for the day, and boy did they all have a good time!

Justice the dog couldn’t resist a good swim with the kids…

Davy and Colin on the lookout…

The poor little apple tree that Matty and Emma picked all of Ms. Penny’s apples off of…

Susan grilled us all hot dogs for lunch…they were delicious!

Emma looking at the butterflies…

Matty, Davy, Cousin Susan, and Uncle John Dixon…

I love this photo!

On our way off the island, we stopped into the local seafood shop and bought some fresh crabmeat to make crab cakes…Yum Yum!!!


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4th of July in Washington DC 2012

Happy Birthday America!  Being so close to Washington DC, we had to take the kids in to celebrate with the Nation’s Capital.  We started our day with a red white and blue breakfast, blueberry pancakes with strawberries and bananas and then we loaded them into the car and headed for Springfield to take the train in.

Every little kid loves to take the train.

We got off at the Smithsonian stop and headed over to the mall to camp out our spot for the fireworks before the crowds came in.  We parked our blankets on the hill, right under the National Monument facing the reflecting pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

It was really hot again today, pushing 100 and the heat index was said to be 105, so to cool off the boys we took them down to the WWII memorial fountain to put their feet in.

All throughout the mall there were water fountains, established and brought in, as well as hoses for the kids to spray themselves down.

Another fun find were the air vents…

On our way to lunch we stopped by the White House for the classic out front photo.  Davy was so sweet,when I told him we were going to see the White House he says, “Will we get to see President Obama???”  If only it were that easy… 🙂

We saw this hanging off of the side of a building, I thought that it was nice.

Ahhhh, an air-conditioned lunch… 🙂

Cucumber gin and tonic with some of the best macaroni and cheese ever…  Yum!

Street vendors were lined up everywhere selling water, ice pops, and fruit!

Fat suits, according to the boys…

The Marine Corps jazz band started playing at 6 and entertained us throughout the evening.  Right before 9 o’clock, 850,000 people sang the “Star Spangled Banner” together and then did a countdown from 10 to 1…  The beautiful fireworks shot off into the night…

After the fireworks were over, Davy turns to me and says, “Well that’s something you don’t see everyday!”  Love him!

Little Matty didn’t quite make it back to the train.  Although we were all hot, dirty, and tired…we finally made it home.  This was a wonderful experience and I can’t wait to do it again!

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National Aquarium, Downtown Baltimore

Today we decided to take the kids to Baltimore to go to the National Aquarium.  The aquarium is rated one of the top 10 in the country and we knew that they would love it.  One of their biggest exhibits is the shark exhibit called “Open Ocean”, and with three of the 5 boys loving sharks we knew that this would be a big hit.  Some of the other exhibits that we saw were: Jellies Invasion, Dolphin Discovery, Atlantic Coral Reef, Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Australia, Wings in the Water…

The National Aquarium

Great White Jaws


Oh Matty!!!  Look at that big Bruce!!!

We went to the Dolphin Show…

The kids put on a puppet show for us…

The penny machine…

Each one of them earned two items at the gift shop.  The three older boys all got a stuffed blue dolphin, Matty got a smaller gray dolphin, Emma got a pink sting ray, and Jack didn’t pick one out.  Davy also got a sharks tooth and Matty got a plastic speed boat. 

Outside of the museum there were dragon boat rentals.  We wandered over to check out the price and it was $18 to rent them.  Each boat held four people so this was perfect!  However, I took the three little ones while Kelly had the three older ones and Colin was able to help her pedal….lucky her!

After the boat ride, we went to Phillips for some sangria and crab cakes.  The service was terrible but the food was good!

By the time we got home it was almost 9:30, we were all tired and super excited about our awesome day!!!  🙂

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Buz and Neds BBQ, National Confederate Museum

This morning we woke up to donuts and coffee.  Brian made a run out super early, the kids were so happy, and so were we…coffee!!!  For lunch, today it was Connor’s choice, and he chose BBQ.  Off we went to the home of the best BBQ in Richmond, Buz and Ned’s.  You walk up and order your food, they call your name over a loud-speaker, and it was truly one of the best pulled pork BBQ sandwiches I have ever had.

Buz says, “It was on one of my journeys that I ran across Ned at the crossroads connecting the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Ned was producing the best barbecue I had ever tasted. Using recipes that had been handled down for over 150 years, that old-timer was a county legend and their best-kept secret. Before giving up the ghost, Ned passed his secrets on to me, making me promise to keep his family BBQ tradition alive.  Since 1992”.

After lunch we drove down town to the National Confederate Museum.  I’ve mentioned before how much Davy likes the Civil War, so we had to take him.  Next to the museum was the home of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederates.

We ended taking a tour of the Davis home, they wouldn’t let us take any pictures inside, but we did get a few of the kids on the front steps.  Here are some of the things that we learned today….

The White House of the Confederacy is a gray stuccoed neoclassical mansion built in 1818 by John Brockenbrough, who was president of the Bank of Virginia.  Sold by the Brockenbrough family in 1844, the house passed through a succession of wealthy families throughout the antebellum period, including U.S. Congressman and future Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon. Eventually Lewis Dabney Crenshaw sold the home to the City of Richmond, which in turn rented it to the Confederate government as its Executive Mansion.

Jefferson Davis, his second wife Varina (the first was the daughter of president Zachary Taylor, she died from Malaria), and their children moved into the house in August 1861, and lived there for the remainder of the war.  The Davis family was quite young during their stay at the White House of the Confederacy. When they moved in the Family consisted of the President and First Lady, six year-old Margaret, four year-old Jefferson Davis, Jr., and two year-old Joseph. The two youngest Davis children, William and Varina Anne (“Winnie”), were born in the White House, in 1861 and 1864, respectively.  Of the five children, only one Margaret lived to be old enough to grow up and have a family, the other four died of various causes.

The house was abandoned during the evacuation of Richmond on April 2, 1865. Within twelve hours, soldiers from Major General Godfrey Weitzel’s XVIII Corps seized the former Confederate White House, intact. President Abraham Lincoln, who was in nearby City Point (now Hopewell, Virginia), traveled up the James River to tour the captured city, and visited Davis’ former residence for about three hours – although the President only toured the first floor, feeling it would be improper to visit the more private second floor of another man’s home.  Lincoln died 10 days later in DC.

After Davis was captured on May 10, 1865, he was charged with treason. Although he was not tried, he was stripped of his eligibility to run for public office; Congress posthumously lifted this restriction in 1978, 89 years after his death.  While not disgraced, he was displaced in Southern affection after the war by the leading Confederate general Robert E. Lee. However, many Southerners empathized with his defiance, refusal to accept defeat, and resistance to Reconstruction. Over time, admiration for his pride and ideals made him a Civil War hero to many Southerners, and his legacy became part of the foundation of the postwar New South.  By the late 1880s, Davis began to encourage reconciliation by the late 1880s, telling Southerners to be loyal to the Union. He was aided in the last decade of his life by the generosity of Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey, a wealthy widow. First she invited him to her plantation in 1877 near Biloxi, Mississippi at a time when he was ailing, and gave him a cottage to use for working on his memoir. She bequeathed Davis her plantation before her death in 1878, as well as additional funds for his support. This enabled him to live in some comfort with his wife until his death in 1889.

After the tour, the kids were allowed to pick out one thing from the gift shop and we headed home.  They swam in the pool and then Brian took Colin, Connor, and Davy out for putt putt golf and ice cream.

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Blueberries, Carytown, Swimming, Fireflies

We started our day with a little blueberry picking. The kids love to pick and eat them, so this was the perfect morning outing.  Kelly had found this patch a few weeks ago, so off to Swift Berry Patch we went.  The bushes were the size of small trees and the price was amazing!  We stayed about an hour, until the heat became unbearable, and with much delight we had picked almost 10 pounds of berries.  Looking forward to finding some yummy recipes for these…

After we dropped off the berries at home, we met Brian at his office and followed him to lunch.  He took us to Cary St.  Carytown is located in a trendy part of midtown, in Richmond. It is not a formal township, but it is formally recognized as a superior shopping district.  Over 200 businesses, and some residents call this historic outdoor shopping mall home.  Brian swore that if we went to Carytown we’d have one of the best hamburgers ever.

The sunflowers are in full bloom here, so I had get at least one photo…

Both boys got a hot dog while I ordered the California burger with a side of onion rings…Yum!

Little Emma waiting for her drink to come.

After lunch we decided to scrap our afternoon plans and have Brian take the kids home.  They have been so excited for the last two days and along with the heat exhaustion was setting in.  While the kids went home, Kelly and I walked down Cary St. and looked through a ton of shops.

After quiet time, the kids went for a swim.  Kelly dug out a waterproof camera that the boys had received for Christmas and needless to say, the camera provided them with a long time form of entertainment.  The pictures turned out cute too. 

The evening thunderstorms seemed to be holding off a little bit tonight, so we set out to find the fireflies.  While we were waiting for them, the boys climbed the trees and ran around with the dogs.  Connor caught the most, he was super pleased.  🙂


Till tomorrow….

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Bottoms Up, Monument Ave, and Maymont Park

It’s our first full day in Richmond and there is soooo much here to do!  Kelly let me sleep in because I was just exhausted, and Emma had a playdate, so we didn’t set out until 11:30.  After we dropped her off we headed downtown and ended up at Bottom’s Up Pizza.  We all know how much I love pizza, so this was the perfect first stop!  Here is the Bottom’s Up Pizza Story…

“Dirk Graham has always been a fan of pizza. During the 1980s, Dirk traveled around the city of Richmond and surrounding areas in hopes of finding a great pizza. Frustrated by his search, Dirk turned to his friend, Fabian Botto, a restauranteur, who was known for his quality cuisine. Fabian soon became Dirk’s mentor and taught him the secrets to making his specialty crust and sauces.

In 1990, Dirk and his partner, Coalter Turpin, used those secrets to open a small pizza shop in historic Richmond. Word spread quickly about the delicious crust that takes over 12 hours to prepare. With a strong customer loyalty, the restaurant quickly outgrew its original location. In 1992, the pizza shop grew into a full-service family restaurant now known as the famous Richmond favorite, Bottoms Up Pizza.  Dirk’s vision became true. Voted “Best Pizza” in Richmond year after year.”

Oh yum!!!  I am in heaven!!!

Oh Matty bear…was it hot!

All around downtown there are buildings painted with beautiful graffiti…of course we had to stop for photos!

Monument Avenue.  It is known to be a premier example of the Grand American Avenue city planning style. The first monument, a statue of Robert E. Lee was erected in 1890. Between 1900 and 1925, Monument Avenue exploded with architecturally significant houses, churches and apartment buildings. A tree-lined grassy mall divides the east and west-bound sides of the street and is punctuated by statues memorializing Virginian Confederate participants of the Civil War Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and two additional Richmond natives “Father of the Seas” Matthew Fontaine Maury, and Arthur Ashe, an international tennis star.


After the drive we promised the little ones that we would take them to a park, so off we went of Maymont Park.  Now, you may think that we are crazy to venture out in this heat, but it is what it is and the entire area is under this summer heat wave.  We wanted them to be able to run and play….

 Maymont is a 100 acre  Victorian estate and it contains Maymont Mansion, now a historic house museum, an arboretum, formal gardens, a carriage collection, native wildlife exhibits, a nature center, and a petting zoo known as “The Maymont Children’s Farm”.

In 1893, Major James H. Dooley, a wealthy Richmond lawyer and philanthropist, and his wife, Sallie, completed their elaborate Gilded Age estate on a site high above the James River. According to their wishes, after their deaths Maymont was left to the people of Richmond. Over the next 75 years, additional attractions were added.

We ended up parking on the opposite side of the property from the children’s farm, but we figured after eating all of that pizza the walk would do us good.  The walk was pretty close to a mile and when we finally get there all of the animals were missing!  Due to the heat they were brought inside.  The kids saw four animals: a horse, a grey fox, deer, and an elk.

The grey fox is down in the middle…

The walk back was brutal.  The kids were real troopers, but the heat even got to me.  Near the entrance where we came in was one water fountain and a few garden fountains.  There were plenty of signs that said don’t pick the flowers, but none that said stay out of the water!  It was just to hot to tell them no.

Instead of heading back to the car, we continued down the path and hit the jackpot….a waterfall!!!

We finally wandered back to the car, here I am all beat red from the sun.  We stopped at Sonic for cherry limeades and took the kids home to play in the pool.  Great first day!!!!

Can’t wait to see what we are going to do tomorrow!!!

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Richmond!!! Here we come!!!

Our original plan was to leave on June 30th, Saturday and head up to Kelly’s…but we decided that the traffic would be better if we left on a week day, so Thursday it was.  Andy decided to stay behind on this trip…but don’t worry, even though he is one-handed I didn’t leave him empty-handed :)…  I even precut a lot of the food for him.

We loaded the car the night before and at 4am the alarm went off.  I packed the cooler, loaded a few more things, tucked the boys into their seats, we said goodbye to daddy, and we were off at 4:30 on the dot.

I decided to take I-4 to 95 and by the time we got to Ormond Beach the sun had just crossed the tree line.  We decided to stop for a potty break once we crossed the Georgia line and I would pull out their breakfast.

The way the drive broke up, we ended up stopping in each state…a perfect opportunity for a photos!

I have to include this picture of Molly.  She was sitting shotgun and seemed quite cozy.

After 6 stops, at 4:45pm we pulled into Casa Carothers and we were so happy.  The house is beautiful and we are so excited to be with our friends.

Let the fun begin!!!

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