Last week I took mini Senator to be, Hippo Honeycutt to Washington D.C. That’s right, Hippo went home! LOL! I mean, the way he ran down the jet way once we landed in D.C., you would think he was heading to his grandma’s house full of biscuits! I don’t think I have ever seen Jax so excited. This was like Yo Gabba Gabba concert + Meeting Mickey Mouse at Disneyland + Eating Biscuits at GG’s house. I think the only thing that could have been bigger than this trip is meeting Wolf Blitzer, which unfortunately didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have the best vacation of all time. And if I think about it, it might have just sent Jax over the edge of sanity! His head, would have exploded!
Being a single mom with arthritis and a J-Pouch can be very challenging while traveling, especially with children. Moving through the airport, having to go the bathroom frequently and fatigue doesn’t bode well with a very excited, curious, high energy 5 year old who is a stickler for details and schedules. I wasn’t exactly feeling all that great to begin with, so I cut down our 6 day trip to a 3 day trip and gathered as much courage to plow through. I had two small fender benders a couple of months ago and the pain and stress from them, haven’t helped keeping down my flare ups. But here is what I did to make my trip somewhat smooth.
1. Checked in with my doctor about my new symptoms.
I started having some rectal bleeding and joint swelling. I went in, got my symptoms under control and made sure he felt it was okay for me to fly.
2. Packed an extra pair of pants & underwear
3. Used a wheelchair in airport
Hippo walks along side me or sits on my lap.
4. Check baggage
So, you don’t have to worry about carrying a lot of stuff around
5. Arrive an extra hour early and relax in airport
6. Fly on a red eye & dress kid in warm pajamas
Hippo was asleep before we took off and I took a pain pill. We brought a blanket, removed the armrest between us, and cuddled through the entire flight. That way, once we landed in D.C. early in the morning we hit the ground running.
When we got to Liaison Capitol Hill, we started our trip with a quick shower and change of clothes. Then indulged in their yummy baby cakes by Chef Art Smith because…hey, it’s a vacation! Party time! I normally stay at the Liaison Capitol Hill when I’m in DC by myself because it’s some time away for a few days. I like a little atmosphere and great food. Before I spoke to the manager at the hotel, I didn’t think about bringing Hippo to that hotel, because I just assumed it wasn’t family friendly. But I was wrong! Very wrong! First of all they have great in-room dining with a kids menu. Their kids menu is just as delicious as their adult menu, so if you are having issues with your arthritis or flare ups while on vacation, you don’t have to go far for very good food & atmosphere. They have an outside patio that is perfect for summer nights with kids and dogs, right down the street from Capitol Hill and Union Station, so on any given night you may see a political superstar…like, say Julian Bond, who Jax was making smiles & faces with. Yes, my five year old made friends with Julian Bond at Art & Soul restaurant while eating the best grilled cheese I had ever tasted. He was the second Civil Rights leader I met at the Liaison…only in D.C.! But I digress. They have everything you could need. A great pool with Yoga in the morning, a full bar and appetizer menu. And they are now offering picnic baskets perfect for a picnic on the mall. The concierge service can help you find the best tours in D.C. and the bar has the best drinks for mommy and daddy. It’s also in a centralized location. If you are unable to walk the 1 mile to The White House and/or George Washington Monument, you can catch a cab or take the redline which has a near by stop.
We kept our walking low, just because it was really hot and I was already fighting major pain. But we were able to walk 15 mins to The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum and then 15 minutes to the Capitol Building for our tour from the hotel. But I am getting ahead of myself. So let me break it down for you. Of course the first thing we had to do is visit Hippo’s favorite guy, Good ol’ Abe. But I knew the air & space museum had a time limit (all the smithsonian museums close at 5pm), so we went there first. Let me just say, if you have a kid who loves planes, astronauts, space and/or science, this is a must! This museum is AMAZING! I’ve always been in love with the NASA space program and all the science that comes down from the Space Station, but after standing in front of Rocket Boosters and seeing how they sleep in space, I have found a whole new respect for these pioneers. Hippo was just mad he didn’t have his astronaut space suit to walk through the exhibits in! You know this kid loves to be in full costume for every experience.
We decided to go back to the hotel for a quick rest (and so mommy could go to the bathroom, IBD life) before taking off to the Lincoln Memorial. Once we got to the hotel, something happened that a kid from southern California just isn’t use to, RAIN! Darkness took over, the clouds opened up, rolled, thundered, flashed and the heavens wept! Hippo was crushed! But as a southern California kid he expected that a thunderstorm meant we were rained in for the night. But after 20 minutes of a heavy pour, the clouds rolled back and the sun came back out to show his face and we were off! We took a cab to Lincoln because…yea…no way I was walking down that far! LOL! Hippo is still in a booster, but I can’t carry his ginormous highback booster everywhere. So, I found this travel booster called a Bubble Bum, which worked perfectly for a quick 2 mile trip. You blow it up and secure the seatbelt to it. So, we get to the Lincoln Memorial and you couldn’t have slapped the smile off of his face. He was just the sweetest thing! He was reading everything out loud, looking around, and really soaking it in. And then after going and reading Lincoln’s Inauguration Speech, he told me he was ready to leave. But before he left, he wanted to go say a prayer. Yes, you read right. My five year old wanted to say a prayer for President Lincoln. So, I stayed back and he stood and said a prayer thanking God for people like President Lincoln & Martin “Lutheran” (yes Lutheran) King Jr. who fought for people’s rights even when people were mean to them. Yes, of course I cried!! Then we sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial over looking the mall and enjoyed the view.
After awhile we took another cab to the MLK memorial. Now, technically you can walk from the National Mall to MLK & Roosevelt, but my body wasn’t going to let me, so we took a cab. We passed through Roosevelt and then came back up to MLK. We picked a perfect time to get down there, dusk. The colors & serenity of Sunset just highlight the firestorm of emotion you feel while standing in front of this amazing statue. Even Hippo was moved to silence. Like with Lincoln, we just stood and stared. And like with Lincoln, Jax approached the monument and said a silent prayer. But this time as he began to pray all of the other students around him, observing what he was doing joined him, and then their chaperones and everyone else that surrounded the monument. I was blown away. I actually don’t really have the words to describe how I felt watching my five year standing in front of the Martin Luther King monument holding his monkey Satchmo, his Senator’s briefcase and praying, while a hundred people around him moved enough by his actions to follow suit. And just as we drove away from the monument, the thunder clouds rolled in and the cracked with a vengeance.
The biggest surprise of all came the next morning when I woke him up at the west coast’s crack of dawn to take him to go see the White House. What he didn’t know, until we got there was that we were going into The White House for a tour!! He was pretty much sleep walking the entire time were going through security until I asked him if he was more excited about seeing a real secret service agent or the inside of the White House and he said, “a secret service agent, because I wanna be one!”. And then I heard from behind me, “You don’t have to wait to go into the White House to see a Secret Service agent. You’re looking at one!” And that is the first time I have ever seen my son speechless. But it wasn’t the last time. We got into the White House and after seeing The Beast parked in the driveway, the echoes of Hippo’s, “This is so AWESOME!” kept secret service agents standing close by smiling. He was answering trivia questions, and asking questions and pointing out things. And every other phrases was, “I’m so impressed!” or “This is so awesome!” LOL! He was telling me that when he’s President and he invites family 0ver for dinner we aren’t gonna eat in the East Room or State Dining Room, just the family dining room downstairs so everyone can see the White House, but we don’t have to use a lot of dishes! LOL! I love how economical he is! To top it all off, when we were about to exit, guess who came trotting down the stairs from the residence? Bo & Sunny! When Hippo saw them he said, “I wonder if President Obama knows I’m here? He must be working!” uh…yea, kid…that’s it! A big shout out to my cousin Therese McMillan for arranging the East Wing Tour for future President Hippo Honeycutt!
After that we got to visit Congressman Brad Sherman, who Jax loves, & take a picture with him. We also got a great tour of the Capitol. There is a great handicap access for both the White House tour and the Capitol. Elevator access and plenty of restrooms in the Capitol, which I took full advantage of. LOL! You can easily get a great tour of the Capitol through the visitor’s center. Or you can get one through your local congressman. We got ours through Congressman Sherman’s office because we wanted a private guided tour and gallery passes. The gallery passes allow you to sit in the viewing section of the House or Senate chambers during a session. Hippo thought we were watching actors until we exited and he realized he actually saw congress people speaking on the floor about real bills. His little nerdy heart exploded with glee.
But it wasn’t until the next day that I witnessed another episode of the nervous, speechless Hippo. That was when we went to the Hart Building to meet one of his favorite Senators, Senator Barbara Boxer. He dressed himself, gathered Satchmo and his Senator’s briefcase and damn near skipped down Constitution Ave. When she entered the area to take pictures, he actually gasped and then…hiccuped! LOL! He looked up at me in mortification and was like, “I can’t say what I wanna say!!” I told him not to worry, she would let him speak. Senator Boxer and her staff…I just can’t even thank them enough for not only being so gracious and sweet to my little Hippo, but for making his dream of meeting his favorite Senator come true. Senator Boxer took the time to speak with him and he was even able to get out, “I hope you have a nice retirement and spend quality time with your family.”…I had to hold back the tears. He got a special notebook from the Senator’s office and he got to see her office. On the walk back to the hotel, he said, “Mommy. D.C. is the best place in the whole world. I don’t know why there are tears in my eyes because I am so happy! I am so happy, more than ever!” I told him that tears come when you’re really really happy and you’re really really sad. He said, “Mom, I am soooo really really happy! I can’t wait to make bills here! It’s gonna be so great!”
He’s right. It’s going to be so great! So, so great!!