Taking Kids to Hawaii

 God works in wonderful and mysterious ways.

Two years ago we couldn't have imagined working from home and schooling from beautiful places. Now, however, we are blessed to have dad at home, which enables us to be flexible with school and travel. 

When we started this homeschool journey seven years ago one of our goals was to show the kids as much of the United States as we could - while schooling along the way. As I was looking at this list of 10 Significant Locations to Visit in the US, I realized that we've seen almost all of this with them! We just need to get them to New York City to see a few things. 

The next two weeks of Collage Friday are coming to you from Oahu, Hawaii! 

Taking Kids to Oahu

We started our trip on Tuesday at 4 a.m. (yawn) from the Atlanta airport. If you've been watching the news, you'll know security lines are long. We were pleasantly surprised, however, with just a 45 minute wait. 

I must admit  I'm a nervous flyer - not nervous about the flying part, but just all of the details surrounding it. I think I drive my family a bit crazy with reminders and questions. You would think I could just relax and know it will all work out, but I'm still working on that. 

We managed to have everyone packed in  their own carry on suitcase and backpack. I never want to deal with lost luggage or keeping up with too much stuff, so we packed LIGHT for this trip.  Each of the kids is responsible for their two bags. This makes it more of a vacation for mom, too! 

The highlight of flying to Oahu?  Well - I do believe it was the inflight entertainment from Denver to Honolulu. Grant watched three Star Wars movies. Anna watched a million HGTV shows, Dad read and slept, and I finished The Precious One -- such a great book with a surprise homeschool tie in. 

We arrived in Honolulu around 2:30 p.m. (8:30 Georgia time) and got to our condo easily. We stayed awake for as long as we could (until 9 pm Hawaii time) and then crashed for the night. Surprisingly, we weren't up too early the  next morning -- so I think jet lag wasn't too much of an issue coming here. 

Lani Kai Beach

We wanted to go to this beach on the first day. We've heard it's the BEST beach on Oahu, and I must say I believe that!

Even though it was overcast and even a little rainy, we stayed for a bit -- Grant was in the ocean and playing right away -- and just decompressed from the journey the day before. 

Taking Kids to Oahu

We stayed for just an hour or so, because it clearly wasn't going to be "beach" weather.... but as we began driving south everything cleared up and the sun came out. 


Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail

We came home to eat lunch and rest a bit, and then we headed to the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail - just 15 minutes from the condo.

There is a lot of interesting WWII history here (9 airmen lost their lives patrolling here during 1943), not to mention the fact that this is a Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. (The whales are only here until April so we just missed them!)

We hiked about 3 miles round trip - much of it totally UPHILL, but the views from the top were breathtaking. 

Taking Kids to Oahu

I tried to document a bit of this on Instagram, but it was very windy and I just made one Instagram video!  

A video posted by Mary (@homegrown_learners) on

I'd love for us to learn more about lighthouses and whales when we return home -- some relaxed summer learning! 

Online Classes

Anna's school year officially ends next week, so she has some online classes to attend while we are here. 

Thursday morning she and dad walked to the local coffee shop to have breakfast together and attend her Memoria Press Latin I class.  (Normally this meets at 2 p.m. ET, but it is 8 a.m Hawaii time -- pretty cool, though, that the teacher is in Australia and I think it's  5 a.m. for her!)

She'll have Algebra next Monday (probably from the same place, except it will be at 7 a.m.!).

Vacation Reading

Everyone in our family LOVES to read -- with the exception of Grant.

It seems that I have to nudge him a little more, and even with my nudging he is still reluctant. I'm wondering if he's just not a READER (but he reads well)... or if I'm just not providing the right things for him to read.

This is something I'm hoping to research a little bit while I have some time -- how to motivate pre teen boys to read! 

Dad, Anna and I have all loaded up our Kindles and brought physical books for lots of reading while we're here.  

Taking Kids to Oahu

Vacation books include:

We'll be here another 11 days, so I'm looking forward to making memories with the kids.

I love that we'll have time for decompressing, nature walks, trips to the coffee shop, and long days on the beach. 

We're also planning to visit Pearl Harbor, swim with dolphins, and other fun things! Things are VERY expensive here (a gallon of milk is $5!), so we're trying to be careful and not break the bank, but do a couple of memorable excursions. 

If I've learned anything from the past several years it is that dreams are WORTH PURSUING.  You never know what obstacles life will throw at you (we've had our fair share of those in the past two years), but you also have to open to the BLESSINGS and unexpected surprises, too. 

I never would have imagined this when my kids were little - but here we are and I am thankful! 

I'll leave you with this -- something my daughter posted on her Instagram last night:

Collage Friday

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners


Join me on  Fridays for a wrap up of the week - or just to share pertinent thoughts that have been rambling in your head during the past week.

Be sure to include your photo collages!

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Taking Kids to Washington, DC

Taking Kids to Washington DC



We just returned home from a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C.  

Ideally I would have loved more time to plan every detail of the trip, but since this was a quick trip (dad was working in Bethesda for a couple weeks) we kind of flew by the seat of our pants.

And guess what?   

That was ok! We had a great time, and I feel like we packed a lot in and got a great taste of our nation's capital. 

We did prepare by reading This is Washington, D.C. and skimming Frommer's Easy Guide to Washington, D.C. .  You can also order free maps and a visitor's guide online. 

So, if you're wondering how to approach D.C. in 2 (well really 2.5) days, this post is for you! 

Day 1: Traveling and Taking it All In

We left Atlanta Friday morning  and arrived in D.C. mid afternoon. 

The ride from Reagan Airport to Bethesda took us down George Washington Parkway, which is a lovely ride. We had the treat of seeing the Washington Monument and Georgetown University on the drive. 

The Marriott headquarters (where my husband was working) is in Bethesda, so we dropped our bags at the hotel and immediately caught the METRO for downtown D.C.  

Taking Kids to Washington, DC

Using the METRO was safe and easy. I HIGHLY recommend using it if you visit D.C.

We ate an early dinner at  Old Ebbitt Grill, which is just around the corner from the White House. (This is a GREAT restaurant with a lot of local flair. It's also the oldest restaurant in D.C. and the food is AWESOME! BUT, if you go -- make a reservation!)

It was such fun to watch everyone walking along the street in their Halloween costumes. It was the evening of trick or treating at the White House, and children who had won the military lottery were able to trick or treat and meet the President.  

We couldn't see the front of the White House because the streets were blocked, but we did see the back of the White House at night, which was beautiful. We walked around the city a bit, got the lay of the land, and then headed back to the METRO. 

Day 2: Arlington National Cemetery, Monuments, and The National Archives

Arlington National Cemetery was the number one thing all of us wanted to see in D.C. We arrived early in the morning and purchased bus tour tickets.

*If you go to Arlington, GET THE BUS TICKETS. The tour guides are very well versed, and there is no way you could see the pertinent things in the cemetery in one day on foot. 

The leaves were turning brilliant shades of orange, yellow, and red. Those colors stood in such sharp contrast to the white gravestones. It was extremely moving. Several times we just stopped and SAT on a bench and admired the beauty. 

We sat for 45 minutes at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the Changing of the Guard. A group of veterans were there for an Honor Flight, which was especially moving. 

We also spent a lot of time at JFK's tomb, and took in the view of D.C. from his tomb, and could easily understand why this was the spot chosen for his burial. 

(I love this documentary about Arlington National Cemetery.  We are watching it again this week.)

Washington DC, Day 2

From Arlington we headed to see the monuments. It was about a 1.5 mile walk to the Lincoln Memorial, so we called an UBER car and made our way there.

*UBER was a lifesaver in DC. Our ride from Arlington to the monument was just $5!  

The Lincoln Memorial was so much larger than I had imagined. Grant was super excited here because he had just finished the LEGO Architecture Lincoln Memorial before we left home! 

From the Lincoln Memorial we walked to the WWII Memorial, where another Honor Flight group was there. As you can see from the picture, the veterans were there in their wheelchairs, with giant posters of themselves as young soldiers. It was extremely moving to witness this. 

Monuments in Washington, DC

The Washington Monument is just after the WWII memorial, so we headed there next.

We hadn't reserved tickets to go to the top and didn't think it would be possible to go to the top (555 feet). As we were standing and looking at the monument, I asked one of the volunteers if there were any tickets left for the day. She said no, but that it did look kind of slow in the line and she would see what she could do about getting us to the top.

Ten minutes later we were at the top of the monument!  The views were spectacular. We spent quite a long time just taking pictures and admiring the city because it was a perfectly clear day. 

After the monuments we hit the National Archives. This was HIGH on our list because in Challenge I Anna is memorizing and annotating American documents. 

No photos are allowed in the archives. We saw the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - VERY cool!  We also loved some of the interactive exhibits they had exploring issues like the death penalty, women's rights, and other debate topics Anna has explored this and last year in Challenge. 

I was in homeschool mom heaven, know what I mean??  

By the end of the day we were all exhausted and hungry, so we grabbed a FABULOUS dinner at Plan B Burger and hopped on the METRO. It was about 7 p.m. when we arrived back to our hotel, and thankfully we gained an hour for Daylight Saving's Time! 

Day 3: Holocaust Museum, Space & Aviation Museum & The National Gallery of Art

We knew Sunday was going to be a more somber day. We carefully researched the recommended age requirements for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and decided Grant could handle the visit. (He is soon to be 11 years old and we have studied the Holocaust in history. Anyone with younger and/or sensitive children might want to skip this museum.)

There just aren't words to describe our morning. We spent three hours in the museum and I felt that was even moving quickly. 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
The National Holocaust Museum

After lunch (hot dogs and pretzels from a food truck!) we made our way to the Museum of American History (hello LEGO Flag!) and also to the Air & Space Museum. 

We saw the Wright Brothers' airplane and the Apollo Lunar Module. 

We also watched a fabulous iMax movie: D Day: Normandy 1944, which seemed like the perfect follow up to the Holocaust Museum. 

All of these museums were free and beautiful. I love that you can do nearly everything in D.C. (with the exception of lodging and eating) for free or low cost! 

Museums in Washington, DC

One of the things on MY DC bucket list was visiting the National Gallery of Art. 

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure the kids were as excited, but we plied them with hot chocolate and we took about 30 minutes to people watch and refuel. 

I also downloaded the free app from the National Gallery - YOUR ART, which was INVALUABLE to us as we toured the museum. The app is also just good to have because it guides you through art appreciation with your children! 

The National Gallery of Art

We saw works by Rembrandt, Leonardo daVinci, Mary Cassat, and so many more!  As we found pieces we enjoyed, everyone would sit on a couch and study the art for a bit, then I would look it up on the app and read about it. 

(This was very exciting to me, because we've been focusing more on Art Appreciation in our homeschool this year.)

As we were strolling through one gallery there was also a free classical concert happening in the adjoining gallery. I could have stayed for several hours! 

We left the museum around dinner time, grabbed some pizza, and hopped on the METRO for Bethesda. 

Our trip went by in the blink of an eye.

I'm so happy we've had the chance to visit our nation's capital and that we saw the highlights. I would love to return and see MORE! 

Not only did we learn more about our nation's history, but we also experienced another city's public transit, met several interesting UBER drivers, and just learned how to be better travelers. 


Have you been to D.C. What was the best part of your trip?

Collage Friday

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Join me each Friday for a wrap up of the week - or just to share pertinent thoughts that have been rambling in your head during the past week.

Be sure to include your photo collages!

Then, visit other bloggers that have linked and leave them a supportive comment.  I love the Collage Friday community!

Add your link using the widget below. Additionally, if you'd like to join further, use the hashtag #collagefriday on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.