a second visit

The kids and I made a trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon this week.  It was the last mild day before our weather turned cold again and we wanted to take advantage of it.  Christmas decorations are out in full force, yet the calendula and lavender are still blooming in the gardens.  I’ve never seen such fantastic vegetable gardens as those kept there.  I could wander them all day long.  My kids would prefer that we not though.

Silas is a huge fan of the sheep.  There are sheep all over the estate, and he threw little fits each and every time we pulled him away from any of them.  His love for the sheep was only rivaled by his amusement over a camel named Aladdin who is visiting for the holidays.  We sat and watched Aladdin eat his dinner for a very long time, all of us in fits over the hilarious ways he moved his lips.  Back inside the teaching center, one of the employees remarked that she remembered my family from the last time we visited a few months ago.  I was afraid to ask if that was a good thing.

I’m so sorry that I waited ten years of living in the area to visit Mount Vernon.  It has quickly become one of our favorite places.  My love was only slightly diminished by the two and a half hour drive home in horrific traffic (It took us under an hour to reach Mount Vernon.)  The original plan had been to visit in the morning and head home early to avoid traffic, but it turned out that one of my boys had absolutely no clean clothes to wear (Each boy is in charge of his own laundry.)  By the time a load of laundry was ready, it was early afternoon.  I’ll do a better job of planning ahead next time.  Clean clothes are a must.


  1. I was there yesterday for a lunch…it took about 15 minutes from here…I love that you are so “close” but live in the country in this very metropoliss area…

  2. Great photos and story! So beautiful!

  3. Your photos make me excited to move to the DC area! Maybe next fall we could meet at Mt Vernon and explore it together– with 12 kids between us.

    I can’t get over the camel.

  4. How wonderful to have such a special place so close by; I’m sure it was extra special to see it decorated for Christmas. I know all of the kids help out, but it looks like Gabe is often your right-hand man, always watching out for the littles 🙂 I’m sure the lady remembered your family for only good reasons!

  5. If you could only visit either Mt. Vernon or Montecello, which would you do? Also what time of year is best for the veggie gardens? I need to be inspired.

  6. Are the little girls dress up clothes yours or at Mount Vernon? If they are yours, what sort of pattern did you use?

    • The dress up clothes are in a playing/learning room at Mt. Vernon for children under 8. They are so pretty! I wonder if they sell patterns in the gift shop there?

  7. Ooooh! We are going to Washington D.C. in January for a wedding that my husband will be serving at one of the Orthodox Cathedrals. I am going to try to encourage a stop here. We are reading the Felicity books and this would be a perfect trip!

  8. So much light and I could hear the quiet. I loved the pictures and the narrative they told. And, oh, that last picture is so telling of the distance traveled to make such beautiful memories.
    What a great place to visit. It’s been a while for me — I miss it. Thanks for the journey.

  9. Wendy Lister says:

    Love your blog! Wondering what the pattern is for Silas’ grey vest? I’ve a wee one here who needs a vest. Thanks!

  10. I cannot get over how much older Gabriel looks in that photo!! He has grown up so much! Random question, do you ever hear from his brother? I was thinking about your adoption story the other day and wondered how he was doing. As always I love your photos.

  11. What a wonderful idea (the laundry that it)… my Master S is slowly learning not to put it under his bed when I ask him to tidy! Silas is growing up so quickley! xx

  12. I was surprised to see acacia growing there! I would have thought it was far too cold.

    Looks like you had a great trip. xx

    • Hi Moey! I just had to look up acacia, because I don’t know what it is. That’s actually tansy in the photo, but I see that the flowers do look just like acacia flowers!

      • Oh, so it is! I had no idea there was a flower that looked so like acacia. Thanks for looking it up — acacia (or as golden wattle as I grew up calling it) is one of my favorite flowers — the smell is so divine, like sunshine, warm hay and honey. Now I’m going to have to check out tansy and see how it compares 😉

  13. We moved from Virginia to New York in September, and Mount Vernon is one item on a long list of things I miss about Virginia. For several years, we made it a tradition to visit Mount Vernon on Boxing Day. Last year the gardens were still going strong even after Christmas! My kids loved Aladdin and the sheep also, and visiting the cupola in the top of the house that’s only open at Christmas time. Your pictures are lovely and so remind me of the light when we were last there. I’m trying to find New York things to love as much as I love Virginia things, but it’s hard as we head into winter. Thanks for the vicarious visit!

  14. Ginny,
    That place looks amazing. I’d want to look at the gardens and watch the sheep. 🙂


  15. I love the veggie gardens there too! Thanks for the vicarious visit.

  16. We visit Old Sturbridge Village (in MA) a lot each year! What a great opportunity for our children to experience living history! So glad you had a beautiful day to enjoy with the kids! (And I love the reason for your heading out later than planned – I only have 1 boy and am forever cleaning clothes!)

  17. fantastic pictures! looks like a lovely place to visit!

  18. These photos are quite splendid! What a lovely trip with your family?! I have to say that I’m always loving your children’s clothes especially all the hand knits.

  19. wonderful photos. i love wee little silas checking out the sheep. and the one with big brother and the stroller. get expressions.
    have an amazing weekend.

  20. Beautiful pictures!

  21. I used to live in DC (on a military base actually in DC proper) and I will never ever complain about Chicago traffic ever again. Ever.

    Isn’t Mt. Vernon lovely? I used to go there and to the Botannic Garden Conservatory (free!) for my nature fix in the land of concrete and highways.

  22. Gabe is getting so tall! I love the photo of your girls grinning in their dress-up. Precious!

  23. I think Mt. Vernon is one of my all time favorite places and like you, could spend all day in the gardens. I am sad to say I really need to get it in gear to make my gardens look a quarter of how beautiful it is there.

  24. This is on my long list of place to visit now that we’re in VA. Your pictures are gorgeous, makes me want to hop in the car & head over there right now!! Thank you for sharing:-)

  25. This photos remind me that we need a repeat visit. Our first was in July. To say it was hot and humid for this Arizona gal is an understatement. My only concern is that we will probably be back in your area in February. It may not be the best time to visit either!!

    • laura curran says:

      If you go in late February it is actually really nice, weather cooperating of course:) and as a bonus if you go into DC you can go ice skating at The National Gallery of Arts Sculpture Garden.

      • We loved spending time at the Sculpture Garden this past summer. It was our favorite lunch spot before hitting museums. We talked about the fact that it is a skating pond during winter. Thanks for the reminder. Alas, we have no control on when we visit (accompanying my husband on business). The good news is that it will be for 6 or more weeks.

  26. I didn’t realize you were so close to there! My husband’s grandparents live on some of what was George Washington’s farmland, so you drive right by Mt. Vernon on the way to their house. I really loved visiting there!

  27. that place is great!

  28. love the photo of the girls playing dress up!! Every time we drive through VA we always get stuck in a traffic jam near DC. I think I’m a traffic magnet.

  29. I used to love going there as a kid…though I’ve never been at Christmas. What a lovely place. As a fellow Virginian (now living in NC) I so miss all the beautiful historic homesteads (and mountains)! Your pictures are great…as always. They capture so well all the fun had! Glad you made it home safely despite horrible traffic.

  30. Wow, what a beautiful place! ♥ I think it was well worth the trip…..and we should make the effort to go! Thank you for sharing.

  31. beth lehman says:

    oh, i’ve always wanted to go there. what horrific traffic that must of been, but i love that your boys do their own laundry. those gardens are amazing… what great pictures of them! and i’m snickering about the camel.

  32. At first I thought you were at Monticello! Apparently the two places look very similar. We used to visit regularly from NC when my sister lived in Charlottesville……sad that she’s moved to VA Beach (although the beach is fun to visit too). We’ll have to visit Mount Vernon the next time we’re in the area.

    • laura curran says:

      Beautiful pictures, Silas is getting sooo big! Glad to see I’m not the only one missing Northern Virginia and DC. Of course we don’t miss planning our day around the traffic:)

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