Our most recent DC-with-kids adventure was brought to us by Eva's desperate need to have "a butterfwy land on my nose." I refused to promise her that, but I did promise her that during this trip of Daddy's we would go on a butterfly quest. The Facebook hive mind told me to check out the Butterfly Pavilion in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, so though I hemmed and hawed and groaned and dawdled about going into the big city, I finally swallowed my convenience and did it. Massively dragging my feet on the way out the door (in my defense, I was feeling somewhat physically indisposed as well as mentally) helped with the traffic situation, because we left our house around 11 am. At that time of day the Smithsonian is only 20 minutes away from us--I'm still kind of in shock about being so close to everything.
One of my hangups about going into D.C. is the parking. I'd love to take the Metro more, but with two kids and marthritis and the frequency with which elevators and escalators are broken, I've more or less decided to never do it while outnumbered without a good reason. But the magical Internet turned me on to Parking Panda (not sponsored--I am way never going to be organized enough to have anything sponsored on here, FYI...) and I "reserved" a spot in the closest garage that showed up on there, which I think was in fact the closest. I'm a little bit puzzled about the "reserved" part of it, because when you show up at the garage you just park like you normally would, so I suspect it's more like just prepaying for a slightly discounted rate (I paid $16 and it would have been at least $17 on site, probably more). Maybe if you don't use that garage they don't charge your credit card. If any of you can enlighten me, please do! Regardless, it was a very handy way to find a parking garage and I had no problem showing the attendant the receipt on my phone as I left.
(Pardon the blurry phone photos--this is just my life right now.)
Getting babymanhandled. But she can take it.
We walked about 5 blocks to the Museum of Natural History and took a little detour through their outside butterfly garden, which had lovely flowers and, a few birds, and a man with no shirt on, but nary a butterfly. The "Birds of Washington, D.C." exhibit was a fun diversion on the way to the elevators up to the insecty area. I wasn't sure how EE would react to all the deadness/stuffedness but she was totally fine with it.
The museum itself is free (newsflash to those of you who, like me, live under a rock!) but the butterflies require a ticket ($6 adult, $5 for kids 2 and up, free on Tuesdays but reserve ahead or you won't get in!), which assigns you a time slot. It seemed crowded, but our time slot was only 25 minutes away which was easily spent perusing the immediately adjacent Insect Zoo and searching, in vain, for a quieter spot to nurse Oz. We ended up sitting on the ground against a pillar of the center hall, two stories above the big elephant. [NB there is a bench in the hallway to the ladies' room on the 1st floor that would work, assuming your baby isn't bothered by the hundreds of people walking by.] Yeah. Actually, it was kind of cozy:
Strollers aren't allowed in the actual butterfly house, which is quite warm as it's a tropical environment. I threw Oz in the ring sling, which at several shades of blue was a big butterfly attractor--that's on the authority of the Butterfly House Worker Man (I was also wearing a royal blue dress and a flowery headband, which worked out quite well):
He looks unimpressed but was actually just trying to work out how he could best swat at those big things that kept fluttering by. I suspect that he thought they looked tasty.
Jealousy alert! Sorry dude, I'm pretty sure that one of the commandments is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's head-butterfly. Man, I'm a terrible millennial--can't even do a not-scary selfie* facial expression.
Eva got to see plenty of butterflies, and plenty close up. But I kind of stole her dream by having the head-butterfly and another one land on the sling later. I think it's the only day of her life that she regretted wearing pink. There were plenty of tears when we had to leave 25 minutes later, driven by Oz's prodigious sweat. I'm not sure that little dude would do well in the tropics.
Her consolation prize was further perusal of the insect zoo. And she may not have had a butterfly land on her nose, but she did get to hold a hissing cockroach, which apparently ranked a close second!
Eventually I managed to whisk her out of the museum without her realizing that there were dinosaurs and other such glorious things in there. I'd been clear beforehand that we were really only going to see the butterflies and we'll go back to see more. She did go in for a closer look at this elephant, which ended up just terrifying her.
*For all the real adults who read this blog: a "selfie" is a self-portrait. Sorry to have to clue you in to the gory realities of the younger narcissists..
Update: We went back with the Pater Familias this week, and forgot until we got there that it was Tuesday. There were no more butterfly room tickets available until 3pm, and we couldn't even get in line for those until 2:45, so we made do with dinosaurs, birds, and the bug zoo. In the bug zoo they had a tarantula out for a feeding at the same time as Oz needed to stretch his legs so I was letting him crawl around behind all the people watching the feeding. He used his speediest stealth-crawl to sneak up on a lady and placed his tarantula-sized hand on her leg and, I kid you not, she jumped about a foot in the air. Then we all had a good laugh.