The Shulls do D.C. {Part Three}

It’s the third and final installment of our spring break trip to Washington D.C.

Our little family thoroughly enjoyed the nation’s capital and declared it one of the best family vacations we’ve ever been on.  The people were so friendly, the food was so good, transportation was clean, it was easy to navigate and walk almost anywhere, the history was rich, the landscape beautiful and almost every activity/museum/visitors center we visited was free.  It was such a good place for our family of six to visit and we’re already thinking about when we’ll go back.

If you missed Part One of our trip, click HERE and to see Part Two, click HERE.

And now, the fourth and final day our trip (spoiler alert: we end on a HIGH!)…

Good morning from D.C.!  We started off our day by walking to…

…the International Spy Museum.  So, this place was a bust for us.  Boo.  #itwasboundtohappenatsomepoint  The funny thing is, this is the only place where we had to buy actual tickets and it was the only place we didn’t enjoy.  We wanted it to be more about real spies…and it did have some info on real spies…but it had way too much info on fake spies (i.e. James Bond movie spies).  We went, we saw, we were unimpressed and we left.

Heading into the Spy Museum…

…and heading out :).

Next stop, Georgetown!  We were so excited to see this area of D.C.!  Please note, Ashby thinks she’s a supermodel here 😉 .

This particular day just happened to be March 7, which is my dad’s birthday.  So, I texted Meagan (who lived in D.C. for a decade) and asked her where we should have lunch in Georgetown and she said J. Paul’s…and ironically enough, my dad is Jonathan Paul, so we knew it was meant to be :).

After a delicious lunch at J. Paul’s, we walked the streets of Georgetown.

Everyone was having the best time!

Of course, we HAD to eat a cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes!

Post-cupcake faces.

So, first thing that morning, we went online and reserved tickets to visit the Holocaust Museum.  Tickets were only a dollar a person, but you had to have reservations that are made the day of (instead of walking right in).  We had made our reservations for 2:30 that day.  We left Georgetown and made our way there…

…this museum was phenomenal.  We stayed for about two hours but could have stayed all day.  We watched every short film, we toured, we read, we talked…it was a very intense and yet special part of our trip because we were really able to reflect and discuss some horrible parts of history.  I have a feeling that people are going to ask me what age is appropriate for kids and here is my answer: it depends on your kids.  While we were in there, there were kids of all ages, so it most definitely is a kid-friendly museum.  Because our kids have been to Anne Frank’s house, they’ve toured an actual concentration camp and visited many other historical spots from WWII, this wasn’t a new discussion for us.  I appreciated how the graphic (very graphic) movie footage was up high and behind a curtain so that children could not view it, they offered a “kid museum” that talked about children living through the Holocaust, so I do think it’s appropriate for kids…but that’s for you to gauge.

After the museum, Smith wanted to play catch outside, so they played (he brought his glove and ball…because you know, #boypriorities )…

…and the three girls ran around and burned off some energy.

This was our warmest day in D.C. (mid-60s), and we enjoyed being outside!

So, after this, we went back to our Airbnb, changed clothes and headed out to dinner.  Shame on me because I have no pictures from dinner and it was fantastic because friends, IT WAS A GERMAN RESTAURANT!  You guys know how much I love German food (it’s my VERY favorite!), so I was pumped when I read online before we left that D.C. had this one particular German restaurant that was authentic and kid-friendly.  We loved eating at Cafe Berlin!  The food was sooooooo good!

We left Cafe Berlin and we headed to the White House to meet Kerri for our private tour of the West Wing.  The night before, we had to submit copies of our passports to the Secret Service to grant us security (I had someone comment and ask me about this).  Thankfully, Andrew just happened to have had those copies on his phone (as we prepare for our summer vacation).  We had no idea what to expect, but we were excited!

Waiting at the entrance for the Secret Service to let us in :).

Eeeeeeks!  We’re heading inside the West Wing.  #someonepinchme #noseriouslyPINCHME

Annnnd…that’s where the pics stop (for now).  We were not allowed to take pics inside the West Wing, so I’ll paraphrase.  One of the VP’s staffers was this adorable girl (and friend of Kerri’s) and she gave us the grand tour.  We went inside, she showed us where the situation room was and then she was like, “do you want to go outside and see the rose garden”.  Um, yes!  So, we walked outside (under those famous arches you always see on TV) and checked out the rose garden and where Marine One takes off.  While we were out there, we were able to look inside the Oval Office from a distance through the window.  It was so surreal!  There it was RIGHT THERE.  After our rose garden tour, she walked us back inside and down this hall, we passed the Roosevelt Room and the Cabinet Room and then BAM.  There it was…the Oval Office.  I just didn’t think we would see THAT.  We were happy looking at it through the glass from across the rose garden…but no, we got to stand there at the threshold of the Oval Office for 20 minutes and just take it all in.  Just us.  Looking inside.  It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I just kept thinking about the men who have occupied that space and the amazing things they’ve done for our country: FDR, Kennedy, the list goes on.  It was so cool to stand there and just look.  (And yes, I thought about Scandal while I was standing there too 😉 ).

After we finished looking at the Oval, we headed to our next stop…

…the press briefing room.  As you can see, Smith is ready for his first job.

So. Much. Fun!

There’s Kerri again.  I’m seriously going to have to have a fifth kid just to name him/her Kerri 🙂 .

We left the press briefing room and stood under where the residence is…

…blurry but happy!

One more picture of the West Wing before we made our way over to the Vice President’s office…

…where pictures were allowed 😉 .  This is in the drawer of the VP.’s desk (we had permission to look!).  Former VP’s have all signed it.  Isn’t that cool?!

The VP has a small office in the West Wing and then this office is where his staff is located.  It’s called his “ceremonial office”.


Kensington sitting at the VP’s desk (formally President Roosevelt’s desk inside the Oval Office)…

…Ashby wanted to sit…

…and so did Madeley.  A lot can happen in six months.  One day, you’re a Chinese citizen in an orphanage and then six months later, you’re an American citizen with a family sitting at the Vice President’s desk 😉 .

We exited the White House and then walked around front for one more view…

…and just like that, our trip to Washington D.C. was over.

Whew!  Three posts on one little trip.

Did we do everything in D.C.?


Does that mean we need to go back soon and do some more stuff?


We had the BEST time and consider it one of our best trips!  To read Part One, click HERE and Part Two, click HERE.

 Thank yo Washington D.C.!


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  • Leslie Z. March 23, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Talk about a great surprise!!! How incredible!

  • Erika Slaughter March 23, 2017 at 4:50 am

    You guys ended on a bang!! I mean how do you ever top that on a vacation?! Awesome!! Smith peeking over the podium was too cute and the way Madeley is sitting with her hands on the table-adorable!! A trip to remember-for sure!

  • Sheaffer Sims March 23, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Well, that was a once in a lifetime experience. AMAZING! Ashby was rocking some amazing poses, and my goodness it has been a big 6 months for Madeley! 🙂

  • Beth March 23, 2017 at 5:20 am

    What an awesome adventure! The Holocaust museum is great. They were so intentional about where they placed videos so the little ones can’t see. I can’t ever get the smell of the shoes out of my head. Daniel’s Story is the best place for kids. Hope your little ones enjoyed that!

  • Emma @ from my little pink couch March 23, 2017 at 5:23 am

    Such a great vacation!!!!

  • Sarah Shaneyfelt March 23, 2017 at 5:25 am

    I love DC! There’s so much to do that I feel like you could go every year and still have new things to do. So jealous of your private tour of the West Wing….so incredible!
    Sarah at MeetTheShaneyfelts

  • Eileen March 23, 2017 at 5:27 am

    What an experience!!! My favorite picture of Madeley sitting at the VP’s desk. What an incredible journey she’s had! I can’t wait to take my family to DC.

  • Narci Dreffs March 23, 2017 at 5:28 am

    Girl, that is just so cool!! What a great memory for your family!!!

  • Meag March 23, 2017 at 5:36 am

    I’m a D.C. native- all my life and you must do the newseum next time you venture this way. It’s pricey but easily the coolest museum in the city!

  • Toni :0) March 23, 2017 at 5:38 am

    Mmmm Georgetown Cupcakes…the best! Looks like a fantastic trip and so cool you had the connections you did to see stuff that most people can’t. Someday I’ll visit as I’ve never been.

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams March 23, 2017 at 5:38 am

    That is awesome that you guys got to tour the West Wing! How special for your family 🙂 That picture of Madeley at the VP’s desk is so adorable!!
    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Erin March 23, 2017 at 5:53 am

    As NJ residents, we do NY, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Annapolis and DC as short trips quite often. DC has lots more for you to see on future trips…the National Zoo and Smithsonian museums for starters. It really is a perfect family friendly place for a short trip!

  • Katrina March 23, 2017 at 5:55 am

    I was a flight attendant for Air Force One. I could have got you a tour. Next time!!! I also would go to the White House to prepare meals for the First family. there is a restaurant in the White House as well. I spent a week learning how to cook with the chefs (Navy). It was the most exhausting time.

  • Courtney March 23, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Your comment about Madeley was so meaningful and speaks volumes to just how great adoption is! What an amazing trip you all had, thanks for sharing!

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life March 23, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Wow, what an amazing end to your amazing trip!!! So cool you got to tour the West Wing! You have me hyped up to bring my family to DC!!

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog March 23, 2017 at 6:24 am

    I loved, loved, loved your series. You guys looked so happy throughout the trip, it makes me smile!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Katie Lewis March 23, 2017 at 6:29 am

    I’ve lived in DC for 17 years and since moving here I’ve become disenfranchised with the city as a whole. It was refreshing to hear your take on it and it made me remember why I love this city! 🙂 Thank you.

  • Lori March 23, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Love love love these DC posts! It’s so much fun to read since I love the city too!!!

  • Paula March 23, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Wonderful 3 day recap! Sounds like a fantastic family vacation!

  • Debbie Hibbert March 23, 2017 at 6:37 am

    What a wonderful trip for you all! Oh you DEFINITELY have to go back … there are dozens of things you missed … including one of my favorites, Mt. Vernon.

    • Sara Wolf March 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      I lived in the D.C. area for a couple of years and totally agree that Mt. Vernon is a “must-see.” Plan to see it on your next D.C. trip Shull family! ?

  • Holly March 23, 2017 at 6:38 am

    We went to DC last summer as our “education vacation” and LOVED it as well! There is SO much to do and see in this city, we decided we will be going back. We were unable to tour the White House since you need at least 3-6 months prior notice to get tickets. So that’s on our list for next time. The SPY Museum is something we skipped because we heard that it wasn’t as great as it seems and we were so glad we did!

  • Kelly Stamps March 23, 2017 at 6:41 am

    So much fun!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jennifer Williams March 23, 2017 at 6:53 am

    My favorite quote was about Madeley. 6 months ago she was a Chinese orphan and there she was sitting in the VP desk of the USA! God’s plan is so cool! Because of your post about D.C., I am planning my crew a trip! ??

  • Brooke Richardson March 23, 2017 at 6:55 am

    What an experience!!!! Madeley at the VP desk was so adorable!!!!

  • Lynn March 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Smith would probably love the FBI building more than the Spy Museum. We toured it for a high school field trip.

  • Stephanie March 23, 2017 at 7:26 am

    You got to see more of this town than I ever have and I live here! LOL

    Sounds like you had a great time!

  • ISHALC March 23, 2017 at 7:28 am

    DC has a very special place in my heart! If you are looking at a 2nd trip, I highly recommend visiting during cherry blossom season. It is stunning at the Tidal Basin with the 2,000 cherry trees in full bloom. Spring in DC all around is just gorgeous. You’ll have to visit the monuments you missed and the Newseum (although not a Smithsonian so you’ll have to pay but your family will love it)! And eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street which is a D.C. Landmark and has a great history. Read about its role in the civil rights movement before going. The food is yummy too!

  • Mary W. March 23, 2017 at 7:31 am

    I’m going to DC in may with my kiddos who will be almost 3 and 6 months at the time! Your post has me so pumped!! I especially love when attractions are free becuade with my kiddos, I never know when I need to make a quick escape to avoid a meltdown. 😉 thanks for the recommendations!

  • Briana March 23, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Next time you’re in D.C., you guys must have lunch at Filomena in Georgetown. It’s this cute, downstairs Italian restaurant with the nicest waitstaff and owner. The food is delicious, of course! Very charming.


  • heidi March 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

    Coolest experience ever! What an amazing friend to set that up. Love it ☺
    Was anyone else at 6:00 am now craving cup cakes lol

  • Tracy March 23, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Wow! That is so cool. My hubby & I love D.C. The West Wing tour sounds amazing. I must admit that my kiddos would NOT have enjoyed that vacation at your kids’ ages. We took them when they were teens. It still wasn’t their favorite trip!

  • Casey March 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I know you’re getting a million questions, I’m sorry I was just curious how the kids did with all of the walking. I know you guys are used to it. We just booked our trip last night for the week of Memorial Day. We have one that will have just turned 6 and I’m wondering how she’ll do. She’s our dramatic one ha and will complain about walking in the grocery store lol. We are staying on Pennsylvania Avenue so pretty close to everything. Any tips?

    • Mix and Match Mama March 23, 2017 at 8:19 am

      The big kids never complained. Ashby is 4.5 and we brought a stroller for her. I guess I would say better safe than sorry and bring a stroller, right? You don’t want her miserable!

      • Casey March 23, 2017 at 10:23 am

        Thank you so much! I mentioned that to my husband and he looked at me like I was crazy…I told him ok then you can carry her ;). If she’s loving it she probably wouldn’t complain but if we hit a part that’s boring to her then she’d start!! Oh and where is the park the boys were playing ball in? We have a baseball player too and that could be a nice break.

        • Mix and Match Mama March 23, 2017 at 12:53 pm

          It was right next to the Holocaust Museum!

  • Amanda March 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

    I’ve been to DC twice in the last few years for some pretty intense sight-seeing and there is still so much left to be done! Our family loves it! And we had the same experience last summer with the spy museum….we just really didn’t like it. At all. I would never recommend it to anyone.
    Looks like you had such a great trip!!

  • Brittany March 23, 2017 at 8:08 am

    So sad you didn’t LOVE the Spy Museum! Did you do the interactive part? That’s one of my favorites here in DC! The Crime and Punishment Museum was also a winner, but it closed permanently about a year ago… RIP :(. When you come back, make sure to hit up Baked and Wired in Georgetown. It isn’t at touristy, and the cupcakes are about 800x better than Georgetown Cupcake.

  • Marcy March 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

    WOW! What a fantastic adventure .. thanks to Kerri for ultimately giving us all a peek behind the scenes.

  • Carly M March 23, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Miss Madeley. Such a little lady sitting at that desk.

  • Barbara parnell March 23, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Amazing!! An experience of a lifetime,and I love what you said about Madeley…what a wonderful life you are giving her!! Your children had such a unique,incredible experience that they will carry with them for a lifetime. By the way, what is Kerry’s phone #? Just kidding! I enjoyed the post! Have a great day!

  • Michelle Manke March 23, 2017 at 8:18 am

    It literally brought me to tears when you said, 6 months ago she was a Chinese citizen living in an orphanage to sitting at the VP’s desk! God is so good!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Amanda @ That Inspired Chick March 23, 2017 at 8:19 am

    That is so exciting!! And Madeley behind that desk and Smith at the podium…oh my gosh. They are so cute!! And Ashby’s supermodel pose cracked me up!

    That Inspired Chick

  • DonnaS March 23, 2017 at 8:20 am

    The picture of Madeley is just so so cute! She really has come a long way in a short amount of time. Love that you show us your vacation–now I want to plan a trip there!

  • Shay March 23, 2017 at 8:25 am

    What an absolutely INCREDIBLE experience. DC is on my travel bucket list and seeing your posts makes me want to go even more!! Love, love the pics of the kiddos in the West Wing- sitting at the desks- such a surreal experience, I am sure! As always thank you for sharing!

  • Mary March 23, 2017 at 8:29 am

    So fun! I remember doing a VA/DC family vacation as a kid and it was so fun. If y’all go back, explore the surrounding parts of VA and see Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello, Mount Vernon, etc. I remember thinking it was so cool to walk through former presidents’ houses!

  • Mary Louise March 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

    looks like a great trip! I live just outside of DC – about 10 minutes away and for a paid Museum next time you need to go to The Newseum very kid friendly and amazing. Another hidden gem is The Hillwood House and Museum- amazing house plus gardens and her things!
    The Portrait Gallery is a must see- and Free your kids would love all the portraits of the famous people! Across the street from The Portrait Gallery is a very good place to eat is Clydes which also owns where you ate- The Old Ebitt
    I almost forgot you need to get the kids to Mt Vernon and see George Washington’s home- plan to spend a few hours there- well worth it! about 25 minutes by car from DC
    If you can get free tickets to the brand new African American Museuem it’s well worth it- I’ve been twice and it’s amazing! So much to see and do in the DC area and like you said most of it is free!

  • Bethany Crisp March 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Wow! What an incredibly memorable trip! So fun!

  • Hillary March 23, 2017 at 8:44 am

    My husband and I loved visiting DC so much that we moved from Southern California to Capitol Hill in January. Next time, make Newseum. Some more recommendations: Rose’s Luxury or a Jose Andres restaurant, and Baked & Wired.

  • Julie March 23, 2017 at 8:45 am

    ❤️? “so did Madeley. A lot can happen in six months. One day, you’re a Chinese citizen in an orphanage and then six months later, you’re an American citizen with a family sitting at the Vice President’s desk ? .”

  • Darcy Sexson March 23, 2017 at 8:48 am

    How cool – all of it! 🙂

  • Alexis deZayas March 23, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Too cool!! Can’t get over Madeley at the VP’s desk 🙂

  • Keisha M Dawson March 23, 2017 at 9:09 am

    This posts brings tears to my eyes! What an honor to get to experience all of these things! Sweet Madeley in the Vice President’s chair was my absolute favorite!

  • Jenn March 23, 2017 at 9:10 am

    Your children are so lucky to have had such a rare opportunity to explorenoue Nations Capital! Have you thought of asking for the opinions/tips from your readers before you take a trip? Seems like it would open so many doors to make a trip even better. I have to say, I love reading your readers comments, I have received many great ideas from them! Thank you all!!!

  • Cathryn March 23, 2017 at 9:13 am

    You need to post the picture of Madeley at the VP’s desk with that comment on your IG account. How amazing and wonderful!!

  • Pat March 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

    What amazes me is that you seem to keep your children engaged. I have wonderful grandchildren — very smart, etc., but I don’t think they would love walking all over the place and looking at things, i.e. where are the rides, when can we have a snack, I’m tired, etc. etc. How in the world do you keep them so interested in everything? That just amazes me.

    • Mix and Match Mama March 23, 2017 at 12:55 pm

      Haha! Well, thank you, Pat! I guess they do it because we’ve been taking them places like this since they were born. I don’t think they know any different. And PS: they do ask for snacks too 🙂

  • Nora March 23, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I have been reading for years, never commented, but that pic and caption of little Madeley at the VP’s desk made my heart grow three sizes Grinch style and brought a tear to my eye. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Jenny March 23, 2017 at 9:36 am

    I think you need to go on more trips/vacations, so I can read more about them. They are my favorite posts. So fun! 🙂

  • Corbie March 23, 2017 at 9:39 am

    WOW. DOUBLE WOW! I loved your quote “One day, you’re a Chinese citizen in an orphanage and then six months later, you’re an American citizen with a family sitting at the Vice President’s desk” That was a wow moment for me too! What a great experience! Thanks for sharing!

  • MelanieL March 23, 2017 at 9:40 am

    WOW! Speechless, this little trip of yours was so incredibly awesome! Your caption under Madeley’s picture made me smile really BIG!

  • Genelle Pretty March 23, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Shay thank you for sharing and giving all the fabulous deets of your trip to DC!! Beach and overseas vacations are amazing, but there is so much to learn and see here in the good ol USA! Thanks for your recommendations and honesty. I love your blog and appreciate all your hard work. Happy Thursday!

  • Debbie Lei March 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Can I have Kerri’s number?????! :’)

  • STACIE R. March 23, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I love when people come to “my backyard” and LOVE it!!! I don’t take for granted how lucky I am to live so close to such a wonderful city that holds such history Come back in Dec. and join us at Arlington to lay wreaths. Such a wonderful experience as well. WELCOME BACK ANY TIME

  • Melissa March 23, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I live in the DC area and work in downtown DC. For those planning trips to DC, I always recommend the Newseum over the Spy Museum in the “pay for” category. The Spy Museum is a tourist trap and I’ll only tell people to go there if they have a special event – like Spy Night where kids can try a lie detector and learn how to fingerprint. The Newseum is great for kids – they can pretend to be broadcasters, learn how news is made, etc. Our family loves it. Interestingly, we have not gone to the Holocaust Museum with the kids. It’s my absolute favorite Museum in DC so I’m glad you went. I also haven’t been to the American Indian Museum but it’s on my short list for the next time friend are in town! You certainly had an awesome long weekend!!

  • Katie March 23, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I have lived in DC twice in my career – once to work in the Pentagon and once downtown with GSA. It is an incredible place!! I got to go to the White House to see President Bush and it is a memory I will never forget! What an amazing trip for your beautiful family!

  • Whitney Pegram March 23, 2017 at 10:42 am

    What an incredible trip!!

  • Michelle March 23, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Our 8 year old daughter has been asking us for a while to take her to D.C., she is obsessed with Abraham Lincoln and after reading your 3 blogs, I am going to book a trip for our April vacation.

  • Heather Bramelett March 23, 2017 at 11:18 am

    WOW~ I got chills just reading about you standing in the Oval Office! I probably would have teared up! So amazing and what an AMAZING experience for your kiddos!!
    And what an awesome GOD! just like you said…..6 months ago Madeley was an orphan. Cue the tears!

    Such an awesome trip!

  • Karen March 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for sharing your trip to Washington DC. I love this place too! So much to do. I have been three times and I still have so much more to see. Your behind the scene tours were just great to hear about and such a great experience for your family. Can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

  • sandy March 23, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Next time you must spend the day at Mt. Vernon. We live here and usually the Mt. Vernon day is the day our guests love the most. The interactive part of the Spy Museum is amazing…you have to be 12 years old though.
    Glad you loved the city!

  • Emily Sarmiento March 23, 2017 at 11:56 am

    We have five children and we loved taking our kids to DC! One of our favorite places to visit. When we were at the capital many years ago then Senator Pence saw our family walking the halls and he said would you like to visit an area where visitors normally don’t go . . we were like YES! So, he took us into the break room where the senators can break before going into the chamber to vote or debate or whatever else they do in there 🙂 It was so cool. Anyways, enjoyed your pics and reliving it through your family.
    On a sidenote, what size frames are your RayBan’s ?

  • Catherine March 23, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    My sister worked in the mailroom of the White House about 7 years ago and we got to take a tour and it was so amazing. The Obamas were actually there at the time and we had to wait inside before going to the rose garden because the girls were playing outside, so surreal. My husband, dad and I all used the bathroom and for weeks after it was so fun saying “we peed in the White House!!” hahaha!

  • Kristin S March 23, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Whenever I’m in Washington I think of two things. First, I am so grateful so much is free. Thank you, Smithsonian. Second, I’m so proud this is a place people visit when they visit the US from other countries.

  • Alice March 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Love DC. I spent two summers there in college interning for a non-profit downtown. Every day on our lunch break we (the other intern and I) would walk around the city, and stumbled across some of the most amazing places just randomly. My favorite was the church Abraham Lincoln attended, which we just happened to walk by one day. We went in and there was a little museum with artifacts from his presidency, like an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and the pew where Lincoln sat when he attended church. I also loved to eat lunch in the park across from the White House. There was usually some kind of protest or demonstration going on. I can’t wait to bring my kids back there when they’re a little older. Its such a great feeling to be surrounded by so much history and current workings of our democracy at the same time.

  • Leanne March 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Over 25 years ago, we took our kids then ages 5, 8 & 10 to DC. One of our favorite things we did was an FBI tour. Not sure if you can still do it, but it was great.

  • Megan Butler March 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    This is seriously the coolest vacation ever!!!!!!

  • Patrice Bennett March 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Amazing!! The fact that a family visiting on vacation can stand right outside the Oval office is proof positive that The White House truly is the Peoples House!! Your family exemplifies two major themes of America. One, As you pointed out in the picture of Madeley at the Vice President’s desk, a person can come from anywhere and become entirely American. And second, e-pluribus-Unum “from many one”. One Shull family, one American family. Your kids standing under that phrase is my favorite!!
    So glad you had a great trip! Love You!!

  • Brandye March 23, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    That photo of Madely and your caption……what a difference 6 months can make. I was tearing up. (I teach ESL in an elementary school and most of my students are Asian.) Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Angela Ellingson March 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    WOW!! What an incredible, unreal experience! I want to be Kerri’s friend, too! 😉 I gave up Scandal after the first couple seasons, but I’ve been watching Designated Survivor and it’s pretty good!

  • Nicole Buschlen March 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Never would I have imagined that DC would be someplace I would want to take a “vacation” I’m more of a beach and sun girl. However, after this post I’m seriously considering it. And the comments, oh my so many more ideas of places to go. Thank you for this great post. And I know its been said over and over but Madeley at the VP desk, priceless!!

  • Baylor March 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I just went in January to D.C. and being from south Louisiana I found the people to be very rude and the food was awful

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 4:47 am

      Really? Not us! We loved the food and the people!

  • Emily March 23, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    It was inspiring to see the girls sitting at the official desks. I hope I am able to see the day a girl can take office. I hope they continue to dream big and know they can do anything! It would be especially amazing if one of your littlest girls would be a figure in government. What profound role models they would be for all little girls and boys waiting for their forever families. I continue to be inspired by your adoption stories and how K&S have such open hearts at their ages. Thank you for sharing.

  • Kelly Chen March 23, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    What a fun trip! My boyfriend and I went back in August – makes me want to go again! And speaking of Scandal and’s Gossip Girl?!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 4:46 am

      I’m almost finished with season 4!!!

  • Amy March 23, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    What an amazing vacation! That comment about the past 6 months for Madeley really hit home with me. We adopted to amazing children from Guatemala. Adoption is the best! ❤️

  • Jeanie March 23, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Wow! What an experience you had!! I got a little breathless myself reading about the White House visit. That is so cool!

  • Lacey smart March 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Curious.. what area did y’all stay in that was so convenient to everything? Thanks so much for all the advice!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 4:46 am

      China Town!

      • Lacey Smart March 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

        Thank you?

  • Kayla Kreider March 23, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Oh my goodness D. C. Is my favorite place!! It’s so rich with history and so many things to see!! I loved seeing the Holocaust museum! So raw and powerful!!

  • Charise March 23, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    This trip has to be one that goes on the list of “always remember”. The amount of history your family was in the midst of is just breathtaking. I mean think of the things and the people who have graced those rooms throughout history!

  • Erin Port March 23, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Oh my goodness Madeley in the VP’s office chair and your quote – yes! Love it so much. What an amazing experience for all of you. Yay for amazing readers turned friends – wahoo! xoxo ERIN

  • Molly Avis Ball March 23, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    So funny you were in the ceremonial office, I was just there on Tuesday and took the same picture of the former VP’s signatures and the chine cabinet that was President Grant’s unbelievable. Is such a historic, beautiful place.

  • GiGi Turner March 24, 2017 at 2:42 am

    What an incredible experience! Thanks for sharing it! The entire time reading your posts and looking at the pictures of your trip, I keep thinking “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”. The picture of him behind the podium just made it more real. And why does Kensington look about 15 year old in the picture of just her in the park with the Washington monument in the background?!? (the guys were playing pitch) A Washington D.C. trip is a dream of mine!

  • Patty March 24, 2017 at 7:54 am

    I have loved reading these posts! I have lived an hour outside of D.C. my whole life and we definitely take it for granted. This makes me want to pack my kids up and head there right now! We found the Spy Museum underwhelming, too. I think it’s pretty incredible that your kids have enough background information and maturity for the Holocaust Museum. All this travel has prepared them! I just love that you love D.C.!!

  • Emily Sarmiento March 24, 2017 at 8:26 am

    What size RayBan frames do you buy? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 10:17 am

      I think they’re just the classic size. I don’t know???

  • Kelly March 24, 2017 at 8:45 am

    I don’t think a family vacation can get any better than this one. You are so sweet to share it all with us. We’ve been to DC several times but now I am eager to go again. The restaurant suggestions and reader tips are so helpful! Here’s a crazy question: where is the top that K is wearing in the park from? So cute, I’d like to get on for my granddaughter:).

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 10:16 am

      That’s Matilda Jane!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 24, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Wait? I’m wrong. That one is from Gap (last fall!).

      • Kelly March 27, 2017 at 8:12 am

        Thank you!!

  • Emily March 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    This trip looks so awesome and I can tell from the pictures that the kids had a great time! Since I’m sure you’re still on a White House/D.C. high right now, you should check out the book The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower. It’s a really interesting book about the staff of the White House and some of their experiences with former Presidents and First Families.

  • Jan March 24, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    What a great trip – loved reading your posts. We were in DC a few years ago and are ready to go back too!

  • Mayra García March 25, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Oh my, Shay! I could FEEL your complete satisfaction over this Spring Break family trip! Thank you for listening to Smith’s request. Moral of the story: everyone needs a Kerri in their life! ?
    • Ashby is going to remember the Bowen building the most. ?
    • I loved the picture of Andrew and Smith playing in the background with Kensington posing – it captured so much simplicity and joy. ?
    • Madeley James will one day look back on that picture of herself in the VP’s chair and wish she could time travel. ?

  • Lizzie @ This Happy Life March 27, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Hi Shay – sorry if you already answered this, but did you find DC to be safe? I have heard mixed things about the area from people, but I’m thinking with everything they have right there in downtown, it has to be safe??! I’m thinking it’s kind of like Chicago (where I’m from) there are amazing parts to the city and then are not so amazing parts. Is it like that? Thank you!!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 27, 2017 at 8:24 am

      We did! In our opinion, it felt extremely safe.

  • Southern & Style March 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

    This is so incredible! Your kids are totally going to love having these memories as they get older, what an amazing trip!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  • Detroit Duchess March 28, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    What an AMAZING trip! I can’t believe you got all of those behind the scenes tours, that really made it! I am going to DC at the beginning of June and hope to do some sightseeing. We saw everything on a family trip when I was little, but I don’t remember too much of it.

  • Clytie Roberts-Glage March 30, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    We are so glad you enjoyed your trip to D.C. and especially your dinner at Cafe Berlin! Our staff and small, independent business thanks you!

    See you next time y’all are in town!


  • Maria March 30, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    We’re planning a trip to D.C. for our spring break mid-April. Just curious, the museums say bottled water is permitted, do you know if it can be in a Swell bottle? Also, they say no food, what about little snacks? We need our almonds and fishes! 🙂 thanks for your review! It’s been really helpful with our planning!

    • Mix and Match Mama March 31, 2017 at 4:52 am

      They were so easy going, I don’t think any of this would be a problem at any of them.

  • Emily March 31, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I’m so glad you enjoyed my city! For next time, the brand new Museum of African American History and Culture is absolutely amazing (and the food is so good). Also the National Archives are pretty incredible, far less dry than you would think. They have lots of interactive stuff for kids.