Saturday, April 30, 2011

The City...Alone

Well, when I say alone, I mean just Megan, Luke and me!  I think Steve was a little apprehensive to allow me to roam the city without his expertise, following the recent 'Metro didn't stop at our station' episode.  But Luke was dying to visit the National Zoo, Megan was interested in going along with the plan, and nobody else wanted to go.  I jumped out of Steve's van at the zoo entrance with full confidence I would do just fine in the city alone.

After visiting Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City for the last few years where the animal population has severely dropped, I had high expectations for the National Zoo.  I was somewhat disappointed.  Where exactly do the animals at zoos live?

(Perhaps I will one day consider a career change to a zoo-keeper in hopes of actually seeing some zoo animals.  On second thoughts, I really don't like animals, so it may not be a reality.)

The kids were absolutely thrilled with the free piggy banks Capital One Bank was giving out at a vendor booth at the zoo.  Complete with stickers and jewels to decorate the piggy banks with, we left with four! (The generous lady said, 'Take as many as you'd like."  Fortunately I convinced Luke that Drew really didn't care if we brought him one home or no, so we only had to squeeze four, rather than five into our bag!)

I'm sure all the security guards at the x-ray machines later in the day, found the tourist bag with four awkward sized piggy banks squeezed in, an interesting tourist necessity.  (We won't even mention the efforts it took to fit them into our bags to fly across the country the next day)  Just what I always pictured Washington DC souvenir highlights would be--a free gift from a bank marketing ploy.

And now look, I've talked more about the free piggy banks than the National Zoo!  That's kind of how the zoo was--with the exception of seeing a Panda bear, and getting this great shot, the zoo wasn't exactly my favorite part of my Washington DC trip.  But Luke loved it and Megan tolerated it, so it was worth the visit.

I have to say with the exception of getting a slight case of vertigo on this very tall escalator, our travels with the Washington DC Metro (including have to switch lines) went extremely well.

We enjoyed eating ice cream from the street vendors, even if I could probably have paid for our flight to DC with the amount of money I spent on the ice cream.  We won't mention that Megan, in an attempt to eat her Spongebob ice cream as humanely as possible, ended up with Spongebob, making a crash landing onto the sweltering DC sidewalk.

Steve called me during the afternoon, to see if we wanted him to come and pick him us up so we could visit the National Cathedral with the rest of the clan.  I asked my kids what they wanted to do, and they both answered the question before I even finished asking it.  Unanimously, we decided that the drive-by the National Cathedral on our way to church the day before was enough for this trip!

We enjoyed a second visit to the Air and Space Museum with far less people and much lower inside temperature than the previous time.  We were each touched at the Holocaust Museum with the children's exhibit, 'Daniel's Story.'  We dutifully visited the National Archives, as we knew we couldn't possibly come up with a suitable explanation to give Laurie & Steve if we didn't.  Of course the old documents were quite grand to see, but I don't think Luke and I appreciated them as we should have...

With the high temperatures outside, and even higher humidity we refreshed by the fountains in the Sculpture Garden before exploring more of the city sites.

Later that evening, the day ended with Luke insisting on joining the throngs of tourists capturing this shot:

Then we watched the sunset over the Lincoln Memorial.

All in all, I did a grand job finding my way around the city of Washington DC!
(Well-if you don't count the four-six security/police officers around the city that  I had to ask to find the Metro Station to return home at the end of the day.  But really, no one but Megan, Luke and me really need to know that...)

Friday, April 29, 2011

For Better or For Worse

(I warned you I couldn't stay quiet for long!-But what else am I going to do at 4 something AM!?)

Dear Prince William and (Should be Princess) Kate:

What a HAPPY, HAPPY day--and it is only 4:24am!!
I've spent the last hour or so, smiling as I watch the events of your blessed wedding.

Oh what a grand occasion.

I kept thinking about the scrapbook that lies carefully in my cedar chest at the foot of my bed--that my dear Auntie Sheila gave me back in 1981.  It was my role as a proper little English school girl to vigilantly keep newspaper clippings, postcards, and even a Buckingham Palace stamped letter from your dear mother, Princess Di herself.  I have a commemorative spoon and a beloved make-up bag marking the special July 1981 day.

Fast forward thirty years!
It is your wedding day!!  I can remember excitedly watching the television screen as your mother presented you to the country (and world!) outside the hospital doors, almost twenty nine years ago.  And now you are getting married!

I don't have a scrapbook, I have no newspaper clippings, I have no commemorative spoon.  And I certainly have no make-up bag  to remember the occasion.  But, I did dutifully awaken (before my alarm even!) and with a huge smile on my face (and I admit a few tears in my eyes) am watching your special, special day.  Although I am sorely disappointed that you couldn't overcome protocol briefly and 'Kiss The Bride' at the traditional time.

I loved your little brother's sneak peek at the bride, I loved your determined and traditional not seeing the bride until she was by your side, I loved the simple vows, and I loved your nervous smiles.  I loved the presence of love in your eyes.  And, I loved the thought I had, that of course your mother was there in spirit.

What beauty, grandness and patriotism present on this historic day.  And whether or not the bizarre regulations of royalty grant Kate the official role of 'Princess' or not, she's pretty darn close to one.

What a delightful morning!

My heartfelt congratulations and best wishes go out to you.  It seemed like the perfect occasion and I am so happy to have been a part of it.  I briefly question the craziness of waking up at such an hour, but really, how could I not have?  It is my continued duty of a once-proper-English-school-girl.

I must also take this moment to send my sincere apologies for my husbands rudeness for such a grand occasion.  My dear husband lay in bed next to me throughout the whole event, with snores sometimes overcoming the sounds of the royal music.  I am so sorry.  He doesn't understand one bit the grandness of the occasion.

And now as the sounds of 'God Save The Queen' ring out through my television, I must end this letter to sing along.  (On the bright side, my singing should cease the snoring.)

Congratulations Your Royal Highnesses!  I'll look forward to the 'Kiss The Bride' scene on the balcony in just a little bit.

Best wishes and much love,
A Former English School Girl

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No Resting

I need to get back to real life, and though I have plenty of things mulling about in my head, I have other more urgent things to get to.  And not because I think anyone is still interested in our trip, but for a permanent family record, I'm going to post the rest of our trip pictures for the next few days.

I'll be back before too long--after all, I always lost the game "Who can be quietest the longest" when I was younger.  I would still lose at it today...

DC Trip-Sunday, April 24th:

Of course our Easter Sunday did not start out with our typical Easter traditions, and that's okay.  We attended the Chevy Chase Singles Ward that Laurie & Steve regularly attend as part of their missionary duties.  The seven of us, in our family clan, sang a musical number in Sacrament Meeting.  Of course, Luke was not excited about this, but I was proud of both of my kids' efforts.  For Luke, the singing was made up for by the fact, we only had to attend the Sacrament Meeting portion of church as obviously there was no Primary (children's class).

Arlington National Cemetary-Luke should know every detail there is to know about this national site, if you consider the 5,671 questions he was asking either Grandpa Steve or me.  But considering I was the one answering the majority of the questions... well it's no surprise he didn't come away too well educated.

Iwo Jima Memorial-Apparently there is a rumor that there are thirteen hands on the memorial.  Although six men would accurately produce twelve hands not thirteen, it is not unrealistic to consider that the thirteenth hand could well have been the hand of God.  Grandpa said that he has tried his best to count thirteen hands, but in all the times he has visited the memorial, he has never been able to count thirteen.  Of course Luke upon hearing this 'legend', proceeded to count the hands.  After his third try in less than five minutes, Luke is convinced he counted thirteen hands.  (FYI-according to Snopes, there are only twelve hands on the memorial.)

The Pentagon 9/11 Memorial was very touching.  It was quite simple yet full of symbolism and meaning.  Each victim from both the building and the plane have a symbolic memorial marked by the year of their birth.  Megan was touched by the memorial of the young child born in 1998--the same year she was, that was a passenger in that fateful flight.

The beautiful Washington DC temple.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed the history and richness of the country these past few days, I felt 'at home' as my kids played amidst the temple visitor center exhibits full of familiar scripture stories and scenes depicting our knowledge and beliefs.  We are truly blessed, in more ways than one!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Ordinary Day

Having been gone from home for a week and missing my young children and Mike desperately, I was very excited to return home.  Our plane sat on the runway at Washington National Airport last night for two hours before we took off, which of course made our arrival into Utah much later than planned.  Combine that delay with a very turbulent flight, a nervous traveler, severe nausea and the constant pondering of how quickly I could possibly be meeting my Maker, I was thrilled to see Mike standing grinning, just outside the security checkpoint when we came around the corner.   I was sad my children were at home asleep in bed.

This morning started about 6:37am, with all of our children congregating on our bed.  I felt like I needed extra arms to hold and hug the three kids who didn't want to leave my side.  Thank goodness Megan and Luke had seen enough of me this last week, or the arm shortage would have been much more urgent.

This morning in the morning chaos to get kids dressed, fed, and out the door.  I paused as I listened to the familiar sounds of Luke practicing the piano, I had more patience than usual during the morning routine of "I need more juice" or "I want another piece of toast" or "Where is my..."  Amidst all of the hussle and bussle of this morning's typical before-school-day, I was reminded of one of my favorite books and certainly my very favorite 'You Tube Video' based off of the book, 'The Gift of an Ordinary Day.' (The video is a MUST see!)

Yesterday at this time I was on a private tour of the Senate Office and White House, today I am back to my ordinary life.  I have spent the last few days visiting some of the most historical and important places in American History, today I am trying to go through all the emails I put in my 'Action' folder this past week, I'm trying to get all the laundry done, I want to upload and sort through my photos, my phone keeps ringing with people who now know I'm home, yet I'm still trying to find time for reading Chick-A-Chick-A-Boom-Boom type books, child holding and extra hugs.

The sights, sounds, lifestyles and surroundings of the last week seem quite magical compared to my ordinary life, but the repeated thought going through my mind all morning has been, "This is an ordinary day.  This is my ordinary life."  And guess what?  I wouldn't trade it.  (At least not right now, I may in a few more days...)

Even with my toddler's (new in the last week) independence to do everything himself (including removing wet/soiled diapers), and Joshua crying because his towel fell off of his wet naked body, and then a sandwich being deemed inedible because it was cut into fourths instead of being left whole, and toys being thrown out of the open family room window, the events have solidified the beautiful theory of 'ordinary days.'

As I began typing, Joshua was holding a 'bouquet' of suckers he received from the Easter Bunny.  While Drew naps, I told Joshua he was to have quiet time for one hour.  He is currently on sucker number three, I'm attempting to turn a blind eye, after all sucker eating is a quiet activity.

Quiet time is officially over according to the four year old--as all of the suckers have been consumed.

Welcome home.
Back to the ordinary I go.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


In no particular order, here are some random thoughts and impressions of my trip.

#1  Bless Luke's heart, he has taken in a lot of museums, memorials, monuments and history!  For the most part, his attitude has been great.  But for him, forget history, just give him the grounds of the Washington DC temple to explore, the animals at Mount Vernon, or some climbing rocks of the beaten path at Gettysburg.    All of which (bridges, muddy swamps, rocks and animals) he can find just a few miles from home!

#2  My mother-in-law has visited Washington DC many, many times.  She has also lived here for a few years throughout her life.  However, not a drive goes by that she doesn't pull out her camera and continue to capture the beauty of the city around her.  It is perhaps one of her top favorite places in the world, and though she probably has albums full of DC pictures from years past, she appreciates each sight and moment as if it is her first time.  It really is very inspirational to see her love of the history, beauty and culture around her.

#3  What a brilliant idea to have a personal chauffeur.  Steve has seen this city just as much as Laurie, and drops us off at entrances and then circles the blocks, takes a nap, or parks and comes to find us.  Even though I'm really not much of a traveler and I don't foresee too many trips in my near future, I may still have to look into a personal driver for my day-to-day errands.  How perfect would that be to never have to walk into Walmart in the rain, or return a cart to a cart return at Costco, or carry toddlers from parking lots to buildings.    A personal driver!  I could get quite used to that idea.

#4  I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but after spending a week in these luscious green surroundings, the barrenness of the Utah desert is seeming less and less appealing to return home to.

#5  I am more than anxious to see my three youngest children and my dear husband.  I have never been away from any of my kids for more than three days, and I miss them and Mike something terrible.  I will need a reminder of how much I miss them right now next week, when rest assured, they will all return to their proper roles of making me CRAZY.

#6  So, as you read this I will be returning home to Utah across the friendly skies.  Wish me luck!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday in PA

I have envisioned and been fascinated by the Amish lifestyle ever since reading an Amish novel, years ago.  I have read many since.  So it was with great anticipation and excitement that we approached Amish country mid-morning on Saturday. It was rainy and cold, but worth every goose bump to see such a quaint and unique lifestyle.

Steve treated the three children (Megan, Luke and Cousin Emily) and me to a buggy ride. It was absolutely charming and thrilling to be driven by an Amish man, as he gave a commentary on the surrounding farms, homes and landmarks, including personal details of his family. I found myself imagining him and his family being one of the characters my favorite novel series. We were able to meet his little grand-daughter and his son. Oh what a thrill! I wish the weather had been slightly warmer, and I wish we had had more opportunity to wander and see roadside stands, but all in all it was one of the definite highlights of my trip. Kind of nice to realize we aren't the only 'peculiar people' in the world...
(Out of respect for the Amish and their beliefs, I took few photos, and none of the people.)
As we walked out of the last shop, the Amish farms and fields in the background were stunning.  Except the picture didn't quite tell the real story... there are cars in the background and we all have our tacky 'buggy ticket sticker' still on.  Oh well.  The best pictures are in the mind!

My sister-in-law, Kristin loves Gettysburg. (She has visited many times before.)  She has mentioned more than once she would like to live there.  My mother-in-law shares similar sentiments.  Their anticipation and enjoyment of Gettysburg was a direct contrast to mine.  Suffice it to say, my children didn't have a very good time there either.  They had both been told the pretty steep payment they owed me for their behavior on the ride there.  To pour salt on the wound, I was feeling pretty car sick--due mainly from my constant turning around to the two bickering children in the far backseat.
(Luke's face accurately portrays all three of our moods--Megan is TOTALLY faking it!)

Just as every other landscape here that I've seen, the Gettysburg scenery was every bit as beautiful.  What rich history.  I can truly say I have learned more about US History in the last few days than in the thirty six  (and a HALF--my half birthday was Friday--and how thrilling to have received a text Friday morning from my friend Terri, bringing it to my attention!!) years of my life.

As I keep saying, there is so much beauty and rich history here.  I am continually touched by the poignant reminders of sacrifice and extreme efforts to fight for the freedoms we so easily take for granted.
And as my mother-in-law keeps saying, "Visit places always thinking you will come back."

I will come back!  Either when my kids are beyond the arguing stage, or better yet, I'll leave all the kids at home.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Not Today

Fourteen years later, two thousand miles apart and Easter Sunday celebrations taking precedence... Guess we'll celebrate some other time.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my husband.
Happy Anniversary!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Old History and New

History was certainly remembered, reviewed and made today. . .

First of all, I must mention I have become quite the traveler!  Six states (well if you count Washington DC and I know that is NOT a state!)  Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and my kind in-laws drove over the bridge to New Jersey just for my sake!  It was a toll bridge no less.  What nice people.  (The in-laws, not the New Jersians.  Not that I have anything about the New Jersey, people, I just didn't interact with any, so I can't correctly assess whether they are nice or not!)

It was very touching to go to Fort McHenry--the place where Frances Scott Key penned The Star Spangled Banner'.  We watched a re-enactment movie of the events of that day/night, and as the movie ended, the Star Spangled Banner played, the screen rose up and out the window we saw the flag flying over Fort McHenry.  It was very touching, and I was moved to tears.  I hesitated slightly about stopping and taking a picture of my children during such a respectful event, but figured if the non-respecting citizens (appalling!) were staying seated, I could certainly snap a quick picture of my kids (from behind) watching the flag with their hands over their hearts.
What great fun to ride in a carriage around the historic district of Philadelphia.  As the carriage driver pointed out the Philadelphia Bible House as being the first place in America that the Bible was printed in english, I was reminded of the time period of George Washington, and the parallel events going on a few states away to bring about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Certainly no coincidence!
And perhaps, one of the most important places in all of American history... Independence Hall, where the declaration of Independence was signed.  And of course, the historic and symbolic Liberty Bell.  I'll tell you, like I told Luke 4,289 times, I DON'T KNOW HOW THE CRACK GOT THERE.

Valley Forge is a beautiful, beautiful place.  But after hours in the car, bickering children, cold weather, hungry people and a little car-sickness, it didn't quite have the effect it surely could have had under other circumstances.

We've stopped the night at a hotel in Valley Forge, PA.  Laurie, Steve, Kristin and Emily are in one room.  My kids and I are in another... So, if you're still with me at this point in the post, you'll learn of the event that is sure to become a treasured memory in our own personal family history.  BUT, this is a very public forum, and I must protect the guilty, so...

Suffice it to say:
a hotel room
a visit to the bathroom
an inch of water all over the bathroom floor
a clogged toilet
the delivery of a non-high quality toilet plunger and extra towels (that one day a guest will use to dry their body with!!!!!!!!  I don't care how much bleach the hotel staff will use, if I ever visit this hotel again, I will NOT use a towel)
the guilty culprit sent to summon grandpa
grandpa and the guilty culprit returning to room: grandpa with a big smile, making a joke, the guilty child with their head hung low
me glaring at the joking grandpa
grandpa attempting to plunge toilet
grandpa making an SOS call to front desk and requesting a room change
me letting grandpa know that if any charge shows on his credit card, to bill mike, and mike will consequently bill the guilty culprit
a new room
the promise that one day (probably as soon as tomorrow) I will be able to laugh at the last couple of hours of my life.
Enough Said!

Happy Travels.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Moving East

I sent Mike a text today saying, "I think we should move to the east coast."  Although he replied that he'd start packing, I'm not quite sure it will all pan out.

This is a beautiful, beautiful part of the country.  Especially with flower beds full of tulips and trees in bright blossom and bloom.  As I wandered around Mount Vernon (George Washington's home) I couldn't help but ponder again the concern that God made a mistake not having me born in a different time.  Even Megan, with her love of fashion, style and pop-culture lamented, "I would have loved to live in this property in that time period."

I had to tear Luke away from the Blacksmith and outdoor stables to take a tour of Washington's actual home.  He would much rather have sat and watched the Blacksmith make an axe, but his grandmother had other plans for him.  The grounds of Mount Vernon are spectacular.  The Potomac River, the trees, the buildings, the quaintness of it all is simply beautiful.  My favorite place to visit today.

Mount Vernon also provided a great laugh at my expense.  As I walked in to use the restroom, I noticed four urinals lined up against the wall.  In that first split second, I thought it odd.  In the second half of that same second, I made a quick dart for the door.  I opened the door just as Megan glanced my way.  Sheer horror was on her face when she saw I was exiting the men's bathroom.  In my defense, the signs were not as clear as I think they could have been.

I felt patriotism and pride to be a part of this great country as we toured Ford's theater and watched a short play about Lincoln's assassination.  Although the kids grimaced with dismay when I told them that I would like them to both completely memorize the Gettysburg Address when we return to Utah.  Luke was most impressed with the 'tiny' gun Lincoln was shot with.

I enjoyed a quick jog over the bridge to Georgetown this morning, and then stopped at Trader Joes for a gallon of milk.  How fun to live in a city such as this.

We finally made it over to the Barlow Center (LDS church owned building for BYU interns) where Laurie & Steve serve as missionaries.  I think Luke was relieved to see Grandma and Grandpa's offices and finally grasp the concept that they really are missionaries.  That Steve does more than chauffeur us around DC, and Laurie does more than answer all of our history questions and snap pictures of her family tourists.

With Laurie's endless stream of knowledge, came the knowledge to visit the little-known attraction of the NY Ave Presbyterian church where Abraham Lincoln attended church.  I loved it.  I love the history that is here.  (And I don't even usually like history!)  And on that note, I am absolutely amazed with Laurie's endless stream of knowledge regarding history, art and geography.  Amazing.  I spend my time listening carefully to all she says, and then carefully executing an escape before I am asked anything important.  Megan is good to have around.  Megan has somehow been blessed with more of Mike's brain than mine.

Luke on the other hand...
Well, let's put it this way:

We spent almost three hours at Mount Vernon today.  GEORGE WASHINGTON'S home. Pictures, movies, and exhibits surrounded us the entire time.  As we exited the building at the end of our time there, the famous picture of George Washington kneeling in prayer greeted us at the top of the stairs.  Luke eagerly pointed it out, recognizing it from one we have at home, and one that hangs here in Laurie & Steve's apartment.  "Oh yeah. I see it."  I responded to Luke.  To which he replied,
"Who is that anyways?"

At least nobody but me heard.

And now it is bedtime and I don't think I'm the only one that is tired and ornery...
Happy travels!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Culture, Laughs & Tears

I'll warn you this is slightly long, and mostly for the benefit of my dear husband at home.  But when my uptight mothering personality requests my children write in a 'Washington DC journal' each night, I should respectfully do likewise.

To start the day off, the tooth fairy not only paid a visit to Ellie while I was gone, but left her a $1.00 under her pillow. Usually the tooth fairy leaves 50 cents, so good for toothless little Ellie! I'm over the fact I wasn't home for her first loose tooth, now I just hope the gap doesn't fill in until after I return next week. (Hopefully the dear husband has procured plenty of toothless grin snapshots.)

Our second day in Washington DC has created just as many memories, (if not more!) than the first.

I had an enjoyable two hour wait in line at the foot of the Washington Monument this morning. And I say that in all seriousness. What a beautiful sight to see the sun rise over the US Capitol. I enjoyed a nice two hour visit with a few people in line by me; the PGA Professional, a friendly man from Massachusetts, an impressive, mature fifteen year old from South Carolina, and the lone twelve year old from North Carolina left by his father to secure his family's tickets for the day. The only downside of the whole wait was when a few of us were discussing the height of the Washington Monument. I was quite eager to share my newfound knowledge of the height and so I excitedly declared, "It is 555 feet and 55 inches." The polite man from Massachusetts, and the more sarcastic, yet kind-spirited PGA professional questioned the 55 inches part." Oh yes, I replied while embarrassedly laughing, "I mean, 555 feet and FIVE inches."

I feel slightly guilty about sharing my opinion out-loud about my father-in-law's offer to cook chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, but not guilty enough to eat them.

Luke's incessant desire to enforce the "No coins please" signs at all fountains and pools, and thus I am repeatedly heard, "Don't touch the water."

Megan brought a sore toe to DC with her.  The soreness and pain has obviously exasperated with walking.  Add to it, she stubbed it in the apartment yesterday evening barefoot, followed by some band-aid first aid by Grandpa, she chose to wear flip-flops on our evening excursion so the foot wasn't confined.  Do you know how many people walk the streets and ride the city buses and get on and off the metro in DC?  A LOT!  I think everyone in DC (including Grandma!) have bumped or stepped on Megan's toe.  I LOVE Megan, but she isn't exactly my favorite person in my family to have an illness or ailment..............

Luke's much anticipated visit to the Air and Space Museum was dampened by the 165 degree temperature inside and the sixty five million visitors inside at the same time as us. By this time in the afternoon, we were all very tired and exhausted. Megan, having visited the museum before, perused the gift shop, while I faithfully followed Luke through each exhibit he led me through. I was able to take a quick catnap standing up while Luke watched a WWI airplane movie, and when it came to my attention that he had an absolute fascination with airplanes, I found myself praying he would never grow up and become a pilot.

Megan is still the self-professed navigator, even though she gets confused and slightly flustered when someone corrects her on which way exactly is north.

Though we were all exhausted, hot and tired, we dutifully met up with Grandma at the National Gallery of Art. It turned out to be a pleasant experience, although Luke saw far more statues and pictures of naked ladies than I think he liked. Finally, with a perplexed expression, he turned to me and said, "This is inappropriate." He only asked about three hundred and sixty nine times 'how much longer?', It was well and truly the most cultured experience thus far of Luke's life. I'm not sure who was more impressed at the gift store, my mother-in-law or myself when Luke picked out a print from a famous artist to hang in his room at home. (And in all his sweetness, he used some of his money to buy a $1.58 Monet print for me that I had been admiring.)

My in-laws who are currently serving as LDS missionaries here teaching institute (religious classes) to local university students.  Due to the end of the semester, my in-laws have a little break from their typical missionary duties.  Of course senior missionaries have much more lee-way and personal time than our typical young 19 and 21 year old missionaries.  Luke however, is slightly puzzled as to exactly what Laurie and Steve are doing on their mission!  The good thing: it is probably making Luke very excited and anxious to serve a mission of his own: it's easy! Luke is thinking.  The bad thing:  Obviously, he is getting an unclear depiction of the service his grandparents truly are performing.

Megan has been in a constant quest to search out every gift shop and souvenir booth in the surrounding areas.  Her quest has thus far not reached it's completion, but bless her heart, that isn't for lack of effort on her part.  All of us have repeatedly reminded her, "It is still the first day."

Buying and eating a hot dog from a street vendor, and praying that the city does enforce and oversee some health codes from the plentiful food stands.

We took an evening trip on a city bus and the metro.  It started with me sitting in a saturated bus seat, and then parading around DC in wet underwear and jeans for the next hour or so.  My immediate fear of somebody else's urine was quickly dispelled when drops from the bus roof were landing on my arm.  Really, it should have been a clue for us all to turn around and go home.  But we continued on.  My in-laws left the rest of us to fend for ourselves, after we repeatedly assured my father-in-law that we were fully capable of getting around the city.  Our pride was somewhat damaged when a couple of hours later we sent out a rescue phone call when we found ourselves across the river, in Virginia.  Though Kristin and I still stand by the story that the  train DID NOT STOP at our stop, my father-in-law believes differently.  Oh well, we had some great laughs when all five of our loaned Metro cards wouldn't work, we set off an alarm at the Arlington Train station, and were sternly asked where we were going by the security guard.  The kids were close to tears, and their nerves frazzled, but all was well.  The security guard eventually pointed us to the emergency exit. I think it was an attempt to get the crazy, alarm-sounding tourists with non-working cards out of his immediate vicinity.  Next time I sit in water on a DC bus, I will take it as an omen to change plans instantly.
(The poor children, having temporarily lost faith in their mothers to deliver them safely home, follow the light of the Lincoln Memorial knowing it's the direction of  'home.')

My favorite site thus far has been the Roosevelt Memorial. I loved the gardens and surroundings of the memorial, but really why I think I loved it the most, is because of the soft spot FDR has in my heart due to his heroic efforts to find orphan Annie's parents. I will never admit to my educated in-laws that when I saw a statue of FDR with a dog alongside of him, my immediate thought was that it was Annie's beloved dog, Sandy. (So I had a temporary moment separating fact from fiction, no big deal, right?)

Really though, what a day.  What great history, feeling and emotion one feels in such monuments, memorials and sites.  On more than one occasion, I have found myself tearing up as I explain an event or significance of what we are seeing to Megan or Luke.  I've had one line running through my head frequently, "There ain't no doubt, I love this land. God bless the USA."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cowboys and Girls in DC

Memories more important than the 'main attractions':

While Luke was listening to the ipod with headphones on the airplane, I asked him a question. When he responded, "What?" Heads turned. I can not dispute the fact Luke well and truly has the loudest voice of anyone I know.

Luke coming and telling me that he collected seven pennies out of the pool by the Korean Memorial. When I questioned that maybe he shouldn't be taking pennies out that people put in, he replied, "The sign says don't put money in." He obviously thought he was helping the rulemakers out. Furthermore, he said, "I'm going to keep them and give to Dad to put in the bank." I told him we don't really just deposit pennies, to which he responded, "Every little bit of money is going towards my saddle." He obviously appreciates the value of a penny. All credit goes to Mike.

Megan was proud of her navigation prowess using the free map she received at the Lincoln Memorial. The rest of us in the car were being driven crazy by her constant, "Now where are we? Are we on 'Constitution and 3rd?' Her punishment for driving all of us bonkers? She soon retired from her navigating due to the onset of car-sickness.

Luke finding more satisfaction in the squirrels running wild and the unique tree trunk structures than the nearby White House. My sister-in-law, Kristin, who is traveling with us got it right when she said, "You can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy!" Furthermore, his cowboy hat in pictures of memorials and other stirring American monuments, as my mother suggested, would make a fitting book, 'A Cowboy Goes to DC'. I think Luke and I could quite well write and illustrate the book.

Grandpa Steve emotionally explaining to the children how he 'could have' been one of the casualties of the Vietnam War, and thus none of us would have been standing there today.

Luke's absolute captivating interest as my father-in-law explained the controlled airspace above DC. His shock and questions about an unauthroized plane perhaps having to be shot down seemed neverending. "Well what if just a tiny bit of a wing gets in?" I finally realized, perhaps it is due to his slight concern that our pilot may accidentally veer into the airspace and cause our demise. I used the moment as a good teaching tool to obey commandments with EXACTNESS. (Check me out, I could be the next President Uchtdorf!!)

Megan has retired to bed early, due to lasting car-sickness effects. Luke has moved his mattress into the limited bedroom space room with Megan and me. (I've always said he's kind of a mama's boy) and I have to now go to sleep as somehow I have been talked into waking up at 5:45am to get tickets for the Washington Monument. I am trying not to have an anxiety attack that it is really 3:45am Utah time.

This is a beautiful part of the country.
What a blessed land we live in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Going, Going, Gone

(photo courtesy of Megan in March 2009)

I'm not much of a traveler.  Having five children, a limited budget, a slight anxiety with flights and long drives, and a husband who for years has had limited vacation days, has caused us to not put vacations at the top of our priority list.

Of course, it isn't like we haven't ever traveled or done trips, but they are fairly limited.  In December at our annual tithing settlement with our Bishop,  (In our church, at the end of each year, we are given the opportunity to make a personal declaration to the head of our clergy of our payment of donations.)  our Bishop gave us a challenge to take a vacation as a family.  He continued on about the wonderful bonding experience it can be, etc.  (He obviously doesn't have five young children...;) )  Mike and I certainly hope before 2011 is over, we can take the Bishop up on his challenge.

BUT, half of us around here, are going on a trip.  (Which case in point-a 'trip' and a 'vacation' to me are very, very different.  Last year, when Mike and I went to Tucson, AZ, that was a vacation.  Twelve hour drives to Phoenix, or a week in a hotel with young kids is not so much a vacation, they are trips!)  Actually, is a vacation even possible with kids?

Okay, I digress- half of us are going on a trip.  Mike's parents serving a mission in one of  my mother-in-laws favorite places in the world (and she has seen the majority of the world!) have graciously invited some of us to come and visit them.

As you read this, Megan, Luke and I will be en route to Washington DC.  We will be traveling with Mike's sister and her daughter.  Luke and I are the only ones in the group that have never visited DC before.  We have spent the last few weeks studying up on history and people and places so that we aren't completely ill-informed tourists.  Bless Luke's little heart, his enthusiasm and desire to check out books from school and/or recognize any news story or wording of anything remotely connected has really been endearing.  But sometimes, despite my best intentions, the to-do list has taken higher priority than US history study time.

As I mentioned before, the trip has certainly not come without some anxiety, and of course much preparation.  Anxiety of flying (pray for me!), and preparing three children's schedules to be where and when so Mike can work, making sure preparations are made for the Easter Bunny to be able to come next Easter Sunday, etc. etc.  (Don't remind me that I'm going to be away from home on my very favorite holiday!)  I will miss Easter at home as a family, and I'll miss spending my 14th wedding anniversary with Mike, and I will desperately miss Ellie, Joshua, Drew and Mike.

But most of all, I'm praying and I'm hoping I don't miss the falling out of Ellie's first tooth.  It's wobbly, but didn't quite get loose enough to fall out before I left.  It's like last year when I went to Tucson for three days, I worried Drew would start walking while I was gone.  (He didn't!)

I hardly ever travel.  I'm hardly ever gone from home.
So why, oh why, when I take my few trips and/or vacations do I have to worry about such things as babies walking and teeth falling out?
Oh, it's because I'm a mother.
And that is something ONLY a mother would understand.

Keep your fingers crossed.


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