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."


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