Welcome to our exceedingly messy, beautiful life: "a big world is OUT THERE WAITING for us to live in every day. Outside, you will find, there is love all around you... It's a beautiful life & it's a beautiful world & it's a beautiful time... to be here!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

DC Day Seven (Monticello & Travel to Williamsburg)


Today we woke up kind of early and headed out to Williamsburg. (Our Comfort Inn was overall not a terrific choice. The employees were SUPER nice and helpful. It was far from town and not terribly close to Monticello and the mildew smell was OVERPOWERING.)

We toured the house which was MUCH smaller than you would think. It was fascinating to hear about Thomas Jefferson - "TJ"as our kids called him. He was beyond brilliant.
* His adaptations of inventions he saw in Europe,
* His desire to place things about the rooms to inspire interesting conversation,
* His placement of the workings of the household as much out of sight as possible (the working areas of the plantation and the servants bring food & wine etc.).
* His desire to not live alone and therefore inviting his eldest daughter and her husband and 11 children to come live at Monticello with him.
* His love for vanilla ice cream.
* His adoration of books.
* The fact that he believed in liberty and freedom and that owning "enslaved workers" was evil, and yet the fact that he owned a couple hundred slaves who worked at his homes... and he even fathered at least one child (probably several) with one of his slaves.

We walked the grounds; the garden, the "dependencies", the lawn, and the trail down to his cemetery and his grave. We also went and spent time in the Discovery Center where we could sit & lay on some reproductions of his furniture and dress in costumes and learn in a more hands on way. It was more for younger kids, but we had fun with it any way!!!

(Jade sitting on a replica of TJ's bed)
(sitting in Jefferson's "siesta chair"... Lando playing a colonial game)
(Working making nails)

(Our little slave boy)
We packed up the car and then before embarking on our 2 hour drive to Williamsburg,

we stopped by a Charlottesville barber shop where Jade got a beard trim!!!

We arrived and checked in to our lovely little cottage with the white picket fence.

We walked around, had ice cream (D had a blueberry milkshake, Deevs had a chocolate dipped custard cone, and Jade & I had rootbeer floats - my diet is a little on hold this trip... ugh! I'm going to have to get back on my "A game" - as D would say - when I get home!).

The boys/men found a beanbag game and played for about an hour.

Miss M stayed back at the cottage & rested, I walked the town a little more.

Tomorrow is the big Williamsburg day. The kids aren't really looking forward to it (they have their eyes locked on Manhattan), but I am hoping they will still be able to enjoy it!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

DC Day 6 (Charlottesville)

Today we woke up in DC and took the Metro to Union Station (Orange Line from Federal to Metro Center where we transferred to Red line to Union Station) to get our rental car.

At Union Station there was a store called "My Obama Shop". We HAD to take a few pictures.

Once we picked it up, we drove to Dupont Circle... we just wanted to SEE it... we didn't even get out and walk around. Then we continued West on Massachusetts and drove down Embassy Row and tried to see how many of the Embassies we could identify. We saw Zambia, Iraq, Cote d'Ivoire, Britain, Indonesia, Philippines, Niger, Brazil, Haiti, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, to name most of the ones we can remember.

Then we headed back to the hotel, packed up, and headed South to Charlottesville.

We all grew CRABBY on the road and had to stop and get LUNCH immediately!!! We arrived and found a hotel near Monticello for which we have tickets tomorrow at 9AM.
Then - at Jade's request - we headed out to look for a barber to clean up his beard (woo hoo!!!!)... but they were all closed (boo hoo :o(

We went to a 6:10 showing of TRANFORMERS and then had CHIPOTLE for dinner (this is like a Taffy Memorial day!!!). Landon wanted Cracker Barrel (still Taffy), but we couldn't find one near enough... maybe tomorrow.

After Monticello, we will pack up again and move to Williamsburg for 2 nights then on to NYC!

Well, bedtime.
Early morning tomorrow.

DC Hotel Fun

Deevs & Jade are two peas in a pod when it comes to certain things and the computer game "Pandemic" is right up their alley. Our last night in DC, we ended up needing some down time and didn't go out as originally planned. We ordered Papa Johns and just laid low. Jade & Deevs probably played the game for 2+ hours... they had a ball!

Our Residence Inn, Washington DC was great, overall. It had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a small kitchen and a living room. But one downfall was that although it SAID it slept 6, that was assuming Mom & Dad in one bed in one room, 2 brothers in another bed in the other room and a brother & sister on the sofa bed. If you have ever slept on a sofa bed, you know that TWO people in a sofa bed is kinda unrealistic. Also, a 13 year old girl and a teen or adult brother sharing a bed is also not happening. This led to some creative sleeping arrangements:

DC - "Jerkin" Coast 2 Coast

This is the boys' newest jerkin' video.
I'll give a daily update later.
(Don't forget to go on you tube and RATE it!!!)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

DC Day Five

Today we wanted to get to the Holocaust Museum to get tickets first thing in the morning. We finally got an elevator to take us down to the PACKED lobby. The free breakfast area was thronged too (saturday morning - yikes!).

Again, we hopped the Metro (to "Smithsonian) again and walked to the museum. The line was LONG to get tickets, but it moved pretty quickly.
It was 10AM by the time we got ours, our ticket time was for 11:45. So we walked to the Jefferson Memorial. We read the quotes, took some photos, admired the view, rested in the shade & breeze on the marble steps, and Deevs & Lando did some dancing/filming.

By the time we walked back, we were able to go in to the museum.
We toured the Holocaust museum for about 2 hours.
It was VERY crowded and VERY quiet (respectful, solemn) which was tremendously encouraging - to see SO MANY people there willing to walk through an entire museum about a sad and convicting subject that requires a lot of reading and patience... pretty cool.

We each had various "favorite" parts of the exhibits.
Of course the building itself was awesome; the beams, the glass, the architecture, the brick etc.
You walked through a cattle car used to transport the jews to concentration camps.
There was a room filled with shoes taken from all the victims.

I was particularly moved by the area dedicated to all the people who were "safe" and not targets of the Nazi killing machine, yet the risked their comfort and well-being to save people who WERE targets.
They smuggled babies out of ghettos to non-Jewish homes,
they fed prisoners through fences,
they wrote articles which called attention to their anti-nazi sympathies,
they supported the resistance,
they hid jews in their homes.

These people were admirable heros.

If I was comfy and cozy and my family was safe and not in jeopardy, would I risk them and myself to do the RIGHT thing?
To do the human thing?
Do do the Golden Rule thing?
To do the Jesus thing?
Would you?

(No photos allowed in the exhibit, so this is in the entry area.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After the Holocaust Museum, we walked past the National Mall

over to the White House.
We had lunch at a little museum cafe (we couldn't find any where else). Then we went to the other side of the White House.
The boys did a little dancing & filming.

We enjoyed all the different protests.
Particularly moving was the plight of the Tamils (a minority) of Sri Lanka.
They say the government is holding thousands and thousands of them in camps and in the last 6 months alone, 50,000 of them have been murdered. The man who handed us the flyer was a Tamil who lives in the US and is a US citizen - and no longer even has relatives in Sri Lanka - but he cannot sit by and let this continue in the country he once called home. Meanwhile, a Tamil woman kept wailing "Obama! Obama! You're our only hope!" This was especially heart-wrenching after just coming from the Holocaust Museum.
What is America supposed to do? No one wants America to be the self-proclaimed 'police of the world" and yet how can we just stand by and let atrocities occur?
Such a complex issue. No easy answer.

Behind them was a "no nuclear war" protest with one angry, crazy lady. Her signs claimed that someone had been present at her site 24 hours a day since 1983. Wow! Then behind her on the lawn was a "no torture" rally circa 1960's complete with a "prisoner" in jail, blindfolded in an orange Gitmo jumpsuit. (Jade - currently really exploring Christian pacifism - bought a t-shirt from them to support their cause.)

We came back to the hotel to rest and gear up for another night of fun at Penn Quarter/Chinatown.

DC Day Four

We slept in until 11:15 or so then decided to head to the Smithsonians.
We left Miss M at the hotel... she has been sick the whole time so far and it really caught up to her today. We checked in with her by text every so often and she was VERY glad to be resting.

We rode the Metro and walked through the sticky, muggy 91 degree heat to the Information center in the Smithsonian Castle where we had a quick $60 lunch!

Then we went and spent a couple of hours at the Air & Space museum.
These museums are free and crowded... but it is neat to see so many families enjoying time and learning together.

Definitely Jade & Deevs were the ones who enjoyed this museum most!

D was getting sicker and sicker by the minute and was barely hanging in there so he headed back to the room and to Miss M so they could rest & sleep.
Jade, Lando, Deevs and I hopped the Metro to Foggy Bottom. As soon as we got off we saw shuttles for the Kennedy Center. Without talking it over, we just hopped on it and went to the Kennedy Center.

We walked through it briefly then walked out side to figure out how to get to Georgetown. It so happened there was a taxi right outside.

We jumped in and were taken to the Georgetown water front. (On the way, we passed the Watergate office buildings.) There was a dock, right on the Potomac with yachts pulled up and a pretty big party/bar scene. Not knowing anything about Georgetown or what we were supposed to see or do, we ate there at a "green" restaurant with mediocre food. (Ask the boys about the double tongue pierced hairy arm-pitted hostess.)

After dinner, we got directions to "M Street". As we walked there we passed the canal that runs to Maryland and is a National park (where donkeys used to pull barges along the waterway). We walked and shopped and enjoyed the darling architecture.
It POURED rain for a while and we hid out in an Urban Outfitters. After the rain, we strolled down the street... we saw the Francis Scott Key "Star Spangled Banner" memorial park. And then we just hit a wall... the boys were all tired... they were ready to call it a night. We saw a city bus and hopped on. We rode it to the nearest Metro stop and caught the metro back to our stop.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dancing in the Streets

This is the third night (thursday night).
We went to Chinatown to see Transformers.
It was PACKED so we got a refund.
We walked the bustling streets... this area was so much more "city".

Fun and crazy and busy and diverse and wild.
A street performer was banging a ricking beat on the street corner.
Landon & Deevs broke out in their "Jerk" dancing ("jerkin' ") on the corner.
A whole crowd gathered.
A man and a woman joined them.
It was fun fun fun!!!!
Could've stayed there all night.

DC Day 3

Today we woke up early 7:30 here, but 4:30AM CA time... we were BEAT!
We took the Metro

over to the "Smithsonian" stop where we got off and high-tailed it over to the Washington Monument for our 9:30 ticket time.

We rode the elevator up to the top and spent quite a bit of time admiring and understanding the view (getting out bearings).

We then toured the whole National Mall area on foot: Lincoln Memorial, Korean Monument, Vietnam Memorial, WW II monument.

We walked quite a ways (trying to stick to shady tree-lined paths) over to the paddle boats across from the Jefferson Memorial. (We did not visit this memorial yet, but we paddled near it :)

We had to buy an hour of paddling, but actually paddled only about 20 minutes... then we walked to the "waterfront" area in search of lunch.
Um... there were only sea food places with no air-conditioning... this was not going to fly.
At this point we figured we had walked about 5+ miles and were hot & hungry.
We spotted a guy with a McDonald's bag and practically JUMPED him!

He pointed the way to an underground "mall" (the promenade, maybe?) and found an Au Bon Pain and had yummy sandwiches and desserts.

Refueled, we hopped the Metro again and rode out to the Pentagon for another tour arranged by our Congressperson.
Sadly, we had a backpack with us that they would not hold and would not let in so I was going to stay out with it, but Lando volunteered to.
So we all - minus Lando - toured the Pentagon.
On a side note, TONS of other people in our group had backpacks with them.
VERY frustrating!!!!!

Hot & tired, we eventually made our way back to the hotel where we sit now, cooling off and resting.
The kids want to see "Transformers 2" tonight???

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DC Day One

We arrived safely and really, without incident.
In spite of the fact that Jade had to fly separately and had to meet us at Reagan airport, we still made it!
We arrived around 8:30PM local time and caught a cab into the city (about 10 minutes).
We check into out hotel - also without incident and then found our way to a local/Regional restaurant.
Perhaps you have heard of it?: McDonald's.We awoke on the morning of our first real day here and ate our FREE hotel breakfast then

headed out to our appointment at the Capitol...

...only to find out it was closed because someone left their bag unattended and it was deemed and emergency. So we ducked in to the Library of Congress for a while. the kids were SO happy to get to a drinking fountain and to get out of the heat & humidity and into air conditioning.

We peeked out the window from the Library and could see that the Capitol was re-opened so we hustled back over and went on our tour.

We ate a snack in the Capitol the hurried off to our appointment for the Supreme Court (we had to miss the House gallery... we are going to have to go back later in the week for that).

Supreme Court was short & sweet (pretty interesting).
Then we went to the Botanic Gardens.
Then a snack, then back to the hotel.