Friday, December 17, 2010

Thawed out!

It is a gorgeous day here in sunny Florida, and we just finished up a few days of bone chilling weather. But it seems the pretty lights of the Christmas tree, the sweet caroling of my girls always in the background of life and the abundance of lists to complete have made me really enjoy this season.

We had our Christmas party today with the home school group and it was so great. I know I mention how great our group is very frequently, but I am so very thankful! The kids made crafts and cookies to give away this year instead of the normal gift exchange. There was not one disappointed child. They loved making the placemats for the local soup kitchen, the cards for the local Hospice House and the ornaments for our nursing home down the road. The cookies were for neighbors or parents. We had a fun little feast at the end, and they all chowed down!

Last weekend we had a wonderful time at EPCOT! We used our free DISNEY, Give a day-get a day vouchers and it was great. The crowds were not too bad, and the weather was a little wet, but the stories from around the world were once again a favorite and we just love Soarin' and Test Track! It was a huge blessing to add to the celebration of the season.

Here is a post that left me thinking...if you have time read it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas cheer

So a funny thing happened yesterday, to some it is not so funny....but I chose to find the joy in it, and chuckle, because well, why not!

The kids were left in the car with a pile of presents in the rear area. The pile was covered with a tablecloth, tucked in good and snug....Sam and I headed into another store and did not even consider mentioning for them to STAY OUT! What were we thinking? Yes, we just went on our merry little way. After quickly getting another thing on the list, I arrive at the van to giggling girls. They were playing tricks on the lady who was roaming through the parking lot putting flyers on the car windows for the Chinese take-out! She would put it on the windshield but it would quickly disappear. I did not even see glimmers of guilt in their little eyes, but when Samantha came and opened up the rear....the evidence was a shining!

Confessions and tears began. One was innocent. Two were guilty. One was moderately guilty. The hardest part was how we as parents reacted. Because, I am here to say, I found it hard not to snoop as a kid. I did my fair share. I ruined a few surprises of my own. Life lessons. I shared my disappointment. But I had to make myself not crack up as my seven year old shared how she had not seen any presents. She had only seen a lamp! Oh, won't she be surprised on Christmas morning when she opens up a beautiful new lamp that goes with her new bedroom collection! She has NO idea! And she really thinks she did not see any presents! The other ones said they were just feeling for the wrapping!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Family Vacation Part 7

The visit to the Capitol was great even though we were feeling the end of our time draw near. I loved how the kids were so aware of the importance of this building and what it represents. They were well versed on the Senate, the House of Representatives, the statue Freedom and even if no one else was impressed, I was. The visitors center is very impressive and grand. The movie we watched at the beginning was informative and reminded all of the viewers of our motto, "E pluribus unum" which means "From many, one" as a people and a nation.

Beneath us is the visitors center...we were all hungry and the smiles not so real.
Maddie lost her very first tooth in the Dining area of the Capitol. It was a fun memory!
The painting in the middle of the dome was magnificent.
The sky was turning...we had to book it home if we did not want to be drenched.
This security guard for the Capitol building was willing to take a picture with this crew, even if his buddies were harassing him in the background!
This is the House side of the building....I loved it that the kids knew it and reminded the adults.

The beauty was worth recording.
The keeper of the tickets!
The fall leaves were still out and added to the views! Another great day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Family Vacation Part 6

WARNING: All but one of these photos were borrowed from the Internet due to not being allowed a camera on our visit in the White House. BUT, all of the story in info is mine!
When we were planning our trip to Washington DC, I was blessed to have a great Representative, Ginny Brown-Waite and her office staff coordinate so much of our trip. Kate (staff) was the most helpful anytime I called her and needed help. So months out, we made plans to get tickets to go in the White House and see it ourselves. It ended up being more than we imagined. Getting there for a nine o'clock tour was no easy task...but we made it on time and without any of our "stuff" (cameras, phones, bags)! Everyone but Faith and I were cleared by the Secret Service, but the two of us were sent into the waiting area to try and get cleared a second time. It was a little scary, every thing I have ever done wrong crosses my mind...but finally we were cleared. There were only two tours that day, and once we finally got into the House, we were close to the last tour of the day. It was kinda nice, cause the Secret Service were very willing to talk and "share".
This pic is from the top of the Washington Monument.
See the green grass in front....something way cool happened right there!
See those windows in the Blue Room....something way cool happened there!
This is what happened while we were INSIDE the White House. Yes, the Chopper landed out on the green grass, right on three little marker plates so the grass would not get damaged! The super cool Marine dude came out and opened both doors and stood awaiting his Commander and Chief! While we stood gazing out the windows from inside, we were told that the pilot has a tendency to turn off the blades, cause President Obama tends to run a little late! HA! I found that funny! Soon we saw him leave the White House, walk across the yard and board the aircraft.
He went in the front door and shook hands with the pilots and took a seat. His cohorts went in the back door and put the headphones on and off it went. We were like little kids seeing a rock star. So, getting put into the time-out area and being at the end of the line had its advantages!
We were very impressed!
This is where we exited. The middle door under the hanging light. The windows above and to the left and right had the shades drawn. What the girls thought was so great and they got a kick out of was in the window, to the left and up, one of the Obama girls must have went in and stuck a gellie sticky window display of a butterfly in the window. We noticed it! It made it seem less ornate and more the home of the First Family.

To the right of this picture is a stage of lighting...and we wondered what it was for, but this week I have noticed on the morning news that this is where the news people stand and give their reports. It is not fenced off, so they probably don't have to have the clearance for every news story....and further to the right in the construction of the Executive Branch office building....I am sure there is some underground passage ways for these people to move back and forth with ease!
What a great day this was starting out to be.... next was Union Station and the Capitol!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Family Vacation Part 5

Different days brought visits to different SMITHSONIANS! We watched a hilarious video with Ben Stiller about the Smithsonians in the castle, and it was super motivating. Of course, the movie, Night at the Museum had done its part in that area as well. In all, we only went to four of the smithsonians, but we were on a time limit. The Museum of American History was a favorite because of the pop culture area. The original Star-spangled Banner was there as well. It was so touching as the girls broke out in song of our national anthem as we were standing there in front of the glass, gazing at the stars and stripes. Some soldiers were standing there enjoying the moment as well, and applauded afterwards. It was a special moment we shared with strangers who shared the same history.

This was a grand doll house full of ideas for playing.

Dorothy's shoes from The Wizard of Oz got our attention, FOR SURE!

This picture was taken for a special friend, who loves the Muppets!

This is Lincoln's top hat! Amazing!

Another museum was the Natural History Smithsonian. We were all in goofy moods this day, and we took all kinds of crazy pictures. Most of them were on the verge of irreverent, especially if you are a museum connoisseur.

My point exactly!

Guess they just saw a grizzly!

Watching a video about the evolution of man included a monkey in the crowd. Our bunch know what they believe, cause as they traveled through this portion of the museum, they all made up a chant about "I ain't no monkey....didn't come from one either!" Oh my!

We found the Dum-Dum statue at the exit and had to stop and pose!

Another day we traveled out to Dulles Airport for the newest Smithsonian. It is the second Air and Space Museum. It is spectacular. We were basically in a hanger with a plethora of air craft. Aaron had been waiting on seeing this Blackbird and did a great job of educating all of us on its magestic-ness! It was super cool!

There were a few pieces of 9/11 in a display. It included a piece of the World Trade Center and a piece of the Pentagon.

This aircraft, the B-29 Superfortress, Enola Gay, is the one the atomic bomb was dropped from in Hiroshima, Japan. It is massive and has a story all its own!

There is a portion of the hanger that is designated to space travel. There is an actual size Shuttle in it. The rocket boosters are HUGE! The display of how things have progressed from the beginning of our space adventures was interesting...and strangely odd as I thought about these vessels being out in space.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Family Vacation Part 4

Another day in Washington had us visit the Union Station. It was like a huge shopping mall. We were gawking like tourists and taking pictures to keep up with our reputation. It is another beautiful building.

We were surprised to find President Obama and the First Lady in the Station. We smiled!
Olivia has been a long time fan of Sarah Palin. She still wears the election shirt proudly, and we all like the show.
We went on the tour at the Bureau. It was so cool seeing all that money. So here is a tidbit of info...bills or notes are printed at the Bureau and coins are made at the Mint. Our posers did not disappoint.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Vacation part 3

A few random pictures here and there.
Here I am with the head hauncho! At Cherry Hill RV Park camp store!
This ride on the METRO we were at the very end. This particular day we still had a little daylight left on the ride home
The Fall leaves were still out and I could not resist. They were so beautiful!
This statue was not of particular importance to us, but it was the first one we saw and there was a horse...therefore a picture was a must! Plus they did think it was Theodore Roosevelt!
This was some of the most gorgeous architecture around DC that we saw. This was the Archives building. Having learned about the columns last year in world history made all of the kids take notice of the Roman and Greek influences.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Vacation part 2

First day in DC was all about the Monuments and the Memorials. We walked and walked and were super tourists. The night before, when we were driving by, there were squeals and screams as the sites came into view. Steve said I was the loudest. I doubt it! We became very acquainted with the METRO and everyone we met in the area was super helpful and kind. When we rounded the corner and the Washington Monument came into view, there was a collective gasp. It seemed like we would never get there, but we did.
This was the view seen most often. These six blondies were always at the front of the pack. They had become well versed in their map skills, and knew the location of most of the places we were visiting.
This was the view from the east window at the top of the Washington Monument. Amazing.
This was out of the west window. The newest memorial World War II was very impressive. Out the north window was the White House. It was very strange to see so many surrounding buildings. I was most surprised at how close the Pentagon was to everything...memories of 9/11 came flooding back.
This picture was taken at the Ranger Station where we had lunch. The girls were their typical monkey selves, climbing all over things!
The WWII memorial was very inspirational. The metal scenes that lined the walkway told the unforgettable story.
In front of the reflecting pool. It is about to be under more green water.
This was one of the top favorites of all of us. We loved reading the wall, climbing the stairs and just being there.
Being respectful and quiet while at the Vietnam Wall just came natural. We had a special moment listening to soldiers talk with a volunteer about serving this country. It was one of my favorite memories of the trip.
Jefferson Memorial. We just did the drive by.
Another drive by. The Pentagon. Up on the hill at the Iwo Jima gave us this perspective of the city. The Arlington National Cemetery was just to the south. We were able to walk over and see the vast sea of white markers. It was breathtaking.
This is my most loved photo of our trip. It was the girls' idea to stand at attention and salute. They were very serious. They loved knowing Uncle Aaron was a Marine and it helped make the connection between us and history.