Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Catch Up

The blog has been quiet for several reasons...A)  We were TIRED during our last couple of days iu DC and I ran out of steam!  B)  We were on the move from dawn ( exaggeration but pretty close) till dusk and C)  We had a travel day to Virginia, where we now reside.

Let's recap, shall we?  It was an AWESOME and very busy last couple of days so there is a lot to share!

We left off with our day at the Holocaust Museum and our walk by the White House.  The next day was action packed with tons of things to see.  We visited the Smithsonian American History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery including American Art, the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a very meaningful day for us all, and we thoroughly enjoyed all that we saw.  The day was only marred by the thousands of kids here on school trips whose behavior was...less then exemplary.  Foul language was heard all day long, and we were nudged and shoved aside almost every single place we went.  There was little respect exhibited, particularly at the Vietnam Wall where there was a sense that this was more like an amusement park than a tribute to our fallen heroes. 

However, it made for interesting observations from the kids.   Our kids remarked, saying things such as "They sure are loud, can't they be a little quieter?" and "Why are they all laughing, the Wall is not a funny place." to Joshie saying at his beloved Lincoln Memorial "Mom, the sign says to be quiet here...they all ignore it and no one is even really looking at President Lincoln...why did they bother to come if they are going to act like that?' Angela made the most difficult comment to deal with when she asked of a group of middle schoolers "Mama....why they act like they married with their hands all over each other and their kissing like that?" upon seeing two or three couples who were all over each other, teachers standing by saying nary a word.

We had a super long, foot ache inducing day but it was so much fun!  First stop at the American History Museum which was very well done.  I didn't get many photos because there were far too many people crowding around exhibits to get decent shots.  I personally enjoyed seeing the Julia Child exhibit, where her entire kitchen was moved to the Smithsonian and displayed, and I learned a lot about how she effected the culinary world we know today.  The kids all enjoyed the various war displays, and the transportation exhibits were also fascinating.

The surprise hit of the entire trip?  You'll never guess but the Portrait Gallery was a huge success, and we could have easily spent another 2 hours there.  I never would have imagined it, especially after the Metropolitan Museum of Art received lukewarm reviews from the kids, but they LOVED the American artists and portraits they saw.  The folk art exhibit was so interesting and very unique, and the portraiture style was far more appealing to all the kids.  They loved viewing some of the famous portraits they have seen in books, and thanks to their art class they recognized a few artists and their work as well, which was exciting for them.  Angela in particular became quite excited about the various mediums used in the folk art wing, and she asked me to take several photos to show their art teacher.

Here are a few photos:

We all got a kick out of this one, it is license plates from the 50 states and it spells out the preamble to the Constitution!

Our man, George!

Dominick's hand compared to actual cast of Lincoln's hand.

Joshua and his Hero
 The next stop was an important one for us.  Prior to leaving on our trip we watched a video about the 25th anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  The kids learned about the history of the wall, the creation of it, and the impact it had on vets and their families.  In order to create a more memorable experience, I asked around hoping to find someone who had lost someone in the war.  I wanted a specific name and a story attached to it, so the point could be driven home that this was not just a bunch of names of dead guys on a wall...I wanted it personalized for them, and I wanted the kids to understand the true cost of the freedom we enjoy.  I thought that finding someone they knew who was intimately connected to someone would add to the experience.

A friend of ours from church, Marcia, approached me and told me that she had lost her brother in the war, and that in fact there had been newspaper articles written about her brother's death and that she and her family were present in Washington for the dedication of the Wall.  She kindly shared newspaper clippings with us and a photo along with a few facts about her brother, Robert Rosar.

Marcia, you have no idea how grateful Dominick and I are to you for being willing to share your loss with us.  What would have been a quick walk by a long, black wall became a moment of truly honoring our fallen soldiers for our family, and Angela revealed to me this evening that she wanted to cry while there, it touched her so.  Matthew kept running his fingers over your brother's name, and we left a little note along with his photo saying hello from you.  I don't know if any of you know this or not, but the National Park Service saves and catalogs every single item left at the Wall, and watching the documentary about it we saw such an interesting and poignant collection of mementos left behind.

Searching for our soldier

All the kids made rubbings of his name.

Angela adding to my note.

The LaJoy family is thankful for those who have given up their life for us, and continue to do so in service of their country today.

It was growing darker as we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.  We had hoped the crowds would dissipate, but they didn't.  The above photos are deceiving and don't accurately reflect the mobs around us.  Through the magic of photography I was able to crop and shoot in ways to make it appear as if we were the only ones there.

So off we went towards Mr. Lincoln, the one main thing Josh wanted to see.  It is really a beautiful structure, and I would have really liked to see it at night in total darkness, all lit up, and with few people there.  However, you take what you can get so we waded into the masses and still left a bit in awe:

On our last day at church, a special friend handed us a surprise envelope with "Mad Money" in it, to be used for a special treat of our choosing while on our trip.  I have no idea in the world why we have been so blessed time and time again with gifts big and small, but this was to be used specifically for a little treat that we would otherwise not be able to have.  Would it be dinner out?  Would it be an ice cream for all? Would it be a special family souvenir?  Nope, nope and nope.

It was:

We had seen the pedi-cabs around town both in NYC and DC, and thought it would be cool to ride one, but with 7 of us we'd need 3 of them and they are not cheap.  Well, it had been 8 days on our feet walking mile after mile by this point and we were ready to drop. 

We walked past these 3 gentleman and asked for directions, and Murat, then one in the red shirt who is from Turkey was so warm and friendly and said "Why not let us take you?  It is still a very long walk, at least 2 miles there and then back." and this was after being on our feet for no less than 9 hours already.  Angela, following in her Dad's foot steps said "For 3 dollars we can do it!!" and laughed, and this guy comes over to Dominick and asks :"What can you pay?" and Dominick said we didn't have nearly enough as they were very expensive, but after speaking for a few minutes and the guys admitting they had no work at all that afternoon because of the kids in large groups traveling by bus, Dominick had worked a terrific deal for the trip to the Wall and Lincoln Memorial....and we had our special treat!  The kids were all so excited and giggled all the way.  All of them chattered away with our pedi-cab drivers the entire time, and the guys were all so sweet.  They even let the kids try the bikes, and at the end we all had our pictures taken with them.  I think the drivers got as big a kick out of it as we did!  Thanks to our friend for our very special treat, the kids won't soon forget this one!

I have more to post, but it is growing very late, and I need to get some sleep.  Tomorrow we are on to Monticello and have waaaaayyyy more visiting to do with our friends here in Virginia, where we are staying.  We are all just beginning to recover a little, feet and legs are more refreshed, and souls certainly are :-)  We are having a very special time here with decade old adoption buddies whom we are finally meeting in person.  The rain is pounding on the roof overhead as we all are sleeping together in a loft room which Kenny said is like our own cute personal little cabin.  My family is here with me, we are in the warm embrace of friends, and God is very, very present on this late Sunday evening.

What a special adventure this has been!


Anonymous said...

Oh,my, I can go to bed happy tonight, thinking of you all,cozy and resting.Your kids are going to remember this happy trip the rest of their lives.
My prayers have been answered but I will continue to pray.
Take care, Go With GOD, Elva

Anonymous said...

Blessings on all of you--hosts and visitors--as we all are here on this beautiful earth.


Tammy said...

Sounds like you guys are having a fantastic trip. Kind of nice to be traveling and not having to worry about all the "extras" that come along with adoption travel, huh?

I am a big believer in the benefits of travel. Each and every time I have come home a fuller and better person for it. Hope you guys enjoy the rest of your trip!

Hilary Marquis said...

You have exhausted me! I'm glad I finally found some good walking shoes ;) Hey, what's the weather doing up there?

4texans said...

wow, sounds like an exciting trip!!