Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Up and Running!

I woke up this morning feeling MUCH better, and ready to rock and roll, so away we went.  Our first stop was to donate a little time at the request of the Joint Council on International Children's Services to film a short segment to be used as part of a promotional video.  This took us to Georgetown, where we quickly learned that we will never be a reality show family...hahaha!  The kids were SO nervous, and it showed.  My chatty kids could barely answer any questions on camera, I felt like a total good, and we left with Matthew saying "Wow Mommy, movie stars make this all look easy and it's not!"  We hope they got enough decent footage to use, but somehow I am doubting it.  Oh well, at least we tried. 

We were originally planning to visit the American History museum today, but we checked quickly to see if we could obtain tickets for the Holocaust Museum and found we could, so we decided to do that instead.  It is first come, first serve with the tickets so we needed to take advantage of the opportunity.  We visited a child friendly exhibit first, telling the story of a boy named Daniel and contrasting his life before and during his World War 2 experiences being forced into a ghetto then placed in a concentration camp.  This was really done well and the kids enjoyed it very much. 

Sadly, the rest of the museum did not live up to our expectations. I know this may sound odd, as I know it is a very popular museum, but contrasting it with the Simon Wiesenthal Center that Matthew and I visited last summer out in LA, I found this museum to be sorely lacking in it's presentation of the material.  We all found it wayyyy to heavy in the written content and far too light in the items representative of the era.  Tons of video information presented in short film clips left me feeling like we could have gained more from staying home and watching a more cohesive documentary, and in fact we have in the past.  There were a few moments that made an impact...such as seeing stacks of shoes illustrating how the jews were not only killed, but they were robbed as well....shorn hair was also used from the cadavars of the innocents.  Those images will remain with us, but much of the materials was just not conducive to a walking museum tour and felt more appropriate for a detailed book about the Holocaust. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center did such an outstanding job of helping you feel in the moment, of creating a learning environment where you felt you were walking through the events leading up to the nightmare that occurred, and this just felt lacking in helping make the story real.  Sometimes we forget that less is more, and in this case I think it might have been wise to have thought about that.  There was a lot of really thorough information presented, but it was too much to take in, and felt a little textbookish and it failed to transport the visitor into the horror, if only temporarily, of those years when the world closed it's eyes on what was happening.  While we still definitely learned a lot, it would not be one I would recommend over the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  Matthew agreed wholeheartedly saying that this one was not nearly as good, and eh felt he learned a lot more walking through the immersive experience offered in LA.

It was drizzly and overcast much of the day, and we intended to visit the Mall to get photos of the Memorials lit up, but it started raining decently by early evening so we gave up.  Before the end of our day, however, we did get to walk past the White House and take photos, and the kids bought a few souvenirs along the way. 

White House...too bad we couldn't see inside :-(

Here are a few random photos over the past couple of days.  Dominick wasn't able to take many on his day without me, and we were not allowed to have the camera in most of the Holocaust Museum, so far fewer pictures than we hope to have during the next couple of days.

Bureau of Engraving

Enjoying...however briefly... a million dollars

Loved this pic taken on the Mall

Matt bought a souvenir and got a couple of pictures for free with a mock up of the Oval Office, but he wanted his siblings in the photo too.

Olesya also bought a little something and wanted Mama and Papa to play President and First Husband!! Hahaha!

Everyone is really, really worn out tonight.  Snoring is going on all around me, feet and legs are achy, and we are going to sleep in tomorrow and head out a little later so we can rest our bodies a bit Matt's feet are holding up surprtisingly well, those inserts have done wonders, but today was sort of his limit.  We must have walked 10+ miles or more each day in NYC, and a little less here.  The kids all said there is so much to see they don't even notice it until the end of the day comes and they feel like their feet are going to fall off! 

We have been surprised to find the people of DC generally much less welcoming and helpful than in NYC, where we were really shocked to have many reach out to offer assistance to the obvious lost travelers.  Here, the staffs of the museums are stuffy and pushy, and even downright rude at times.  However DC's ease of using it's transportation system wins by a land slide with all of us.  It is a total piece of cake compared to NYC's very complicated and much larger system. 

One thing that I have been super pleased about is that the kids are seeing very positive images in front of them of African Americans, well to do and firmly middle class folks in real life help to fight against the typical images we see of African Americans in TV shows and films.

We are missing the peace of home a little, despite having a great time.  We talked today while goofing off about how boring Montrose will seem when we get back home after these adventures, but we all smiled and agreed it would be a good boring.  We still have a lot more to do and see though, and we are excited to continue our adventure!  Now, if we can all get our feet and legs to cooperate, we'll be in good shape!


Anonymous said...

So thankful you are feeling better.A trick my parents used to do on trips was to find a cafeteria.They helped us find a table.Then we stayed and they went through the line,selecting items that could be divided ie meatballs and heavy on vegs etc. They got plates and water for all.So much walking! You are going to be a few lbs lighter!Go with God, Elva

Anonymous said...

So glad Matt's feet are holding up. The kids look delightful as ever. I was a bit surprised to see you as President, but I figure that was after you were Secretary of Health and Education where you did such an outstanding job. After your stint as president you can go on to be an ambassador of peace and compassion as Jimmy Carter has been.

Thank you for taking care of yourself and getting on the road to recovery and to Dominick for leading the team.


Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you are doing better! I would agree with you that the Simon Wiesenthal museum is a different and in some ways more moving experience than the Holocaust Museum in DC. I think that while I was emotional over the loss of human life at the museum in DC, the one in LA taught me about hate and bigotry and how those lead to atrocities. It has been at least twenty years since I visited the museum in LA and yet the experience stays with me in a very vivid way to this day.


Lenore said...

Glad to hear that you're back up and running! You're going to have such different experiences at each place you visit. I'm sorry that the Holocaust museum didn't live up to your expectations. It wasn't there when I was and has always been on my list of places to visit when I return to that area. The biggest disappointment on my trip (1994!) was the Bureau of Printing and Engraving! I found it to be dark, dank and dirty! The self-guided tour was poor at best! I was sooo disappointed!! I hope that it has been remodeled since then and was enjoyable for Dominick and the kids!
I hope that you're including Arlington and Mount Vernon, while there. Both are incredibly special places. Can't wait to read each day of your journey!! Take care of yourself and have fun!!