Tuesday, June 30, 2015

D.C. - Day 2

Today was our museum day. After visiting Dachau 18 years ago, I've wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Unable to confirm tickets online last week, I was prepared to stand in line for a *really* long time in hopes of getting in today. Fortunately, they were having a membership drive - so our family is now a member of the museum, and we were able to walk right in. Definitely a cause I was happy to support - and honestly, I would have donated to the museum anyway.  

The children's exhibit was very well done, and we followed Dayna's lead to see how she would handle the permanent exhibits. She told us when she was ready to leave, and Dan took the girls up the street to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum while I stayed behind.

From there, we ate a very overpriced lunch (the girls shared $10 cheese and crackers!) at the Smithsonian Castle. The gardens were beautiful and peaceful in the middle of the bustling city.

After lunch, we headed to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. While I was unable to take a picture of the Star-Spangled Banner, seeing it in person was an amazing experience that leaves me speechless.

Many other artifacts were fascinating and fun to see, including Dorothy's ruby slippers, Julia Child's cookware, and the lunch counter where four African American students staged the first sit-in during the Civil Rights movement.

Our day ended with a trip to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence and our nation's Constitution.

And some little cuties hamming it up for (and with) the cameras today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

D.C. - Day 1

I have wanted to visit Washington, D.C. ever since eighth grade. I really wanted to go on the trip that was offered, but it just wasn't in the cards. So here I am, twenty-some years later - finally standing in our nation's capitol. (Yes...I technically spent three hours on a layover at Reagan International Airport once, but since I didn't leave the gate, I don't know that it really counts.)

Being able to visit with our friends in Maryland AND get to see D.C. as a family really is a dream come true. Our feet are tired, and our minds are spinning, but it was an incredible day. (Didn't help that our subway had a delay over an hour and it was way too late when we got back to the house...but it's all part of the adventure we call family vacation.)

It started with a ride on the subway to Union Station.

 We continued on the Duck Boat tour.

South lawn of the White House

Capitol under construction
We followed the tour with a trip to Arlington National Cemetery, where we visited the graves of the Kennedy family and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. As we were leaving, we heard the strains of the Navy Hymn played by a brass band and stumbled upon a full military funeral. It was a beautifully somber moment, and one we're glad we were able to witness (from a distance.)

Honor guard and band
From Arlington, we visited the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Wall. It's sobering to see how many names are engraved, and knowing that by the grace of God, our own fathers' names are not there. I was able to find the name of one of my dad's friends.

While hoofing it through D.C. and trying to find a subway station that was open to get us back to the house, we saw increased security shortly before the wailing of the motorcycle sirens, followed by 5 black SUVs driving quite quickly and evasively through the streets. If it wasn't a Presidential motorcade, it was an awfully convincing practice run.

A final picture of our sweaty family - tired, but rolled with the punches all day long. Can't wait to share about Day 2.

Making it to Maryland

8 1/2 hours that turned into almost 12. 4 states: Indiana, Ohio (new to the girls), Pennsylvania (new to the girls) and Maryland (new to all of us!) One major accident on the interstate that delayed us about 2 hours. It was an interesting day of numbers.

But more notable was with our longest day of travel, we were all quite pleasant in the car. The window markers were a hit. Our audiobook was engaging (Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.) The weather was perfect for driving. It was just a L-O-N-G, L-O-N-G day!

But at the end of the road was my dear friend Jill. We first met at the China Hotel in Guangzhou after we added Annie to our family, and she added Riyan to hers. Funny how you can meet someone on the other side of the world, connect through the internet, drive half a country to get to each other, and pick up like you've known each other forever! Can't wait to spend the next few days with Jill and her family.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

On the Road to Indiana

Once again, we left early enough to make it to the Chicago area to introduce the girls to Chicago-style pizza for lunch. It was a long wait - made more tolerable with a "school" lesson at the table. But definitely worth the wait!

 Then we found our way to a state park on the south side of Lake Michigan. The girls loved getting to see the "beach" on this trip.

We'd love to report they got along this well all day in the car...but we probably couldn't convince you.
Sand angels?
If you look closely, you'll see the Chicago skyline

After finding the hotel, we made some time to visit the cemetery where Dan's grandparents are laid to rest, as well as the home where his mom grew up and his great-grandmother's house just down the road.

And if adding 2 new states for Annie (and 1 new one for Dayna) wasn't enough, we even crossed the border into Michigan to find a geocache.

Early Morning to Amana

It's entirely possible we left for vacation 4 hours before originally intended so we could make it to the Amana Colonies in time for breakfast. Unfortunately, the Brick Haus will never be an option again, but the Ronneburg has been a satisfactory substitute for the last few years. Alas - my favorite kitchen store is now closed as well. But that didn't stop the Wilsons from getting a full day in at the Amanas before visiting and staying with our friends, the Overmanns. It's true that Tony was a little disappointed to not know of our early departure and be able to join us - we'll have to remedy that next time.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jackson Pollock?

I confess, I was a little worried when I walked in the kitchen one day and saw Dayna standing in front of the refrigerator, mumbling about Jackson Pollock and flicking paint.

Several friends, as well as Dayna's art teacher cheered her on via Facebook, so I took a deep breath and let the paint fall where it may.

I'd say the results were much less messy than anticipated, and she actually had some interesting pictures.

Knitting with the Knext Generation

Look who's joined her mom in the tangled, addicting world of knitting! Most impressive is that this is the first time I've taught a right-handed person!

Welcome Home, Brooke!

It is with great delight that my niece's sweet baby Brooke came home on Father's Day. Tipping the scales at over 5 pounds, and still 4 weeks before her due date, this girl is a miracle! What an absolutely perfect Father's Day gift for her daddy, Ryan. Thank you for your prayers for this little warrior.