Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ethan's GI scope

The date is set. This monday morning (as in 2 days from now) Ethan and I have to be at RMHC at 7am. His procedure is at 9am. He will have a GI scope and a bronchial scope while he is under. Then we will stay there until some time Tuesday morning because he is getting a 24 hr reflux test. I'll keep you up to date. Thoughts and prayers appreciated. Thanks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

July update

Hi. I know I have posted lots of pictures lately, and updates on our trips, but not a lot about the boys. So, here is what I know. I'll start with Alex, then Grant, then go to Ethan... :) birth order!

Alex is doing really well these days. He is walking and running all around. He has started to talk some. He has some words...
"bee-bee" (beep beep for car)
"Mom-me" (he always says it very softly with a high pitched mom then a slide down to me, its cute)
"Sisa" (airplane, don't ask me how it got to sisa)
"my" (bye)
"uh oh"
"sing sing" (he sings along with his lullaby song)
"A, B, C"
"two, tree, foo, ive, x, eig, nah" (I say one, he fills in most of the rest)

He is throwing a fit when he doesn't get his way. Temper tantrums are a norm around our house these days. So, I would say, he is almost caught up to his actual age. We'll see what the therapist says at his next update in a couple of months.

He is eating most everything I put in front of him. He really loves to eat fruit chunks. He is still on prevacid, but we may try to wean him from that soon. We'll see what the pediatritian says about that after their 2 year appointment.

Grant is still trying to recover from the trauma of the hospital. He is slightly working on it. He doesn't scream all the time when he is around strangers that much any more.

He is also walking and running around everywhere too! He likes to keep his toys away from his brothers. He does NOT like them interefering when he is playing alone. However, he plays really well with his brothers when they are playing.
He is starting to speak some too.
"uh oh"
"da-da" (all the time!!)
and then starting to immitate some more of my sounds.

He is on an inhaler for athsma. He has a very minor case of it, but he still has a bit. He doesn't snore very much any more. Every once in a while he does. But it is a good thing he isn't.

He was eating pretty well up until about a month ago. Now he is being a typical toddler and does not like to eat some things. He has developed quite the sweet tooth. We are trying to keep that under control because I want him to eat other things than just sweet things. He really likes eating fruit, only if it pureed though. He gags on chunks of fruit. He used to eat noodles really well and feed himself, but lately he takes a few bites and then refuses to eat any more. I dont know. Just being a toddler. It's a phase I am sure.

Ethan, Ethan, Ethan! What to say about him. Oh, there is a lot, I just don't know where to start.

Well, I guess I will start with the good news. Ethan was approved to come off the oxygen today. He had been on it since being in the hospital in March for RSV. When I laid him down for nap today, he laid there expecting me to put his canula on him. I told him no o2 and gave him his blanket. I think he was a bit confused, but he slept well.

In other news, he is walking and running around like crazy with his brothers. He loves to ride in the strollers and wagon. He plays hard with the cars and toys. He loves to swing too. His physical therapist is really happy with his progression to walking and squatting, and now running some.

He just learned how to say "uh oh". That is pretty much his first real word. He doesn't really say much else. He just screams and grunts a lot still. He is still working with the speech therapist on that, but we havent seen her very consistantly yet because of travel and sickness.

Speaking of sickness, he was a very sick little boy last week. He could not keep any food down. We aren't sure what it was, and neither Grant or Alex got it, so who knows. He has gotten back to normal now and is eating to try and gain back the weight he lost.

Speaking of the weight loss, last Thursday I took him to the GI doctor for a follow up. He was not happy with Ethan's weight loss. He said that even sick, he should not have lost so much weight. The last time we were in his office, Ethan weighed 19lbs 6oz. On Thursday he weighed 18lbs 12oz. At his max between these times, on the pediatritians scale, he weighed 2olbs 10oz. So, he has lost a lot of weight.

So, we talked about a lot of things and decided to get Ethan in for a scope of his GI track and an over night stay and test of his reflux. I don't know what the technical terms are, but I know it is an over night stay. He will also be getting a bronchial scope at the same time. Each scope takes around 8-10 minutes. He is going to wake up one hungry kid though cause we won't be able to give him anything after midnight the night before. It will be rough, but we can do it. I am expecting I may need to have ear plugs. :( I don't have a date for the proceedure yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

Once we get the results, then we will know how to proceed with his eating and reflux issues. Hopefully he can start gaining some substantial weight once we know how to proceed.

So, that is what we know right now. That is what the boys are doing right now. Our days are really busy, but we have lots of fun. They love being outside and love playing on all their toys out there. I am so glad we have a fenced yard they can play in. It makes my life a bit easier. They can run and run back there and I don't have to worry about traffic. I am not looking forward to when we have snow again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Iowa Relocation/Vacation

At the end of June, the boys and I took off from Denver on a drive to Iowa to visit Elizabeth, Dan, and family. We drove part of the way on Friday, then the rest of the way on Saturday.

Friday we stopped in Sterling, CO to eat at the Village Inn. The staff there was really great for me. They saw I was a bit overwhelmed with 3 and put me in a corner table.

After eating, we ran over to a park right by the railroad tracks. The boys could walk around a bit and I could get their diapers changed. It was nice to have this play yard to keep them contained! However, I did not inspect the area very well before I put it out. I parked it right under a berry tree of some kind. It looked like blackberries or boysenberries. They turned all of our feet purple! Oh well.

On Friday evening we stayed with a friend of mine, Mary, from college. She was great to let us invade her house. The boys loved playing in her big back yard. Plus, they liked her little dog, Boo!

Saturday was a long travel day. We left Mary's around 11 and stopped for lunch around Lincoln, NE. I should have taken the highway north there when I saw it. I thought long and hard about it, but storms and clouds were all behind me, so I figured I could make it through Omaha with no problems.

Boy, was I wrong. Omaha has a bunch of problems currently because of flooding from the Missouri river! You cannot take I-25 north out of Omaha because it is underwater. I spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get north of Omaha, finally, James guided me through it on the phone. We got north and as I was driving, the water from the river was coming up on the road in some parts. Just barely staying off the road. It was crazy! And at the place where that was happening, we were about 4-5 miles from the main area of the river.

We got to my sister's town and hung out with them till bed time.

The next morning, all the kids played hard, and well, together. Check out this picture of Ethan and Aria. The tallest and the smallest of the children!

Alex and the phone

We got to spend a lot of time outside in their yard, even though it was extremely humid and very hot some days. Grant didn't understand why there was so much grass and that he had to walk through it. He eventually got the hang of it, but he was not especially happy to walk through it.

Ethan really just wanted to swing most of the time we were outside. He loved these swings.

They all like to swing!

Except, there weren't enough swings often, so we doubled up a few times.

Then Elizabeth set up their bounce house! My boys weren't too sure about it at first. But they got the hang of it!

Ethan learned to slide!

Here are two of the big kids. Aria and David. They were little clowns for a while!

James' parents came down for a couple of days from ND. We went and walked around the mall with them on Tuesday morning. The boys got to ride their first "carnival" like ride at the mall. They enjoyed it and didn't like it when it stopped moving!

Boys' first ride on a "carnival" ride at the mall

It was good to see Larry and Peggy again, and since they won't be seeing the boys until October, it was good for the boys to see them and them the boys.

The next day we returned to Elizabeth and Dan's house. Played and then went to the pool in the evening. The boys weren't all too sure about the pool. So many kids, and people, and I think they could sense my stress too. Imagine trying to keep track of 3 toddlers at a pool who don't really want to be held, don't want to be in the float toys, and want to walk in and out of the water. It was fairly stressful. I don't think I will ever not be in the lifeguard mode when I go to a pool now. I am constantly scanning, counting, looking, jumping at the smallest thing, and wanting to yell at kids who are running!! :)

We had to get out the pool for a few minutes for break and the boys had a melt down. So, we left, but they enjoyed the majority of it.

The next morning, we got up bright and early, fed the kids, then headed into Sioux Falls to the zoo. We met up with another set of triplets that is one of my aunt Donna's friends. At some point along the way Elizabeth and my children all switched spots, so this is what we ended up with. Aria, David, and Ethan in the stroller. (Oh it was SOOOO hot and humid.)

Then Alex, Grant, Levi, and Lucas were in Elizabeth's choo choo wagon. We saw the rhinos and stayed inside the area for quite a while since it was indoors and pretty cool. There was a mommy rhino and a baby rhino.

Here is the whole group. Somehow the kids were all mixed up again too. :) We just barely got this and a few other pictures. As soon as a few pictures were snapped they all tried climbing out of the stroller/wagon. They were done! They wanted to get out of the heat as much as the adults did!

After the zoo we stopped at Donna's house for lunch and naps. Donna was kind enough to keep an ear out for all 7 kids while they slept and Elizabeth and I ran errands.

Then, I got back from my errands, Elizabeth still was not back from her errands, but Donna had to leave. So, I got the job of watching over all 7. It wasn't bad. It really isn't.

Elizabeth was still running around, trying to get stuff done in Sioux Falls, so I fed all the kids dinner! Boy, that was interesting, loud, and LOTS OF FUN!!

Now, the kids were hot, sweaty, and sick of being stuck inside once we got back to Elizabeth's, so we let them play in the water on the driveway with all the ride on toys. They LOVED it!!

Here is Grant. He mostly just sat there and pushed this toy around.

Ethan really loved the water. He liked being sprayed and liked chasing and following the big kids around.

Alex played almost all evening on this toy. They are all new different toys then what they have at home so they like to experience something new.

Dan was having fun spraying everyone.

The next morning was our last morning. The boys were playing in the playroom while I was getting ready for the day and I came out of the room to find this! I don't think this is what it is made for.

Everyone played hard all day, and I started packing the luggage and the car. That evening Elizabeth and Dan took the big kids to a party for a friend at the pool. They left Lucas with us, which was fine. He gets along great with my boys, since they are all about on the same wavelength! We watched some Little Einsteins for a while before bed to keep them from having meltdowns.

So this is what it would be like to have 4, huh??

Ethan and Lucas liked to sit close to the tv some.

Grant really likes watching Little Einsteins. We are going to have to start DVRing it on our tv if I can figure out where/when it plays.

Alex was also enamored with it!

We headed to Gillette on Saturday. Luckily my brother and sister-in-law, Doug and Kara, were heading there too. So, we traveled together. Which was WONDERFUL when I went to stop and let the boys out. They helped a lot.

We finally got home after a short stop in Cheyenne on Sunday. It was a long trip/relocation, but it was a lot of fun. I think the boys really enjoyed watching and playing with their older cousins. I enjoyed spending time with my sister and my niece and nephews. Now, to get them to come and spend a week with us!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New York and Washington DC

  1. Wow! June flew by so fast, I can hardly believe it is July already! Seriously. I was home for 13 whole days in June, and that was split up by one vacation. So, I'll start at the beginning of the month and work my way to yesterday!

    James and I left June 10 (actually 12:55am June 11) for NYC! We arrived at JFK airport at 6:30am and started a FULL week of sight seeing and walking. We took the train and subway to a place to drop off our luggage for storage, and got some coffee. We each only slept about an hour on the plane so we were pretty tired.

    Saturday, June 11
    We walked up and down the streets of NYC. Somehow we ended up in front of the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum. We decided to take a tour. It was pretty interesting.
We both stood by a statue of one of the world's tallest men. Boy do we look short! :)

Then, we saw this ship. It is about 8 feet long and is completely made of jade! It is gorgeous. Very intricate too!

This is a sculpture made entirely of camel bone. It too is intricately carved and tells the story of this warrior. It is quite interesting and you really have to see it to enjoy it.

The best "attraction" at Ripley's was the black hole! It was this walkway/bridge through this room that had spinning walls. You literally could not, and I mean could NOT, stand up straight and walk through it. As soon as you stepped in the room your body wanted to counter-act the spinning walls. It was just wiggy! But it was fun.

The subway was our best friend. We road it everywhere that we wanted to get if it was just too far to walk. But, surprisingly, NYC is a very walking friendly city. We walked a long way on Saturday, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

Times Square is a must for every NYC tourist. We stopped and took a few pictures. Stepped into a few stores and generally enjoyed the people watching.

As our walking tour continued, we ended up at Rockefeller Center. It was starting to drizzle on us at this time, but we didn't mind. It wasn't that hot, but it wasn't cool either. It was just right and the drizzle was nice and refreshing.

I had to get a picture in front of Radio City Music Hall. Maybe some day I will be able to get back there and see a show there. I think it would be awesome to see something at such a historic place.

We weren't planning on walking all the way to the UN on Saturday, we were planning on getting there Sunday sometime, but we had plenty of time to kill before we were to meet up with some friends for dinner. So, we walked all the way over the the UN. It was fairly un-remarkable, I must say. I figured it would be a little bit more stunning, but none of the flags were out, it was drizzling still, and the building was under construction. Just not as much of an awe inspiring site as I thought it would be.

Once we finished at the UN, we walked to Grand Central station and road the subway to Penn Station near where we dropped our bags. We got our bags and road back toward the UN, where we were meeting some friends for dinner. It was a really good dinner and we had fun catching up.

Sunday, June 12
James and I stayed at a friends house just outside NYC into Connecticut. However, it was about an hour train ride in to Manhattan from their house, so we had to leave there extra early on Sunday morning to be down at Battery Park to be in line for the Statue of Liberty. I was up at 4:30 am that morning (2:30 Denver time mind you) so we could leave the house and catch the train by 5:15 am. Oh, it was an early morning.

Our train from Connecticut arrived at Grand Central Station about 6:30am. That place is DEAD at that time on a Sunday morning. But it was really cool to be there and be able to see the main concourse like that.

We arrived at Battery Park by 7 am and we didn't have to be in line till 8 am. So, we decided to walk up to Ground Zero. It is all under construction and there is a small viewing platform, but nothing spectacular. I think it will be nice once it is complete, but we didn't get to see much.

Then we got a Starbucks coffee and walked back to Battery Park and got in line. We went through security, got on the ferry to Liberty Island and rested.

Once on Liberty Island, we had tickets to get up in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

We had to climb 140+ stairs to get up to the base of the statue, which was good for me. I don't think I would have enjoyed going all the way up into the crown. Plus it wasn't the clearest of days, so we wouldn't have been able to see much more than we saw just where we were anyway.

Once we finished and had lunch on Liberty Island (at 10:30 am mind you), we hopped on the ferry over to Elis Island. It was so interesting to be walking in the footsteps of history there. However, I was so exhausted from the day that when we went in to watch a video on the people that passed through there, I couldn't keep my eyes open. James had to elbow me once cause I accidentally started to snore. I just could not stay awake. But I think it was just enough of a snooze to help me keep going through the day!

We left Elis Island and arrived back in Battery Park around 12:00. Funny story: we were on our way out of the park when we passed a tourist group of high schoolers talking to some guys selling "Coach bags" and "Designer sunglasses". We stopped to peek at the purses and the guy started telling us what price he wanted. We were thinking of negotiating, but all of the sudden he gathered up everything and ran away. I guess there were a few plain clothed cops that had joined in the group and arrested a few of the guys. It was kind of funny and scary at the same time.

James really wanted to go see Wall Street, so we walked up there. On the way we walked by Trinity Church (famous in the movie National Treasure, and a few others). Church was just letting out for the morning, so there were quite a few people around.

The NYSE was next and it was a little un-remarkable to me too. I figured it would be a pretty prominant street and easy to find and see. Not so. It is kind of hidden back away from everything. It is also facing the east, which in my mind before, I could have sworn that it was facing south. Who knows why I thought that, but I did. Now I know better.

After seeing NYSE we walked to one of James' companies new buildings. We wanted to go on a tour, but there was no one in the office. That was ok. We hopped the subway back up to Penn Station. We were looking for a Lane Bryant for me to buy a belt (all the walking was making my pants stretch and they were falling off!) Supposedly there was one on 34th St, so we made our way there. Once there, the store front was closed off and there was no Lane Bryant. I was sad, tired, and hot, so we stopped for a few minutes. There were no benchs, so I just sat on the sidewalk up against a building.

We didn't know what to do next, so I got out my phone and looked for the Empire State Building since we had not seen that yet. As I was looking at the map, I realized that it was basicly right behind us. Then I got to looking, and I looked up. Much to my tired suprise, we were actually sitting AGAINST the Empire State Building. I laughed so hard, so did James. It was the moment I realized I really really needed to get more sleep that night!

We opted not to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It was pretty foggy still, so we decided to head up to Central Park. Once we got off the subway, we walked close to the park and thought about taking a carriage ride through the park. Romantic right? Well, they would only be able to take us around the outside of the park because most of the park was closed. We opted out of that too and walked as far in as we could (which wasn't very far). We asked a police officer what was going on, and she told us it was Puerto Rican day, and there was a concert, and parade, and a bunch of other things going on. (Later our friends told us that we really shouldn't have been there cause that place can get really dangerous on Puerto Rican day! YIKES!)

James and I rested on a park bench and tried to decide what to do next. We wanted to take our friends we were staying with out to dinner, so we decided to head back out to Conneticut. However, we ALMOST missed our train. We had to get from Central Park to Grand Central Station in 20 minutes. We didn't realize that we had sat there so long, and all of the sudden we were running from one subway train to another. Walking so fast, and then once we got to Grand Central we had NO idea what train we were supposed to get on. LUCKILY we found the right one. However, finding a seat on that train was kind of tricky. We walked the entire length and finally found 2 seats together. As soon as we sat down the train started moving. We just barely made it.

As we got back to Conneticut, I asked my friend if we could run down to the beach, which is 2 miles from their house! She gladly obliged my request! I got to go to the beach on my vacation. It was low tide, so I collected a few seashells too. It was great. They have a wonderful beach near their house.

We went out to dinner with our friends then came home and crashed. We were exhausted and had to be up and out of the house by 7 am the next morning to catch the train back in to NYC. We were heading to DC too, so we had to take our luggage.

Are you exhausted from reading yet? We have only been through 2 days!! Keep reading!!

Monday, June 13
James and I were up, packed and out of the house with my friend at 7 am. We got on the train, and luckily found 3 spots to sit together. I found out that the train is about as silent as a funeral home on Monday morning (and really any morning) since the commuters sleep and read. They don't appreciate anyone talking, and they will let you know with dis-approving glances and glares! :)

James and I got to experience the commute in to NYC on a Monday morning. Boy does Grand Central station change on a Monday morning from Sunday morning. It was mad crazy, and if you stopped moving, you were run over. So, we walked with my friend to her office and dropped off our bags for the morning.

We tried to make it over to Rockefeller Center to catch part of the taping of the Today Show on the Plaza, but once we got there, they were finished taping outside. That's ok. I really don't need to be on national tv! We ran down the basement of Rockefeller center and had Starbuck's for breakfast and conversed about what to do with our limited time for the day. It was 8 am and we had be at Penn Station to catch the Amtrak to DC at 2 pm. We weren't sure what our day would hold.

We decided that since it was a nice clear day to go to the top of the Rockefeller Center. It was something I had not done before and it gave us really good views of Central Park and the Empire State Building.

Once done there, we went to the NBC Experience store in the Rockefeller Center. We found a Chili's and had lunch before the lunch rush about 11 am. Our bags were waiting for us at my friend's office and we were at Penn Station waiting for the train by noon. We were on the train and ready to leave NYC at 1:45. It was nice to get a good rest on the train. James and I each had our own seats for the majority of the ride, so we could lay out and stretch out without having to worry about disturbing each other.

Once we arrived at Union Station in DC, we hopped the Red line to Silver Spring, MD, where our hotel was. We decided to call it an early evening since we were going to have to get up early again the next morning.

Tuesday, June 14
Up and out the door of the hotel by 6:30 am. Yes, I think we are crazy! He had an appointment to be at the White House for a tour at 8:00 am. So, we got in to DC and stopped at Starbuck's again for coffee and breakfast. They really got our business on our trip!

We were a bit early to our 8:00 appointed time for our White House tour, but they let us in early anyway. It was interesting. I couldn't believe I was walking halls that presidents of past and present have walked. It was fairly surreal. It was a little un-remarkable though cause we couldn't really go in any of the rooms, except a few. You could only peek into most of the rooms you went by. The tour only lasted about 10, maybe 15 minutes. There weren't signs to read, or anything, you could just look and keep walking. But, like I said, I go to go IN the White House. That may be a once-in-a-lifetime event!

Once done at the White House, we walked over to the Washington Monument. Do you know how far of a walk that is? Seriously, I did not expect the monuments and museums to be SO FAR APART in DC. I guess when you are looking at a map and pictures it just doesn't do it justice. We got to the Washington Monument and there was a line wrapped around the building to get tickets. Guess we didn't get their early enough. We decided that just seeing it from the outside was ok with us.

Our next appointment that day was to go see Diana Enzi at Mike Enzi's senate office at 11 am. So, we decided to walk the mall from Washington Monument to the Russell Senate building. Oh man, that is a REALLY long walk too! We walked by all the Smithsonians and discussed which ones we really wanted to see while we were there. We stopped inside the "Castle" for a refreshment, and to get out of the heat for a few minutes. We rested for a while then continued to walk towards the Capitol.

Along the way, I saw a tree with these gigantic white flowers on it. I asked James what it was and he told me a magnolia. Can you believe I had never seen a magnolia tree before? I know that seems trivial and weird to some people, but I thought it was so beautiful. I had to take a picture!

We arrived at the reflecting pool just west of the Capitol. Now that was an awe inspiring site! I couldn't believe how massive the building is. It was amazing to me to stand there in the "shadow" of history too. I couldn't wait to go inside.

We met Diana and I got to chat with a friend I graduated highschool with who works for Mike Enzi now. We then walked down to Union Station and had lunch. As we were sitting in the restuarant waiting for our food, I looked up the history of Union Station. It was interesting to sit there and read about the things in the station and the events throughout history that had happened there. It was just about as interesting as most of the other historical sites in DC.

We were back at Enzi's office for our 2:00 tour of the Capitol. We got to go in and tour the normal areas of the Capitol. We got gallery passes and were able to go into the Senate and the House galleries. We sat in the House gallery till a little after 5:00 cause they were debating some spending bill. It was really interesting to see. I was fairly disapointed to go in a see only a few senators and a few representatives in the actual chambers. It makes me wonder how much each congressman/woman really understands the bills they are voting on. Yes, I understand that their time is valuable, and they have other things on their plates. But seriously, how can they know truly what everyone is saying and debating if they are not there to actually hear it. Yes, I know they can read it, but how many of the actual words do they really read? It just makes me wonder...

The visitors center at the Capitol is really nice, if not very crowded. But that is what every place is there in DC. CROWDED! We took a few pictures of the Capitol from the east side of the building. And decided that we should call it a day.

I took a picture of the Library of Congress from afar. I didn't figure we would be getting back there to see it. I wanted to, but we just did not have the time or energy.

I also took a picture of the Supreme Court as we walked by. That was all we could do to see it, but we were ok with that. At least we got to "see" it.

Still with me?? Good, keep reading. You'll appreciate living vicariously through our trip if you never get to go there... Ok, so I lie, but you can experience it, kinda!

Wednesday, June 15
FINALLY, a day to SLEEP IN!! We had a nice dark hotel room, so we slept until a whopping 9 am! But, James had gone to sleep as soon as we got back to the hotel the night before, so he had slept a total of 15 hours! He was one tired man! I got about 11 hours of sleep and was feeling refreshed!

We woke up, at a bit of breakfast, and took the metro back into DC. This was our day for memorials, Arlington, and whatever else we could fit in.

We started by hopping off the metro near the Washington Monument. We walked through the World War II Memorial. It was James' first time seeing that, since he had been to DC in 2000. Our trek continued on to the Vietnam Memorial wall. I imagined it being bigger. I don't know why, but it just seemed small to me.

As we walked toward the Lincoln memorial there were a bunch of construction signs. When we rounded the corner, this is the view we got. How disapointing! I really would have loved to see the reflecting pool in all of it's glory, but it was just dirt and construction equipment.

Next was the Lincoln Memorial. Now that was as big as I imagined, actually bigger. As we climbed the stepps up to see Lincoln, I was thinking how many historical figures have also walked those steps. As we stepped into the cover of the building I saw the towering figure sitting stone faced. It was quite breath-taking (but I think that might have been from the trek up the stairs ;-)!!) It dawned on me that if this "temple" was this huge, what were the temples like in ancient Greece and Roman to their gods? I mean, I know that the Lincoln memorial is kind of in that style but is small compaired to some of those temples. What it would have been like to see those. Can you hear my history degree coming out??

We found a quiet place to sit in the shade on the backside of the memorial and discussed the rest of our day. We planned to go to the Korean Memorial, the walk to Arlington, then maybe down to the Pentegon.

So, we walked over to the Korean War Memorial and had lunch at a stand just right there by it. That memorial is more of what I imagined the Vietnam one to be, but it was just that. The Korean War Memorial. It was spetacular in its own way. As we were sitting there looking at it, quite a few veterans were walking by in their uniforms. It made me tear up. I can't imagine what veterans go through, and how many of them come to these memorials and remember those friends, buddies, brothers, that they lost in those wars. It tore at my heart. I am so thankful for them. I wanted to stop some of them and say thank you, but I didn't have the guts!

I think we were insane to do the next thing we did, but we did it anyway. It was about 2pm and full sun, so we decided to WALK across the Arlington Memorial Bridge over to Arlington National Cemetery. We walked even more up to the JFK burial site. This is a picture of the site looking towards the Lincoln Memorial.

Here is the Eternal Flame and the two grave markers for the JFK and Jackie.

We made our way across to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They had just finished the changing of the guard when we arrived so we decided to stick around for the next one. We needed the rest anyway. We got a good spot for the next change, which happened within 20 minutes.

We also got to witness a wreath laying ceremony. A middle school had donated wreath to lay. Four girls from the school got to put the wreath up. It was interesting to see and be witness too.

So, do you think we stopped walking yet? NO! We didn't. We finished at the cemetery and got on the metro down to the Pentegon. Man, security around that place is crazy. I felt weird walking around it, but I wanted to see the Pentegon 9/11 Memorial. In the memorial is the only place you can take pictures. If you get a chance to go see it, do. It is pretty touching.

Once we had seen the memorial, we walked over to the Pentegon Mall. It is just a shopping mall, but we could get cooled off and rest if we wanted. So, we had dinner, shopped a bit, and then took the metro back to the hotel. We were exhausted, and guess what? We had to be up early the next day!

Thursday, June 16
James and I had not planned on having a car at all while we were on vacation. But once we got to DC our plans changed. We decided to rent a car for one day to go down to Mt. Vernon and out to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum overflow hanger at Dullas airport. We had to be at the car rental agency, about 8 blocks from our hotel at 8 am.

God was nice to us on our trip. The only day He decided to make it really rain was this day, that we had the car, and were going to be inside most of the day! :)

We got the car and drove to Mt. Vernon first. Luckily the rain stopped for the time we were there.

I was really in awe to walk along in the footsteps of George Washington. It was so amazing to see where he lived and how he lived. The place was just amazing, that's all I can say.

The mansion was undergoing a renovation of sorts. They were painting the outside of it, so the picture isn't quite perfect. But look at that view that people saw when they road up to the house! Isn't that amazing?

We got to go inside the mansion and see all the rooms. We got to see the actual bed that Washington passed away on. Kinda weird, but historically interesting. The house beautiful inside. The tour guides kept saying that they sometimes would have up to 600 guests stay there in a year! Can you imagine? I thought my house was a central hub for guests sometimes... I can't imagine having 600 people there in a year.

Another part of Mt. Vernon that was historically interesting to see was Washington's tomb. Did you know that he was supposed to be intombed in the basement of the Capitol building in DC? Well, he was. But by the time the Capitol was ready for him, his family decided that he didn't want that and that he wanted to be intombed at Mt. Vernon in a "brick" tomb. That is all he supposedly specified in his will. So, he was moved to this tomb and that is where he remains.

James and I grabbed lunch at the cafe at Mt. Vernon, did a bit of shopping and hopped back in the car.

We made our way up to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and just as we pulled up it started raining. We got inside and were greeted with this GIANT building. It was so amazing to see so many aircraft and space craft under one roof.

My first stop was to see the space shuttle Enterprise. It is quite large.

As we walked around the space area of the museum we came across a replica of the Mars rover. I guess my view on the size of things is fairly off. I imagined the rover to be fairly large. Like the size of a car. Guess what? It's not. It looks about the size of and RC car.

A few other notables that we were able to see at this museum was a Concord jet, a jet that holds the record for crossing the Atlantic the fastest, and the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, the Enola Gay.

After an exhausting 4 hours touring the museum, we stepped outside to pouring rain! So glad we had that car!

We made our way to a town nearby and had dinner at Cheesecake Factory. We talked about driving down to see the memorials and Capitol building in the dark, but it was still raining some. We opted just to return the car and head back to the hotel. Afterall, we were pretty tired, again! Who would've thought!? :)

Friday, June 17
Our last full day of vacation. Do you think we would have taken a break and rested? NOPE!! Had to fit it all in...

We were up and back into DC by 9 am the next morning. We sat in line for the National Archives for an hour. We got to go in and see the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. I was very impressed with them. I am glad we went to see them.

Our next stop of the day was the Museum of American History. I was so excited to go to this museum. Mostly because I know that the ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz are there and the original Muppets are the newest addition!

The original flag that inspired our National Anthem is there also. As we walked into the darkened room, I seriously teared up. It was one thing that was completely unexpected. To imagine that flag flew above a fort, was shot at, covered the men who shed blood for our country and still flew the next morning, was so much for my mind to take. I was standing there looking at the flag thinking that I am so proud to have that as a part of my history. I am proud to be an American. I really am.

James and I had passes to get into the Holocaust Museum, so after a quick rest and bite to eat, we headed there. I have studied World War II quite extensively, been to Dauchau concentration camp, and know a lot about the Holocaust, but NOTHING prepared me for this. It took easily 45 minutes to go through the entire exhibit. James and I kind of split up and did it at our own paces but we ended up together. By the time we were done, we walked out speechless. We were physically and emotionally worn out. I felt like I could have been ill.

We left the museum and sat on a park bench beneath the Washington Monument. I am sure there were people walking by and time still ticked away, but it felt like the world was standing still. James and I didn't say anything for a long time. Just sat there, contemplating everything we had just seen. It still makes me shake to think about what all happened during that time in history. I can't imagine that that was only 6-7 decades ago that people believed those things, and did those things. I can't believe there are still atrocities like that going on in this world today.

As drained as we were, we still had time left, and there was still one more thing I HAD to see while I was there. For some reason the first ever airplane to fly, the Wright Brother's Flyer, has facinated me. I really wanted to say that I have seen it. So we made the trek over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum there on the mall.

I got to see the Wright Flyer!

I could read no more signs. I could walk no more steps. I couldn't have any more history enter my mind. I was spent. So, we took the metro back to Silver Spring, had dinner, went to the hotel, packed our bags, and called it a night.

Saturday, June 18
We had a cab coming to get us at 11:30 am, so we had the morning to do what we wanted in Silver Spring. We were up and ready by 9am, so we went around the corner from our hotel to, yep, you guessed it, Starbucks!! However, when we rounded the corner, we found so much more than just Starbucks. They were having a farmers market. It was fun to walk around and look at all the fresh produce, flowers, and crafts that were available. I bought a few gifts and we enjoyed the lazy morning.

Our cab ride to the airport was event free and we got home to Denver around 6:30pm. The boys were so happy to see us. I am sure Marie was too! We had a blast and I would do it all again.

Things I learned.

  • Do outside things early in the day before it gets too hot.

  • If you want to experience things without crowds, get up early. You can always go to bed early too.

  • Use contacts if you have them to advise you on things like where to go, when to go, how to get there, etc. It was nice to have those people!