Sunday, November 4, 2012

Rigby's Fifth

I like the sound of that title.  It sounds like a concerto.  Maybe someday.

For now, it refers to a birthday!  Can you believe he is five?  I am having a hard time with it.  Suddenly, I feel like all my babies are grown.  Five is the age that you start school, so he is basically gone.  And Curie will be starting kindergarten just the year after Rigby, so she is basically gone too.  That leaves just Piercy to hang out with me.  I've only been a mother for seven years and it seems like it's almost over already.

We are never in the mood for having Rigby's party at our house.  Two years ago, it was the fact that we lived in our little apartment on Bainbridge.  Then last year, I was too sick.  What is the excuse this year?  Hmm.  It's just easier this way, I guess.  We took the party to our pool where the kids take lessons.  It was the first time that I have gotten in.  They keep the water at a balmy 90 degrees!
 Rigby wanted a Space Jam themed party.  He doesn't understand that they stopped making Space Jam party items in 1997.  So this is what I came up with for a cake.
 Worked for him!
 It seems that I mostly took video of the party, which I try to avoid here because it won't print in a book well in the future.  So I'll just tell you that Rigby pretty well cleaned house as far as presents were concerned.  I think that five year-old boys must be easy to shop for.  A Nerf gun, a cars and a truck with tracks to race on, Star Wars toys, Michael Jordan track suit and action figure, and some kind of a transforming robot really hit the spot for this guy.
The party was a couple days before his actual birthday, but we wanted to make the real day special too, so we invited over a neighbor family for cake and a present we reserved for the big day: a stuffed Monstar from Space Jam, courtesy 1996 and Amazon.
Mmm.  Chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse filling and reeses pieces.  Niiiiice.

Happy birthday Buddy.  We sure love you.

Something for Everybody

In early October, we had a busy Saturday that deserves mention here.  It started off with having Nick's brother at our house.  He was going to be in the area and asked to spend the night.  He would arrive late, so as we put the kids to bed we told them that someone would be here in the morning; someone who they probably wouldn't see for a while because he likes to sleep in the morning.  The kids all yelled out, "KYLE!"

It was a fun day to have him with us.  We started out with Star Wars day at the library.
By the way, you should have seen our kids when we told them that Stars Wars 7, 8, and 9 will be made.  The noise level was violent.  Here's hoping they will be PG.

Bethelle and I then went to her girl scout activity (with Pierce, of course).  Each year, they decorate a particular round-about with themed scarecrows.  Our troop chose to make a flower fairy...
 ... and a vampiress.
 Here they are with their handiwork!
Rigby, Nick, Kyle, and Curie went from Star Wars day to Rigby's soccer game.  I've got an entire post dedicated to his soccer season coming up.  I know you are just on the edge of your seat waiting for it.

What did you do to him?

(Skipping ahead a bit here due to the afore mentioned picture disk that will not download.  Hopefully, I will find a way to get those pictures, and then I will backtrack.  Until then, must keep blogging.)

I left Curie and Pierce alone in the playroom for just a couple minutes.  This is not something I do very often, or at least for very long.  I came back to find him like this:
All turned out to be well, although I couldn't quite wrestle the complete story from her.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A True Vacation: Colonial Williamsburg

If I had doubted choosing DC over Santa Monica, Colonial Williamsburg broke the tie.  Have you seen this place?  It's amazing.  I would not call myself a history buff, but I know a little about America, and I love her.  And this is one of the places where her true identity began.

For those of you who are not familiar with Williamsburg, it is a little town in Virginia that hosted George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other of their contemporaries.  It was the capital of Virginia in a time when Virginia was one of, if not the, most influential of the thirteen colonies.  Not much of what is now the tourist area is original, but what needed to be rebuilt was done as exactly as possible, according to the many records left behind.  You really do get the sense that you are walking through colonial America.

Pierce and I arrived by train, as Nick travelled with his work companions by bus.  Our hotel, which was in the heart of the colonial area, was only a mile away, so we walked.  Well, Pierce can't walk.  I walked.  I sent Nick a quick text to let him know I had arrived.  It went like this: "I am here.  Walking to hotel.  Let's move here."
 The whole town was absolutely enchanting, and not just the colonial part.  It felt so... peaceful and small.  The air just smelled good.  I breathed deeply and felt clean.  Go.  And walk the mile.

That evening, Nick's work group was hosted by a local colonial pub.  Pierce and I were invited along!  We were taken to a private room upstairs, where we were transported back in time.  The hosts spoke with strange accents and used uncommon English words.  The menu needed a bit of translating.  Musicians played simple instruments and sang lyrical ditties.  The room was candle-lit and the food was great.

The next morning, Nick left with the group for his official duties nearby while Pierce and I got ready to play!  The path shown below was most of my walk into town.  You can see the crowd gathered there at what I believe was the local courthouse.  A sort of play was going on.  Throughout the day, these little reenactments would erupt around the city, illustrating for you the happenings of the times.  The people were getting fed up with England and their controlling ways.  There were ideas of independence floating around.  What a change to suddenly be a part of a play happening around you, rather than to watch it on a stage from your seat.  The characters then continue walking around town, asking the people (us) questions about if we've heard anything from so-and-so, or do we know when the governor will be back, or will there be a salt shipment soon, do you think.  And everyone just plays along like its totally normal and like blue jeans were all the rage in that time.
 After watching the little production, I walked around town.  The picture below is a cobbler's shop.  The shoes that the actors (and others) in the town wear are actually made here.  They had many pair, all in various stages of production, and the cobbler herself was there working and talking about what she does and taking questions.
 This is the textile shop.  The man below spins wool and weaves fabric.  Again, all the clothes in town are made of cloth from this shop.
 This is a pew from the local church.  It is still in operation, and has a large membership.  Pew 16, below, was General George Washington's pew.  If you look closely, you will see his name on the plaque.
 This is the room of a slave at the Wythe house.  The total living space for this girl was about three times what is in the picture.  She had a little bed and a stove, as well as a laundry press for doing her work.
 This is the study of the Wythe house.  Wythe was a lawyer and signer of the Declaration of Independence who tutored Thomas Jefferson in this very room of his house.

 The silversmith shop.  You can see the stages of the silver in making a plate.  Again, the smith was working on all sorts of beautiful things while answering questions about life and how things were made.  You can actually buy the pieces they produce in this shop.
 Just another day in the colonies.
 This lady loved Pierce.  Like every other lady.
 The redcoats are coming!  The man on horseback here gave a compelling argument for why we should not trust the rebelling colonists.  It was a different take on history.  It seems that politics was not clear-cut then, either.

 Just a few miles from Williamsburg is Jamestown, the first settled town in what is now the US.  We only had one day to spend in the area, so we drove out to Jamestown after most of Williamsburg closed down.  Jamestown turns out to be gated, so we couldn't even look at it, but here's a look-out point nearby.  Jamestown is just off to the right behind those trees.  I guess we needed to save something for our next trip out here.

A True Vacation: DC

Several months ago, Nick invited me to join him on an upcoming business trip.  I could choose between Santa Monica and Washington, DC.  Last month found us (plus one) in DC!  I'm sure I chose wisely.  The east coast has so much to see that cannot be found in the west.  Visiting was a great opportunity.

We flew in on a red eye.  I don't sleep well anywhere but in a bed, so sitting up on a plane, holding a baby that desperately needs to keep sleeping doesn't really do much for me.  I may have slept for six seconds.  Or seven.  Or not at all that night.  The sun rose as we taxied to our hotel.  Whatever check-in time may normally be, it was not 6 am.  The night clerk took pity on us when he saw Pierce and let us check in early.  Very early.  We were relieved to slip into the cutest, tiniest hotel room I've seen in this country and catch up on some much needed rest.
The hotel was roughly a mile north of the white house (and the rest of the national mall), so we got in a good deal of walking each day.  I don't remember what group this building housed, but I loved their quote on the plaque at their door" "In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity."
One of our first stops was this well-known house.  You can't see it in this picture, but the first lady has a large kitchen garden just off to the left.
We caught a shot of hometown love at the WWII Memorial.  Being there got us talking about what we had heard from our grandparents who served and who waited for their servicemen.  We should all take time for that once in a while.
 This is the Korean War Memorial.
 Pierce got a LOT of attention from the ladies on this trip.  I suppose there were not many babies around, but I still find it strange that people react so strongly to them.  We were all babies once, so we must be around them from time to time, but if the women in DC saw babies very often, you couldn't tell.  They would approach him and coo at him and even have their picture taken with him.  He was really quite the celebrity, which suits him well.  Pierce loves attention.

In this picture, there were at least a dozen women from a tour group standing in a circle around him.  I tried to be subtle about the picture, so I didn't catch them all in it, but it was pretty comical.
 Just across the street from the Korean War Memorial was the Albert Einstein Memorial.  Just my style!
 Albie has some of the greatest quotes on any subject, but I loved the one chosen for the memorial: "The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true."  At the time, this made me think of missionary work and spreading the gospel, but at this moment my mind is applying it to keeping our government leaders honest and their doings transparent and honest.

 It can be tricky to take pictures of yourself, but here we are, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

The walls inside the memorial are inscribed with the words of the Gettysburg Address.  I was particularly struck with the words: "that these dead shall not have died in vain."  Freedom, as far as it has been preserved, has been our privilege, but it did not come freely.  It has been paid for time and time again by those who valued it enough to give theirs up that we might enjoy it.  We should not take it lightly and must do what we can to preserve what they provided for us at such a great cost.
 That's me in the middle of this picture doing what I do most: nursing.  I nursed all over the national mall, in the smithsonian museums, on the subways, in restaurants, anywhere we went.  It slowed us down a bit, but then again it was nice to take a break and rest our over-walked feet.

The best view of the Washington Monument is from the top of the Lincoln stairs.  From here, you can see the tower reflecting in the pool below.

 We kept taking picture after picture of this, as we found ourselves there near dusk, and the light on the monument kept changing, getting more beautiful as the light moved.

As the sun went down, we hiked our way around this bit of the Potomac to the Jefferson Memorial.  Nick and I both agreed that this was our favorite.  In contrast with the busy, crowded memorials of the other we had seen more centrally located in the national mall, this one was much more reverent.  Combine that with Jefferson's calls for increased freedom in eloquent phrases all around him, and you get a truly sacred space.
 Nick and Pierce at the capitol.
Then there were the museums.  So many of them.  We didn't have time to hit them all, but we saw Natural History, American History, Air and Space, the Ford Theater, and I saw the Holocaust Museum while Nick worked.

This is a piece of moon rock that can be touched!  I wanted it to be off-white, like the moon at night, but it was black.  That is Nick's hand.
 And the actual gun that killed Abraham Lincoln!
 Pierce got a lesson in past Presidents.

 We took this picture for Curie, our zebra lover.  It was a trick to explain taxidermy to her when showing her the shot.
 More nursing!  Nursing, nursing, nursing.  I must say, that Pierce was a pretty good trooper through his change of lifestyle on this trip.  Hotels, the front carrier, museums, napping vertical, long walks, no kids around to entertain... he fared pretty well.  We were not able to see as much of the museums as we could have without him, but we saw enough.  Thanks, Pierce.
 My golfer.  And Ike's clubs.
 And here's a throwback to a previous post.  These are Reagan's Jelly Bellies.
One other important destination for us was the LDS temple.  With no car and not enough research, it took us two attempts to finally get there.  The first attempt wasn't a complete loss, as we discovered a great Italian restaurant with the most amazing lemon shortcake.  And we got there eventually.
Being there, this building really looked like some kind of painted Hollywood backdrop.  Completely ethereal.
And I thought the light played neat tricks with the Washington Monument.  These were just as good.
Inside the Visitors' Center.
Time to go.  A big thanks to the missionary couple who drove us to the subway station when we asked them to call us a cab.
We picked up some food on our walk home from the subway stop.  Nick laid Pierce down while he waited for me to nuke him some soup.  He had utensils in hand, and Pierce does look quite delicious!
One of our final, and fittingly so, stops in DC was here:
Pictures cannot be taken inside, but this is where the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are housed. They are in a dark, round room, dimly lit with some kind of green light, specially chosen, I'm sure, because it doesn't damage the fragile paper and ink.  I felt a special spirit there, thinking of the men who had been as close to these documents as I was then, and had signed them, immortalizing themselves as traitors or heroes; dooming themselves to martyrdom or near-worship.  Let's keep honoring them, America.

Overall, I was impressed with Washington, DC.  I can sometimes get depressed when thinking of the legislation that comes from there, but I can attest that the odes and honors all over the city and especially the national mall speak to freedom and deity.  Apparently, the legislators have not yet taken the time to redecorate the city.  I was also moved to see how many foreigners were there as tourists.  When we wanted a picture taken of Nick and I together, it was often quite a trick to find Americans, or at least English speakers.  This told me that the world still looks to us for our history of democracy and freedom.  I came home encouraged.  And eager to vote.