Monday, August 30, 2010

Washington DC Weekend

This last weekend I had the pleasure of going to our nation's capitol for a whirlwind weekend with John, Gabe, and Seth. It was the weekend of 8/28--a rally called "Restoring Honor" to be held at the feet of Abe Lincoln.
We left after school on Friday and flew all evening before arriving at the Dulles airport. Because it was 1am when we landed, we spent the night at a hotel nearby. We were all still really tired when the early alarm went off.

But we had a date with a few 100,000 other travelers and I am one that doesn't want to miss the big party. We took a cab into town and dropped our backpacks off at our hotel for Sat. night, then grabbed a cab down to the Lincoln Memorial. The driver let us off right by the Vietnam Memorial. It was very neat to see and it got us thinking about how many families have sacrificed so much for our country.

Even though it was still an hour before the official start of the Restoring Honor Rally, there were people EVERYWHERE! While I was certainly expecting a crowd, I was genuinely shocked at the sheer humanity in every nook and cranny. We made our way to the Lincoln Monument. I know this pic looks a little yellow, but I tried to highlight the detail of the monument. It is meant to look like a temple.

John snapped a pic of the boys and I from a little different angle as we got closer.

There was a stage that had been set up which was a fair way down from the Lincoln monument. We decided to go up behind the stage and look for a spot on the monument itself looking down onto the mall. We figured we'd have a pretty good view. And man oh man, did we ever! There was music playing and sadly, a few sound checks later, we realized this might not be the best place, as we really couldn't hear what was going on below us.
This isn't a very good picture, as I had a cheap camera and was looking right into the sun, but this is where we stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of the crowd. I have to say, it was absolutely amazing to be standind up on the Lincoln Memorial, looking down on what was estimated to be several 100,000 people, and hear them all recite the Pledge with enthusiasm and sincere intent. Before we headed back down the other side of the Lincoln monument, we took a minute to step inside.

With the rally going on at the foot of the monument, it was almost empty inside. We had the whole thing practically to ourselves. We looked up at Abraham Lincoln and read the Gettysburg address. It felt reverent, and the sounds of the crowds outside didn't seem to really carry into this place. It was pretty dang neat.

After spending a few minutes at Lincoln's feet, we decided to go and find a place to sit for the rally. It was a warm day and the boys were anxious for some shade. We wandered around for quite a while before settling in some trees near the Korean War Memorial. I left the boys to lie in the shade and I wandered out to push in a little closer. They had jumbo-trons set up for the overflow, but the overflow was overflowing. This is a pic of my view when I worked in closer:
The program itself was great. There were tributes to the military and Merit Awards for 3 people representing Faith, Hope, and Charity. Alveda King, MLK's niece, spoke and I really enjoyed listening to her. There were other religious leaders and of course Glenn Beck that spoke. It was all centered around the idea that we need to build on the principles we all have in common. We can unite around Faith, Hope, and Charity. This is the where changing our country must begin--with each of us striving to align ourselves with God.

I have to admit that it is still almost strange to me to listen to Glenn Beck talk so openly and directly about the need we have to return to God and look to him as our shield. It's strange, yet amazingly cool that this is the dialogue going on. It was truly awesome to stand with all of these people as we heard the call to pray, to be honest, and even to pay tithing! I loved it!

I was struck by an idea as I looked around at the huge crowd. We all had to make an effort to be there and we all shared at least some of the same values or political ideology. And yet, we were all individuals. We were all different. We were all unique and unlike anyone else in the crowd. And God created us that way. And He considers us all equal-that is what is meant when it is said that God is no respecter of persons. No one is better than anyone else. No one's pursuit of happiness is more important than any one else's. We need to honor the individual because by elevating one group or person, you have to put them above someone else.

I was glad to be there.

After the rally started winding down, we meandered toward the Washington Monument. There were people EVERYWHERE!!! It was pretty darn warm, so we hung in the shade and watched all of the people walk by. We kept walking down to the WWII monument and although there were many folks doing the same thing, we soaked it in. As we continued on toward the Washington Monument, I turned back and took this picture. You can see the WWII monument in the foreground and the Lincoln Monument in the distance. This was over an hour after the rally, but you can see the people just kept pouring out of the mall.
We made it up to the Washington monument and I took a moment to look around. We had just come from the Lincoln Memorial, past the WWII monument. I turned to my right and could see 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (aka the White House). To my left was a monument to Thomas Jefferson, and behind me was the US Capitol Building. I tried to just take it in. It is really an amazing point in not only geography, but in world history. I was in awe.

I had to just laugh because John and I tried to point out the majesty to our 12 and 13 year old sons. While they were polite enough about it, I have a feeling they don't 'get' the importance of the place. There is a huge grate near the Washington Monument over a large air vent coming from the monument. It was blowing air (kind of like that pic of Marilyn Monroe where her skirt flies up...) and the boys were WAY more fascinated by standing on that grate than by looking around at the history in every direction. They inflated their shirts, inflated their shorts, took off their hats and let them fly up. They found grass and bits of paper that they played with for ages. John and I just laughed and went to sit in the shade of the WM. We enjoyed hanging out together while the boys enjoyed the grate. I took the most unflattering picture ever of John and I as we sat under the WM. Did I mention it was really hot and kinda humid and my hair was in a ponytail type hairdoo? Anyhoo...

We decided to walk back to our hotel as it didn't seem too far from where we were. We passed the Al Sharpton march as they headed toward the MLK monument sight. We went past this super cool statue that I totally want in my yard. It is a flower and it was SO cool. I took a picture in the hope that someone will see it and make me one for Christmas.
It was not a great idea to walk back to our hotel, as it took a really long time. We were pretty worn out by the time we checked into our room. Interestingly, all 4 of us are reading books from 'The Hunger Games' series and we all laid in the room, cranked the air conditioning, and read for a little while. John and I went down to the hotel resturant to have dinner with other leaders of 9/12 groups from Colorado. It was nice, but we were pretty tired when it was all over. John laughed as we walked back to our room telling me that the husband of some woman I was talking to was very unimpressed with him. He decided to small talk with John and asked him about the candidates in our area. John had no clue. He wondered what District we were in...John wasn't sure. The conversation kinda fizzled after that and they both hoped their wives would quit talking. We both got a good laugh as he recounted the story to me. Gabe and Seth had dinner together then swam in the pool while I went to sleep. They had a great time and said they liked the rally.

Sunday was our day to head home. We tried to squeeze in as much as we could before we had to catch our plane in the afternoon. We grabbed a cab to the local LDS church and ended up seeing several people we knew. John saw a rockcrawling buddy and a guy that used to live in Durango. They were both in town for the rally. A couple sat down in front of us and the woman turned around and kindly said she thought she knew me. I didn't recognize her and said that I had one of those faces where everyone has a cousin or college roommate that looks just like me. She asked where I was from and Colorado didn't ring a bell for her. I asked where she was from and when she said South Jordan, we figured out she is in my sister's ward!! My sister was actually substituting for her in Primary! I love that!

I absolutely love going to church in other cities and countries. It is the coolest thing to me to be able to go anywhere and hear the same Gospel! I love love love it! The talks were fantastic and were about service.

After Sac Mtg, we caught a cab back to the hotel where we changed, got our backpacks, and checked out. We decided to hit the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I actually went to this museum with my dad when I was around the boy's age. The thing I remembered the most was touching a rock that was from the moon. I was excited to do it again with Seth and Gabe. :) We all found cool stuff to check out.

When it was finally time to leave, I realized we didn't have any pics of all 4 of us together. So we asked someone to take one of us. Crud. It's blurry!

And just like that, it was time to get back on the plane and go home! It was such a short trip, but I am really glad we made it. Although we aren't sure that Gabe and Seth really got it, I am glad we brought them because some day I think they will look back and think it was pretty cool. I know I thought it was REALLY cool and I am so very glad we went!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red Tailed Hawk

We often have birds fly into our windows. With the recent rains, it must do something strange with the lighting, because it has happened a lot lately. It is unnerving for me to hear a loud 'thump' that literally comes out of the sky, so you can imagine how disorienting it often is for the bird.

Last night I was in the office when I heard the sound of feathers on glass. While I jumped a bit, I continued on with what I was doing. Elise came running into the house encouraging my to quickly follow her out onto the porch to see the bird that was freaking out the cat.

It was an absolutely gorgeous red tailed hawk. It hardly moved for a long time. We stretched out it's wings and they looked all right, but it's feet seemed strange. Eventually it became more alert and after warming it up in a washcloth, we put it in the garage with some water and dog food. It just sat quietly all night. John called someone for advice and they reminded us to wear thick leather gloves while handling it because once it got it's strength back, it could do some quick damage with either beak or feet should it so desire.

While I had visions of elbow-high leather gloves and teeny, tiny, little bird hoods, I am thinking we will look for a good place to give it for rehabilitation. When I told Gabe about the whole 'mini-bird-hood' idea, he laughed and said he was just thinking the same thing!

It was really cool to see such a beautiful creature up close. It just blinked it's little eyes at us as we marveled at what a gorgeous creation it was. And yes, it did really freak out the cat even though it isn't very big.

UPDATE: We have taken the bird to an animal hospital, and it appears our hawk is actually a Kestrel (a type of falcon). Those red tail feathers threw us off! :) Although it seemed more colorful than a hawk, we just assumed that was it's baby coloring!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who Needs Vegetables?

This year my vegetable garden was a big fat BOMB. My corn grew tall stalks, with no cobs. My tomatoes are still small and green and few. And did you know that if you don't cut and eat broccoli, it will flower? Yellow flowers. So ya, not good.

But I DON"T CARE! Why? Because I have these:

Thank you Jebb for your assistance--no, not in helping me pick or wash, but in taking this picture of all of my yummy, ripe strawberries (and a couple of early blackberries). I love our berries! I loved the raspberries last month, the other variety of raspberry coming on now, the blackberries which have begun ripening, and of course the strawberries which grow all summer long!!

This colander represents what is ripe if you don't pick for 2 or 3 days. YUM! I think that stinky compost I put on the patch this spring worked because my berries are much bigger and each plant is yielding more. The cool, cloudy, rainy weather might help too, because heaven knows it has done nothing for my tomato crop.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School '10

It's the first day of school and I am still wondering where July went. We had a big move this year as we have switched the younger kids to Sunnyside Elementary. We actually live in that school district but because it is 5 miles further away, we have been hesitant to move.

Gabe and Seth are relishing the idea of being another grade older in the Middle School. They are both 'growing out their hair.' I like a little length, but they are on the brink of shaggy. Still, I think they are handsome and OLD! Gabe is officially taller than me- the doctor says he's 5'11". When did this happen?!

Elise is having the hardest time with the idea of a new school. Sunnyside is a feeder school for the same Middle School she will attend next year, so we are trying remind her she'll have twice the friends next year. When we told her we were moving, she wrote me several notes begging us to reconsider. She wrote things like "Please don't make me go to Sunnyside!" Only she would cross our the word 'Sunny' and write 'DEATH' is squiggly letters. So I wrestled with the idea. I know from experience that it is hard to move schools, but sometimes it turns out wonderfully and some good life skills are learned. She has met several of the kids in her class as well as her teacher-to-be so it won't all be brand new.

Jackson was the real catalyst for us switching schools. I decided this summer to keep him back in 1st grade. None of the teachers were excited with the idea as he is on grade level for most skills. But the guy is YOUNG. He is a July birthday and we talked to him at length about the fact that while he is certainly smart enough to move on, he is just not very old yet. He seemed really good with it, so we went in on registration day and signed him up for 1st grade at the new school. The principal pulled up his test scores and said that Jacks would do just great in 2nd grade but she left it up to me. I stuck to the whole 1st grade thing.... until the next morning.

I woke up feeling absolutely HORRIBLE about the whole thing! So we drove right back down to the school and I talked to the principal again and told her we would like to put Jacks into 2nd. She smiled pleasantly and said, "No problem!"

This also meant I would be putting Jebb into kindergarten (they are 2 years apart and I'd like them to stay that way in school as well). By signing him up, there were now enough kinder students to make 2 separate classes. So Jebb will go to school this morning, then back again on Thurs and Fri. He is SO SO excited to be a 'big' kid!

After it was all said and done, the main reason we switched schools ended up being a non-issue. This fact was not lost on Elise and she begged for us to just go back to the old school. But I felt good. I felt like this was the right thing for us. I tried to really study it all out and be thoughtful about the whole thing. I think this is a good move for our family. I am super NOT excited that the school is further away, but overall, I am happy about it.

The kids were good sports about the pics this morning. I am amazed when I look back on years past--I wonder how we got here so fast. But regardless of my denial about getting older, they all ARE getting older. I am really pleased with what good kids they all are. They all got back-to-school blessings last night from their dad and it was interesting and wonderful to hear how special and individual they all are. I am blessed to have them in my life!

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9th 2010 @11:12pm....that's!

I feel like I ought to do something so here's my thought of the moment-

"...look to God and live."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Butterfly Bush

There is a butterfly bush near our front door. I rarely see butterflies near it, but I often see hummingbirds. Today I sat and watched the scene for about 15 minutes. Hummingbirds are very territorial and are just as aggressive as something so small and high strung logically would be. It was almost comical watching bird A belly up to the butterfly bush only to have bird B chase him off then return to the same blossom to eat.

I decided to go back in the house and got my camera. By this time, bird A was firmly chased away and I got to watch bird B dance from flower to flower, as leisurely I supposes as any hummingbird would. I guess I should call the bossier one bird A though, shouldn't I?