"I have come that they might have life and have it to the full..." -John 10:10b

Monday, March 30, 2009

Speaking of Martha...

Yesterday, Paul and I spontaneously decided to head down to Mount Vernon, the home of George and Martha Washington. And this was spontaneity at it's finest, let me tell you. We literally got in the car and just started driving south. We weren't sure where exactly we wanted to go, but about 10 minutes into the trip, Paul suggested Mount Vernon (as we had heard there was a peculiar set of dentures there) and a plan was formed. I know it seems weird that a old set of fake teeth was our deciding factor, but Paul and I are a bit odd I suppose.

Anyway, I was genuinely fascinated with this place! There are A LOT of pics in this post because I swear, around every turn was something that truly interested me.

We had every intention of going into the mansion first, but one look at the line to get in coupled with the rule prohibiting strollers inside forced us to explore other attractions on the property first. I was more than okay with this because I could smell the farm animals while we were in line for tickets and was eager to see what kind were there.

Our first stop was "Ye Olde Bull." I have to say, I was a bit nervous about approaching the bull pen after one look at their very large horns, but they seemed like well-fed, happy bulls and that proved to assuage any hesitance on my part.

They were quite friendly actually. One of them even came within arms reach in search of a good head scratching, and I was happy to oblige.

After peering down at my now very dirty hands and fingernails, I decided that I might as well get to touching every other animal that was available. So off we went to see the sheep or "sheeps" as Eva called them. The adult sheep were no fun as they stayed away from the fence and had no interest in a head scratch or anything else of the sort, but the lambs...now they were fun!

One little lamb was so taken with Eva and I that the sweet thing stuck it's head through the planks of the fence and suckled our fingers for a while. It was really adorable!

As we walked down the fence a little ways, we heard some commotion and chatter about two brand new lambs. I mean really new. Like born 20 minutes ago new. We hurried down to catch a glimpse and there they were; pitch black fleece and umbilical cords still attached. I tell you what guys, I was meant to have been born in that century on a farm. I pouted for a second that we had just missed the actual birth but quickly recovered and marveled at how precious the newborn lambs were, grateful that I at least got to see them this new.

After standing there for more than a short while, I glanced at Paul, a smile of awe still spread across my face and realized that he wasn't as thrilled as I was about the newborn lambs. So, I reluctantly pressed on.

We then came to the servants quarters. They were made up of cute little structures, about the size of a typical bedroom, each with a particular purpose. The first one we peered into was the kitchen. Now guys, I thought MY kitchen was on provincial side with it's 15 year old appliances and flat wooden cabinetry, but one look at this one, and mine seemed gourmet!

We then came to the laundry "room"...I shall never complain of having to do laundry again! God bless my washer and dryer!

Once we had made our way through the stables and servant's quarters, we headed down a quaint brick path (Eva and I actually skipped down this path as I sang "We're off to see the Wizard") with gorgeous green grass and shady trees along the sides and finally came to the tombs of George and Martha Washington.

A few things captured me about this stop. The first was this engraving in the wall right above the sarcophaguses.

It's John 11:25-26 which, in modern english says "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

It's a verse that many an American would find close-minded and offensive, but a verse so important to our first president that he wanted it inscribed above his grave. Truly baffling.

Another aspect of the tomb that amazed me were these engravings on the brick that surrounds the graves.

Apparently, George Washington predicted that at some point, a civil war would break out in our nation and that deeply saddened him because he never wanted to see his beloved country divided. So, at the request of the Washington family, Mount Vernon was declared neutral territory during the Civil War. Therefore, all soldiers, both North and South were able to seek shelter there during the war. Because of the great admiration these soldiers had for Mr. Washington as our first president and the vision he had for this nation, they diligently etched their names into the walls surrounding his final resting place as a way to pay their respects. I can't tell you how emotional it was for me to put my fingers in the grooves that I know were repeatedly hammered and scraped by men who participated in such a pivotal time in our nation's history. It was amazing.

One of our final stops was down a long, brick path laid on a hill that ended at the banks of the wide Potomac River. The weather was still bright and beautiful, although a little windy and Paul and I took the opportunity to snap a few quick shots.

Please don't mind my very wind-blown hair.

So that's our trip to Mount Vernon. It was crazy fun even though we never actually made it INTO the mansion. But we plan to visit many more times in the future, so I'm sure we'll get in there eventually.

And yes, we did get to see the dentures that Washington wore, made with animal teeth, wood and porcelain, however cameras weren't allowed in that part of the exhibit so there are no pictures. But they're dreadful. Definitely worth the spontaneous day trip.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Duldrums

Not really feelin' like myself today. I think I'll follow Liz's example and take a little break myself. The laundry will just have to sit still for a day and the vacuuming can be held off until tomorrow. Today, I'm going to be Mary and not Martha.

I hope you all have a great weekend! I'm off to play with my girls in the floor.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Visit From Gigi and Colonel

This past week, my parents flew in from Florida to meet Izzy for the first time and to babysit both girls while Paul and I spent the weekend in Baltimore for a marriage retreat.

I was so excited to see them, but a bit nervous about leaving the girls for two nights. The only other time I've been separated from one my children was after Eva's heart surgery in 2007 and that was NOT by choice. She was in the PICU for 5 days and they wouldn't allow me to stay the night with her due to lack of space. Leaving her every night was gut wrenching.

This time wasn't as gut wrenching being as both of my children are in good health and I knew they would be in the care of two people that God untrusted with my own life just 26 years ago, but it was still a little nerve racking. People, I'm the mom that comes home from a 2 hour date with Paul to pull my sleeping children out of bed just to hold them, to make sure they are still breathing and well.

But, the weekend went off without a hitch and my parents were even able drive down to Northern Virginia with the girls to visit my brother, his wife and their precious children. Paul and I had a wonderfully rejuvenating weekend together, listening to different speakers and spending some time in meaningful reflection and savoring our much needed "alone time." If you ever get a chance to attend a Family Life Weekend to Remember conference, I highly recommend it!

Anyway, once the conference was over, we were able to spend another 3 days with Gigi and Colonel before they had to jump on their plane and head back to Florida. In that 3 days, we did quite a bit!

Sunday, we headed into Baltimore's Inner Harbor to show my parents some sights and grab some lunch. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and we had so much fun just walking around and marveling at the Baltimore skyline.

We were also able to catch some almost free street entertainment courtesy of this guy...

I say almost free because he did weasel a buck out of my dad as part of his bit. It was pretty funny.

The remainder of their time was spent mainly at home with me and the girls as Paul still had to return to work on Monday. My mom and I were able to accomplish a few projects together and my got to do a little of his own sight-seeing in Annapolis which is only 30 minutes up the road.

Yes, I know. I'm a horrible daughter. I invite my parents up and make them babysit and do projects around my house. I then send my dad off on his own to sight-see solo. But guys, if you knew my mom, you'd know that she lives for a good home project. And if you knew my dad, you'd know that he'll jump at any opportunity to visit a military installation with as much history and infamy as Annapolis. And solo is even better in his book...none of us women-folk to hurry him along.

So...do you wanna see what I meant by projects?!? Of course you do!

First, we laid shelf liner all over my kitchen...

Then, we planted a cute little garden in my front yard. Gerber Daisies and Pansies. I don't know guys...I haven't had much luck with plants in the past. But I'm determined this time. I figure that if I've been able to keep two humans alive pretty well, I should be able to handle a few measly flowers.

And finally, the grand finale...

Aren't they so cool?!? I tell you, these chairs needed a major overhaul. When Paul and I first purchased them, the cushions were a sateen white. But 9 months of abuse from my teenage sister coupled with a 2 year old's refusal to use a booster seat didn't prove well for those once white cushions. They were looking pretty dern dingy. But one evening with my mom and vioa la! I just love them!

Oh, and this post isn't over yet. I have some adorable pics of my parents with the girls...

Loved having you Mom and Dad! Can't wait till next time!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trip to D.C.

This past week, Paul and I spontaneously decided to head down to D.C. for the day. One of the things I love about living in this part of Maryland is our proximity to so much of our nation's historical landmarks. Just 30 minutes south is D.C., 2 hours north is Philadelphia, and Williamsburg is about 2 hours south. So much history in so little square mileage. And guys, I love American History. Paul picks on me sometimes about how emotional I can get when it comes to the military or past wars or anything of that nature. But I can't help it. This blood runs red, white and blue (mostly blue as that is the Air Force color).

Anyway, although the day started out pretty darn cold, by mid afternoon it had warmed to a not-as-cold 55 degrees and it turned out to be a very nice day trip.

We began our day at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This was my second time there and I really do enjoy it. I have to admit, I get a bit frusterated when walking through the dinosaur exhibit and having to read over and over again about how "billions, and millions and trillions of years ago" this crazy thing happened and BAM, out of the blue we have the perfect environment to sustain life. And as interesting as they are, it's a bit annoying to walk past the exhibits showing "early man" with their ape-like features and ├╝ber-hairy bodies.

But, if you can put all of that aside, it's a really fun experience with some pretty cool exhibits.

And like any woman, this was one of my favorite ones. I'm not a big jewelry wearer by any means, but WOW. That is a big rock. I can almost hear Celine Dion singing "My Heart Will Go On" when I look at this picture.

Even Izzy thought so...

Once we'd seen all of the exhibits we could before we had a minor toddler meltdown, we left the museum and began the walk towards the National Monument. We didn't stop there, as both the girls were asleep in the stroller at this point, but we ooh'd and aaah'd and continued on our way toward the Lincoln Memorial.

I have to admit, I got a little emotional once we arrived there. I didn't expect to be so moved by this memorial, but once there, standing in front of this gigantic statue of a man so admired for his honesty and values, I was just overwhelmed. And then, I turned around and realized that I was standing just a few feet from where Martin Luther King gave his epic speech. A speech that ushered in a new era and has even led us to where we are today as a nation, with the man we call our president. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a huge fan of Obama's politics, but it is neat to see how far we've come as a nation from the days when Lincoln spoke the words of Emancipation Proclamation which are etched on the walls of the memorial.

Another thing I found very interesting was the number of times God was mentioned in that foundational speech, how often scripture was quoted. Coming from the evolution, big-bang theory temple that is the Museum of Natural History, it was a head-scratcher. Somewhere in that 2 mile trek, there's been a disconnect. This nation was founded on principles that come straight from scripture. Even the simple belief that "all men are created equal" came from the idea that we were CREATED. Created with a purpose. Where did we lose that? I pondered that the whole way back to the parking garage.

And just in case you guys are out there thinking, "man, there's just not many pics of Paul on this blog," here's one for the books. Isn't he handsome?!? I couldn't get him to smile, but I promise he is a happy person. And he has a great smile...I"ll get a picture of it one of these days.

And here's the girls. They both slept quite a bit as we were walking, but Izzy woke up before Eva. As Eva was still sleeping, Izzy would periodically reach her hand over and pat Eva on the back while making some high pitched squeals, as if she was trying to wake her big sister up. It was pretty cute.

Oh, and we saw Barack Obama...twice! Well, we saw his motorcade. But Paul swears up and down that he got a picture of Obama in his limo.

You can decide that for yourself...

All in all, a very good trip. Next day trip...Philadelphia for sure!