Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 4 - National Zoo and American History Museum

On day four we headed out to the zoo.  We knew it didn't open until ten but we headed out early because we had to get on the Metro to get there and we weren't sure how long that might take.  Thankfully the closest Metro station was across the street from our hotel.  None of us had ever been on a subway so we were all looking forward to the experience.  We road the escalator down into the tunnel.  I was very surprised to find it clean and easy to navigate.  I took pictures of Liberty with the train in the background and was immediately approached by a security officer who made sure I wasn't a terriorist and then forced me to delete my pictures.  This caught me completely off guard, but I did as she asked and made sure I didn't take any pictures in the subway station for the rest of our trip.  The Metro was surpisingly easy to navigate and within 10 minutes we arrived at the Metro station closest to the zoo.  It was about another 1/2 mile walk to get there.  We arrived about 9 and we walked straight in.

This is the Metro across from our hotel.

While we were on the Metro we got a tip from a local to start at the bottom of the zoo and work our way back up.  The zoo literally sits on top of a giant hill.  Not the type of hills you see in Oklahoma, but a small mountain.  The lady on the train said its better to walk straight to the bottom and work our way back up instead of climbling the big hill at the end of the day when we are so tired.  When we got there, there were very few people.  However, by the time we made it to the bottom of this rather long incline and started back up, people were pouring in.  It got so crowded that it was difficult to see the most popular exhibits.  We realized fairly quickly that we had wasted too much time early on while there weren't so many people.  We barely squeezed through the crowd to catch a glimpse of the giant pandas.  Liberty was tired by the time we made it back up the hill and she was ready to go.  Scott and I didn't feel like hanging around any longer either.  We headed back to the Metro and then back to our hotel.

Liberty loves maps.  Once we got to the bottom, she had to plan our trip back up.
This picture was taken inside the Metro station with my iPhone.  I avoided security this time =)

I planned lots of time in between activities for the girls to rest.  I knew that it would be pointless to push them too hard.  We rested for about two hours and then headed over to the American History Museum.  This museum wasn't part of our scheduled activities, but we decided to go there instead of the aquarium.  I could have spent and entire day in there.  There greatest thing, of course, was seeing the flag that Francis Scott Key wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" about.  The ACTUAL flag!  It was awesome. There were other cool things like Abraham Lincoln's top hat and Dorothy's ruby slippers.  Liberty was excited when we stumbled across C3P0.  It was definitely a highlight for all of us.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day 3 - Mt. Vernon

Our first day in Washington DC we discovered that not only had we arrived on Easter weekend (which we obviously knew) but we also planned our trip during Spring Break. It never occurred to me to think about that since our Spring Break is already over. It is absolute madness here. Our first stop was Mt. Vernon, home to George and Martha Washington. We toured the entire grounds and also toured the mansion. We waited in line for an hour and a half to get into the mansion! Thankfully the weather was so nice. Despite the wait, we had a great time. Even Liberty was surprisingly patient. The mansion was so awesome. I was much more impressed with it than Graceland. It was, to me, the epitome of style.  The grounds are quite extensive although just a fraction of what they were when President Washington lived there.  It was hot and exhasting, but totally worth it.

Mt. Vernon

Potomac River

Emory slept alot.

We left Mt. Vernon about 5:00 p.m. and headed to our hotel.  We were all so excited to actually get into the city.  Driving in D.C. proved to be an adventure and I was happy that we wouldn't actually be driving to any other destination.  Our car would remain parked for the duration of our stay.  Nonetheless we made it to our hotel without getting lost, with me at the wheel and Scott as our ever amazing and adaptable navigator. 

We were very impressed when we got to our hotel.  They immediately upgraded us to a larger room when we piled all the stuff out of our car and rolled it into the lobby =).  We really enjoyed staying there even though it wasn't etremely kid friendly.  They didn't even have a ramp so we had to carry the strollers up and down a flight of stairs coming and going from the hotel.

Emory so excited to be at the hotel and out of her carseat!

We were so exhuasted after spending all afternoon in the sun that we didn't want to go far for dinner.  We walked a few blocks from our hotel to Five Guys and had a burger.  It was just as good as we had anticpated.  It was just before dark and the streets were packed.  We decided that for the rest of the trip that it would probably be best if we wrapped up all of our activities and had the kids back to the hotel before dark. 

We went to bed exhuasted and so excited for the next day...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day 2 - Driving, Driving, and more Driving

On Wednesday we spent most of the day driving. There wasn’t anything in particular to see and the highlight of the day was the next stop on our mini “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” tour. We stopped for lunch in Knoxville, TN at a drive-in pizza place called The Pizza Palace. When we pulled up Scott was sure I had driven us to the wrong location. First of all, even though I had researched it, I was expecting it to be a drive-in. Second, it wasn’t in the greatest part of town and the building was far from new. Nonetheless, we piled out of the car and went in to sit at a small bar they had for dine-in customers. It turned out to be great! The pizza was really good and onion rings were even better! Nowhere near as good as our BBQ experience, but a success nonetheless.

The kids were so great. Even though Liberty is just dying to be in Washington D.C., she is being as patient as a 5-year-old can possibly be. Scott and I decided to stop early and stay at a hotel with a pool. One of Liberty’s favorite things in the world is swimming. We ended up staying in a Hampton Inn in Roanoke, VA. It’s the cutest little town. We ate at a Mexican Restaurant next door to the hotel. Scott was extremely skeptical of what Virginian Mexican food would taste like, but I didn’t want to waste Liberty’s swimming time driving all over town. So, off we went. As it turns out , it was amazing. The only complaint we had was the salsa.

After dinner we headed to the pool. Liberty had a blast and we discovered that she virtually forgot everything she had learned about swimming last summer. Definitely time for swim lessons. She swallowed a lot of water, but still had fun. She was proud of herself when learned to float on her back—an achievement that al alluded her in the past.

Emory didn't care for the water so she got out and watched.

Liberty practiced floating =)
Driving thorough Tennessee and Virginia has been so interesting to me. I am in awe of the mountains. Despite the fact that I have spent half the trip sick from all the up and down and round and round, I have really enjoyed the landscape. Every house seems to be sitting on top of a hill. They don’t seem to yards because both the front and back yards slop so dramatically. Not really an ideal place for swing sets and trampolines. We also noticed that there aren’t many brick homes and many more mobile homes than we are used to seeing. Scott and I suppose it because we are very far from where bricks are actually made and that mobile homes are more practical here because they don’t have extreme weather like tornadoes. It’s all so interesting and different.

Day 1 - Memphis, TN

We managed to leave Guthrie about 5:45 a.m., missing my departure deadline by only 45 minutes. I have our entire trip mapped out—complete with itinerary and a binder full of information =). Trying to factor in how much time we would need for stops with two little ones was somewhat tricky. I knew from our trips to Texas that they could both handle a 5 hour trip no problem, but beyond that I was guessing. Obviously it could go great or go very very badly. Fortunately day one turned out to be absolutely amazing. The girls travelled SO well. I pray that the rest of our trip will go as smoothly.

Liberty colored almost the whole way. I also bought “gifts” for Liberty and Emory to give them along the way. This is my attempt to keep them entertained. At our first stop I gave Liberty a set of color change markers. Each marker has three different color tips. She loved it and colored with the rest of the day. Emory got a cloth book about barnyard animals. Each page makes a different animal noise when you push the buttons. Liberty pushed the buttons for her and told her the name of the animals =).

We blazed right through Oklahoma and Arkansas without a peep from either of the girls. Emory slept the first 4 hours and they we stopped to feed her, put gas in the car, and take a potty break. Our next stop was Memphis, TN where we stopped to visit Graceland. Even after getting lost twice coming into Memphis, we still arrived at Graceland and hour and a half early! Thank God for iphone GPS and a husband who can navigate without getting carsick (I cannot so I was driving).

Scott and I aren’t huge Elvis fans, but I couldn’t see driving through Memphis without seeing Graceland. I must admit that it was nothing like I had imagined. What passed for luxury in the 1970’s was horribly ugly and cheap looking. There was actually green carpet on the walls and ceiling. Scott said that he had torn down houses less ugly =). It is so crazy to see how much the world has changed in terms of celebrity houses. Graceland would NEVER make it on MTV Cribs today! Looking at all the gold and platinum records was unbelievable. There are so many that they don’t all fit in one location. They are scattered in different building throughout the grounds. My favorite part was going through the car museum. Unlike the hideous mansion, a classic car never goes out of style. My fav was this Lincoln with the gold alligator top! Liberty was patient, but was less than thrilled looking at a bunch of junk that belonged to someone she’s never heard of. She kept asking me “Why is he important?”

Liberty like this gold suit =)

Pink Cadillac

My favorite was this Lincoln with a gold alligator top =)

Next stop was famous Memphis BBQ restaurant, Marlowe’s. Once of Scott and my favorite things to do is eat at new restaurants so I had to factor this in when I was planning our trip. We decided to do a mini tour of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Marlowe’s was in the “Memphis BBQ” episode. Tomorrow we are eating at Pizza Palace from his “That’s Italian” episode. The BBQ was absolutely amazing and they had these deep fried sourdough rolls that absolutely changed my life. Definitely recommend it if you are ever down in Memphis.

After we ate, we decided to get back on the road for awhile. We ended up stopping about 8 p.m. By that point, Emory had had enough and she screaming at the top of her lungs and refused to be consoled by sweet Liberty who was do everything possible to calm her down. Despite the fact that the hotel we stayed in was far from 4-star accommodations, both Liberty and Emory thought it was great. Liberty jumped on the bed and Emory laughed and played. We relaxed for a bit and then turned in about 9:30 to get ready for our early morning. I think Liberty was asleep before we even turned out the lights. I was an awesome first day of vacation!

Monday, April 5, 2010

2 years ago...

today our daughter met her High Priest.  What a beautiful thought.  We had this picture taken back in February.  It makes me think of what it must feel like to meet Jesus.  One of my favorite images of Christ is that of our High Priest.  Revelation 1:12-16 describes HIM in detail...

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

This year we are in Washington D.C. on what we celebrate as Lilly's homecoming.  Usually we release balloons as a reminder of where she is and to keep our eyes and hearts focused heavenward.  This year I wanted to do something a little different since we are in D.C.  I decided that we would still release balloons, but I wanted to focus on the freedom we have in Christ.  Freedom seemed to be fitting theme being in our Capital.  So, I made tags to attach to our balloons.

I also thought it would be wonderful for Liberty (and for us) if we actually got a response from this.  It would be a real tangible reminder of how our Lilly touched the lives of so many in such a short time and continues to do so.

We would also love our friends and family to participate as well--especially if you knew Lilly.  Leave us a comment and let us know how know our little girl has impacted your own walk with Christ.

We released the balloons today at a park somewhere outside of DC.  We each said something we loved about Lilly and then each of us had a balloon to release.  It was really sweet and Liberty loved it as usual. Emory didn't hold on to her at all and let it go immediately. Liberty's balloon got stuck in a tree (the trees are significantly taller and more abundant in Virginia =))  Liberty was very upset, but after about five minutes, the balloon got free of the tree much to all of our excitement.  We did video the balloon release but I can't get it to upload.  It was very sweet though.

Thank you for continuing to share in this journey with us.  We love you all.

9 months old

Emory is growing faster than ever.  She is so much fun right now.  My favorite thing about her is still her gorgeous smile and her laugh.  I can't get enough of it--I NEED those sweet smiles!

She still isn't crawling although she can spin herself in circles and scoot around on her bottom.  She will have nothing to do with tummy time, so I guess she will continue to sit on her bottom or find some other way to get around.  Her legs are getting stronger and she can stand for longer periods of time without getting tired or frustrated.  She hasn't shown any interest in pulling herself up yet.  Probably because she still isn't moving around a ton.  She can sit and play by herself for up to 45 minutes at a time.  This is rare though because she wants to be where all the action is.  I usually have to take her from room to room with me to keep her entertained.

She is eating more solid foods.  She absolutely hates anything green and now she is strong and smart enough to push my hand away if I try to feed it to her.  This, of course, results in her being covered in whatever I'm trying to feed her.  Obviously we will have to keep working on that.  She loves fruits though and eats those no problem.  Up until about a week ago, she hasn't been crazy about different textures.  She didn't want to have anything to do with foods that weren't pureed.  I have also tried putting food in front of her to see if she would pick it up and eat.  All attempts were unsuccessful until last weekend.  She finally figured it out and will now feed herself little cereal puffs.  She will also feed herself Mum Mums and graham crackers.  No success yet with diced vegetables and fruits.  Most days she eat 3 solid meals and I nurse in between and throughout the night.

She still isn't sleeping very well at night.  Lately she has been waking about every 2 hours.  Usually the first couple of times she wakes up she wants me to feed her.  Then, as the night goes on she will usually go back to sleep if I give her binky back or snuggle her for a minute.  Naps are getting better.  She now naps primarily in her bed and will sleep anywhere from 45-60 minutes at a time.  She still falls alseep almost everytime we get in the car to go somewhere and she will still nap in her swing if attempts to get her in bed fail.

Her eyes are still super blue.  I think they are much bluer than both her sisters.  Her hair is growing and is in sort of a crazy stage where some parts are longer than others.  She is very vocal these days.  She has lots of new sounds like...dada, mama, yaya, and baba.  These consanant sounds are in addition to the high pitched screaming and squealing that she does.  She isn't saying any words yet although she obviously has the sounds for Mama and Dada.

Her favorite game right now is peek-a-boo.  She always tries to cheat and look around whatever object you are holding in front of her.  It is so cute to watch her lean around and try to see you.

She has also recently learned how to clap her hands.  Sooooo cute.  She appears to do it for no particular reason, but the other day when Scott came home from work she started clapping when he walked in the door.  It was so sweet.  She has also started doing a hand motion that is similar to waving.  It is so cute and she will repeat the action if we do it to her.  I have to get a video of it.  She is so proud of herself when she copies us or when we copy her.

She is all about loving on her Daddy these days.  Although she prefers me most of the time, she loves it when he gives her all his attention.  She is especially exicted to see Daddy right when he comes home from work or when she wakes up in the morning.  She is so excited when he walks in the door and flaps her arms wildly until he picks her up.  Her favorite place to take a nap is in the recliner with Scott.  We call it the "snuggle spot."  If I lay her down on his lap with her blankie she will pass out every time.  Its really sweet and something special just for them.