Friday, May 23, 2014

Customer Service ... where art thou?

It's been a busy week around here.

Getting things ready at the new house. Packing up the last at the old house.

And apparently, customer service has died in the midst of this.

We were supposed to have a screen door installed Monday.

No one came.

The guy who was going to fix our air conditioning was supposed to come Tuesday or Wednesday.

No one came.

Wednesday I called a doctor to make an appointment. I had to leave a message and they promised to call me back.

No one called.

Thursday an organization that picks up things you want to donate was supposed to come.

No one came.

Today another service provider was supposed to come.

The person came, but late. I actually had already assumed no one would come after the week we had. He was running late. He apologized. I forgave. Because I get things happened.

I just want to know ... what happened to customer service? These are businesses. I'm just in awe that this is how the week went. Is this what we have to look forward to from now on, or was it just a fluke that all of this happened in our house in a 5-day period?

I don't know. But to say I'm annoyed and quite frustrated right now is an understatement.

Also, I still have no screen door. Or a working air conditioner. And no doctor's appointment scheduled.


Next week's got to be better, right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Howdy Stranger!

Well hello there stranger.

I haven't seen you in so long, you might have forgetton about me. Or thought I forgot about you.

I haven't at all! I swear.

So since I've been gone, our house sold. We moved. There are still boxes all over. Though, not as bad as say a week ago.

It's been chaotic. And crazy.

Good chaotic. Good crazy.

There is some adjustment going on. Not in a bad way, but some routines have been changed. Adjustments to the new place.

Boxes to unpack, things to put away, trying to remember how I set up the kitchen. Despite the fact that I did it, I can't remember where half the things are.

Laundry. Laundry. And oh, did I mention laundry?

Of course the kids' activities haven't stopped, so there's been driving to and fro. And between myself and others I've been to five doctor's appointments this week. And yes, it's only Wednesday!

All of this to say, I'm currently running around like a chicken with her head cut off. But I haven't forgotten you. Or this place!

So, I'm here. I'm alive. I miss blogging. But life had to come first, even though I might not always want it to ;-) 

We are merging two houses so that makes things even more crazy. Because kitchen drawers are only meant to hold

Friday, May 02, 2014

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial So, on our recent Washington DC trip, the WWII memorial was a special stop for me.

In the fall of 2003, I started talking to my grandfather about going to Washington to see the memorial (which was not yet open). I really wanted to make this happen for him. My grandpa fought in WWII. And I knew he wanted to go see it. I also knew making the trip happen wasn't going to be easy. My grandparents weren't in the best health. My grandpa also said he wasn't keen on flying. My husband suggested taking a train and grandpa seemed to like that idea. {I had not yet traveled by train at this point so I wasn't so sure, but went along with it, despite my uneasiness with flying}.

We didn't make concrete plans. We figured we could save up enough money to go in 2005 and we'd figure it out as the time came closer. I just waited in anticipation for 2005 to come and my husband and I committed to making it happen however we could.

WWII Memorial Then my grandparents' health took a turn for the worse. My grandpa (and grandma) passed away in 2004. After my grandma passed, I asked my grandpa if he still wanted to go. He smiled and told me he did. I think he did want to go, but I also think he already knew it wasn't in the cards but who wants to talk about that? Or maybe he didn't and I am romanticizing the story.

Either way, he passed away about a month after my grandma. It was hard, so terribly hard to lose both of them so close together. Though, there is comfort in my belief that they are in heaven together.

Anyway, all of that happened and I told my husband we couldn't go to DC too soon. I still wanted to go. If I had to make the trip for both grandpa and I, then I was going to, but I also needed time. I couldn't go too soon, it would be too hard.

Life happens though. We had another baby. We bought a house. Most of our travel was to visit relatives. Cancer. Life. A trip to DC wasn't in the cards.

WWII MemorialUntil last August. Last August I went on my First Descents trip to DC. We were only actually in DC for one day. We stopped by a lot of things, but the WWII memorial wasn't on the list, and frankly I was glad. It wouldn't have felt right to go to it then. Because I'm so emotional and big into things feeling right (which I can't tell you how right feels other than I just feel it).

So, when Eric surprised us with this trip and told us DC was part of it, I knew, I just knew that we would go to the WWII memorial. We would visit it. I would go for myself and for my grandpa.

WWII MemorialThe day we went, it was a beautiful warmer-than-it-should have been day. We went there first, knowing it was the must-see of the day. I couldn't have had a more perfect set-up. We weren't alone, but there weren't a lot of people there either.

I was awed when we first walked up. I cried. I'm not ashamed to admit this. I held my husband's hand and looked around. Then (because the kids needed a bathroom) I had some time to just be alone there. I said a silent prayer to my grandpa and hoped he might be smiling.

WWII Memorial Then a band came and started to play. They started with the Star Spangled Banner. This was the second song I ever learned (not including nursery rhyme songs). My grandfather taught me.

{Side note: the first song I learned was Take Me Out To The Ballgame because my grandpa was a Cubs fan all the way and taught it to me!}

I just, well, maybe I'm romanticizing again, but it just felt perfect to be there, the sun shining, the anthem playing in the background. I teared up again. I walked around. I paused. I listened to the music. I took a lot of pictures. I wished my grandpa could have been there with me. I felt my grandpa was there with me.

This is definitely a memory I will hold in my heart forever. 

WWII Memorial  
 WWII Memorial

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Washington DC

Family Picture
Our only family pic - at the Botanic Garden
After spending a few days in Florida, we headed to Washington DC!

Going to DC with my family was a big deal - I've been wanting to take them since before we were a family of five! It was actually my dream to take my grandfather so he could see the WWII memorial, however, he passed away before that could happen.

When I went to DC for kayaking last summer, I was glad that the WWII memorial was not on our stops. I knew it would be emotional for me to be there and that trip was already emotional, so finally getting to see it myself, in person, was the highlight of the trip for me. More on that in a bit ...

WWII Memorial
WWII Memorial
We took an Amtrak train from Florida to Washington. It took just under 24 hours, and despite one family who wasn't being considerate of others around us, it was good. Once again, I love traveling by train! It is my favorite way to travel. I wish Amtrak was paying me to tell you this, but alas, they are not, I just love it that much! LOL!

We arrived in Washington late in the afternoon. We got settled in our hotel room and decided to head out and see what we could. We actually had dinner plans, but we thought we'd walk over to the White House as we weren't too far from it!

White HouseI'm glad we did because the next day, as we passed by, they had Pennsylvania Avenue completely blocked off. I'm guessing because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was very fun to take the kids to the house where the President lives! They thought it was awesome. Miss 11 wants to be president someday. I let her know that President and Mrs Obama have their mother living with them and she said she would do the same for me, but I'd have to help her out with the children. I think that's a fair deal!

IMGP2587 After that we just walked around. We stopped in the American Art Museum and then headed to our dinner. I was meeting up with Kinder - she was my camp mom during my First Descents trip in August and it was fun to see her again and introduce the family! We had a great meal, and then she kindly treated us to some frozen yogurt. I mention this because I've heard a few times "we should have frozen yogurt like we did in DC!" from some of the children in this house!

Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial
The next day we slept in a little bit - well, as much as you can when 5 people are sharing one hotel room anyway ;-) And then it was monuments day. We sort of passed the White House (but it was blocked), got close to the Washington Monument (which is still closed from the earthquake), WWII, Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean, DC's WWI, and Jefferson. In there, we admired the Cherry Blossoms and ate lunch at the street festival. There was a LOT of walking. I took a lot of pictures of all of this, and so want to break this part of the trip up into their own posts! So keep an eye out for that =)

After that, because we weren't done yet! We headed to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. This was on my son's must-see list because he LOVES the Night At the Museum movies, including Battle at the Smithsonian.

T-Rex Bones He loved the dinosaurs. He loved the rocks, gems, and minerals - so did my 11yo (who has always had a love for geology). We also made DNA necklaces, with our DNA. And he loved the bugs - which I wasn't so excited about LOL! However, he missed things that were in the movie thinking he would see them. Poor guy. Regardless, he had a great time!

Next, we headed to the American History Museum. My oldest discovered she is kind of interested in learning more about the Wars. I think especially how battles were lost or won. I love when my kids stumble upon something they want to know more about (so you better bet, we walked out of there with a book she picked on WWII).

Flag art for the Star Spangled Banner Exhibition
Flag art for the Star Spangled Banner Exhibition
I especially loved the exhibition on the American Flag and the Star Spangled Banner. They had the actual flag that Francis Scott Key saw when he wrote (what was then) the poem that we now sing. It was gorgeous. I'd show you about a million pictures of it, except no pictures are allowed to be taken in that exhibit. But you have to trust me - if you can go see it, you must. {edited to add: the Smithsonian has pictures on-line if you want to look}

They also talked about the woman, Mary Pickersgill, who made that flag. What an honor (and hard work) to have to sew, by hand, the American Flag! If I could travel back in time, I'd want to go back and meet her!

IMG_1142 After that walked in a path to pass the Capitol Building. I made the family pose for a million more pictures, but the sun was setting, the moon was out. It was gorgeous and so I just had to do it! After that was dinner at the hotel and to bed to let our tired feet rest!

Mosaic at Library of Congress
Mosaic at Library of Congress
Friday we squeezed in the last bit we could. We were again meeting up with cousin J - who is attending college in DC. I split up and went into the Capitol building. The lines were very long though and I didn't want to be away from everyone else for too long, so I wandered over to the Library of Congress.

Reading Room Library of Congress
Reading Room
And, let me tell you, I'm glad I did. I loved it there. I could have spent hours, exploring, looking around, so much stuff there. The building is gorgeous! The stained glass, the painting, the mosaics - so many gorgeous things to look at. I didn't get to go in the Reading Room, but I got to look down on it. In my next life, I think I want to work there. Or live there, if that's allowed.

Amelia Earhart Then I met up with everyone else at the Air and Space Museum. There are some amazing things in that museum! My 11 year was especially taken with the Amelia Earhart display. The 8 yo was into the space stuff. I think we all were ... it's pretty amazing to think about people being in space!

Afterwards, we headed to the botanical garden, where I took another million pictures. I love photographing flowers for real. I'm not sure the kids were thrilled to go to the garden, but it was between where we were and where we were going, so it's where we stopped (did you follow that?)

Train Selfie!
After that, it was time to head to the train station to head back home. It was sad to leave - and I could have stayed for several more days and still not seen everything. But, home is a good place to be too. And well, I missed my bed ;-)

It was fabulous being there. Next time I go, I want to see the monuments at night - I think that would be very inspiring (and fun to try to photograph!)

Eric and I <3 br="">
My husband certainly was amazing to pull this off for us. I mean, just amazing! I think we all came home feeling nice and relaxed. It was just what we needed!