Monday, August 31, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Favorite Ballplayers

Another Tuesday - another Top 10 list. Because of my recent focus on baseball - what with the pure awesomeness of Zack Greinke - I thought I'd do a list of my favorite all-time baseball players - by position. Now - if you're smart - you'll say, "Drama Queen - how can you do a Top 10 when there are only 9 positions on the field??" Don't fret, dear readers - we'll throw in my favorite reliever. Voila. Problem solved! So - my Top 10 of baseball players - not necessarily the best - but certainly my favorite!

Pitcher: Satchel Paige
Dizzy Dean once said that Satchel had the best stuff of any pitcher he'd ever seen. And he was certainly the coolest pitcher ever. Zack Greinke is slowly moving up on my list, though - this was hard to just pick one pitcher. I'll stick with Satchel.

Catcher: Yogi Berra
How can you not like a guy who says, "You can observe a lot just by watching"???? Yogi was a hoot.

1st Base: Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees
Can anyone watch "The Pride of the Yankees" and not cry at the end???

2nd Base: Jackie Robinson
I think it took a lot of courage for him to break the color barrier...imagine the death threats he received....

3rd Base: George Brett
Played for my own Kansas City Royals - and I had a HUGE crush on him.

Shortstop: Honus Wagner
My maiden name was "Wagner" - so I used to tell people that we were related. (We aren't.) If you don't know who Wagner is, you're not a true baseball fan. Google him.

Right Field: Roberto Clemente
Not only was he amazing on the field, but he was a hero off the field. This guy gave back to the world and made a difference. Tragically died way too soon.

Center Field: Ty Cobb
Lived hard and played hard - arguably one of the greatest players ever. And he was a Coke fan - my hero.

Left Field: Ted Williams
Excellent hitter - and nicknamed "The Thumper." I had a cat named Thumper once - so this was a no-brainer.

Reliever: Dan Quisenberry
Another Kansas City Royal - with an almost unhittable submarine pitch.

So, there's my 10 favorite "boys of summer." Some you may agree with - some you may not. But that's the beauty of this blog - its my blog and therefore my opinion! If you don't agree - start your own blog!!!


Dreams of the Diamond

When I was a little girl - I wanted to grow up and play professional baseball. With the Yankees.

One of my earliest memories is of going to sleep every night with the radio beside my bed, listening to Bud Blattner and Denny Matthews (remember them?) broadcast the Kansas City Royals....this was, of course, back in the "Dark Ages" when baseball wasn't being broadcast every single night on television. If you wanted to catch a game - you either went to it - or you listened to it. I listened to it. Every night. My birthday, in June, was a celebrated occasion because we'd get to go to the ballpark to actually watch the game. Oh, that was a treat. I'd take my softball glove along with dreams of actually snagging a foul ball - or a home run ball - as a souvenir. Never happened. Oh well.

I'm thinking of baseball lately as the season starts to wind down...once again, the Kansas City Royals are in the basement. It didn't use to always be that way - they were contenders back in their early days. We even took the World Series in 1985 - an event that I hope my own kids get to see happen again one day. What a celebration this city had when the boys in blue won.

I'm thinking of baseball as I watch a truly outstanding player, Zack Greinke, pitch one amazing game after another...Last week, he threw a Royals-record 15 strike-outs in ONE game...! Yesterday, he pitched a one-hit game...and he leads the American league right now with an ERA of 2.32. Unbelievable. Really. The guy is just perfection in motion to watch.

I'm thinking of baseball as my own son has grown up and become quite the pitcher...he is pretty good, actually - hopefully good enough to be able to snag a college scholarship somewhere. He actually might get to live out my dream, because he's got two things that held me back from playing in the majors. First, he's NOT a girl. Last I checked, there aren't any girls playing in the Major League. Most important, though, he's got talent. Much more talent than I had, although I played pretty decent - for a girl. I could throw REALLY good - I could hit pretty decent (I've always had strong arms) - but I couldn't run worth a darn. I learned to hit the ball really, really hard so I could lumber down to first base. My coach said I ran like an elephant. Ouch.

Sometimes our dreams don't come true - and that's okay. They were unrealistic and unreachable, at best - but they gave me plenty of hours of enjoyment way back when. And now - when a Royals victory is a rare treat - it's just nice to watch an amazing young man on the pitching mound show off his talents with a little round ball.

Love you, son.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Thank You: Pets

Another Thursday (barely) - and so another time to express appreciation.

(I know, I know - I should be expressing appreciation every day rather than just once a week - but who ever really does everything they're supposed to??!! Certainly not me. But that's another blog entry for another day.)

Anyway - back to the topic on hand. Appreciation. Because it's the Thursday thank-you.

So - today, I want to thank God for pets. Yup - pets.

I can't remember a time in my life when I've not had pets. Sometimes just one...but more times than not, several pets. Some good pets - and some not-so-good pets.

We are currently down to 3 animals in our house (okay, NOT counting the kids)....

...a sweet, friendly, smart 5-year old shih-tzu named Cocoa:

...a sweet, friendly, not-so-smart 3-year old cat named Juliet:

...and the king of our domain, who keeps ALL of us in line, a 3-year old alpha cat named Romeo:

Now, we looked for a long time before we brought Cocoa into our lives. She was the end result of a long and intense search for the "perfect" dog for the kids. And she has been all that - the perfect dog for a large family with kids and grandkids.

The cats - they were inherited. Rescued, if you will. Romeo was approximately 6 weeks old when he came into our lives; someone found him in a trash bag in the city dump. Can you believe it??!! Someone would throw out a kitten as if he was nothing more than garbage??!! I hope whoever did this burns in hell.

Juliet came into our lives 2 months after Romeo did - she was about 6 weeks old and was found abandoned in the parking lot near Kohl's at the mall. My mom actually found her - and promptly handed her over to me. My mom doesn't "do" cats.

I really didn't want a 2nd cat - but if you have a Romeo, you gotta' have a Juliet. Besides, she was pretty. And very soft.

Now, though, I wouldn't change any of it. The pets are a blessing - we love them, the kids love them - and we are a happier family because of them. They say that people with pets live longer, happier lives - and I believe that.

Besides - when I'm home by myself during the day - they give me someone to talk to. So I don't have to talk to myself. Not that I would ever do that.

Have a blessed day - and give YOUR pets a hug for me.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10 on Tuesday: Awesome Movies

After sitting through what, arguably, was one of the worst movies I have ever seen last Friday, I thought I would dedicate today's "10" list on movies that I think are awesome. Now, having to keep the list to just 10 is difficult - so there are probably some awesome movies that I had to leave off - but that's okay. And this list is in no particular order.

1. "Pulp Fiction" - probably my favorite movie of all time. A little sick - a little twisted - but the dialogue is clever, sharp, and witty. I think this is my favorite John Travolta movie - and I think it's Quentin Tarantino's best movie, ever. This is one of the few movies I can watch over and over and over - and the music is rockin', too.

2. "Better Off Dead" - another movie that's a little sick (a teenager trying, and failing, to commit suicide), but done in such a funny & witty way that I can't help but laugh. My favorite John Cusack movie of all time.

3. "Princess Bride" - when a movie has, "fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, AND miracles", how can it be bad? Love it.

4. "Raising Arizona" - another classic comedy with classic quotable dialogue. The best Nicholas Cage movie ever. And that's saying a lot, as I'm not a Nicholas Cage fan. But, he won me over in this movie.

5. "The Bishop's Wife" - the original movie, with Loretta Young and David Niven - is a classic Christmas movie...but I can watch it any time of the year. It's message is heartwarming; the humor is sharp; and Cary Grant is always easy on the eyes. And Loretta Young is positively luminescent in this film.

6. "The Italian Job" - what a classic thriller - and the scenes in Venice are gorgeous...and the actors are gorgeous, too. A visual delight for the senses.

7. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" - not that I ever skipped school (snort), but what a classic comedy. The message is simple - take some time to stop and smell the roses....

8. "Roman Holiday" - Gregory Peck. Need I say more?

9. "Jezebel" - Bette Davis. Need I say more?

10. "Some Like It Hot" - When you put Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe together - with Billy Wilder as the director - you can't go wrong. What a classic comedy - and one of the best movie endings, ever.

Remodeling Blues

The renovations continue.

We're one month into the "extreme home makeover" at the new house...I am hoping that means we're one month closer to getting to move in - but I'm not sure at this point. I do know that Hubby and I are one month closer to a divorce. Just kidding. But something about building or renovating a house will do that to a marriage.

We do have paint on the walls...we have new kitchen cabinets...we have new granite countertops...we have new lighting fixtures...we have new fireplaces...BUT...the list of what remains to be done is still very, very long. It's, unfortunately, longer than the list of what has been completed. That's depressing.

We do have numerous contractors and workmen and decorators and painters trooping in and trooping out of the house each day. That's fun.

We also have numerous bills and receipts and invoices showing up daily. That's not fun.

What we don't have is patience. At least, I don't have it. But - I'm learning. I'm breathing in...and breathing out. And taking it one day at a time. It will all happen when it's supposed to - and one of these days, we'll have the "Reveal" party/open house, where we shout, "Move that bus!!!" and we'll be settled. Or at least, I will be. I'm not sure at this point if Hubby will still be in the picture. I may be living in the new house all by myself.


Enjoy the day today - and remember to breathe.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Knives Hurt

We bought some new knives the other day.

Now, I realize that isn't exciting for most people. But the new knives have certainly caused a lot of excitement in our house.

Our old knives were really....old. And dull. Pretty useless, actually. Which is why we invested - and I do mean, invested (who knew knives were so expensive??!! Yikes!!) in a new set of knives.

We've had them exactly one week.

The 2nd day of ownership, I was supposed to be slicing butter - but ended up slicing my left index finger instead. That hurt. And it totally freaked out my daughter who was working in the kitchen with me. So much for that stick of butter. And so much for my finger. It's okay - not a deep wound - but it sure hurt.

Last Friday night, my oldest son decided to pick up one of the knives and use it to slice open the pizza delivery box. Big mistake. Instead of slicing the box, he sliced - you guessed it - his left index finger. Only his wound is a little deeper - it's just shy of needing stitches.

I guess I forgot to warn the kids on how sharp the new knives are.

And these knives are getting more expensive by the day - we're having to stock up on bandaids and Neosporin. And possibly a future visit to the emergency room.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sleepover Insanity

My daughter celebrated her 10th birthday awhile back.

In a moment of profound weakness - or stupidity - I agreed to her hosting a sleepover at our house for half a dozen or so 4th-grade girls.

The girls show up Friday evening, and I hand them brand-new, beautiful colored chalk and direct them outside to the driveway, imagining to myself that they will spend hours of delightful, artistic, harmonious bliss, creating beautiful masterpieces of art that can be shared with the entire neighborhood.

Much to my dismay, the girls all come back running into the house in 2.36 minutes flat - announcing they are done with sidewalk art - and 5 pairs of eyeballs stare at me, waiting for the next activity. I take a peek outside and instead of Renoir, Monet or even Picasso-like masterpieces, I see a few scribbled phrases such as, "Sara is a dork" and "Brandon is a poop-head." Okay - so much for art - obviously these girls are into gym, right?

I send the girls to the backyard to the jungle gym, where they each hop on the swingset - swing up - swing down - hop off - and come running back to the house, announcing they are "bored" and "now what?!" I firmly tell them they must spend at least 5 minutes on the swing set - no exceptions - and so off they march, looking as if I've sent them into battle or something. Okay - they're not into gym, either.

At the end of the 5 minute purgatory spent on the swing set, the pizza man arrives (thank you, Jesus!) - and I discover what the girls ARE into - food. I have never seen two large cheese pizzas disappear so fast - I had to hold my teenage boys back or else, they, too, would have been snarfed in the ensuing madness of pizza and soda pop. Dinner lasted all of 4.1 minutes.

I bring out the cake and ice cream, and we spend 7.2 seconds singing the "Happy Birthday" song - off-key, of course - and I realize the girls aren't so much into music, either. My ears are still sore.

Cake and ice cream disappear in record time, and so I pop some popcorn. The popcorn is consumed in less time than it took to pop in the microwave.

It is now time to put the girls in the mini-van and take them to the show, where we're going to watch "Ponyo", a new Disney release. My hubby is the designated driver, and he glares at me in the front seat as we wait for five girls to figure out how to buckle themselves in - all squealing, laughing, giggling, touching, punching and snorting. If looks could kill, my hubby would have sent me to the grave right then and there. "You owe me", he whispers as we drive to the theater with our precious cargo.

At the theater, we stand in the concession line for what seems like 32 minutes as each girl makes up her mind of what flavor of icee to drink (geez - there's only 2 flavors - red or blue!!! How hard IS it to make a decision??!! Pick one, already!) and what candy to choose from (okay, I understand the indecision here - there's like, 50 flavors of candy in the case.) I smile weakly at the people glaring at us from behind, and mouth a silent apology - and then say, "Sleep over" - and the looks from the patrons turn from anger to pure sympathy and pity. I think I even heard someone say, "We're so sorry."

After (finally) getting our food, the girls skip into the theater and we all sit down and watch what I have to honestly say (sorry, Disney) is the worst movie that I have seen life. Seriously. Ninety minutes of pure torture for hubby and me - but the girls sit there, transfixed, munching their candy and slurping their icees. Life is good in their world.

When the credits roll, I roll my eyeballs back from the inside of my head and round the girls up to head home. It is now 10:30 pm - time for bed.

I carefully lay out everyone's sleeping bags and pillows as the girls change into their pajamas and brush their teeth. I sweetly tell them that they can chit-chat until 11:00 pm and then it will be lights off. The girls all smile at me, so angelically - and I pat myself on the back for being such a good manager of all things sleep-over. The girls lay in their bags, talking and laughing and giggling - and life is good. At 11:00 pm, I go in and turn the light off.

A few seconds of blessed quiet - and then the gates of hell opened; each girl became possessed by an evil demon spirit which took over their sweet, innocent bodies- pillows were flying, girls were screaming and laughing, feathers were floating, and hubby and I looked at each other in shock. We would take turns that evening, going into the hell-hole, demanding peace and quiet and ordering the girls to bed. Silence would then ensue for about 2 minutes and then the decibel level would begin climbing, all over again - reaching eardrum shattering levels.

At one point - it may have been 1:20 in the morning, I walked in right when one of the little demons said, "Let's pull an all-nighter." I said, "Let's not." And gave them a look of pure determination and pure "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore - go to bed NOW!!!!!"

The girls finally drifted off around 4:30 a.m.

At 8:00 a.m., I walked in the room - flipping on lights - cheerfully announcing, "Rise and shine! Your parents will be here, soon!" The girls groaned - and I smiled, gleefully. They had their fun the night before - now it was my turn. What sadistic pleasure I took in waking those girls up that morning - am I horrible?!

As the parents arrived to take the little demons - I mean girls - home, hubby and I collapsed on the sofa. Daughter came skipping up and said, "That was fun! Can we do another sleepover next weekend?"

I will leave it up to your imagination, dear readers, on what our response was.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wednesday, Aug. 5th: Wet & Wild in Williamsburg

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Our adventure is starting to wind down - but we still have one more stop: today, we are heading to Williamsburg, VA.

But first - we hop on our bus and head over to the White House for a photo op.

Now, this is the photo that everyone has - it's on the world news every night, and on every post card:

But THIS is the photo I like:

Why? Because to me, it clearly demonstrates what's so great about our country - the right of free speech. There's not too many other places in the world that allows its citizens the freedom to set up right outside the president's home and protest. Awesome.

I don't think President Obama is even home today - I had heard he's heading to Indiana to give a speech. But that's okay.

After our photo op, we climb back on the bus and head to the National Zoo.

We head directly to the pandas - which are conveniently close to the entrance of the zoo. The pandas look a little bored - a little sleepy - not too exciting - so we take our photo and then we're off to see other sights.

The elephant is going to get a bath at 10:30, so we head over to the elephant house and get front row seats for the big event.

We don't have a lot of time to spend at the Zoo, unfortunately, so we have to rush around to see everything that we can. We enjoyed watching the orangutans walking over our heads on the "O" Line - just don't stand underneath one or you might get a surprise "shower." Ew.

We hop back on the bus for our 2-hour ride to Williamsburg. The ride goes quickly, as the movie, "National Treasure 2" is playing on the DVD screen on the bus.

We arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge around 4:00 pm and head to our room. Our luggage arrives a minute later, so we hop into our swim suits and hit the water park. Duh. What else would you do while staying at the Great Wolf Lodge?

I have to admit - I love the Great Wolf Lodge. We have one close to home, and we've taken the kids there for the weekend several times. I especially love the "fort" - which has all kinds of booby traps that are a whole lot of fun. I spend about five hours that afternoon/evening dumping a bucket of water over unsuspecting "victims" as they climb through the fort. Aren't I nice?!

At 5:30 pm, Disney hosts a pizza party in the water park for us, which is nice that we don't even have to change. It's actually pretty good pizza! (or I had worked up an appetite dumping water on people....?)

About 9:00 pm, daughter finds me and says she's tired - time to head back up to the room. A nice hot shower and then it's time for bed. One more day left of our adventure.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tuesday, August 4th: Proudly We Fail (Yes, Fail)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another day in our Disney adventure - and today's theme is "Proudly We Hail."

After a bright and early beginning, we load up on the rock-star bus and head to Mount Vernon - the home of George Washington.

We begin at the Ford Orientation Center - where all visits to Mount Vernon begin - and we watch an 18-minute action adventure film which re-introduces the young, heroic Washington who became the "Father of His Country." It was a pretty cool film - I was impressed.

We also saw “Mount Vernon in Miniature” – a one-twelfth scale exact "dollhouse" replica of the mansion with 22 rooms containing hundreds of tiny objects including oil paintings, china, books, and more than 100 tables and chairs. Mikayla and I could have spent hours looking at the dollhouse – it’s so authentic that the doorknobs even turn. What is it about dollhouses that are so fascinating?

We then went on the Mansion Tour by walking over to the actual house.

They let so many people in at a time and you visit the estate – room by room – where each room has a tour guide explaining what you’re seeing. Washington's estate had an incredible view of the Potomac River. I didn’t realize it was such a large estate – wow. And I loved the view of the River - I could have plopped down in a rocking chair and spent all day there.

They don't allow photos inside the actual estate - too many antiques and stuff there - but they do allow photos in the detached kitchen.

There are many outbuildings on the estate to see – but it was hot and it was getting close to lunch. Yes, we're wimps - and we're hungry wimps at that - so no walk in the hot sun on an empty stomach.

We had lunch at The Mount Vernon Inn; “Caroline”, a black “slave”, came in and sang to us as we were being seated. She then went into a speech about the death of Washington – she was one of the few people in the room when he died. He died in his master bedroom on Dec. 14, 1799, and is buried at Mount Vernon. We didn't walk to his tomb because it was hot. Oh, did I mention that already?

For lunch, I had the Virginia ham and stuffing with peanuts. It was pretty good. I was enjoying my apple pie for dessert when Anna dropped her water glass – shattering it – and glass & cold iced tea showered over the table. Yikes! Hubby got most of the tea in his lap – I got a plateful and lapful of glass. There went my appetite. We spend the next few minutes cleaning up shattered glass and tea. Our group seems to attract disaster during lunch.

After lunch, we had 2 hours to explore on our own. Because of the extreme heat, most of us opted for the Museum and Education Center. This offered a memorable experience that spans Washington's lifetime. The Museum introduces Washington’s world with a rich and comprehensive collection of objects in a state-of-the-art facility. The Education Center was fantastic – it presents a multimedia experience that illuminates the detailed story of Washington’s life. We watched a film where it snowed on us – during the crossing of the Delaware. Wonderful exhibit.

At 2:00 pm, we load up in the bus and then head over to the Capitol for a group photo op on the West lawn of the building.

Afterwards, we all split up – we head to the East entrance of the Capital and stand in a long line to be allowed in to go through security. We go through security and are then directed inside the building to the bottom floor to get into another long line to get tour tickets. It's 3:23 pm in the afternoon; we are 10 people away from the front of the line when an announcement is made that no more tickets will be distributed for the day. They do not distribute any more tickets after 3:20 pm. Are you kidding me??! I thought Hubby was going to have a coronary. So, we fail in our quest to get inside the Capitol building and see our Congressmen at work.

We are allowed to visit the Exhibition Hall – a pretty good museum/display of the Congress building. We spend about 90 minutes here – but are still disappointed we didn't have a tour. Oh well. We did get a photo of us outside. Woo hoo.

We leave – walk out to the East side – debating if we should walk back to the hotel (it's hot!) or ride a cab. And a cab pulls up. God is good. We take the cab back to the hotel – about $8.50 fare. After relaxing for awhile and cleaning up, we walk to dinner – the Daily Grille – about 2 blocks away. Food is pricey and just average. I have a filet mignon that is $31 and is not all that good. Oh well.

After dinner we are walking back and Mikayla trips on her flip flops and goes sprawling on the street – right in an intersection. She gets a pretty good scrape on her hip – and she’s distraught. More embarrassed than hurt. We get her back to the hotel and get ice and manage to soothe the pride - which I think is hurt worse than the hip.

Spend the evening relaxing and packing. Tomorrow is another busy day and this heat and humidity and walking is taking a toll.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 3rd: Disaster Strikes

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day #4 of our Disney adventure, and today's theme is "National Treasures." Fitting, since we watched the Disney movie, "National Treasure," just yesterday!

After a delightful and restful sleep in our luxurious room (no sarcasm - totally serious here!), we load up on our rock-star bus around 9:00 am and immediately head towards Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington is the best known of over one hundred national cemeteries in the United States. It's 624 acres shelter the remains of over 320,000 servicemen and women, veterans from every way and major conflict in U.S. history.

A short history: George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and step-son of George Washington inherited this land in 1802. Between 1802 and 1818, he built Arlington House as the centerpiece of his 1,100 acre plantation. It was our nation’s first memorial to George Washington and a home for Custis’ growing family.

In 1831 Custis’ only surviving child, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married Lt. Robert E. Lee of the United States Army in the front parlor of Arlington House. For over 30 years Arlington House became home to one of America’s most famous soldiers and his family.

The Civil War brought about dramatic changes for the people and the land. Lee resigned his commission from the US Army at Arlington House on April 20, 1861. By the end of May, 1861, the Lees had vacated the property and federal troops occupied the estate, using Arlington House as a headquarters. (Ultimately, the Lees were compensated for the loss of their property by the federal Supreme Court.) Eventually, the Union began burying soldiers on the property - and the cemetery came into being.

We are given red carnations by Disney so that we may place them on any grave we choose to honor - with the exception of the Kennedy graves - as the Park Service requests those be kept clear of flowers in order to allow photos.

Speaking of Kennedy, that's the first site we visit. President Kennedy and Jackie are buried side by side near the Eternal Flame, where the words from his inaugural address, "with history the final judge of our deeds," are inscribed.

Our next stop is the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Tomb was established in 1921. A guard maintains vigil around the clock - the guard paces 21 steps alongside the tomb, pauses 21 seconds, and then returns. The changing of the guard takes place every half-hour and is quite the ceremony to watch. Before the new guard gets to "guard", his weapon and uniform is inspected before the crowd.

The ceremony was very moving; the crowd was respectfully silent while watching.

We spend approximately 2 hours here, seeing various other notable graves, including Lee Marvin and Joe Louis, the boxer.

We also all have the opportunity to lay our red carnation at a soldier's site.

After leaving Arlington, we drive a short while over to the Iwo Jima monument - which was larger than I had ever imagined.

We then drive to Columbia Island Marina for a picnic lunch. We have a great view of the Pentagon.

We are taken to a blue tarp over some picnic tables – they have a buffet of hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff. We sit at a table - it’s very hot – they have 3 ceiling fans wired around the tent pole - and the one over us is going full blast.

All of a sudden – there is a tremendous crash and the fan over our heads come down – swinging a little to the right – most of lands on Dear Hubby and then hits Pilar – an 8-year old – right in the nose and lands on her wrist. Shock – confusion – everyone is stunned for a moment. Then we see Pilar holding her nose and shaking – there is blood coming out everywhere. I immediately get all the other kids out of the area and over to another area so they can’t see the blood; not to mention, there is now shattered glass everywhere.

We get ice and a towel on Pilar – assess the damage – she has a very bloody nose but it doesn’t appear to be broken – her wrist is a little sore – an ambulance is called and a policeman shows up to take a report. Pilar is a trooper – she doesn’t even cry even though there’s blood everywhere. I tell her it looks worse than it is – that noses bleed very easy and create a lot of blood – we try to get her cleaned up. The ambulance shows up and take her to Arlington Hospital for x-rays. Hubby has a cut on his finger and a bruise on his back – I think he saved Pilar from worse damage by taking the brunt of the fan's fall.

Everyone is shaken up a bit – but I go over an tell the kids that Pilar will be okay and they’re just taking her to the hospital for a check-up and to not be startled when the sirens and ambulance come. We talk with the kids to make sure they’re all right.

No one had much of an appetite after that, so we hopped back on the bus and we now have free time - and Disney will drop us off where we want to go. Our family decides to visit some of the Smithsonian Museums (there's 19 in all) - and the American History Museum is our first choice.

We wander through the exhibits - but I have to admit, each exhibit was on the small side - I'm actually rather disappointed as I expected much, much more. We stand in a long line to go through the First Ladies' Dresses exhibit - and the room is not much bigger than my living room at home....this is the freakin' Smithsonian!!! It should be massive!!! Oh well.

Being the good American Red Cross volunteer that I am, I always take photos of Red Crosses that I find. And I find one in the Museum.

Downstairs, there are Simulator Rides – there are 6 rides to choose from; we chose Bermuda Triangle Adventure 3D. The description said, “Embark on an undersea excursion into the majestic and mysterious depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Explore legends and lore surrounding the “Bermuda Triangle.” All I can say is, the ride wasn’t as good as the description. Tickets were $7 apiece and the ride lasted all of maybe 3 minutes – and we were like, “That’s it??!!” We had more fun taking pictures of ourselves with our tricked-out 3D glasses on.

We leave and go next door to the Natural History Museum where we go to the Dinosaur Exhibit – it is huge and it is crowded. Very crowded. It appears every other barbarian in Washington has decided to invade the Dinosaur Exhibit at the same time we do. We’re all tired by now – and hungry – and it looks like the dinosaurs are hungry -so we go to the cafĂ© on the first floor and have gourmet cafe food for dinner. Yuk. Pizza. Overpriced and no flavor. Not known for their culinary skills here apparently.

We leave and it’s 5:00 pm – Hubby wants to walk 20 blocks to the hotel – are you kidding me? We walk outside and there is a cab right there – God had sent it to us – and I see it as a sign. We hop in and I tell him our hotel and told him we were going to walk and he says “That would hve been a long walk!” I have to agree and shoot Hubby a dirty look.

We get back to the hotel and clean up and soon it is time for a Trolley Tour of Washington, DC - this was not part of our Disney package - but they were kind enough to set it up for us. We meet outside at 6:30 and the Trolley is there waiting for us. We have Frenchy for our driver – he’s a character.

We do visit quite a bit of the same Memorials as we had seen before - but it was neat to see them in the dark with the lighting. The Lincoln Memorial looks really neat at night -

...including the statue of Lincoln inside. The lighting was incredible.

The Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial really reflects the Washington Memorial at night.

The Jefferson Memorial at night (well, dusk) was cool, too.

We go from one end of DC to the other - seeing everything. The tour ends up going until 10:30 pm - yikes! We're tired and we head to bed.

So - we did see some treasures today - Arlington is certainly a treasure, as is the Iwo Jima monument. The Smithsonian is a treasure - but it would be nice if we hadn't picked one of the busiest days ever for visitors! It's hard to appreciate things when you're fighting a crowd.

Washington, DC is a treasure - it instills a sense of pride to see the beautiful and moving things in this city and to know you're an American and this all belongs to you. Sorry - getting a little patriotic here - but it really is an amazing city.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Sunday, August 2nd: No Wheels for Me

Sunday, August 2, 2009

It's day #3 of our adventure, and today's theme is "On the Wheels of Liberty."

We're saying goodbye to Philadelphia this morning and loading up on the bus (our first "Wheels" of the day) to head to our 2nd stop, Washington, D.C.

I thought our bus would be a rickety, old school bus....but oh, no - Disney has style. Our bus is a tricked-out HUGE bus that is loaded with every creature comfort imaginable - DVD screens, recliner seats, overhead luggage storage, foot rests - Wow. Because there's only 19 of us (well, 21 if you include our guides), every person on the bus gets their own seat. I feel like a rock star.

As we drive south to the capital city, it rains- hard. So, we don't get to see much scenery - but we're at least sheltered from the weather. And we get to watch "National Treasure" on the DVD screen - which fits perfect with everything that we've been seeing. (Remember - part of the movie was filmed in Philadelphia, which we've just left.)

We arrive in Washington around noon - and we do what everyone does when they first arrive in Washington, DC - we head to the ESPN Zone, of course. What??!! You mean people don't normally do that?! Well, that's what we do - we have a nice buffet lunch waiting for us, and we're each given a game card to go play some games. Even us old parents. How fun was that?! Nothing like Disney to make you feel like a kid again.

The rain has now stopped, which is a good thing, as we are now supposed to have a bike ride around the National Mall. (Our second "Wheels" of the day - the theme, remember.) So, around 1:00 pm, we board the rock-star bus and drive a short distance to the bike place. I put on my helmet, climbed on the bike, rode about 5 feet, got off the bike, and took off my helmet and walked away. No thank you.

You know that old saying, "It all comes back to you - just like riding a bike"???? Not true. I haven't ridden a bike in 32 years. And it showed. It did NOT come back to me. I opted to take the tour on the rock-star bus, like some of the other parents. (And a few of the kids).

Our bus takes us around Washington, and we have a step-on guide, Greg, who politely informs us of what we're seeing. Our first stop was the Jefferson Memorial - hasn't changed much since I last saw it 38 years ago. Construction began in 1939, the building was completed in 1942, and the bronze statue of Jefferson was added in 1947. The architect used elements of the Pantheon, in Rome, as one of his inspirations - which, since we just saw the Pantheon 2 months ago, was pretty cool.

While we were at the Jefferson Memorial, three Marine One helicopters come swooping in, right over our heads, on their way to the White House. These, of course, are the preferred means of transporting the President - and they always fly in groups with identical helicopters. One of them is carrying the President, while the others serve as decoys for would-be assassins on the ground. I waved - and I'm pretty sure President Obama was waving back at me as he flew over.

We load back up on our bus and drive a short distance to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial...and all I can say is, wow.

There are four pavilions - all outdoors - each representing one of his four terms in office. They each have sculpture, quotes and a waterfall that represents what happened during his terms.

For his 1st term, we see sculpture of the infamous bread line and the fireside chats.

The 2nd term had an impressive relief sculpture showing his Works Project, as well as a waterfall representing the dams built during the Tennessee Valley Authority project.

The 3rd term (pavilion) had granite boulders strung haphazardly everywhere - showing the chaos and upheaval of World War II. The waterfall was broken, unfortunately - and has been now for 2 years. They don't have the money to fix it.

The 4th pavilion depicted his death - the waterfall was a calm pool, very still - with a relief of his hearse.

I loved the way the artist used water and rocks and sculpture to tie everything in fact, the FDR Memorial ended up being my favorite thing that we saw while in Washington, D.C. I highly, highly recommend it.

After reluctantly leaving this beautiful Memorial, we drive over to the Lincoln Memorial. It was dedicated in 1922. In the movie, "National Treasure", Nicholas Cage's character meets with "Riley" here to plot the theft of the Declaration of Independence.

Our guide points out the "face" in profile that is on the back of Lincoln's head. Rumor has it the artist added it on purpose and the face looks towards Arlington Cemetery.

The Memorial is the place where Martin Luther King delivered his famous, "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963 - and there's a marker where MLK stood during the speech.

We meet up with the bikers here for a quick group photo opportunity, and Disney treats us to ice cream. Yum.

We walk a few hundred feet over to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, completed in 1982. It's heartbreaking to see over 58,000 names inscribed on the Wall - and also very powerful. This was the one Memorial I really wanted to see on this trip - after reading so much about it, and hearing about the controversy surrounding it, it was nice to finally be able to see it and to appreciate it - and to remember the names of the men who are inscribed on it.

When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together.

A short distance away from the wall is another Vietnam memorial, a bronze statue named The Three Soldiers (sometimes called The Three Servicemen). This memorial was added due to the controversy surrounding the wall - some people felt there needed to be a memorial depicting "people" and not just a wall. The statue was unveiled in 1984 and depicts three soldiers, purposefully identifiable as White American, African American, and Hispanic American. The statue and the Wall appear to interact with each other, with the soldiers looking on in solemn tribute at the names of their dead comrades.

After quietly reflecting at the Wall, we walk back to the bus, hop on, and drive to the bike rental place to pick up the bike riders from our group. As we drive to our hotel, Greg, our guide, points things out on the way - and gives us interesting tidbits along the way.

We arrive at our hotel - the Mayflower Renaissance - and all I can say is, wow. Again. The lobby blew me away when we walked in - if you're ever visiting, just take a peek inside. This is a 4-star, 4-diamond luxury hotel located very near the White House; President Harry Truman once said it was Washington's "second-best address." I believe it.

Disney has already checked us in and delivered our luggage to our room, #661. This is a corner suite and has all kinds of space. It's about 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon - so we relax and unpack and unwind.

Disney is providing a pizza party/movie night for the children tonight at the hotel, and the adults go to the hotel restaurant, Promenade Cafe, for a very nice dinner. For 10 people, our bill was $717 - which did NOT include drinks - but Disney picked this up for all of us. The food was outstanding - I had crab cakes to start off with, as well as Boston Clam Chowder. The filet mignon and mashed potatoes were very good - and for dessert, chocolate mousse. Michael had a martini - which was $14.50. I kid you not. I drank diet soda - much more reasonable!

Around 8:30 p.m., it was time to pick up Dear Daughter from her pizza party and head back to the room.