Monday, April 26, 2010

Birthday Boy

Yesterday Reed turned 8 years old! Wow, I can't believe how quickly he is growing up. This year he changed in so many ways physically: taller, lankier, and toothier. And talk about personality!

He also grew in many other ways that surprise us, amuse us, and amaze us. He has been such a blessing this year as a son, a brother, and a student. His teacher shares how his frequent hugs brighten her days. He has always shone brightly as the sun in our life, and we see how he now casts that light in the lives of others.

Here are some more photos of our fun day celebrating his birthday in the Smoky Mountains. A five-mile bike ride (one of his new favorite hobbies) in Townsend, followed by ice cream and presents, and dinner and cake at the Olive Garden. Happy birthday, Reed!

Golden Weekend

On April 14 my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Congratulations Mom and Dad!!!

This past weekend our family gathered in Gatlinburg to celebrate both their Golden Anniversary and Reed's 8th birthday. Here are some pictures from our fun getaway.

First, Friday night dinner in our house at Kingwood Inn and some porch sittin' on Saturday morning with Barry, Beth, and Bella.

After Saturday breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, we went to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. It was a great time, with no crowd at all. In fact, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

On Saturday night Reed (and Seth, who has a May 12 b-day) opened a few birthday presents.

On Sunday morning Tim, the boys, and I took Bella to The Village for breakfast (ours, not hers). Yum! A birthday doughnut from The Donut Friar.

Parting shot: Beth, Dad, Reed, Barry, Seth, me and Mom (Tim taking photo).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Back to the 80s

Each year our church honors ministry volunteers with a special "theme" banquet. This year's theme? The 1980s!!! Tim and I were especially excited about it, but pulling our costumes together proved to be just a bit daunting - so many fun styles to choose from! Here's our final look:

I am "Susan" from the movie "Desperately Seeking Susan" (appropriate, huh?); Tim is Lloyd Dobler from "Say Anything." (Now you may have to watch these 80s flicks to remember...)

The highlight of the evening is the entertainment, provided by our staff and elders. They do an amazing job, and this year was no exception. From the opening performance of "Thriller" to the Student Ministries spoof of "Let's Get Physical" (retitled "Let's Get Spiritual) to the elders' live finale of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer," it was a great night.

Did you notice Bon Jovi's bass player on the right? Yep. That's Tim rockin' the house.

If I've never said it on our blog, let me say it here: I love our church, and I am so thankful we have a church where we can worship together, study together, and have fun together. Now we are all left wondering how our staff will possibly top this night.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring Break in DC - Part 1

For several years Tim and I have been anticipating the time when the boys would be old enough to enjoy a trip to Washington, DC. We finally decided the time was right, so last week we spent our spring break in our nation's capital.

We left on Friday afternoon with Tim's mom, Ann, to drive a few hours. Then, we stopped on Saturday by Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was a beautiful Spring day to enjoy Thomas Jefferson's home and its grounds (pictured below).

We all tried our hand at writing with a quill and ink. It was quite challenging, but we did our best. You can see Seth's good work in the following photo. The experience certainly made us appreciate the many handwritten historical documents we saw later in the week.

After managing the Metro for the first time on Sunday morning, we made our way to Union Station, where we departed to brave the wind and cold on an open-top bus tour.

When we were too frozen to bear it any longer, we hopped off the bus and jogged up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to thaw. I think we all expected to Lincoln to stand up and walk around after seeing the statue featured in the movie "Night at the Museum 2."

After our visit with President Lincoln, we walked past the Vietnam Memorial to the Museum of American History for an overpriced lunch and a glimpse of Thomas Edison's light bulb (several of them actually). Seth did his research project this semester on Edison, so it was neat for him to see pages from his notebooks, photographs of him at various stages in his life, and memorabilia from his work.

We tried to hop back on our open-top bus tour after the museum, only to have our driver sideswipe another bus. Detained until another bus came for us, we decided to walk back a block to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Below you see my amazing husband, who decided to forego watching the Vols play in the Elite 8 ballgame and sightsee with us, tracking the final disappointing seconds of the game on his cell phone.

The boys were extremely patient as we waited in lines throughout the week. Here Tim, Reed, and Ann sit waiting for our entrance to the National Archives.

Ahhh, our first day in DC is over and we're ready to head to our home on the Metro (pictured below). We thoroughly enjoyed the convenience of public transportation during the week. Our house was only five blocks from a Metro station, so it was very convenient. Once we parked upon arrival, we didn't get into the car until the day we left. The boys enjoyed the excitement of the station, the crowds, and the ride, and they got the hang of reading the Metro map very quickly!

Spring Break in DC - Part 2

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday offered plenty of steps, stops, and sights. We started on Monday at the Museum of Natural History (also called the "IYEvolution" museum - pictured below), which the boys were extremely excited to visit. And the dinosaurs, ocean creatures, mammals were much to see everywhere you turned. To see a real Giant Squid was pretty amazing!

Later that day we quickly toured the West Building of the Museum of Art (quickly because, well, Seth and Reed were with us, and no matter how hard I tried, they didn't want to imagine the story behind the painting or study the technique of the sculpture.) Our visit was long enough to find their DaVinci and works by Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and John Singer Sergeant - three of my favorites. That evening we walked toward Chinatown and enjoyed an amazing dinner at Legal Seafood. Seth was adventurous and tried the blackened salmon, which he loved.

On Tuesday our party of five split up as Ann and Tim went to the Holocaust Museum and the boys and I headed to the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. We arrived at the Supreme Court around 9:30 a.m. and joined a line of people waiting to enter (pictured below). Turns out the court was in session and visitors could sit in the courtroom to witness a trial in action. What luck!

Visitors had to make the decision to watch the entire hour-long proceeding or enter the gallery for only five minutes of the trial. We opted for the second, which I completely regret. Five minutes wasn't long enough for the boys to process what was happening, and it was an amazing opportunity to watch the Supreme Court Justices hear a case. But still, being in the courtroom while a case was being argued was a very cool experience.

Next, the boys and I went next door to the Library of Congress (pictured below). Of course, all of the government buildings in DC are something to see, but the LOC tops them all. It is stunning everywhere you look - the mosaics, carvings, stained glass, and statuary. Just breathtakingly beautiful. The boys and I took the guided tour, and it was excellent. I was so impressed with the boys' attention to our docent and their interest in what he was saying.

After reconnecting with Tim and Ann and grabbing a late lunch in Union Station, we took the Metro over to the Holocaust Museum, where the boys went through Daniel's Story - an age-appropriate telling of the Holocaust experience from a child's point of view. While they went through this area, I spent about an hour and a half in the Holocaust Museum. There are no words. It is a must for everyone, and it would take three or more hours to truly see and read and listen and contemplate everything it holds.

Finally, we ended our day at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (pictured below), or "The Money Factory" as they call it. We took a guided tour of the facility where our paper currency is made (the only other place is in Fort Worth, Texas).

The cold and windy weather broke on Wednesday to provide a lovely Spring day with blue skies. We started our day at the National Zoo (pictured below), which I have to say disappointed us. We are spoiled with a wonderful zoo right here in Knoxville! Afterward, we took the Metro into the city to visit the International Spy Museum. We easily spent three hours here, learning about the tricks of the spy trade and the history of espionage. If you have boys, then this stop in DC is a must!

We returned to our house around 10 p.m. each night after dark and fell into bed -- feet hurting, legs aching, and exhausted -- only to wake the next day re-energized and ready to do it all over again.

Spring Break in DC - Part 3

Thursday began at the Air & Space Museum, with a simulator ride for Tim and Seth and a milder version for Reed and his motion sick-prone Mom. We spent the morning among the aircraft, including the Wright Brothers exhibit. Then, we made our way to the Rayburn Office Building and the office of our Congressman, Jimmy Duncan, for a Capitol tour led by his aides.

Seth and Reed sit in Congressman Duncan's chair, with a stunning view of the Capitol.

After our tour of the Capitol, we returned to the Air & Space Museum to check out the "space" part of their exhibits. To end our evening, we walked to the Tidal Basin, the World War II Memorial, and the White House.

In the above picture, we stand in front of the Tidal Basin, and you can see the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

We checked out of our DC home on Friday morning and drove to Arlington National Cemetery (pictured above), where we visited the Kennedy graves and eternal flame (shown below). We also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and saw the changing of the guard and the laying of a wreath.

After touring Arlington, we took the Metro back into DC, where we spent more time at the Museum of American History. We had missed the third floor on our first visit, and it proved to be our favorite area of this particular museum: the American Presidency and the history of the United States involvement in war. Very interesting, so much history, and such amazing memorabilia!

The following two photos show how you could often find us throughout the week: Seth resting by propping his arm on Reed's head (funny, but it didn't seem to bother Reed) or our family strolling hand-in-hand through the streets of the city. It was a precious time with the boys, as they were so engaged, observant, patient, and excited by each experience.

We returned home on Saturday evening and were happy to sleep in our own beds again. It was a memorable week, and it was such a joy to share the adventure of the week with Seth and Reed and to watch them enjoy the delights of traveling. We can't wait to share more adventures with them!