Sunday, May 31, 2009

recap

of my trip to Washington DC...

Highlight: If I had to pick just one (which is really hard), I'd have to pick seeing the capitol and Jefferson Memorial at night.


Lowlight: There was nothing that was disappointing so I'd have to say since we didn't have a car, carrying our luggage 3 blocks to the Metro and then on the Metro to get to another station where our friends picked us up.

Speaking of our friends, I just want to take this moment to thank them for putting us up for a couple of nights. The Nussels are good friends from here in Colorado. Part of the family had been living in the DC area for over a year and the rest of the family moved to join them a few months ago. They generously offered us their basement for all five nights and we took them up on it for 2 nights, saving us over $500. It was also a great time to see them and spend time with them. Their oldest son, Scott, is like my second son and I've missed our chats.

I also mentioned the Metro. It is the rapid transit system (bus and rail) for the DC area plus Maryland and Virginia. We took the Metro rail everywhere as it was fast and convenient. I had never taken any kind of subway or rail system - not even our light rail here in Denver, so this was an experience in itself. More than once we'd have to get off one line and get on another in order to get to our destination. You would think that I'd get it after a day or so, but I was still confused as I stood there on day 5, studying the map once again.


Funniest moment: At the National Archives as we were viewing the Constitution under close scrutiny of big burly armed guards. A woman walks up and briefly looks at the documents under thick glass and then asks one of the guards, "are these originals or just copies?" The guard answers, "originals" without cracking a smile. She looks down again at one of the most important documents in our history and walks off. I couldn't help myself. I had to ask the guard, "do you get that question a lot? Because it would seem pretty obvious to me." He then did let out a chuckle and said he gets that question all the time. We had a good laugh because, really, why would they be under thick glass under armed guard in a climate controlled room with no flash photography allowed if they were just copies?

Noteworthy:

What our hair looked like on Saturday after riding around on the top of a double-decker bus. The wind and humidity gave us an unrecognizable look.

Walking everywhere is great exercise but makes you exhausted by the time the sun goes down.


We ended up looking like typical tourists when we broke down and bought sweatshirts emblazoned with WASHINGTON DC. It was Sunday and it was very cold, windy, with a slight drizzle when we came out of the Holocaust museum. We weren't sure what we were going to do and we were starving. We ended up quickly eating a hot dog from a street vendor and buying the sweatshirts from a souvenir truck. I don't mind wearing mine around here, but felt kinda silly wearing it there in DC.

Eating at the Hardrock Cafe. We have now eaten at a Hardrock in Maui, Orlando, Las Vegas, Denver, and Washington DC.

Getting lost in an underground mall. We thought by going through it that it would be a short cut to our hotel. We thought we knew where we were going, but after walking for 15-20 minutes and finally finding a map, we ended up blocks away from our hotel.

Sleep comfort beds and room service, laughter and time spent with my daughter.

Friday, May 29, 2009

what's your comfort level?

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This week's Aloha Friday question is...

Would you rather camp - whether that's in a tent, pop-up, or RV - or stay in a hotel? I guess what I'm really asking is; Are you a camper?

I love to camp. I love staying in a nice hotel, too, but in most cases, I would rather camp.

I only went camping once as a child. It was nothing too remarkable and I don't remember much about it. It wasn't until I was invited to go camping with Don's family when I was 15 that I had the true experience of camping. We spent a week camping in a large army tent near a stream with two other families. No showers, no TV, no microwaves, no comfy bed, and no plumbing (which meant porta-pottys).

But guess what? I fell in love with camping. I fell in love fresh air and blue sky. I fell in love with wide open spaces and aspen trees (among others) and campfires. I fell in love with being outside all day long; fishing, hiking, playing, relaxing - all with a sense of being carefree with none of the normal responsibilities. Yes, I fell in love with camping that week. I also fell in love with a 15 year old boy that week.

Since that week, I spent many more camping trips with Don's family. Then Don and I started camping on a regular basis; short weekends and full weeks - always in a tent. Camping in California was a little different than camping in Colorado. After a couple of trips in a tent with inadequate sleeping bags, we decided a pop-up would be a better choice for our young family. We've owned two in the last 19 years and have camped here in Colorado as well as Wyoming and South Dakota.

I ask this question today because we're in the process of making plans for some kind of summer vacation. Everyone's choice is camping so we're picking the week and looking for a good place to go. So to answer my own question... I would rather go camping.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the past and the present


On Day 4, we traveled up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Danielle really wanted to go. Me... not so much. But I figured it would be a nice break after spending 3 days in DC. Plus, Scott (friend living in Alexandria) offered to drive and John (his dad) already had an audio tour of the battleground that we could listen to.

It was a perfect day weather wise and I really enjoyed driving through the countryside of Virginia and Pennsylvania. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what you find when driving into Gettysburg. First off, I didn't know there was a town of Gettysburg. What a nice little place.

The battlefield is vast area of rolling green hills dotted with canons, memorials, and monuments, amidst forests, orchards, and farms. And the audio tour we listened to made the facts and figures of the battles during those historic three days come to life. I found it all very interesting, more than I could have imagined I would.


Day 5 was a short day since we had to be all packed up in the morning and to the airport by 4:00. We hopped back on the Metro and headed back up to the National Mall. The only thing we really wanted to do was see the Library of Congress. A few people had told us that we really should see it. And I'm glad we did. It was, indeed, a beautiful building. My pictures don't do it justice.

We then walked over to the Capitol building by way of a tunnel between the two buildings. If we had had more time, we would have taken a tour, but instead, we walked through the exhibit at the visitor's center. It was another interesting experience. They had a live feed of the state representatives casting their votes for something. We sat there and watched that for a long time.

We then walked out and back around to the other side of the building to take more pictures. We noticed snipers on the outside balconies and found out later that President Obama was in the building signing some bill into law. Danielle and I both thought it was neat to see and be so close to the workings of our government.

In fact, the whole trip gave us a better sense of the environment our politicians work in and the history that fills the area through the buildings and exhibits, the monuments, and the memorials. We had a great time and would recommend a trip to visit this area to all.

I've uploaded all my pictures to my flickr account. I only posted a few here from day 4 and 5 so I hope you'll click on over to see the whole group of photos. Once you have, you can click on "slideshow" in the upper right hand corner to view them as a slideshow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

non stop and plenty to see


Day 2 ended up being cloudy and cold so we decided it would be a good day to spend at the Holocaust Museum. We spent about 4 hours there and when we left, our mood matched the weather. Even though it was a somber experience, the museum does a fantastic job at chronicling the history of the time period. I highly recommend this museum.

We then headed over to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This museum lifted our spirits as we viewed fun artifacts from movies, TV shows, sports, and entertainment. They also had other cool exhibits from different time periods in our history.

Day 3 found us back on the double-decker bus for a short ride over to the White House, where we stepped off in order to get a closer view of the grand home. We then walked over to the Lincoln Memorial. It's a beautiful walk through Constitution Gardens and the weather was perfect. We spent some time at the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial before walking the length of the Reflecting Pool to the World War II Memorial.

We then hit the Metro (will write about the Metro experience a little later) and traveled down to Alexandria (Virginia) to stay with some close Colorado friends who recently moved to the area. They took us to old town Alexandria for dinner and I fell in love with the area; streets lined with old buildings holding quaint shops and a huge variety of restaurants. I would love to go back and spend a whole weekend there.

We then drove back into the National Mall area to see the sights all lit up. The capital was beautiful, but my favorite was the Jefferson Memorial. I was surprised to learn that the memorials stay open after dark. Not only was it breathtakingly stunning, but there was hardly anyone there compared to the Lincoln Memorial earlier in the day. Whenever you make the trip to DC, make sure you see it at night as well as the day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DC... day 1... revisited


Most of our first day in DC was spent on the top of a double-decker bus as it toured the hot spots of the district. It was a great way to see the sights - from the height we were at and such a wide variety.

The bus took us through some of the side streets of the downtown area where we saw such sites as the Ford theater, where President Lincoln was shot, and the National Cathedral where many presidents have attended church. We drove down the small, but quaint streets of Georgetown and through the Arlington Cemetery.

Of course, we drove around the National Mall where the Capitol building flanks one end, the Lincoln Memorial the other, and the Washington Monument in the middle. Surrounding and within the mall are so many interesting buildings - beautiful buildings. I love architecture and the buildings in this area are absolutely awe-inspiring.

The bus tour was one where we could hop off and on as much as we wanted, and the pass was good for three days. I would highly recommend this tour as a way to see the sights and get a good overall view of the area. We hopped off in Georgetown to enjoy the atmosphere and eat a quick lunch. We then hopped off a couple of stops before the end to tour the National Archives.

The National Archives is where a lot of important documents are kept, including the originals of the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. It's a beautiful building and it was a thrill for both Dani and I to be able to view such important documents - definitely a highlight of the trip.

It was a great day and one that we thoroughly enjoyed. We went back to our hotel exhausted but anxious for our next day, when we had our visit to the Holocaust museum planned.

You can click on the above collage to get a better view of the photos.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saturday, May 16, 2009

DC...day 1

I will be posting about our trip along with more pictures once we return home.

Friday, May 15, 2009

an apple for the teacher

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Today was my last day working as the school year is coming to an end. Needless to say, it was bittersweet. It will be nice to have the summer off, to enjoy these three short months with family and friends. But it was hard saying good bye to the students, especially knowing I won't see most of them again as they are going on to high school. Even though I've had plenty of experience over the years with kids in youth groups moving on, it's always hard for me to say good bye.

So, in the spirit of school, the end of school, and saying good bye, my Aloha Friday question is...

Who was your favorite teacher and why? Did he/she impact your life in any way?


One of my favorite teachers was Mr. Wall. He was my typing teacher in high school. [**note: this was typing on typewriters]. He was funny and always making his students laugh. He had a connection with teenagers that most teachers didn't.

I was his star pupil since I could type faster than everyone else in the class. I remember receiving certain privileges because he liked me. But I also remember having some really good conversations with him about all kinds of subjects, including school, boys, parents, and friends. He was always encouraging and made me think at a deeper level than I was prone to at that age.

It was nice, at that age, to have an adult take an interest in me and seem to care about who I was and what I was going through. I think this did have an impact on me and my eventual work with youth. I want students to know that they are special and that there is at least one (hopefully a lot more) adult in their life that care about them. I want to give them perspective, guidance, and hope... just like Mr. Wall did for me.

Aloha Friday can be found over at Kailani's place, An Island Life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

cupcake du jour

Cupcakes are the latest rage. They've gone gourmet and I have to admit, there are some beautiful cupcakes out there.

I've always liked cupcakes. A little bit of moist cake and a lot of icing. Now, that's my idea of a treat. And am I the only one that has fond memories of birthday cupcakes taken to school? Yep, I love me some cupcakes.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find out the Cold Stone Creamery now has their own version of the cupcake.


There's a chocolate shell filled with a little bit of cake with a little bit of ice cream and topped with whip cream and sprinkles. They are pre-made so you can't pick the type of cake nor flavor of ice cream, but all the combinations are good. Mine here was a red velvet cake with cake batter ice cream. Yummy!


You can buy a single Cold Stone cupcake for $2, or 6 for $10. It's the perfect little treat.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

straight up the mountain

I had a very nice Mother's Day. I hope any mother reading this did so also.

After church, Don, Jake and I traveled down to Colorado Springs to spend the afternoon with Danielle. Before leaving her place for the restaurant for lunch, we spent some time talking and laughing and opening the presents Jake and Dani gave me. They gave me a beautiful candle holder and an even more beautiful bracelet. The bracelet has a charm that they had engraved with their names on one side and LOVE on the other. I love it!

We then went to lunch at Texas Roadhouse. Yummy food. Even better company.

After lunch, we drove up into Manitou Springs, which is a lovely little mountain town with a cute main street full of quaint little shops. I would have loved to do some walking and looking and shopping, but it was rainy and I knew the guys (Don and Jake) wouldn't have enjoyed the time spent that way. But I will be going back there some day - it's my kind of place.

Instead, we drove up to the base of the mountain where Danielle showed us her latest conquest... the Incline. It's a stairway straight up a mountain. It's crazy! It's a path made of over 5,000 railroad ties that goes straight up the mountain with an average grade of 41% (steepest is 68%). It starts at an elevation of 6600 feet and rises to 8600 feet. The trail down is a four mile hike. Like I said... crazy!


This picture doesn't do the breadth and scope of it any justice, but it's the best I could capture with a camera. Dani had wanted to conquer the beast, and did so a week ago. She doesn't want to ever do it again, which I find amusing. Once Jake saw it, he felt the challenge of it calling to him. He wanted to climb it right then and there. We talked him out of it. Mainly because it would most likely be a couple of hours that we didn't have. I have no doubt that he'll be at the top of that mountain in the next week or so.


After we left that area, we headed over to a beautiful park called the Garden of the Gods. There's some incredible rock formations to drive through and climb on. Even though the weather was on the dreary side, the park was full of people. Before we knew it, it was time to head for home. Another wonderful Mother's Day in the books. I am so blessed by my family.

Friday, May 8, 2009

it all started in a classroom

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My Aloha Friday question this week is...

How did you meet your husband/boyfriend?

I ask this question just because I like hearing how people meet. And if you're single, I apologize for the asking a question that you probably can't answer.

My answer to this question is pretty boring, but I'll answer none the less. Don and I were high school sweethearts. We didn't necessarily "meet" because high school students don't "meet." We were in the same algebra class our freshman year. I noticed him more than he noticed me.

We again had another class together our sophomore year. Actually, we had 2 classes together. One of them was P.E.; a class where we weren't confined to a desk and where we could get to know each other better in a more social way. We also realized we had mutual friends. By the end of our sophomore year, we were hanging out in the same group of friends. And by that summer, we had started dating. The rest, as they say, is history. We married when we were 21, which was over 28 years ago.

I'd love to hear your story.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

a nightmare no one deserves

I saw it many years ago, between two boys who lived on my block. I knew both boys because all the kids played together. They were the same age as my daughter. One boy was a bully and the other was meek and mild, and nice. Everyone knew bully boy, and knew he was a bully. Everyone knew nice guy and knew what a sweet kid he was.

I don't know when it started exactly, but I know it went on for years. It probably started when both boys were in elementary school. It ended when they were in middle school. Bully boy made life miserable for many classmates, but nice guy was one of his favorite targets. Some times the bullying was verbal, some times it was physical. School got involved, to no avail. Police got involved, to some avail.

It ended when nice guy had endured enough, mustered up enough courage, and punched bully boy. [I would have loved to have been there to see it!] From what I heard, bully boy was stunned. From what I heard, other kids cheered... to themselves. Of course, there was a price to pay. Nice guy was suspended for a day or two, and the police were once again called in. But that was about it. Nice guy found something to be proud of and bully boy moved on to torment other kids. I don't know if it had much impact on bully boy, but it changed nice guy's life.

I also saw it when my daughter was in middle school, between some mean girls and herself. Girl bullying is a little different. It's more verbal and manipulation. Mean girls deserve that name, and a few other choice descriptive words. Danielle made it through middle school and chose to attend a different high school than her classmates. Those few short years had a profound impact on her, and her self-esteem. It was so hard, as a parent, to watch and try to fix. There wasn't much we could do.

Oprah did a show yesterday on bullying. It made me mad. It made me sad. It made me cry. Part of the show was about two boys who killed themselves because they felt so tortured and felt as though there was no way out from the constant bullying. There are real and tragic consequences to bullying. It is more common in the schools than you may want to think.

If you have a child in school - and it can happen all the way from elementary to high school, there's a good chance they have seen bullying first hand, if not been part of it in some way. Please don't turn a blind eye to this destructive behavior. If your child is being bullied, please don't tell them to just ignore the bully. That will solve nothing and life ends up being an ongoing nightmare for them. If you suspect your child has bullying tendencies, address it now.

There are many good web sites that talk about bullying, including cyber-bullying - which is growing and can be even more vicious, but I think this one does a good job of covering everything. Again, please don't turn a blind eye to this deep impacting issue. It's something we all should be concerned about.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Monday, May 4, 2009

the good 'ole summertime

10 things I look forward to during the summer...

1. Warmer weather. This one should be obvious, although I don't like it when it's really hot. Warm weather means hanging outside more.

2. Cooler evenings. No matter how hot it gets here, the evenings cool down very nicely. I love being able to spend time out on the deck and then sleep with the windows open.

3. Eating meals outside. I'm mainly thinking of eating out on a restaurant's patio, but we're going to try eating our home meals out on the deck more often. The problem is that it can still be very hot with the sun shining directly onto the deck during the dinner hour.

4. Camping. We haven't been able to camp during the summer for nearly 10 years because of our involvement in youth ministry and being needed every weekend. I love camping and look forward to going as much as we can. Plus, I prefer our mountains in the summer - greenery over white snow.

5. Summer vacation. We're currently working on what this looks like.

6. Fresh strawberry pie. Strawberry shortcake. Chocolate covered strawberries. Enough said.

7. Thunderstorms. Love them!

8. Baseball games. I love to watch professional baseball. Go Rockies!

9. Good movies. Summer is always full of good movies. A few I'm looking forward to are: Angels & Demons, Harry Potter, and My Sister's Keeper.

10. No work. Since I work for a school, I have the whole summer off. Although I'll miss the students, I am really looking forward to the time off.

What are you looking forward to during the summer months?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

those three dead people

My post yesterday was an Aloha Friday question asking what three dead people would you want to invite to dinner. I really should have added that I didn't want people to include family. It was okay that people answered that way, but I didn't want readers to think that I wouldn't want to spend time with any of my dead relatives.

In fact, I would rather visit with my three deceased grandparents than the three famous people I picked. I miss all three very much. I lost my maternal grandfather when I was in high school. I feel like I didn't know him very well. I remember him as a quiet, humble man who made homemade fudge and had funny sayings.

Next, it was my paternal grandmother. She passed away in the hospital while I was traveling back to California, by car, with my family. It broke my heart not to be able to get to her bedside before she left us. And a few years later, her husband, my paternal grandfather, went to join his beloved wife to enjoy everlasting life with his Lord and Savior. I have more memories with these grandparents as I spent more time with them.

I miss all three of them and would love to have a few hours around a dinner table with them. But yesterday's question isn't the only reason why my grandparents have been in my thoughts. I attended a funeral today. I think funerals are a natural time to reflect on those we love; those who have already left us and those who are still with us. It's also a reminder that each and every day is a gift, because our days are numbered and no one knows exactly what their personal number is.

Don't waste your days. Take the time to let the ones you love know how much they mean to you. Be generous with your smiles... and hugs. And don't forget to count your blessings, as well as thank the one who blesses you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

...and steve irwin

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This week's Aloha Friday question is:

What 3 dead people would you like to invite to dinner?

I didn't even have to think about this. My answer is Princess Diana, Mother Teresa, and Steve Irwin.

I've always had a little bit of a fascination with Princess Diana. Partly because she and Prince Charles married the same year Don and I married. Partly because of her name and party because I admired the grace and compassion she exhibited during her short and amazing life.

I should have to explain why I would want to entertain Mother Teresa. Her life was beyond amazing. Her example of being a faithful and humble servant was such an inspiration. I'm sure a dinner wouldn't be enough time with her - maybe a whole weekend.

And I think it would be entertaining to sit and listen to Steve Irwin's stories. Can you imagine a dinner party with those three? Steve Irwin would definitely add the fun factor to the evening.

Thank you to Kailani for hosting Aloha Friday each week. You can find her over at An Island Life.