Monday, October 22, 2012

The most humbling experience ever...

So yesterday I had one of the most humbling yet exciting experiences ever. What started as an experience that I felt would help some special military members and their families and also help me achieve a personal goal turned into something that was so much more. I had no idea what signing up to run the Army Ten Miler as part of Operation Ward 57's team would mean.
We were first introduced to Operation Ward 57 when my husband was working at Walter Reed as a brand new Army nurse. This wonderful and special group, albeit a small group, is a non-profit organization that comes to the aid of wounded military and their families. I was simply amazed at what I learned from my husband about this group when he started working on Ward 57. I was eventually introduced to the group members for whom I soon gained the utmost respect. The executive director lives clear across the Country yet spends a large portion of her time fundraising and raising the awareness for this unique population. Another woman who is local but works full time and has a family spends countless hours going to visit these hospitalized military members and their families, organizing special "pick me ups" for them and so much more. There is an eleven year old boy who I have learned has such a love and appreciation for those who protect us that he has given of his time to speak on behalf of Operation Ward 57 and be such an inspiration to many!
 Amazing and truly Godsends. I keep thinking about scriptures that speak of angels among us when I think about these individuals and so many more.
When the question was asked about a team for the annual and historic Army Ten Miler, I was so excited and signed up many months ago.
The training began. I was frustrated because between pursuing another degree, working, and taking care of my family, I found that I had little time to actually get out and run. So the treadmill had to work and unfortunately I bore easily. I got through many episodes of Dallas, a few seasons of Knots Landing, and all 3 of my North and South miniseries' (among others) while knocking out miles on my upstairs treadmill, often at 8 or 9pm after dinner, homework, etc had been done. I learned at some point that my science department chair at the school where I teach was also running and had done so for years. Amazing. Such service--a retired Army officer and West Pointer who has for years given so much to so many and yet goes out every year to do this 10 mile run to support those who have fought beside him.
So originally the plan was for my Army officer husband and I to run together as a team. As our luck has it we had babysitter issues and so my precious husband told me to run and accomplish this endeavor and he would be waiting with our daughter at the finish line. We went out on Saturday, got our bibs and packets and picked up awesome shirts from our team's director.
Race day came and we were up early and headed to the Metro to go into DC. Again, as luck would have it, there was track repairs and we were derouted to the shuttle from one metro stop to another and that took up more time. I was worried that we would not even make it to the Pentagon on time. But, we did. I cannot begin to describe the sight I saw as we came up the escalator at the metro stop going to the Pentagon. There was a sea of people..flags..military in uniform...balloons..and lots and lots of excitement. Not to mention, it is a wonderful way to see the beauty of Washington DC. Let's just face it, the Tidal Basin is beautiful that early in the morning with the glory of the fall colors reflected on the water.
Overwhelmed. I was simply overwhelmed at the number of people I saw who were there to SUPPORT OUR MILITARY. It gave me hope that people really do still care. With quick kisses and hugs from my honey and sweet daughter, I went and found my "color" to wait for the start. Finally it was time to start. What I didn't know was that the wounded warriors (who have the strength of a thousand armies) started well ahead of the runners. There were some that were "hand-biking" the 10 miles. My husband said he saw them cross the finish line and described to me what he witnessed. I think every American should see what he described. Love and determination for our Country to beat ALL odds and keep pushing.
At any rate, the race started and I started WAY too fast. Realized quickly that was a bad move and slowed down for a bit then picked it up again. Along the way, I saw Americans lining the streets of DC cheering and supporting every single runner that went by. I saw flags, heared music, reached out and high-fived strangers with signs in support of our military! Amazing. In a world of unrest and political turmoil, so many Americans came together in the cold to support our precious military. There IS hope.
I made it to the finish line. Thankfully and I had tears in my eyes as I saw my sweet husband and daughter cheering me on! Although my muscles hurt today and Ibuprofen is my best friend, it is very small compared to what those who have fought for us and their families have been through. I cannot imagine what some of these wives I have met since living here have been through. I cannot imagine what the precious children of these heroes have been through. And yet, these are the very ones who come keep going to support this wonderful Country and those who serve. Seeing what I saw yesterday certainly puts petty day to day problems into perspective. In a "me" world, it's hard sometimes to see the bigger picture. If you have this problem, come out on Army Ten Miler day. You will definately have a different perspective.
I have to say I CANNOT wait until next year and can only pray I will once again be honored to be on team Operation Ward 57. I have often wondered why we ended up having to come to Washington, DC. Everyday I realize more and more that there was and is a plan. Part of God's plan was to help ME learn better to depend on Him. The other part was to introduce me to some of these wonderful individuals who serve tirelessly to our military in so many ways. I have met other wives in the Army Officer Wives Club of Washington, DC who welcomed me into the community and loved me. I have worked along side of military families at school and Christian educators who love our Country and have encouraged me. I have worked along side 3 precious nurses at school who have nurtured, loved, and supported my family and me. I have had the opportunity to be in the classroom with teenagers who ARE our future--and working with these young adults, I have been given renewed hope in the future of our Country. They are amazing (but I also know they come from amazing families--the apples do not fall far from the tree, thank goodness!) Also, I have worked with wonderful forensic nurses who work endless (outside of the spotlight) hours to serve those who are injured and hurt. How awesome is this?
So the point of this journal entry is this--I spent a great portion of last week (and several weeks prior) feeling overwhelmed, downtrodden, and just plain out aggravated that life was so busy and I was so busy. Then yesterday happened and all of that nonsense just seems quite petty. I am ashamed to say that it took something like what I witnessed yesterday to put some of that into perspective. I am so proud to be the wife of a 21 year Army soldier. I am also very proud to be living in American, despite the current problems we see (I am watching the last Presidential debate as I type.) America is and always will be the most wonderful place to live.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Walking Through History....

One of the perks of living up this way is that we are in the mecca of history--not just history but specifically Civil War history. My secret passion (well, not so secret) is Civil War history and although the move up here was met with a lot of resistance, I was thrilled to be in the middle of EVERYTHING.
Before I get into our trek through history, let me back up to last fall, which I just realized was the last of journal posts. Again, time has gotten away from me! Last August, my husband passed his 20th year in the Army. Simply amazing. Before I knew it, August 2012 had arrived and we were at the 21st year. He will do enough time to pay back AECP and we'll see what happens next. Nonetheless, things are going good for him and I think his 2 years of nursing have been educationsal and rewarding.
My first year of teaching ended in June with a bang. I have to say I loved every second. God is good. I wanted something that would keep me with our youngest daughter and not having to depend on a babysitter. God answers prayers, no doubt. I love each and every one of my students. I am so excited to see what God has in store for them. The Senior students I had in my class have now all entered college and I have no doubt at all that they will all excel at whatever they do. Absolutely wonderul. I was able to see not one--but two open heart surgeries as field trip opportunities came about through this wonderful job. Fascinating. I used to BEG as a new nurse many years ago to see this miraculous surgery but never was afforded that opportunity. Who knew years later I would be able to watch this with 18 high school students and other adults who accompanied us on this field trip.
Summer starting with a great visit from my oldest daughter and her boyfriend (who I think it just wonderful) and we had the best time staying up late and playing cards and laughing. We were able to see the Space Shuttle which is now stored in one of our museums here and that was something. I have to say--it is much bigger than I ever imagined! The visit ended on a bittersweet note. Bittersweet because I knew that I was sending my precious girl back to Auburn to continue her studies in the care of this sweet young man. As much as I want her to enjoy her college days and grow as a young woman, it is hard to watch her go through airport security with the love of her life. I still see the pig-tailed girl climbing trees. I am thankful for that girl. She is a blessing to all who know her and especially to me, her mom! After the much too short visit, I flew to Jacksonville, Florida through tropical storm something or another to be with my family as my dad had surgery at Mayo Clinic. It was a very scary time. Even though I had not seen my parents since Christmas and I was thankful to be able to spend that little time with them, it just broke my heart to know that my dad was there to undergo this surgery. After many days in the hospital and many scares-along with many prayers, he was able to come home. The visit was short and I flew home to welcome in a "land hurricane" to the area which would leave us with no power for about 17 hours. Many of our friends did not have power for DAYS.
A nursing conference with a co-worker in Philadelphia was next and I learned so much. I have been very blessed to be working with some wonderful nurses and educators!! I have never been to Philly and trust me, we had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich! A couple of days later after we returned to VA, my little family and I drove down to Alabama to spend a week with my parents. It was a great time and seeing my dad doing so well was wonderful. Unfortunately I did not get to see my brother, niece and nephews but next time..... Life is busy for everyone! I cried for days after we left Alabama. I cannot say how much I miss being at home. We stayed up late playing cards and dominos with my mom and it was like I'd never moved! We did manage to slip away this week to Williamsburg for a few days and that was nice but next week the rat-race begins and life gets busy at least until May! It's all good though. I know that we are blessed.
So back to the title of this journal. All of my life I have loved history. My momma used to say that she figured that someday I would become a history teacher and spend my life teaching the younger days of our wonderful Country..but here I am some 15 years later, living this history through my books and old DVDs. In the South, I only thought I was in the mecca of history. Up here though, it is a different story. We are right in the middle of so many Civil War battlegrounds. We had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg this summer and I thoroughly enjoyed every second. The Pennsylvania hills are amazingly haunting. I can only imagine the thoughts of the soldiers who trekked through that beautiful land. I visited there as a young girl and it has not changed a bit. Breathtaking. The state statues are the best--the Alabama statue and the statue of Robert E Lee on his horse (VA) are both my favorites. We visited the Cyclorama (remember that, Momma) and it was just as I remembered. We live in the center area of many of the battlegrounds: Petersburg, Fredricksburg (and the places in which it encompasses,) Antietam, Appomattox, Gettysburg, and the list goes on and on. We've made many trips to Manassas (were Stonewall Jackson got his name) and I never tire of that battleground. It's just down the street too! I was there as a young girl to watch a re-enactment of the first battle of Manassas on a hot July day. As we drive around here in our everyday life, I cannot help but imagine the footsteps that came through! I have my list of places I intend to visit already made and slowly but surely checking off the list. I love standing in front of the display of General Grant and General Lee's chairs at one of the Smithsonians and simply imagine what must have been going through these military genius's minds as they sat across from one another at Appamattox in April 1865.
Williamsburg was nice. I also went there as a young girl but I always end up back in my Civil War history books.  I have read and re read many books and never tire of my favorite writer, John Jakes. Although fictional characters are in his books, he has meticulous intertwined historical figures with his fictional characters to set the stage for a historical drama. Also, the Time-Life Civil War series my parents bought for me when I was in Middle School have worn pages from my continuous thumbing through them, looking at pictures and reading accounts from the lives of those before us.
At any rate, as much as I miss home I decided when we came here to make the most of the opportunity we have been given. I don't know how much longer we have here or where we'll end up next (preferably not West of Texas) but whereever it may be, I know there is a purpose and reason.
I hope and pray for those of you in the path of Isaac and pray that the effects of this storm are not as bad as predicted. Maybe it won't be a year until I update this journal but knowing me, it might. Much love to all...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Auburn Creed

THE AUBURN CREEDI believe that this is a practical world and that I can
count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.
I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my
mind and my hands to work skillfully.
I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.
I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not
afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.
I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all. I believe in the
human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness
and brings happiness for all.
I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by "doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God."

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in
Auburn and love it. -George Petrie (1945)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Really...a year??

I cannot believe that it has been a year (well, now over a year) since I watched strangers pack up my house, we loaded our two vehicles and made the long drive to Virginia. I was anxious, excited, fearful, optimistic, nervous, etc. I never imagined all of those emotions--and then some--could be felt all at the same time. At the same time I was crying as I drove out of my parent's I was excited about starting a new life in a new place!
So last weekend as I watched Georgia slaughter Auburn (GRRRR!) in the comfort of my living room in Northern Virginia, it occured to me that we had almost passed our one-year anniversary of living here. In fact, my mom was calling me all the way up here last November giving me "updates" of the Auburn-Georgia game. Of course, last year Auburn won but that's a story for another day. I really think my mom was as nervous about our leaving the lovely Southeast as I was and her phone calls were not really to update me on the game but to make sure that her babies were OK. I put on a good face when I'd talk to her. I remember saying, "mom, I can do this. I'm gonna be OK." On the inside I was literally dying. On the outside I was trying not to cry in front of my little daughter who was jam packed in the back of the mini-van with Niblets the Guinea pig and 14 hours worth of Junie B Jones books, movies, coloring books, and toys.
So here I am a year later having survived an earthquake, hurricane and snow in October and haven't packed up an left yet. In fact, I think there may have been a bet out there on just how long it would take me to run home (just kidding!) I have to say that adjusting to life in a (sorta) northern town has been alright. My career has taken a different path than I ever imagined and I am loving every second of it. I am back in school and although 12 hours may have been a bit much to tackle in one semester while working, it's been ok. I have met some of the nicest and kindest people you can imagine and being able to show my little daughter places and culture she may not have otherwise seen is priceless. We have visisted all over DC--toured the White House, the Smithsonians multiple times, toured the National Capital, been up in the Washington Monument twice, seen the Cherry Blossoms, listened to Newt Gingrich speak on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC, played in the snow, been to the local "tourist sights," and so much more.
I was talking to my daddy earlier today and telling him how excited I am to get to come home during Christmas. He told me that he always thought that when you move away and come home, that "home" seems different to you than when you lived at "home." I disagree on that point. I don't think it really matters where we live, driving in that long driveway of my parents house will always be one of the best feelings in the entire world. Walking in to the sights and smells and hugs of my family will always tantalize my senses more than any cherry blossoms or historical sights. Those of you who have been to my parent's house know exactly what I am talking about :)
Through all of the ups and downs there has not been one day that I ever wondered why I married a soldier. People will say, "you knew what you were getting into when you married him." That is true but yet it's really not. Honestly I didn't know what I was getting into but I was willing to find out.
Last year for Thanksgiving we had moved into our townhouse but were sleeping on air mattresses and sitting in fold up chairs in the living room. We did bring a television up with us in the mini-van so we could watch the Auburn-Alabama game on Friday after Thanksgiving but aside from those few items we were living in a furniture-less house. Now if you ask my husband he will say that we brought alot more with us than the above mentioned items--and we did as I am not a trusting soul when it comes to my treasures (quilts my grandmother made, photos, children's art, etc.) but as far as furniture that is all we had. The movers were not set to come until the Monday after Thanksgiving with our belongings. I was so depressed thinking that we were going to be in this townhouse without furniture on Thanksgiving. I had never in my whole life spent a Thanksgiving away from my parents, grandparents, brother and his family and my oldest daughter. We ended up having a FABULOUS day though. My brother in law and sister in law live in NJ and graciously invited us up to spend Thanksgiving with them. We ended up driving up (I got to cross the Delaware River on the way,) took the train down to NYC, saw the Macy's Parade, and then traveled back up to NJ for a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner with family. They worked so hard to make sure it was a very special day as they knew how hard it was for me to be away. This year we are SO excited that they are coming to our house for Thanksgiving. In fact, I cannot wait. It's tough being away from home but having family coming in just a few days makes it just a fun time!!
So Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! We are all so very blessed. I am so thankful to have this crazy Army life that I have now. I would not trade these blessings for the world!

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Beginnings...again

I spoke in a previous journal entry about the phrase "bloom where you are planted." So--here I find myself once again clinging to that phrase as yet another phase of this crazy Army life begins. No we are not moving again. Not yet. Hopefully not for a long time.
It's funny that a friend of many years published a photo on FB of a random flower growing in spot where you would not expect something that beautiful to grow with the phrase "bloom where you are planted" just as yet another new phase in our lives begin.
My husband has moved to work at another facility as Walter Reed has officially closed. It's such a unique thing to live up here. Another Army wife said something to me right after we moved that struck home in that you could literally rotate where you work and live all around the beltway. Literally.
I have started a new direction in my career and am very nervous and very excited all the same time. Bloom where you are planted. I keep thinking, "Ok, God..I'm not sure why you have planted me here but show me how to grow." I am very thankful and very blessed that I have made friends who have said to me recently as I start this new endeavor that "we are going to be your prayer warriors and you are going to be fine." I was afraid that when I moved up here it was going to be difficult to develop relationships because it is such a huge place..however, I have met some of the most wonderful new friends and so very thankful.
When I was in Girl Scouts I learned a song about making new friends and keeping the old. A few weeks ago the little daughter had a friend over to spend the night and they were discussing how they hoped they would once again be put in the same classroom when school started. Since we didn't know exactly which of the 2 classes each would be in and if they would be in the same one, I started trying to talk to them about how it will be OK if they end up in different classes. I guess at that age it is hard to comprehend the fact that you can be separated and still be just as close and also they would have the opportunity make even more friends. As I tried to explain all of this to these sweet girls, I thought to myself how blessed I am to have the means to stay in touch with friends we leave when we move and now have "prayer warriors" where I am now. God really does give you what you need to grow and keep those roots strong--even when you move away.
So, all in one week, literally we got through a 5.9 earthquake and a Hurricane that blew through (not as bad as Opal down in Alabama though.) Although when our whole house started shaking and things started falling off the walls and the little one came running down the stairs screaming, "I want to go back to Georgia," I have to say I was thinking the same thing but we did not pack up our hoop skirts and head back South (not yet anyway!) Maybe my roots have grounded a little bit stronger than I thought!! I did learn one thing--I DO NOT LIKE EARTHQUAKES, SAM I AM!! In this same week, I started back to school, a new job (sorta) and my husband said goodbye to Walter Reed forever. And the ground shook! One of my friends sent me a message asking if my moving here had upset the whole weather pattern in Northern VA??!! An earthquake AND a hurricane all in the same week? Really???!!!
Happy Labor Day to you all and best wishes for a great week to you all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


So tomorrow is the closing ceremony of an icon--Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The colors of this icon will be forever cased. That's right. Soon, this iconic hospital of all that is Army medicine will close it's doors forever. As crazy as it sounds, I feel honored to be living in this area at the close of Walter Reed and bear witness to such a momentuous occasion. To me, as a nurse, it is such a definining moment in Army medicine. Walter Reed has always been the "be all, end all" to the Army medical system. It was the place that our wounded warriors came straight from that we would receive in Georgia at the smaller MEDDAC where I worked before the move. Now it is the venue of the beginning of my husband's career as an Army nurse. My younger daughter and I went out to the hospital today so that I could get immunization records updated as I am returning to school (I guess I'll be a perpetual student in some form or another.) We walked through "the tunnel" to the "old" Walter Reed. As I transitioned from the new building to the building that once housed patients in days gone by, I was humbled at the thought of the footsteps that had come before ours. My mind automatically shifted to my grandmother who is 89 years old. I have spent countless hours listening to the stories of old told by her, my grandfather and her siblings. One of these stories was about my Great Uncle Robert. Uncle Robert was a patient at the "old" Walter Reed many, many years ago after WWII. He was a patient there for a long time. My grandmother and her siblings would ride a bus from Alabama all the way to Washington DC to stay with Uncle Robert. At some point, the family was called to stay with him around the clock. This went on for months. They were on a first-name basis with the nurses and staff. Perhaps they stayed somewhere like what is now Fisher House. My grandmother has spoken countless times of them having lodging nearby and the good food they always had while staying with Uncle Robert. My grandmother has told me about coming in one door and walking out of another (thinking she was walking out of the same door) and ending up on a completely different street block. Trust me, getting turned around in DC is not that difficult. It's funny because older people tend to tell us the same stories over and over and more frequently as they age. To some, it's annoying to hear the same stories. To me, it just reinforces my heritage. My mother has actually recorded some of these stories. They are priceless. When we found out we were coming up here last year as the first duty station after my husband graduated nursing school, I was none too happy. My grandmother went on and on about what a fabulous place Walter Reed is. I don't think she realized that the hospital she knew was now a collage of offices, a library, a small PX and other necessary adjuncts to the hospital but nonetheless, I cannot help but think of her everytime I go through the tiny gate onto the property of Walter Reed. I took my parents to see the old Walter Reed during their visit and my mother and I, along with my daughter and nephew have stood on the steps together of the place where my grandmother and her siblings spent so much time--cried so many tears--shared so many hugs with their brother before he passed. So there have been officially 4 generations to walk in those footsteps--my grandmother, my mother, me and my daughter and my nephew. How wonderful to have that legacy!

Uncle Robert passed away with his loving family around him just on the otherside of this tunnel through which we passed today. Wow..and all these years later, here we are walking where maybe he walked, where my grandmother and her brothers and sisters walked and so many after them...

So my daughter and I finished our business in the old Walter Reed and transitioned through this tunnel back into the new hospital that very soon will be also known as the "old" Walter Reed. Again, I was humbled at the footsteps in this building. Now, some of those footsteps include my husband's and friends that I have met and have grown to care for dearly. I try to explain to my little daughter at the legacies in these two buildings and although I am not sure she understands, I plan on through the stories she will hear over and over as the years go by, I hope that someday she will also feel the same humble pride that I feel.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

There's no place like home...

I think Dorothy was exactly right when she quoted the title I have used for this journal entry...there is definately no place like home! Of course, I have made our home in Virginia but to me, HOME will always be in Alabama where I grew up and where my parents still live. It's funny when you return home as an adult, it's almost like you never left in the first place. The kitchen is still a place of yummy smells and the sound of my mother preparing something wonderful for us all. Daddy still watches westerns on TV and there are still deer parading around the yard at all hours of the day and night! There is still the familiar and welcoming sights, sounds and smells and home but most of all, there is always alot of love to welcome us home!
Since my husband seems to working all kinds of hours --crazy hours I might add--the last 2 trips home (about 14-15 hrs) has been made by my youngest daughter and me alone. The trip right after Christmas was wonderful and even more special because my oldest daughter came back with us. I was dreading more than you could know the long drive home at the end of our visit after having to say goodbye to my parents, oldest daughter and grandparents. That's the worse part about a wonderful visit--having to say goodbye (or "see you later" as I like to say) at the end. This time, however, my mother surprised me on the day of our arrival with the news that she had found some wonderfully priced plane tickets for her and Daddy and they were thinking about driving back with me and my little one. Before the evening was over, we'd decided to inquire as to if my sweet nephew who was visiting could come back with us. Thankfully, his parents ok'd the trip and my mother promptly purchased three tickets for a flight from Dulles to Atlanta! I was overjoyed--thrilled beyond words!
The time in Alabama was fabulous! I was able to visit with my grandparents who are unable to travel, spend alot of time with my daughter who has a summer job down there and visit with my brother who came down for the day! Spending time with my niece and nephew was so nice! I didn't get to see them last visit so it just made me feel so happy to have that time! My girls and I had a sweet lunch with one of my best friends the day before we left and before I realized it, we'd sat and chat for almost 3 hours.
True to form, the day before we left for VA, my mom was busy in the kitchen making cookies, brownies and pound cakes to bring on the road trip. She'd packed fresh tomatoes from their garden, bread and all kinds of snacks for the road as well! We left early and headed back to VA and I could not have been happier.
I found out during this visit something about my mother that I never knew. Funny you spend 39 years as a woman's daughter and you still learn new things! I discovered that my love for Rod Stewart is shared by my mother! Wow! Riding north listening to Rod Stewart with your mom is just one of the coolest things! The traffic stunk on the north side of Charlotte as we decided to travel I-81 instead of I-85 so my nephew could see the mountains. It was all worth it as I heard his comments of "how beautiful" and "this is AWESOME" from the back seat as we came through. Eventually we arrived in VA and were greeted by my sweet husband and I was very happy to see him. I have to wonder why it is that a family cannot just be together in the same town forever and ever and that way everybody would just be together--that would be my idea of perfect. Anyway, since he had to work the next day, my parents, the kids and I headed out the next morning and the first stop was Georgetown for a yummy cupcake from one of my moms and my favorite television reality shows--DC Cupcakes. The line was not that long and after a walk down to the Potomac River we leaded up and headed down into DC so my nephew could see the monuments, etc. Listen--the 4th of July holiday weekend is NOT the time to find a parking place in DC and after riding aimlessly around without parking success, we decided to head over to Walter Reed so that my parents could see where my husband worked. As I expected they were touched as I always am at the sights of this famous hospital. My mother and I both left teary-eyed partly because of sadness but also partly because of pride that there are those (and their families) who are happy to make sacrifices for our freedom and our glorious Country. We also were able to see the "old" Walter Reed where my great-uncle died many, many years ago after being a patient for months. My grandmother and her siblings spent countless weeks with him during that time. I cannot say how many times I have heard my grandmother tell the stories of staying with him and how kind the staff at that hospital were to them. After the visit where we had found my husband being a very busy nurse, we decided to see if DC was still so crowded. After dropping Daddy and the kids off at the Air and Space Museum, Momma and I found a parking place--glory hallelujah! Thank goodness my mother can parallel park because I cannot do it to save my life. We had a nice time that day but were exhausted after getting home that evening!
The next day, we did the visit into DC. We packed a picnic lunch (my mother is so frugal and organized) and decided after researching our route to take the metro into Union Station and buy tickets for the "Hop-On, Hop-off tour bus."Momma and I had done this type of tour a few years ago in NYC and had a great experience. We got off at a park in DC , had our lunch at some point and enjoyed our tour and narrated history of DC. The following day was the 4th of July--Independance Day. My mother had said last summer when my husband received order to this place that she was hoping that this 4th of July she'd be able to see the National fireworks display--and that she did! We started our day trying to go to Arlington to see the Changing of the Guards but due to the holiday CHAOS the roads were not accessible. Somehow we stumbled upon a HUGE parking lot near the Pentagon and fortunately it was open for the event. We had just the right spot to see the beautiful and marvelous fireworks offered by our Nations Capitol. After a quick trip to the grocery store, we were all set. Husband had put chairs in the van and so with chairs and food in town, we camped out to wait for dark. The kids ran around and played and we enjoyed some wonderful conversation! I have to say that I enjoyed the fireworks but I more so enjoyed the looks in the eyes of my mother as she'd always dreamed of seeing this display. It is a look I shall never forget. After sleeping in the following morning, we had breakfast and headed out to the NRA Museum. Wow--I had never realized this museum was so close to our house. My dad thoroughly enjoyed it. His face seeing the items in that museum is another site I shall never forget! I took my mom to Tyson's mall (which is the biggest I've ever been in) and it was there we all gathered around a television at one of the restaurants to watch the Casey Anthony verdict be revealed. Have to say Daddy and I have both been enthralled by the goings on of that trial. I was specifically interested in the forensic portion of the trial. I also have to say that I was disappointed in the verdict but was not completely surprised b/c of the lack of stone hard evidence. After being stuck on I-66 west for over an hour (and moving less than 3 miles during that time) we finally made it home that evening. The next day which was the day I had been dreading, we loaded up everything and everyone and went to the air and space museum near Dulles Airport. I think I like it better than the one in the district. Too bad we didn't know about that one and went when we had more time (mental note made for their next visit.) Sadly, I had to then take my precious parents and nephew to the airport for their trip home. I wanted to climb in their suitcase and go home with them. I cried the rest of the afternoon and part of the next day but finally decided I really had to get it together. I started thinking about a potential date for my next visit home and that made me feel better. On Thursday, the little one and I ventured out to Walter Reed again to attend a Luau Farewell party in honor of Ward 57. Since Walter Reed will be closing it's doors soon, this was done in conjunction with staff farewells. I met some wonderful ladies and gentlemen who are part of a group called Operation Ward 57 and was happy to see that Georgetown Cupcakes donated 72 cupcakes to the event. The patients and their families seem to enjoy "their day" and I felt very blessed to be a part of this event as well.
So that's it in a nutshell. I loved going home and I loved bringing home with me. I learned again something during these last 2 weeks and that is that home is not just a house of bricks but everything that makes that house a home--it's smells, the sights, the sounds and more than anything the love in that home and within those who dwell in its walls.