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Hallowed Ground

November 30, 2008
 
This deserved it’s own post.  It is impossible to describe the feeling that comes over you when you walk in Arlington National Cemetery.  Everything has a precision to it, a precision that says we take pride in the Men, Women and the families who have fought for our country.  In the way these grounds are preserved you know we are honoring the lives they lived.  If you have never been and have the opportunity, it is worth the time to pay respect to these individuals and to thank them for the freedoms they fought to preserve.
Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetery

Resting Place of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy

Resting Place of John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy

View of Arlington House from Kennedy Memorial

View of Arlington House from Kennedy Memorial

Arlington House looking across Potomac to D.C.

Arlington House looking across Potomac to D.C.

Changing of The Guard - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of The Guard - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of The Guard - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Changing of The Guard - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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D.C. in a Day

November 30, 2008
We arrived in D.C. after a long drive from Amsterdam, N.Y.  After dropping the trailer at the hotel’s parking lot in Manassas, VA we headed in to explore D.C. at night.  First stop was The Capital Building, all my pictures from that turned out horrible.  We then made our way over to The Jefferson Memorial where I snapped the shot of The Washington Monument reflected on the pond.  D.C. at night was gorgeous.  We had another crisp night, but nothing too cold or unbearable.  We ended up lost trying to find our way around, I’m not sure why we never got the map out.  I think we were just too tired.  But thanks to getting lost (or going on an adventure as I like to call it) we ended up driving through Georgetown.  I would love to spend the day shopping there!
The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument

This is a shot of The Jefferson Memorial.  It is an awe inspiring site, both externally and internally.
The Jefferson Memorial at Night

The Jefferson Memorial at Night

Of course you can’t visit Washington without seeing the White House.  We also had an opportunity to see the National Christmas Tree, they were setting the trains up around it.  We visited the White House Visitors Center and learned a few things.  I also purchased the Official White House Christmas Tree Ornament for 2008.  Marine One flew overhead, not sure what that was about.

The White House

The White House

 I just loved this view below on The Mall, I want this as my driveway! 🙂

Walkway on The Mall

Walkway on The Mall

Here is Mark in front of World War II Memorial.  You can’t see, but in the picture he is hiding my purse.  I think he carried it in D.C. as much as I did so that I could take pictures to my hearts content.

Mark in front of the fountain at The World War II Memorial

Mark in front of the fountain at The World War II Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial was so crowded, but worth a look.  It is a regal monument.  I wish I had not been tired the night before, I think I would have enjoyed it at night.

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

We were behind The Linoln Memorial and I was busy looking across the Potomac and this is what I saw when I turned around.  I love the way the Sun was shining through the columns and how Mark was in shadow.  After this shot we walked to the Vietnam Memorial, then over to Arlington National Cemetery, a brief drive by the Pentagon and finally ended at the U.S.M.C. War Memorial (Iwo Jima).
Mark in Shadow behind The Lincoln Memorial

Mark in Shadow behind The Lincoln Memorial

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Trailer Trashed

November 30, 2008
Brief Synopsis: About three years ago and some change, Mark decided to move to New York.  Like all of us at one time or another we all do something that does not work out as intended.  This seemed to be an opportune time to make changes in his life.  He took his kids on a road trip to New York so he could get the pop-up camper in storage where he was going to live.  He went back a month later with a UHaul and the rest of his belongings and didn’t last a week.  He hated the J O B.  Since then gas prices have soared and timing was never right.  That was until this week.  Going to Amsterdam, NY was a great excuse to go to NYC for the holiday. 
 
Here is Mark inspecting the trailer, it is literally still sitting in the spot it was originally parked.  In fact it had made indention’s in the asphalt from sitting so long.  Please take note of the broken tail light above the license plate.  We think the weight of snow had caused it to come off.  The very kind woman at the storage facility had kept the lens, so all was not lost.
Pop-up Camper with broke tailight

Pop-up Camper with broke taillight

Here is my repair job, they use duct tape on the space station, it’s good enough for a trailer.  I ended up having to duct tape both light covers on.  We had to replace the light bulbs and the other cover snapped off as well.  They seem to be holding in place pretty well and it has kept us “legal” on the road.

Duct Tape Repair

Duct Tape Repair

 Here is Mark packing the bearings.  We were actually able to drive the trailer three miles into town to the auto parts store, the tires still had air in them!

Mark re-packing the bearings

Mark re-packing the bearings

It was a bit overcast while we were working on it, but overall the weather held steady.  There is an old barn in the far back and an old house in the foreground.  We are in the auto part store parking lot and there is a Wal-mart next to the old barn.  Below Mark is continuing checking things out in preparation prior to putting the new tire on.

Mark Changing the Tire

Mark Changing the Tire

It’s now 11:40 CST on Sunday and we are just West of New Orleans on our way home.  The trailer has made the trip like a trooper and seems to be in very good shape considering.  We took a quick peek inside without opening the top and aside from a few cobwebs it seems to be OK.  I didn’t smell any musty smells.  The only external signs that it sat for so long was a bit of algae growing and that will come right off.  Can’t wait to start the family camping trips…hopefully the big one will be next summer and the Grand Canyon!

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But I would walk 500 miles, And I would walk 500 more

November 28, 2008

We walked a hell of a lot today!  This is not an exaggeration.

Our day started at 4:30 CST in order to get a great spot for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  We started across from Central Park and then got antsy because it was two hours until the parade began.  So we started our adventure in the city.  I think we now have a pretty good grasp of the Subway System.  We ended up near Times Square and was “cattled” towards the Square where we watched the Parade. We couldn’t see the High School Marching Bands very well, but we had a great view of the Balloons and some of the floats.  And we now have bragging rights to being one of over 3 million other spectators and I think most of them were crammed into the square!
Times Square before Parade - Some of the 3 million spectators...many more behind us!

Times Square before Parade - Some of the 3 million spectators...many more behind us!

Buzz Lightyear one of many balloons in this years Parade.

Buzz Lightyear one of many balloons in this years Parade.

Santa Clause - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Santa Clause - Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Longest Escalator I've ever been on...NYC Subway system.

Longest Escalator (on the Right and Left) I've ever been on...NYC Subway system.

Next came Wall Street and Battery Park.  I really enjoyed just looking at the buildings, churches and cemeteries in this area.  I saw lady Liberty from a great distance.  We did not have time to take a closer look this time. Then we were off to a fabulous Thanksgiving Lunch, and it was a feast at a little Steakhouse near Wall Street.

Trinity Chapel looking down Broad Street standing on Wall Street

Trinity Chapel looking down Broad Street standing on Wall Street

After lunch we walked the perimeter of the World Trade Center attack. 

St. Paul's Churchyard looking towards WTC site

St. Paul's Churchyard looking towards WTC site

Then we strolled over to Chinatown…I wish I had had the opportunity to take more pictures in this area. 

Fowl in the window of a Chinese Market - Chinatown, NYC

Fowl in the window of a Chinese Market - Chinatown, NYC

Strange Taste Cuisine - Chinatown, NYC  Do you think they might of meant Unique Taste Cuisine?

Strange Taste Cuisine - Chinatown, NYC Do you think they might of meant Unique Taste Cuisine?

Next stop was Union Square and the Flat Iron District…so many cool things to see everywhere.  Grand Central Station is just that “Grand”.  Finally it was off to Central Park at night, I’m sure mine and Mark’s Moms are not going to be happy about that.  But it was a lot of fun and a big adventure. 

The Flat Iron Building

The Flat Iron Building

Empire State Building lit for Thanksgiving

Empire State Building lit for Thanksgiving

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Interior Grand Central Station

Interior Grand Central Station

From in front of Grand Central Station looking at Chrysler Building

From in front of Grand Central Station looking at Chrysler Building

Lion in front of Public Library

Lion in front of Public Library

Imagine - I took a much better shot, but can't find it.

Imagine - I took a much better shot, but can't find it.

Washington Square

Washington Square

I’m too tired to do any witty blogging and we just got screwed on the Tollway and have sat in traffic for the last 45 minutes.  I can’t wait to find a place to sleep tonight.  It looks like we will head to D.C. because the weather in Buffalo looks to be rough with pulling a trailer…I’ll get to the trailer tomorrow.

I guess Mark and I managed to blend as we were asked many times for directions both street level and in the Subway.  By the end of the day we were even able to give credible directions.

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In the City that NEVER sleeps…

November 27, 2008
…but we are about to.  Just a few pictures to share of the many that have been taken.  Blogging will commence sometime tomorrow evening…maybe.
Getting Close

Getting Close

Times Square

Times Square

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

Carmilla and Mark at Rockefeller Center

Carmilla and Mark at Rockefeller Center

Phantom Playbill and Program

Phantom Playbill and Program

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NYC in 15 minutes…Texas to New York in 25.5 hours…WooHoo!

November 26, 2008

We are showing up at the hotel in our traveling clothes of shorts and sandals.  It’s 44 degrees outside, I’m sure they’ve seen it all!

I’ll update tonight after I’ve seen some of the City and taken pictures and gone to a Broadway show.  Weeee!

Kids – Be good and I hope ya’ll are having fun!

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THANKFUL

November 26, 2008

It’s time for my annual thankful post (usually found on myspace).  If you are not one of my family, this won’t interest you at all, so feel free to skip reading.

 

Mark – I’m thankful for many things.  First he puts up with all of my quirkiness and I have a lot of quirks.  I’m most appreciative that last year about this time he asked me to be his wife and lifelong partner in crime.  It was a tough road to that point but so worth it.  We have a beautiful family that we otherwise would not have.  He is very good to me and my children and it’s nice to be able to trust your husband with help in raising the kids.  It’s great that he gets along with their Dad so there is no animosity between “Dads”.  It’s also nice that he doesn’t treat my children different than his own.  It has been a relatively easy transition into a family and it could not have happened without his willingness for us to truly be a family.

 

Cory – My oldest, I still can’t believe I have an adult child.  I mean how the heck does that happen?  Cory is a great role model, both at home and at school.  I wish you all could have been there during his Cross Country banquet a few weeks ago and have the opportunity to hear the things we as parents were blessed to hear. He is certainly someone to look up to and I hope all of the kids do and if they don’t, I hope that as they mature they will come to see he is someone to emulate.  Academically he is excelling and will be heading off to University next fall.  He is also an officer with our local Toast Masters organization.  He makes me very proud to be his Mom.

 

Shea – His friends are now calling him Chris, that’s always strange for me, because I still see him as Shea.  He is so dedicated to ROTC and doing the best he can for the program.  That takes discipline and even if he’s not disciplined in all aspects of life YET, it shows me that he is more than capable.  He has a bright future ahead no matter how he chooses to move forward, be it militarily or through college.  I think sometimes he wants us to recognize the responsibility he carries as the oldest child in his branch.  I wish we could take some of the responsibilities away, but I know that he will look back someday and realize how it has shaped him and probably in the best ways.

 

Sara – It will not surprise me if Sara grows up to be a Music Producer.  She already knows more about modern/local music than I will ever know.  She’s always out their promoting local Houston bands. She has such a great sense of self; I just hope she will always have that.  She needs to learn not to let others get to her, especially other girls.  Life will go on beyond those High School years and someday she will have her best friend who will treat her the way she deserves.  It’s so hard being a confident girl, but I wouldn’t want her to be anything but confident and self-assured.

 

Ryan – The ultimate middle child, he is a true peacekeeper, or at least tries to be.  You try to keep peace among seven siblings!  He has his blackbelt and has taken that athletic ability and perseverance and moved it to football.  I can’t wait to see him playing High School football next year.  I think sometimes he puts too much pressure on himself to be better, but he is more than good enough for our family and he’ll be the glue that always keeps everyone together.

 

Tesa – My one true blonde child, only she’s not a blonde in the joke sense.  She’s so intelligent and impresses me with just what she knows.  She has a lot to teach the younger kids. My hope for her is that she will look inside herself more and realize just how beautiful and smart she is.  She really does not need to compare herself to anyone else because she is unique and will be just Tesa and just Tesa is exactly who she should be.  She is easy to love and will someday learn to love just as easily.  And did I mention she’s so smart!

 

Erin – She’s becoming a young woman.  She’s hit the “tween” stage and is beginning to mature.  She has some more work ahead of her, but I have no doubt she will blossom in the years to come.  She has started to overcome some of her “bad” habits and that makes it so much easier to see the real Erin emerging.  She is going to be fiercely independent; I have no doubt about that.  Erin has a great sense of self and I don’t see her letting go of that.  Someday she is going to be calling the shots, be it in an organization or just at home.

 

Luke – My baby, only I’m not supposed to call him that anymore.  Luke is a true friend; he only has a few friends at this point in his life.  But it’s not because he couldn’t have more friends, he’s just picky.  He picks other kids who want to be friends for the right reasons and that’s something to admire in someone who is only just eight.  I overheard his brother talking to him about one of his better friends at school and how he could not go outside to recess because of his disability.  Well many times he offered to stay indoors and work on puzzles and such with him instead of being outside roughhousing and he loves to roughhouse.  This is something I know because of a conversation I overheard in the car last week, not because he has bragged about it.  He is a true friend and I think anyone will be lucky to have him for a friend.  He’s also a great son!

 

Gina – My best friend in the entire world.  We have known each other so long now; sometimes it’s hard to separate our lives because they are intertwined.  Unfortunately distance keeps us apart a lot.  Having the same cell service keeps us connected daily.  She has been through a kind of hell this year within her own family and I watched in awe as she took control of the situation and made it as positive as it could possibly be.  I’m not sure if I would have had the same strength to do what she did.  She also stood by my rougher patches and my more celebratory ones.  I love her dearly, just wish we lived closer.