Monday, May 31, 2010

Freedom is not free

I took this picture at the Korean War Memorial in DC, and the more I think about it, the more it moves me. Today I am thankful to the men and women who have sacrificed time with their families, their health, their dreams, their well-being, even their own lives, so that I can live in freedom. I can't imagine having that kind of selflessness. I take my freedom for granted every single day, and I want to be more mindful about not doing that. I spent my day enjoying family and food, and it makes me feel a little guilty that I'm only able to do that because a soldier somewhere isn't able to. Something to think about.

*Side note: "WWII in HD" was on History Channel in its entirety Saturday. I planned to watch parts of it because I love learning about that time period. I emerged from my WWII coma 10 hours later. That's right; I watched all. ten. episodes. I sprinkled in a few chores and errands so I could say I didn't spend 10 hours on the couch watching TV. Actual couch time was only about 9 much better than 10. I know so much about WWII now it's not even funny. Try me :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I'm currently re-reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. This will be go-around #3. I think this book has affected me more profoundly than anything I've ever read (except for Gone with the speaks to my inner Scarlett and makes me want to wear a hoop skirt and live at Tara and marry a blockade runner). I don't normally read a lot of Christian fiction because I find it preachy and a bit cheesy. *Does that make me a bad Christian? I'll ponder this.* This one is phenomenal, though. Laura gave me her copy a few summers ago and told me it would change my life. I rolled my eyes, thanked her, and then texted her numerous times a day during my reading to profess my love for the book. I would set out to read "just one more chapter" before bed, and then look at my clock and see 2:00 staring back at me. Laura was right...I, of course, was wrong.

The plot is amazing and it really, truly makes you think about the depth of God's love for us. The prologue is particularly gut-wrenching, but it's so worth it in the end. I really think this should be required reading for every woman on the planet. In fact, if I was filthy rich, I'd buy all of them a copy. But I'm not, so I won't...sorry ladies. I'll just blog about it. If you're looking for something to fill out your summer reading list, add Redeeming Love to it. It will change your life. Roll your eyes if you want to, but on this little matter, I'm right and you're wrong. Read it. Be changed. The end :)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

D.O.N.E. (and T.E.N.U.R.E.D.)--a special edition of Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  • this wonderful school year...incredible kids who made it easier for me to get out of bed each morning, great parents, fun coworkers, lots of lessons learned, sweet memories
  • finally being tenured, in an "unofficially official" way :) WOOHOO!!!
  • summer break :) :) :)
  • the fun little cleaning/dance party we had today...I cranked up some Justin Bieber and the kiddos had the classroom cleaned top to bottom in a little over an hour! You know those scary ants that live in the jungle? The ones that swarm on their prey and have it reduced to nothing but bones in like 7 seconds? That's what my students did to my classroom today. I stood in awe.
  • my family and friends (particularly Uncle Mark and Cousin Jerry...happy happy birthday to them today!)
  • the ability to remain faithful even when you don't understand how bad things fit into the grand scheme of life
  • finally deciding to start grad school in the fall...well, if UAB will have me, that is! In fact, I'm fixing to register for the GRE once I finish typing this!


Monday, May 24, 2010


I don't think anybody reads this blog but me (and my mom), but I figured I'd put this out there just in case. If you pray, please remember the Stamps/Vollers families in your prayers. Baby Graham passed away this afternoon. I'm sure any and all prayers for the families would be appreciated during this difficult time!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A scattered Saturday morning

I'm in love. With a gum...Ice Breakers Ice Cubes: Cool Lemon. This gum is like chewable Toomer's lemonade; how can you go wrong with that? I bought a new pack the other day and was upset when I reached into my purse after lunch yesterday and found it empty. I dug around in there thinking it had spilled out into my purse. Nope. I chewed it all. In two days.

I saw something outside last night that made me desperately unhappy. It was one of those vile creatures whose name starts with an "r" and rhymes with "coach". I almost looked up a picture to put in this post, but then I wouldn't be able to come back here anymore. And that would be a tragedy. Do these nasty things serve a purpose? And if they do, isn't there anything else that can do whatever it is they do, just without the grossness? Thankfully, the thing was outside and not inside...that gives me the heebs like just about nothing else. My chivalrous neighbor kindly squished it for me and said he would leave it there as a warning to all the others. I hope they see their fallen comrade out there on the sidewalk and go hang out somewhere else for the summer.

I want to sew something today. It's been a while since I've had the time (or honestly, desire) to sew, so I'm going to take advantage of this. I don't know yet what I'm sewing...I'll get there when I get there. But I'm sewing something.

I made something really good the other night. It sounds weird, but it tasted amazing. Chicken+Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque+Frank's Red Hot+sauteed onion+kidney beans+whole wheat rotini+a little shredded cheddar on top=seriously tasty.

I've finally given in and started watching "Friday Night Lights". When it first premiered, I remember thinking that it looked like a show I would enjoy. I made a concerted effort not to watch it, because I don't like being a slave to the TV. The new season started a couple of weeks ago and I watched it. And I'm hooked, just as I knew I would be. Not only am I now a slave to my TV, I'm going to have to spend my summer renting the previous seasons so I can get caught up. Sigh.

I heard this song on my drive home from Mobile last weekend. It made me laugh. Not that there's anyone I feel this way about (hmm), but if there was, I'm sure this would sum it up nicely :) Jaron and the Long Road to Love, "I Pray for You":

Thursday is the last day of school. This year has flown by; of course, there were times when it seemed to drag but overall? Poof! Flown by. The kiddos are so excited about moving up to 6th grade, and I'm excited for them. I'm more sad about this year being over than past years...I think because I'm not going to see them next year. I've loved this class and even though we've had some less-than-perfect moments, I'm going to miss them a lot. Whether they know it or not, they've taught me so much. I've put my heart and soul into teaching this year, and I hope my darlings are just a tiny little bit better for being in my class.

I don't know if I've ever been so excited about summer break. I've got places to go, sights to see, friends to visit, weddings to attend, books to read, movies to watch, things to sew, a life to live...can't wait to get on it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for:
  • family and friends
  • new babies!
  • good news :)
  • being able to participate in LA and Randolph's way-too-fun wedding weekend
  • feeling like I make a difference, even a small one
  • job stress, because it means that I have a job
  • being able to cross a few things off my miles-long end-of-the-year checklist
  • the realization that, this time next week, School Year 2009-2010 will be in the record books
  • summersummersummersummersummer
  • a great year with my kiddos...they've taught me more than they'll ever know
  • my health
  • my power still being on, even though the storm is threatening to ruin my chances of watching "The Office" season finale's hoping!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to the world, baby girl! (and boys!)

Elizabeth Anne Aaron made her grand entrance into the world at 11:59 AM today! She's 7 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long with fuzzy brown hair :) I checked my phone like a crazy lady all day waiting to hear from Oliver, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't do a happy dance when I got the news. I'm so very excited for Kira and Oliver and can't WAIT to meet Elizabeth. She and Aunt JJ are going to have lots of fun together!

In other baby news, Kate became an aunt yesterday. Her nephews William and Graham were born at 29 weeks, so they're tiny (but healthy, by all accounts). They have a long road ahead of them...I'm sure any prayers for them would be mucho appreciated!

Last but certainly not least, Laura and Bart's nephew Steven also arrived yesterday. Woohoo! Babies, babies, babies...who's next? :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy birthday, Grandad!

(My graduation day in Auburn...44 years after Grandad became an AU alum himself.)

Today is Grandad's birthday; he's celebrating his big 35th this year :) I'm so thankful to have him around. He's a hoot and a half; I don't think I've ever spent any time around him without laughing. He has such a funny, quick wit. I love to hear him whistle through his teeth; I've never found anybody else who can do that quite like he does. He lives for his family and does anything you ask him to do without complaining. He's one of the wisest people I know. He can make and fix just about anything. He is a walking history textbook, and I think the only people who know more about the Civil War are the ones who lived through it :) I'm thankful for the time and effort he's put into researching our family's history; I hope to spend some time with him this summer learning more about the Johnstons. I love him to pieces and I hope he's got many more years with us. Happy birthday, Grandad!

Another one bites the dust!

I spent the weekend in Mobile successfully marrying off another friend. Laura Allyson and Randolph's big day (weekend, actually) was amazing. The rain held off, everything went smoothly, and the bride was remarkably laidback the whole weekend. It tickled me to see her so happy and utterly sure about starting her new life as a Miller. I also loved getting to catch up with some precious friends, some of whom I don't get to see nearly often enough. Wonderful weekend! I'm quickly running out of college friends to marry off, so I try to make the most of these occasions. Who's next? ;)

I swung through Troy on my way home to visit with Kira, Oliver, their new dog Scout, and, as of right now, a still-unborn Baby Elizabeth. It was so good to be able to visit with them one last time before they welcome that sweet baby girl. She'll be here Wednesday unless she comes sooner on her own...Kira and I share a weird affinity for even-numbered days, so tomorrow would be ideal :) But if Elizabeth decides to stay put until the 19th, nobody will be any less excited to see her. I can't wait to get my hands on that little lady!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for...

  • family and friends
  • the upcoming weekend...LA's wedding...Randolph makes her happy, that makes me happy, everybody wins :)
  • the reuniting of friends that LA's wedding will inevitably bring about...always a good thing
  • a 3 hour dinner with coworker friends yesterday...lots of chitchat, lots of laughs
  • some fun activities (Mystery Quest, butter churning) accomplished with the kiddos this week, and more fun things planned for next week
  • a serious slowdown coming up reeaaal soon...yes, please!


Monday, May 10, 2010

1,095 days ago...

(The. Best. Picture. Ever. Laura, Kira, me, Rachel...UC22 girls)

I walked across the stage inside Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and ended a marvelous ride. May 10, 2007. I could go on and on (and on and on) about how incredible my Auburn experience was, but I won't. Instead, I'll see if I can narrow my life on the Plains down to ten favorites.

  • Tim Tyler: Oh, Tim. The Piano Man. If he was playing, we were there. I fondly remember Tim Tyler Tuesdays at SkyBar, especially the Tuesday of our graduation week. We were graduating, Tim was graduating, SkyBar was full of nothing but was incredible. We graduated at the same ceremony, and I loved hearing the huge cheer when his name was called out.

  • lazy summers: I spent two (well, two and a half) glorious summers in Auburn, one living in the McDonald's backyard, an unspeakably great one on Gay Street, and part of one packing up my Auburn memories and starting my grown-up life. Daily schedule: class, work, then fun :) I loved it when Auburn emptied out for the summer.

  • long walks: Nearly every day after class and work, I headed out for a walk around campus. Really long walks. That's how I got to know all the nooks and crannies of AU. Sometimes gabbing with friends, other times catching up on my praying or my tunes. If it was raining, no problem...that's what the Coliseum was for. I still laugh when I think about the time Laura and I ran every single, solitary set of stairs in the Coliseum in a fleeting moment of fitness. No problem, until our jelly legs were unable to walk us back to the apartment. Lesson learned...nobody wins when you run the stairs.

  • Alpha Gam: I wasn't the "sorority type" when I decided to rush, but I'm glad I changed my mind. Many of my memories center around Alpha Gam events and friends. I'm beyond thankful for my 2 years living in Dixie Bibb Graves, my time on EC, formals, socials, pep rallies, runs to TCBY right at closing time, road trips, parades, Concourse dances, Homecoming floats, candlelights, those loooong days during rush, and so forth...

  • nights on the town: Way too many to count. Good music, good friends, good times. Some fun memories that are a little hazy and some that I've been sworn to take to my grave :) One standout: Benjy Davis Project at Bourbon Street...senior year...trip to the bathroom...unfortunate tumble off my high even more unfortunate landing...Laura walking thisclose to me all the way back to UC22...Rachel taking pictures that I hope have since been burned...the demise of my favorite jeans

  • food: Momma G's. Amsterdam. Niffers. Nihon. Provino's. Late night junk from Willie's. Barbecue House. Veggies to Go. Yum.

  • classes: Does that make me a nerd? I'll ponder that. I didn't always want to go to class, but I enjoyed most of them. I loved meeting new people each semester and had some great professors. I really loved my education classes; it was fun getting to learn things that I would actually use in the future. (One exception: Senger's math methods class. I refuse now and forever to use toothpicks with my students as a protest of what we were forced to do in this class.)

  • football: I loved that from September to the end of November, I never had to worry about weekend plans. Wake up, tailgate, game, out to celebrate the victory/mourn the loss...done! Repeat the next week. Jordan-Hare Stadium on game days will always be one of my favorite places on Earth. I love that, while I was a student, we beat Alabama every year. I love that I was there for the 2004 perfect season. I hope I never forget the splendor of the AU/GA game that year...last game of the season, nighttime kickoff, a victory, those paper shakers floating in the air...amazing.

  • friends: I can't even begin to describe my friends. They're in every memory and in my thoughts every day. My life would be empty without them.

  • graduation week: What a week. "The week everybody cried." Exciting, fun, full of hope, and sad all at the same time. Our last TT Tuesday, cap and gown photo shoot, soaking up each second because we knew it was about to be over. Walking across that stage and hearing my name. Having to wait until the next day to get my diploma because of $22.19 in dadgum copy charges. Celebration supper at Momma G's with Daddy and the girls and Trotline @ SkyBar. Next day lunch and lemonade at Toomer's with Kira, Oliver, and Laura. Saying goodbye and realizing everything had changed. Figuring out a new normal. I remember all of it. And it makes me smile.
  • Sunday, May 9, 2010

    weekends are my thing

    I'm really good at enjoying weekends; it's one of my many, many talents. I headed to Tuscaloosa on a gloriously cool Saturday to go see the Blue Angels with Daddy. I was running late (spent the morning dawdling...surprise!) and that put us in a time crunch. *Side note: Blue Angels started at 3:00.* 1:30...aware that we were missing the fun "little planes" because I'm a slowpoke, we drove to the newspaper office, walked across the bridge over the river lugging a backpack and two chairs, and hiked through downtown Northport only to be told that the street was closed and we weren't allowed to walk to the airport this year. My grump factor went up a few notches. Back up the hill, back over the river (still hauling the aforementioned backpack and chairs), on to the shuttle pickup point...2:00. A policeman at the parking lot told us a shuttle would be by in 15-20 minutes, so we decided to wait. The shuttle finally arrives...2:40. Most definitely not the advertised 15-20 minutes. My grump meter is dangerously high. I'm kicking myself for being such a slowpoke because I'm positive we're going to miss the show and have the worst weekend in the history of the world.

    The driver got us to the airport right at 3:00, we staked out our spot, and the Blue Angels started about 5 minutes later. The timing could not have been more perfect! Our spot this year was so much better than last year, and we got to see everything. I can't fathom being skilled enough and confident enough to fly a plane at that rate of speed that closely to someone else. I bet there are more than a few dominant personalities in that bunch of pilots! My pictures don't do it justice; the combination of a way-too-slow camera and a fair amount of operator error left my pictures a bit lacking. Oh well, at least I have something to show for being there!

    The weather was awesome again for Mother's Day today. We had such a fun family day; I'm thankful for my mama :) With work schedules and such, the four of us don't get together as often as we would like. I was glad Daniel was able to come by for a little while before he had to go in to work. For her Mother's Day present, Mom wanted us to help make stepping stones for the front yard. I was excited; that's right up my alley. Daniel was a good sport, although that is most definitely not right up his alley. I liked the way they turned out; I'll have to get a picture of the final products from Mom. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! We love you :)

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Thankful Thursday

    Today I am thankful for...
  • friends and family (especially Cousin Ben, who turns 24 today...old man :) )
  • my mama, in particular (Mother's Day is coming up, after all!)...she is far, far, FAR too good to me and I love her and need her more than I let on
  • my job, sweet kiddos, and the community where I teach
  • the fact that tomorrow is Friday :)
  • the fact that summer break is right around the corner :)
  • my life and being able to really LIVE my regrets
  • lots of fun experiences under my belt and more to come!
  • the fact that I'm going to be an auntie Elizabeth will be here soooon and I can't wait to meet that pretty girl
  • Kate's graduation from grad school tomorrow...I hate that I can't be there but I'm so proud of her...go conquer the world, sweet friend...I've got your back!

  • (Kate and me the night of my graduation from this pic)

  • a great weekend with the fam to look forward to (Tuscaloosa! Blue Angels! Mother's Day!)
  • the fact that Daniel is done with his second semester of nursing school as of today...I'm beyond proud of him and think that he's definitely earned this break
  • the fact that the crud has left me (and it better stay away, or I'll savagely attack it with antibiotics again)
  • a successful trip to DC...everybody ate and had a place to sleep, nobody got arrested or lost, and I even want to go back next year...not bad!
  • two quotes I read in a quote book recently: "There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy." ~Mark Twain, and "Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin
  • "The Office" being new tonight :)

    Crawfish Boil & my Goo Goo Dolls

    The day after I got back from DC (Saturday), Neeley and I headed to downtown Bham for the Crawfish Boil. Now, I don't eat crawfish and I was still weary from my journey. But I couldn't pass up a night with Neeley, VIP tickets, and a chance to see my beloved Goo Goo Dolls. We got there in time to hear the end of the B-52s. They were...odd. Really odd. "Love Shack" was fun, but the rest was pretty weird. Train was a lot of fun, and I was excited to hear "Hey, Soul Sister" (which I think is one of the happiest songs ever recorded). The real draw, though, was the Goo Goo Dolls.

    I need to preface this with a little background info. I remember Daddy taking Daniel and me to the music store when we were kids, and he told us we could buy one CD (which was still an exciting, newfangled gadget at that time). We had to agree on it, though, so I'm sure Daddy was laughing to himself thinking he was off the hook. Daniel and I didn't agree on anything. Ever. Ever ever. Daniel found "A Boy Named Goo" and we listened to it on the little preview thing (fighting over the headphones the whole time, I'm sure). Surprise...we both liked it! Daddy balked at buying it because there was a partially naked baby on the cover. (We won't even get into all the nakedness on those Pink Floyd covers and posters he loves so much...somehow naked's okay when the Floyd does it.) We begged and he bought it...I think I was 10. Fifteen years later, I'm still hooked. I know every word to just about every song. When I heard they were coming to Bham, I knew hell or high water wouldn't keep me away. Especially high water...that's what boats are for.

    Neeley knew someone who was doing the sound for the Crawfish Boil so we watched the Goo Goo Dolls from under the sound tent. That was exciting enough, but then Neeley's friend told us she could take us up to the stage for a little while. We grabbed our cameras and made our way up the aisle to the stage. I. About. Died. There he was, singing "Black Balloon". John Rzeznik. With his way-cool hair, in his way-cool jeans, strumming his way-cool guitar. We took about a million pictures and died a thousand deaths when he walked over to us and smiled at us. The Goo Goo Dolls were incredible. They played enough new stuff to make me want to buy their new CD this summer, and enough old stuff to make my heart happy. I loved every single, solitary second. I need to create a bucket list just so I can cross this off!

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    LA's Batch of Fun

    The weekend before I left for DC, 19 (seriously...19!) girls gathered in Orange Beach to help Laura Allyson kiss her single girl life goodbye. We stayed at a cute little house on the bay, soaked up some sun, ate way too much, and ended up at the Florabama (where else?). I wish I'd taken more pictures, but I was having too much fun to stop and grab my camera. Well, that and I don't think LA would want some of the ones I did take floating around in blogland :) LA, I love you bunches and can't wait to see you and Dolph in less than two weeks for your big day!!!!

    Day 5: Group Photo, White House, Smithsonian, Home Sweet Helena

    Day 5 began with my stomach feeling wildly unsettled again. Thanks to Sash for donating a box of Cheez-Its to my cause! We all donned our blindingly yellow tie-dyed shirts and set off for the Capitol Building again. We took our panoramic group picture there, which was an interesting experience. The teachers were all situated at the very edge of the group and once the camera panned past us, we had to duck behind the rows and sprint to the other side, pop up with the rest of the group, and smile again. I'm still not entirely sure how the final product will look, but everybody got a chuckle out of watching us duck and run.

    Our next stop was the White House. We stayed for a bit to take pictures, and Tour Guide Tim gave us more tidbits of wisdom than any of us ever wanted to know. Ever. The White House was very pretty, but it was smaller than I imagined. Mr. Obama was scheduled to deliver a eulogy at the National Cathedral later that day, so I was hoping we'd get to see his motorcade. No such luck. We bid adieu to Tour Guide Tim forever and drove onward to the Smithsonian.

    We had about 5 hours to tour the Smithsonian so we let the groups split up and go off on their own. It finally hit me why we were wearing those obnoxiously bright t-shirts...collection purposes. You could spot those t-shirts all over the Mall, and it made gathering everyone much more efficient. I'm sold! The teachers went to eat lunch at the Ronald Reagan Building (visit #2) to reflect on the trip and then hit up the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum. I loved seeing the First Ladies' dresses, the Abraham Lincoln artifacts, and all the jewelry at the Natural History Museum. The lack of sleep finally came crashing down on us during our museum visit, but I forced myself to chug through. It's not every day that you get to tour the Smithsonian! We rounded everyone up and walked back to the Ronald Reagan Building for supper (well, whatever meal it is that you eat at 4:00). That marked visit #3, and less than 5 hours since visit #2, just in case you're keeping track :) We boarded the buses and waved goodbye to DC...Helena-bound!

    The drive through the night was less than pleasant, but at least I had two seats to stretch out on. Several 6-foot plus dads weren't quite so lucky. It took us about 13 hours to get back, with rest stops every 2 hours. We swapped drivers in Virginia (we missed you, Jamie!) at about midnight. When I woke up for good at 5:30, there were kids laying all over the floor (ewww) under the seats and in the aisles and our bus had taken on the unmistakable aroma of a was time for the trip to be over.

    This adventure was more fun than I ever imagined it would be. I was blessed with great kids and parents on Bus 3...I loved getting to know everyone better. I think I'm all caught up on my sleep by now, and I'm ready to sign on for next year :)

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Day 4: Mount Vernon, Capitol Building, War Memorials, Monuments

    Day 4 started early: 6:30 departure from the hotel. The weather was cold (40s) and really windy. It was still a pretty day, but a little too chilly for us Alabama folks! We picked up Tour Guide Tim and I battled a nasty case of carsickness. I never get carsick but something about Day 4 did it to me. I spent all of the ride to Mount Vernon with my eyes closed trying with all my might to not heave on Tour Guide Tim. Once we got off the bus, I was fine (thanks again, Brian!)...weird. Mount Vernon was beautiful, but in a different way from Monticello. It seemed a lot "farm-ier" to me. We waited in line outside in gale-force winds for about 30 minutes to tour the house, only to be led around on a way-too-long-to-be-interesting tour by some fairly grumpy guides once we got inside. By the time our house tour ended, we only had 20 minutes to see everything else. We managed to see George Washington's tomb (old and new, thankyouverymuch), the sheep/goats, the visitors' center, the gift shop (of course!), and the bathrooms in those 20 minutes...not bad! Tour Guide Tim said our visit wouldn't be complete without the house tour, but if I could do it again, I'd drop that house tour in a heartbeat. Too much else to see!

    We ate lunch (at 10:30 Eastern Time, mind you) at the Pentagon City Mall and then left for our tour of the Capitol Building. Tour Guide Tim talked to us about how tight security is at the Capitol and told us to leave all unnecessary items on the bus. He reminded us adults to leave our bodily fluids on the bus as well. Um, say what? That got us all tickled and when someone asked him to clarify, he said, "You know, your lotions, shampoos...all that stuff." Oh, THOSE bodily fluids. Gotcha. I about got in a fistfight with Tour Guide Tim when he told me I couldn't take my backpack of emergency medicines (EpiPens, emergency know, nothing important) in with me. I won that fight, and security let me right on through. I loved getting to see the Capitol Building. It was so impressive. As was our tall-drink-of-water tour guide. Just pointing out the facts! After our tour we met with Rep. Spencer Bacchus and I was pleased that he spent about 15 minutes talking with our group.

    After supper crammed in the back corner at Harriet's, we set off for our tour of the monuments and memorials. This was by far my favorite part of the trip. We saw all the war memorials...WWII and Vietnam were my favorites. Very striking. We visited the Lincoln Monument and I had to refrain from running into the pond Forrest and Jenny-style; it was a struggle. We dropped off Tour Guide Tim, and our driver Jamie was already surveying the traffic situation over his left shoulder when he opened the door for Tim. Jamie started to move without realizing that Tour Guide Tim wasn't totally off the bus. Tour Guide Tim took a giant leap like his life depended on it and very nearly missed the curb; we couldn't even wait until the door was closed to explode into laughter. This incident inspired "Tuck and roll, Tim!"...that became our catchphrase for the rest of the trip :) After walking 900 miles, we were on to day 5!

    Day 3: Arlington, Iwo Jima Memorial, Natl. Cathedral, Fords Theater

    We kicked off Day 3 by setting out for Arlington National Cemetery. We got stuck in some serious traffic on the George Washington Pkwy (very scenic drive along the Potomac...beautiful) and missed the first changing of the guard. We got there in time to tour a bit and see the second changing of the guard. It was also at Arlington that Tour Guide Tim came into our lives (more on him later). Arlington was very moving. It was overwhelming to see all of those men and women who have given their lives for our country. I didn't realize that Arlington still oversees about 20 burials a day (according to Tour Guide Tim), and if that rate continues, it will only be an active cemetery for about 50 more years.

    Tour Guide Tim nearly sprinted through the cemetery (much of it uphill) and I think he was disgusted with Bus 3. We didn't ever really get in a hurry for anything, ever :) Tour Guide Tim was incredibly knowledgeable about history but was a little lacking in "people skills". He spoke only in the future tense; for example, "John F. Kennedy will be assassinated and will be buried here at Arlington." Try it sometime; it's tougher than you think! He also provided our bus full of fifth graders with a few choice tidbits that couldn't be described as kid-friendly. Do you know how hookers came to be called hookers? Ask any of the kids on Bus 3; they do! Regardless, he provided us with numerous facts (and laughs) throughout the week...thanks for that, Tour Guide Tim!

    Next we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial, which was a very cool, quick trip. Lunch was at the Ronald Reagan Building; there we had our first experience getting 100+ people through federal security. We had a few little hiccups, but no one was arrested and everyone got to eat...success! After lunch we toured the National Cathedral, which was breathtaking. The stained glass windows all have a story behind them; my favorites were the educator's window and the Apollo 11 window (it contains a real moon rock). We got to briefly visit the crypt where Helen Keller is buried. I was very proud of the kiddos for being respectful and quiet. We stopped to shop for a bit at a gift shop down the road, satisfying the insatiable need of fifth graders to spend all their money on cheap gift shop junk :)

    Fords Theater was next on our agenda. The President's box is decorated just like it was the night Lincoln was shot. It was very cool to see the door to the box that John Wilkes Booth used and the stage where he landed afterwards. The thrill was gone for the man talking to us there; I think the kiddos might have been more into it if he had pepped himself up some.

    Supper was at the Columbia Island Marina; alas, no fried chicken. I ran into some blood sugar issues and spent most of dinner trying desperately to get my sugars up while concentrating on not throwing up in front of the whole school. Thankfully there was a paramedic on my bus who wouldn't let me out of his sight for the rest of the trip (thanks, Brian!). I was so thankful to have him on the trip, even though he enjoyed pricking my finger a little too much :) We ended our evening at the Jefferson Memorial and with a quick drive around DC. Day 4 beckons!

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Day 2: Colonial Williamsburg and DC

    Day 2 started "late" (8:00) with a journey back to Colonial Williamsburg. We had the same tour guides, and this time I hung out with the boy group and their tour guide Asa. I was so, so pleased with those little men. They paid attention, asked intelligent questions, and really represented Bus 3 and our school well. As much as I enjoyed it, Colonial Williamsburg is sort of an odd place. Mixed with the pre-Revolution buildings and horse-drawn carriages are utility trucks and joggers listening to iPods. I would find myself getting lost in colonial times, only to be brought back to reality by orange cones and caution tape. Interesting. The boys and parents had me cracking up. Everytime we would see an animal, someone would comment: "Look, there's a colonial cow!" or "Did you see that colonial squirrel?" Hmm, maybe you just had to be there :) We had a great box lunch (alas, no fried chicken) and the kiddos got to run around in a field for a while...very peaceful. We wrapped up our tour, shopped a bit (not sure if the colonials liked Baskin Robbins, but we sure do!), and headed out.

    Three hours later, we arrived in DC. We had supper at the ESPN Zone which was an enormous hit with the kiddos. They got a card to play arcade games was a madhouse. We then hopped on the buses to take a nighttime tour of the city and headed to the hotel. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Maryland (or was it Virginia?)...Sash and I must have been living right because we scored a sweet suite. In our defense, we did offer it up in case someone else needed it! Nightly medicine rounds, debriefing, bedtime, and on to day 3!