"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hello World!

We are home! We spent 4 days without internet access and even worse, 3 days without cell phone connection up in the mountains. I can't tell you how happy I am to be "connected" again.

We got home this afternoon shortly after 2 p.m. and have spent the day, although exhausted, loving on our kiddos.

Check in soon (hopefully tomorrow) for the scoop on the rest of the trip which includes Pennsylvania (Lancaster county), West Virginia and Annapolis, Maryland!

Also, thank you all for your prayers and emails. To those of you that emailed because you hadn't heard from us and were checking in, we're doing good. Thank you!

To my Mom and sister, I know it was a rough week, especially with AJ. You guys are awesome and Scott and I thank you for your love for all of us from the bottom of our hearts.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Last days in DC.....

The Spirit of St. Louis
Scott admiring a replica of a Navy battleship.
I thought this was VERY cool!
The facsimile copy of the Declaration of Independence.
The original was way too light to shoot without flash.

The entrance to the replica of the Sepulcher in the Holy Land.

Definitely a Navy man!
Fooling around with the camera in the park!
Part of the exhibits at the Holocaust Memorial
May God bless each and every soul touched by these attrocities.
Mrs. Ellie Gross signing my book.

Our second day in DC started off bright and early. As much as I wanted to sleep late, my body is so accustomed to the kids waking up at 7:00 that by 7:45 I just had to get up. We showered and headed down for a scrumptious breakfast. Of course, we couldn't help but look at all the families with little ones seated around us and it brought bittersweet thoughts. Part of us missed our babies and so wished they were with us, the other half was truly grateful that we were able to sit and have a nice breakfast without having to feed someone, ask someone to eat and stop playing and not have to gather everything on the table that is withing their reach into the imaginary circle at the center of the table so that their little hands don't touch it. The latter was definitely enjoyed.

We were on the Metro by 9:30 am. heading towards downtown with a notebook filled with all of the must-see spots on our itinerary. We exited at the National Mall and began our walk towards our first stop, The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. We figured we'd spend 1-2 hours there before going to our next stop.

All I can say is "Wow!" Outside of the museum they have a big poster that states, "Think About What You Saw." I want to interject here that Scott is a huge WWII buff and has countless books and documentaries at home on the subject. On the other hand, I too have always been pulled toward the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust from the time I was little and first read The Diary of Anne Frank. It is just incomprehensible how one man can turn such hatred into probably the worst crimes in the history of the world.

As we entered the museum, I read that in 1933 there were 9 millions Jews residing in Eastern Europe. Six million Jews were murdered in the holocaust. Those numbers are staggering. I walked through the museum with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. The feeling was so heavy in my heart that at times I wanted to just run from there, but I believe so strongly that it's so important for everyone to be educated not only about what the Jews and so many others went through during those attrocities, but all that encompasses hatred and injustice.

As I continued my walk through the exhibits, which included shoes collected from Auschwitz, a Memorial Hall of Remembrance listing each concentration camp and prayer candles and earth collected from each one, I thought to myself, "How could these survivors forgive? How could they have lost everything and barely escaped with their lives and not hate?" Well, God immediately answered me. I felt my heart tell me, "because if they don't, they would be just like him." So true. Yet so hard.

Five hours later, Scott and I emerged from that museum with the utmost respect for these children of God. We also had the honor of meeting holocaust survivor and author, Ellie Gross.

If you have not visited this museum, I cannot emhasize enough how worth the visit is. I promise it will change your life.

After the musuem, there really was not much time left for anything so we went into the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. This was Scott's choice and we spent about 2 hours there. I must say, I was not really impressed but again, I am not an airplane or space fan so much of what I saw meant nothing to me. We did see the Spirit of St. Louis, WWII aircrafts, planes that broke the speed of sound and the lunar lander. We then headed for a quick stop to the National Archives before they closed and were able to see the the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Quite an amazing part of our history! After that visit we went back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner.

The hotel had recommended a French restaurant (I love French food!) in Bethesda that was quite popular, Mon Ami Gabi. It was spectacular!! From the small baguettes served in bags to the steak and frites, it was delicious! It truly reminded me of authentic French food that I had when I visited Frances many moons ago. We then took a cab back to the hotel and looked forward to our next and last day in DC.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early, had breakfast and headed to what seemed to be a pretty seedy part of town. Don't go by me because I'm a real chicken sh*t when it comes to walking in strange neighborhoods. We got off the Metro which was on the other side of town (about 15 stops past our hotel) and went down some dark stairs covered in graffiti. As we walked down the street I could see some scary humans checking us out. We were lost, walking and had no clue where to go. Scott pulled out his new Blackberry that has a GPS and we were able to figure out which way we were supposed to go. About 1.5 miles. That's a long way to walk looking over your shoulder without looking like you're looking over your shoulder.

In the middle of this neighborhood where we least expected appeared before us this beautiful building, The Franciscan Monastery. For those Catholics out there, I can't recommend it enough and even if you're not Catholic, the grounds are breathtaking. I give a great big thank you to my dear friend Peg for letting us know about it. It was so worth the trip there!

The monastery is undergoing renovations so there were scaffolds outside and inside. But even with the construction, the plastic sheets covering the walls and the lack of airconditioning, it was beautiful. You were immediately filled with such peace as you walked the grounds surrounded by flowers and beautiful statues of our Blessed Mother and St. Francis.

The mass was wonderful but even more so was the fact that we were able to catch a tour of grounds. The monastery has something so special that was a wonderful surprise! Part of the tour included authentic replicas of sacred places in the Holy Land, including the nativity, the tomb where Christ was laid and the catacombs. We were truly blessed by this visit which turned out to be 4 hours long.

Scott and I then walked back the 1+ mile to the Metro stop, this time filled with the Holy Spirit and I admit that I had no fear. I felt like God was walking with us. An amazing day. We sadly leave DC without having seen everything we wanted to, but are excited to know that it's a great reason to someday come back.

Adam and Tito you rarely read my blog, that's why I didn't mention you....but you know it goes without saying that I miss you dearly and I love you both as much as the whole wide world and back again. Amanda and the little ones....you too!!!! XXXOOO to all 6 of my babies!

Cheri, thanks for the comment. I so wish I had the time to go back to Virginia and meet you and your beautiful family. I look forward to someday having a reunion with all of my online buddies and see in person those treasures that I love to see in pictures.

TO ALL: Sorry. I have been waiting over 45 minutes for more pictures to upload to Blogger on this pain-stakingly slow internet service at our B & B, only to now receive an ERROR message. I'll try again tomorrow when I post about our "Going back to being a kid days" at Hershey Park.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

What've we been up to?

Pretty cool, huh? It's not really that big...look, I could touch the top!
Playing tourists!

The entrance to the so-called China Town.

Aaahhhhh....feels good to be connected to the world. This is not going to be too long, since it's 11:00 p.m. and I'm wiped out. We just got to Lancaster, PA after having spent 3 days in our nation's capital.

We had an awesome, although crazy hectic, time. We truly were non-stop from 8 a.m. to 11 pm every day for 3 days.

I want to thank everyone for your messages, emails and prayers!! I speak to the little ones 2-3 times a day and they are doing GREAT! Anna Grace told me today she missed me. And boy! Do I miss them!!!! All of them!!! But, we're enjoying and loving our grownup time. It has taken both of us a couple of days to talk about anything else but the kids. Everytime we see a little one, we comment on how cute they are or how much we miss our little ones. But, time is truly flying by and we're really now starting to relax and enjoy our time together.

As I said earlier, I'm really exhausted so I won't go into details on this post, but I have to tell you that it was waaaaaay cool what happened at the White House. (Nicole, I got your email...maybe it WAS hubby. :) When we arrived on Friday, we checked in to our hotel, which was in one the suburbs of DC, had a great lunch and headed downtown. We decided to go to Chinatown first. Either we totally missed it, or it REALLY was lame. We were so disappointed. I knew not to expect it to be like China, but I was really expecting a Chinatown like New York or San Francisco, since I've been to both. All that I saw that resembled China, with the exception of the Chinese writing on the storefronts, was the big gateway arch. No sidewalk shops, no one selling Chinese foods or items outside of their stores, hec...not many Chinese people even speaking Chinese. We were bummed. STRIKE ONE.

We then hopped on the Metro and headed towards the White House. We noticed the sign that said White House Visitors Center. After a long walk we finally arrived there. Ummm....5 minutes after it closed. Bummed again. STRIKE TWO.

So, we said, "OK. Let's walk over to the White House and take pictures." Mind you it was hot...really hot outside. No breeze. We walk over to the north gate and there is a large crowd of people gathered around. They had stopped traffic and no one could go beyond that point. STRIKE THREE.

Scott said, "Forget it. Let's go back to the hotel." Since it was getting close to 6 pm and we had been up since 5 am. I thought about it, but I said let's wait and see what the hold up is. I worked my way to the front of the crowd and asked the policeman guarding the entry way. He said it was blocked because they were expecting "someone" to arrive. No chance on him telling us who "someone" was. (NOTE: I was secretly hoping it was Kiefer Sutherland...heh!) Everyone assumed it was the president. I said to Scott....come on, let's wait! Finally, he agreed. We stood in the scorching heat for a little under an hour when all of a sudden over the building tops appear 3 helicopters. The middle one carrying GWB himself! That was VERY cool. He landed on the White House lawn and the helicopters took off as quickly as they appeared. Scott was able to video tape it and I took some great pictures. Definitely worth the wait. How many people actually get to experienced that? That made our day. It was also neat to see the extreme security that goes on, plus I'm sure there's tons more behind the scenes that the public doesn't see.

We then took a walking tour of the monuments and memorials and finally dragged our aching feet back to the hotel, ordered room service at 11 p.m. and dropped dead asleep until the next morning.

So, that's my White House story. I will try and get back on here tomorrow since I really want to journal about our trip, especially our visit to the Holocaust Museum and the Franciscan Monastery (thanks, Peg!). Thank you all again for your emails and prayers. They are definitely being heard.

Tomorrow we're off early in the morning to Hershey Park. I have everyone's suggestions written down, including Shoo Fly Pie!
Ily & Mom, thank you a million times over. Kiss my babies for me!!
Amanda, Kai, Anna Grace and AJ......We miss you guys soooooooooooooooo much!!!!! XXXXOOOO!

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