Two weeks ago, I made the excruciatingly long trip up to Clinton for the weekend, as Mommy Dearest was there watching out for the kids as Kelly and Nate were out of town. I was looking forward to spending time with the family and seeing Mom, but it ends up that it was a really good thing I went for health's sake! Mom had a cold almost from the instant she set foot in Utah earlier that week, and on Sunday, she was completely bed-ridden and I became a single mom for a day! I love those children. But I've never been a mother. And especially not a mother of four all at once. And I never really had much baby-sitting experience as a kid/teenager, either. I wonder why that is sometimes. Oh, well. Anyway, I took the kids to church and attempted to feed them (mom eventually called me up to the bedroom where she could hear our conversations and croaked out, "let them eat cake" . . . oh, the difference between a mom and a grandma . . .) and entertain them the rest of Sunday until bedtime. Phew! And somehow, even though I'd picked Ali up quite often throughout the day, she instinctively knew that this time around was different, and she immediately started crying and struggling to get out of my grip. She ran to Ganny, who she obviously knew was not in charge that day. But Ganny came through. She got Ali in her pj's and everything, and I was relieved that I didn't have to go through a battle to get Ali to bed. I felt guilty leaving Mom there when she was still sick, but as far as I know, the rest of her time there was smooth enough. At least, no one died, which is always a plus.
The following week, I only worked for two days (!!!) because Esther and I left on Wednesday morning for DC and Becky's wedding! Good times to be had all around. I rode the Washington Metro for the first time, from where Becky, Noah, and Becky's sister Raelee picked us up and we went on to Frederick. Esther and I stayed in the house of a couple that are old friends with Becky's family. It was also the home to some raucous birds who really needed a mute button. Badly. From about five in the morning. Esther and I were not pleased in the mornings. It was the first time in my life that I recall ever wanting to strap on a shotgun and go hunting.
Cheesecake Factory. (Delectable!) She also dropped us off at the Metro station once we were done with our fantastically edible meal, and Esther and I spent the rest of the afternoon/evening walking around the National Mall, trying to take pictures before the plethora of tour groups got in our way. It was really . . . wow, I feel like any adjective I use here would be inadequate. I was really excited to be in DC and see all the memorials. There was a lot of walking involved, but it wasn't until we were done seeing things and were on our way back to the Metro that my feet felt a little brutalized. It was a little surreal to be actually in the presence of these places that I have only ever seen pictures of, but it was absolutely amazing. As we were coming down the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, I had to stop and look around me. The whole city just looked beautiful from where I stood, and I was really happy to be there. So, to report, Thursday we saw from afar the Capitol and the White House (very much from afar, we didn't bother walking toward them at all), and then the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial (which i really liked), the Vietnam War Memorial (which was the closest i came to crying in the patriotic part of the trip . . . it was very moving to see little offerings put there by families of the different names we saw), the Korean War Memorial, the FDR Memorial (lots of fountains . . . fun!), and the Jefferson Memorial. (we deliberately put off seeing the lincoln, so don't worry . . . i didn't accidentally leave it out.)
I love coming from where I do. With very few exceptions, my entire family lives on the west side of the United States, but it was a great experience to go to a place that is so historical. I don't profess to be a history buff, but it is a subject that I have always enjoyed. Maybe from my experiences of reading about Felicity, Molly, Samantha, and Kirsten, when I was in my "American Girl" kick as a child (remember those? i was always so jealous that my cousin kathryn had the kirsten doll . . . i always wanted felicity). Anyway, being back in DC really increased my appreciation for being a citizen of this country. It's not perfect, but I know that we always have the chance and responsibility to make it better, and that's because of all the great people who have come before us, be they great historical leaders or everyday men and women. I'm grateful for my freedom.
Okay. Enough patriotic schmaltz. Back to business. Friday was spent getting ready for the reception on Saturday, but there were so many people at the chapel helping, there ended up being very little to do. So after Esther and I had done what we could, we took Becky and Noah's car (oops, i mean "borrowed"), took it through a car wash (which it desperately needed . . . so many birds had used it as a potty), and then proceeded to the closest mall in Frederick. There we found the biggest shoe store I have ever seen. I was astounded. We were back in time to party hearty at the "bachelorette party" for Becky. And, naturally, being the Mormons that we are, the party consisted of eating hamburgers, chatting, and playing "Apples to Apples" with Becky's now-sister-in-law. Hardly a riotous event. But it was Becky's last night of singledom, and I think she was grateful to have her close friends and sister with her.
Saturday was the wedding, and Becky was just glowing; she was so happy. And, despite any tears that may have been shed on the part of her former roommates, we were very happy for her. We took up the very-important post of watching over the presents and the guest book (that noah made! creative guy!) at the reception. Our efforts were very necessary, although maybe our presence would have been better appreciated at Becky and Noah's car, seeing as how those who decorated it went a little too crazy in what was done to it. We could have at least foreseen and talked them out of pouring chocolate syrup onto and concurrently into the car. What a pleasant experience for them to drive away from the reception that night, stopping at Wal-Mart to get some cleaning supplies to attempt to clean up the chocolate in the back seat. For future reference, if/when I get married, don't do that to my car. Cleaning up chocolate in the back seat is the last thing I will want to be doing on my wedding night. Umm . . . yeah. Moving on.
On Sunday after church, Ruth, Raelee, Esther, and I drove up to Gettysburg. Wow. I was amazed by how much land was involved in this battle. We were driving around all the battlefields, and I just kept wondering how much more was coming. Lo, and behold, another turn, another huge amount of land. Incredible. Again, such a beautiful place. So green. (so humid, too, but that's another issue that i won't address here.) After Gettysburg, we were dropped off once more at the Metro, where we miraculously found our way to the Holiday Inn we were staying at (yeah . . . didn't get into our room until about ten . . . pretty laughable). We just dropped into our comfortable bed, turned on the tv, ate our room service (yes . . . we got room service), and it was a good night's sleep.
Another future reference thought: Never, and I mean, NEVER, go to DC on Memorial Day. Not that we could help the weekend that Becky chose to get married, but wow. Don't do it, if all you want to do is walk around Arlington Cemetery without getting herded like sheep into only one direction and not knowing if there's going to be a way out. Oh, well. We weren't really using our heads with that one. Memorial Day=people visiting cemeteries=people going to national memorials and monuments=lots of crowded places=not going to happen to megan ever again.
Anyway, after our adventure at Arlington and finding our way back out, we crossed the Potomac and walked to the Lincoln Memorial. That was where I was the most anxious to go. Honestly, I could have skipped everything else and been happy just seeing the Lincoln. I think it's because I love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He has a connection to that memorial, and I do, too, after seeing Jimmy Stewart talk about how Mr. Lincoln is just sitting there waiting for him. Anyway, naturally the place was totally crowded, but I still managed to get completely choked up reading the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address. What incredible words. And what incredible things happened even at that place. I got a thrill seeing the step from where Martin Luther King gave the "I Have a Dream" speech. Absolutely amazing. What a place.
We found our way back to the hotel and the airport after that and returned to our regular lives that night. A pretty awesome weekend. Becky and Noah's wedding was beautiful, and the time we actually did get to spend in DC was awesome. And I have written WAY too much. Please forgive me my tirade. I could have said a lot more; believe me.
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address