Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Washington, D.C.

Our visit to the Nation's Capitol was a highlight of our trip across the U.S. It does seem like we took this trip months ago but the calendar reminds us that we were there only three weeks ago. We took the Metro into the city with the hopes of just walking around the National Mall.
I am sure that there were many who were chuckling at seeing a mom with six children try to figure out how to buy the Metro tickets. With tickets finally in hand we tried to look confident as we walked through the turnstiles and down to the platform. It was during morning rush hour so there were very few seats available but there were a few gentleman who gave up their seats for Brown Sugar and me. Walking out of the Metro was a bit more intimidating than I thought it would be....I didn't realize that you had to slide your pass back through before exiting. Picture a woman scrambling to find the tickets while holding onto a three year and getting yelled at by one of the Metro workers!
We gained confidence after that first day riding the Metro.

As we emerged from the depths we spotted the Library of Congress, The Supreme Court, and Congress itself. There was a moment of amazement as I realized that I had finally been successful at living out the dream of taking my children to Washington, D.C.
The building in the first picture is the Washington National Cathedral built in 1907. This picture was taken from the car while we were leaving the city. The building is beautiful but this particular "church" is a reflection of the attitude of many in these United States. A woman now "preaches" from the pulpit which is forbidden by the Word of God. This Country was given a sweet heritage and even experienced one of the great revivals of history but we have forsaken the One who gave us such a legacy. Very sad.
I had never visited the Library of Congress the two previous times I had been to the Capitol. I wish we had time to take the tour. We had about an hour to spare before heading over to Congress so we walked around marveling at the
beauty of the art that covered the walls and ceiling.
The Library of Congress
As I was walking through the halls I overheard a docent explaining to a group of eighth graders (the Capitol City was overflowing with school kids!) the significance of the book that they were looking at. As I listened in I realized what he was talking about. This particular book changed the way we accessed information. The book itself had already changed thousands of lives and continues to do so. I was looking at one of three copies of the Gutenberg Bible. The above picture shows the kids viewing a digital copy of the Bible. They were looking up particular passages of Scripture.
We walked right across the street to the Capitol and then tried to figure out what to do next. It is a bit overwhelming trying to find your way through masses of people.

The Dome of the Capitol...love this picture!
Original paintings in the Rotunda
Originally where the House of Representatives met it is now the National Statuary Hall. Every State is allowed to send two statues to be presented to the Capitol for display. They have to be either of bronze or marble. Sad to say, we were a week early to see California's newest statue unveiled. The statue is of Former President Ronald Reagan.

After visiting the Capitol we started walking. We walked down to the Air and Space Museum and proceeded to enjoy one of my favorite Smithsonians. The kids loved it as I knew they would. One of the displays was based on the life of the Quartermaster on an Aircraft Carrier. This was the position that Eric held while in the Navy. It brought back some wonderful memories and led to a few tears. It is sometimes hard to believe that my life has changed so much. I can't explain how I can be so happy and feel so blessed and yet in the same moment find myself overwhelmed by tears.
They did a remarkable job...it really does look like the bay and tower of an aircraft carrier.

We decided to do something quite out of the ordinary for the kids and I. We went to see "A Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" at the Imax theater in the Smithsonian. It was quite memorable. We had some time to kill before the movie so we walked down the mall to the Smithsonian castle and Washington Monument.

Walking the Capitol Mall
The following day we were excited to see the other side of the mall where the American History, Natural History, National Arts, and Archives were located. The movie we saw the night before was filled with scenes from these museums so the kids were kind of on a treasure hunt to find the different objects that were in the movie. In some cases we were disappointed as they had changed exhibits. The National Art Gallery was one of those museums where the art did not match that which was in the movie. We did get to see some amazing Rembrandt though. I only wish that they had Rembrandt's Three Crosses. That would have made my day!

Soon after taking the above picture I found out that my camera's flash memory card was completely full. I thought that I had downloaded all the pictures but could not be sure so I didn't want to delete what was on the card. So, I did not take a lot of pics at the Art Gallery and only took a few pictures with my iPhone at the National Archives. Sad to say, they are all bad quality.
Even though I do not have any pictures to share of the Archives I have to share with you our experience. We literally walked into the Archives without having to wait. We enjoyed the museum that they have recently put together describing what it is that the Archive actually collects. Exiting the museum we were greeted by two docents who were there to answer our questions. I had a few....just a few! First, I wanted to know how they protect the documents. They have vaults that protect the documents from fire and water damage. They keep all documents in their original forms. For instance, the Nixon tapes are still in tape form. They always buy multiple technological devices to keep in case one breaks down. The Archive staff receive over one million documents a day. This absurd amount is because of the technological advances of the digital age.
One of the docents asked if we were homeschoolers. When we answered in the affirmative he said that he thought we would be interested in a few items that he had sitting on the table. One of them was a copy of the Louisiana Purchase with Bonaparte's signature. The original is kept in the vaults. There were other amazing documents and then he asked the kids what the Declaration of Independence was written on. Parchment of course...but, do any of you know what parchment is made of? He explained the process to the kids and then brought out an example. It is made from the hide of a cow.
These are the moments that thrill a homeschooling mom's heart!

We did see those all too famous documents and we were also able to see the whole Articles of Confederation. This was the document that preceded the Constitution. It is a ten foot scroll!
Our next stop was the Natural History Museum. This museum reflects the silliness of modern science and yet has some amazing "gems" on display.
The Hope Diamond...all 45 carats
I might be wrong BUT I think that this possibly was the Anaconda that lived at the Smithsonian when I visited it some thirty years ago. I just remember this very, very big snake that lived behind glass. I will never forget it's name...anaconda. I was terrified of the thing. I can't seem to find out if this is the stuffed version of the snake I saw...it is as ugly as it was way back when.
Boo and the Sea Turtle

The kids and I laughed at this...come on people! This is downright absurd! Another piece in this museum that we mocked was a tower with markers of what existed at particular time periods. We are talking billions of years of "dog poop information". Goose commented that he could see the huge crack in the foundation of this idol of evolution.
I really wanted to get out of the Natural Museum as quickly as possible because the next stop was the American History Museum. I remember this musuem well and there was an exhibit that I had been looking forward to seeing since I had heard about it two years before.
The exhibit that was foremost on my mind was the display of the original flag that flew over Fort McHenry the night that Francis Scott Key penned "The Star Spangled Banner". The flag now measures 30x34. It's original size was 30x42. A family during the War of 1812 figured that the flag would have significant value after the war so they kept it. They cut off pieces of it to give to those who fought in the battle. Hence the reason for the reduction of size. It was a beautiful display...and yet, I walked away thinking that as remarkable as it is that we have all these incredible historic documents and items, we are still limited by the affects of time. This world is finite as well as all that inhabits it.

We love taking photos with statues...can you tell? Lil' Cowboy with his long lost Grandmother.

As we walked up to this display I was explaining that it just had to be a CHP motorcycle. I told the kids how this '80s show called CHiPs catapulted the California Highway Patrol into television history and the minds of all Americans. I was right! The scene brought back memories of the show...ah, Ponch...what a hunk!
One of the displays that I impressed me when I was a young girl was the First Ladies and their dresses. I was amazed that this display is still up. My seamstress, Boo, was in awe.
When we were in Disneyland this past year they had a display up sharing that one of the Dumbo seats from the ride had been shipped to the Smithsonian. It was on display....
along with original ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz.
There were quite a few displays and some were very touching. This one was introducing us to the medic helicopters that were used during the Vietnam war.
We covered a lot of ground that second day. We were not able to get into the White House but decided to at least get our picture taken in front of the President's home. While we were there we watched as an entourage of black vehicles sped out of the gates and away from the complex. The kids were all excited and then the sound of thunder made us scurry for cover. We walked as quickly as we could to the local Metro station....um, the closest station was seven blocks away! We were drenched by the time we got there but it just added to the fun memories made.
The next day we were to head west but the four older kids had tickets to the Holocaust museum. I stayed behind at the hotel to pack while they took the Metro into the city by themselves.
They came away from the Holocaust museum with the same thoughts and feelings as many others. It is not the worst tragedy that has happened on the face of this earth but it is a modern moment that shows us the depravity of man.
While they were visiting the World War II statue I tried to figure out how to get into the city. I knew I couldn't avoid it but would have loved to not have to drive through D.C. in a fifteen passenger van. All went well but my white knuckles were very happy to relax after an hour of driving through the traffic.
There was a sense of relief as we drove out into the country. We were headed home. We were finally heading west.


CristyLynn said...

This brings back so many memories for me! I can't wait to take Isaiah back to DC when he's a little older. I spent so many summers touring around the capital.
Glad to know that you made it home safely!

Jessica NicDhòmhnaill said...

Lovely pictures! It looks like y'all had a blast! But SMILE, Nate! ;D

See some of you soon!

*hugs to all*


:o) Rachel said...

I've really enjoyed reading all your vacation posts! Sounds like a wonderful time! I even learned a lot from them. :o) Thanks for sharing.

The Wintons said...

Such a great record of your trip, Heather, and the pictures are very lovely! But really...Ponch? I'm sorry, I liked John MUCH better! ;o) Have a great day, it was so fun to get to finally meet. Maybe we can get the chance to visit again very soon...

Chike said...

Hello, I'm a new reader and very much enjoyed all the photos and stories from your trip. I was a bit confused by why you felt the Museum of Natural History was silly, though. What's absurd about the Mammal Family Reunion? You don't think humans are mammals? Sounds like a very cute exhibit.

~The Mangos~ said...

we went to Dc last summer as a family of 8. you took pitures of the same things we did. we even had our piture taken of us in the front of the white house. glad you had such a great trip,

Lazy D Ranch said...

Dear Chike,
Thanks for reading my blog! You asked what I thought was absurd about the mammal family reunion. I believe that you and I and all the rest of the humans out there are not animals. We were created in the image of God and have been given a soul that makes us uniquely different than animals. And, our souls will live for eternity in either hell or heaven; therefore, we are not family members of the mammal family.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are animals (mammals)....perhaps with the addition of a soul. But still, we are animals. Maybe you should just go back to the joke of a museum, the Creation museum. There you will get fed more of the nonsense that you believe.

Chike said...

Lazy D Ranch, thanks for your response.

I too believe we have souls - I'm a Christian. I never found this to be contradictory with recognizing the human being as a type of animal. Now, as you say, we are special - even a non-Christian has to admit that we are unlike any other living thing on this other Earth (whether they admit this by recognizing reason, language, self-consciousness or something else).

But surely you believe we as humans are flesh as well as soul. It just so happens that God created us in a manner similar to other beings: we have hair, we nourish our young with milk from mammary glands, we give birth to live young (see: definition of mammal).

We are created in God's image because of the things we have that no other animals have. We also have tons of features that we share with other animals. "Mammals" is a category of God's creation that we happen to fit in.

Peace and blessings,

Lazy D Ranch said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. After some discussion with a close friend I will have to admit that I left out a very important part of the human equation.
We are not just a soul. You are right...we are a body created in the image of God. This is an important fact that I did not mean to leave out.
I do know the features that define a mammal and I know that humans fit well into the mammal category. I guess I have a hard time classifying humans as an animal because it feeds into the evolutionary idea.
Although I would grant us the ability to use the mammal classification I would hesitate to call us animals.
And, for those of you who have a hard time understanding a Creationist point of view I ask you to explain how Chike and I are having this conversation about the usage of particular words. To reason, to debate, to cognitively come to a conclusion is a gift from God that the animal kingdom does not possess.
Although the human body might label us as a mammal, it is our intellect and soul that separate us from the animal kingdom.
Thanks again Chike for your willingness to converse and hear me out.

I would also like to remind my readers that if you choose to leave an anonymous comment I will choose to not respond!
In Christ Alone,

Chike said...

Lazy D Ranch, I'm glad you found my reply thoughtful. I found your reply to my reply equally so!

I understand how your uncomfortableness with the term "animal" relates to your desire to avoid feeding into belief in evolution. I would add that when we look at how people talk in everyday language, we can notice that even the dedicated evolutionary scientist who scoffs at creationism generally doesn't mean to refer to humans when s/he says something like "be kind to animals".

In other words, both sides of the evolution debate can and should recognize both our connection to other animals and our uniqueness in comparison to all other animals. The real issue is whether that similarity comes from us being made with some similarities or being descended from a common ancestor.

I thank you very much for this fruitful exchange - I'm glad you were able to sort me out from the more insulting response!

Peace and blessings to you and your family,

jan said...

Please listen to what Lazy D is writing to you.
The best is the Word of God:
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so."
(Genesis 1:24)
Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish...fowl...cattle, and over all the earth..(Gen 1:26)
You surely see clearly that man is not in any "species" group as any animal,rather, only we human beings are created in the very image of God who has given us dominion over, not relation to, any animal.