Monday, May 26, 2014

Fun-packed


Surely it’s a sign that you’re enjoying yourself so much that you forget to take pictures to commemorate your fun, right?

Last week I got to have a little getaway with my two dear sister-friends at a beautiful lake cabin.  This was our view in the afternoon when the clouds cleared…

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But I have no other pics to share!  We ate easy-to-heat meals and lounged in recliner couches and talked until late in the evenings.  It’s our time to catch up on all of our kids, reminisce about the days we were in college and eventually raising nine children (combined), discuss current culture, share prayer concerns and of course comment on the royal family.

I drove home on Saturday morning in time to greet two of my three girls who came to keep me company over the weekend.  Two plus one:

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Oh how I LOVE this little sweetheart.  My photographer was out of the country and so that is my excuse for not having a whole bunch of pictures to share. 

Hadley played with plastic lids, spatula tops and an empty tissue box.  I truly felt like my mother and so wished she could have been with us. 

Here's so you can see her in all her adorableness…



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Hope y’all had a great Memorial weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tech No


Come with me back to a simpler time.  Before camera phones and Google anything. When the cloud was what you stared at on a lazy summer day.  When the only words you put “i” in front of were ‘glasses’ and ’Found It!’ 


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Anybody remember these colored 45’s?
You got two songs and usually didn’t like the one of the flip side.
These cost right around 69¢ if I remember right.


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Did you have one of these to put your records in?  I did.


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We got a really long cord on one of these babies so you could take the phone from the kitchen into your bedroom down the hall and have a private conversation.  While you talked for hours to your girlfriend who you had just spent the whole day with, you tried to get the kinks out of the stretchy cord – remember that?


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Did your mom keep one of these by the phone?
You slid the button to the right letter and when you hit the bar, the lid popped open – sometimes even to the right page!  I wore ours out playing with it.  It was SO COOL!


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No high-priced driver’s education schools for us.   A whole classroom full of high school sophomores each sat at one of these simulators and were scored on how many times we failed to signal or how many pedestrians we hit.  If memory serves, there was a LOT of messing around in that class at school.  Check out the stick shift and clutch.


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Forget about auto-correct.  You would wear a hole in your notebook paper with one of these ink erasers with the handy brush for that pesky eraser shrapnel.



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Recognize these?  They were the Beta version of earbuds… speakers you hooked on your car window at the drive-in movies!
I saw ‘It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ at my first one.


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Our version of the iPod touch.  With a handy wrist strap.

Those days above are long ago but not forgotten!
Now I’m going out for a walk with my iPod and earbuds.  How did I do it without them?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Links I Liked


I’ll start off with this link about two of my favorite things (plus I really need to get rid of that picture of the polkadot foil wallpaper appearing at the top of my blog - this is soooo much better, yes?)…

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Chocolate Filled Raspberries
@addapinch
Genius.



Internet quizzes may collect more than your answers
@lancasteronline.com
Have you ever decided to find out what kind of house you are?  Or which Disney princess you most resemble?  Think again!



Everything We Think We Know About Marriage and Divorce is Wrong
@catalystconference.com
Have you ever quoted the facts about the 50% divorce rate?  Have you ever lamented the fact that the divorce rate was the same in the church? Or that most marriages are just hanging in there, not vibrant and happy?  I also had no idea that every one of the statistics I was quoting were nowhere close to true!  


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Church is For Messy People
@theblazingcenter.com
We want to, at the least, look like we have it together. For the most part, we don’t go to church wearing yoga pants or sweatpants. We don’t roll out of bed and go straight to church.  I distinctly remember one Sunday when a man said to me something like, “When I look around, I see all these people who have their lives together. Meanwhile, my life is a mess.”



The Cheerleader
@thehodgepodgedarling
I’ve always called her the cheerleader. Because she was one once, in a pom poms and pyramids sense, but because she still is now, in a bible and faith sense. She is who I call when my faith is stretched. And every time I hang up the phone, I’ve been reminded of how big and how good and how strong my God is.  I spent these angry couple of days questioning why God would take those boys and why he would take the best cheerleader he had. Because who could still cheer for their God after this?



There is No Small Talk
@shaungroves.com
Some days I’m all talked out and greedy with my attention. I slip in my ear plugs and sleep on the flight home. I get lost in a book or a slew of emails in need of replies. But on better days bigger things happen.


And I’ll end with this… showing clueless kids a relic from the past.  From my past!  Best quote:  "I feel like I'm Indiana Jones or something!"


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Perspective (again) (and again)


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The wallpaper in our downstairs bathroom.  For reals.
I’ve decided that I will pretty much always need to be readjusting my focus on things.  It’s never going to come naturally to me to forget about myself and be content.  For me, it will always be an effort (fueled by the Holy Spirit) - an intentional decision that goes against my very strong SELF.   

This can be something as ridiculous as when I catch a fresh glimpse of the Formica on my bathroom counter…

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Can you believe I have to live in a house with these old, George Jetson-inspired countertops from the 60s? 

How about our microwave…

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It’s amazing to think I’m actually able to heat anything is this relic.  Quasar?  I mean, who should have to suffer like this?

It’s funny but these (and many more!) parts of our home that date back to when it was first built have become kind of like memorial stones to me.  Because they remind me of what’s really important, of what’s not and that it’s actually good for me to be humbled by them just a bit.

Yet, just when I think I am pretty content, along comes a Mother’s Day when none of my family is home. 

(I know… I can hear all of you young mothers with little ones protesting: “I would LOVE a day to myself!”  Trust me - the day is coming in the not-so-distant future when your nest will be empty and you too will wait hopefully for your chicks to return home for a visit.  Remember - perspective.) 

I knew going into it that the potential was there to feel all kinds of sorry for myself.  So I determined to focus on thankfulness and on a few moms around me whose circumstances were so much harder than my own.

Right after we got home from our vacation, Jeff’s best friend died of a massive heart attack.  Fifty-one years old.  Fit.  Active.  Unexpected.  He leaves a wife and four kids.  A mom who can’t believe her son is gone.  A ton of friends and family who are all in shock. 

Sunday morning I sat in church with Chris’ mom, holding her hand and trying to imagine a Mother’s Day like she was having.  Or like the one Chris’ wife was experiencing as she tries to face life raising her adolescent children without her husband.

My family wasn’t with me but I could talk to each of them on the phone. Perspective.

I sent a text to my sweet next-door-neighbor who is a single mom.  I wanted her to know I think she’s doing a great job raising two teenaged boys by herself because I know Mother’s Day for her might not consist of flowers and breakfast in bed (that’s just a guess).

I have a husband who has walked with me through some tough parenting years and I honestly can’t imagine how I would have done it without him.  Not to mention without God’s wisdom and promises. Perspective.

I had a meal with my sweet mother-in-law who has been a widow for almost twelve years.

Her always-sunny outlook is a constant reminder to me of how gratefulness to God changes our whole countenance. Perspective.

And I know several mothers who are battling disease, infertility, depression and brokenness in their marriages.

Perspective.  God’s perspective. 

Mine is very small and narrow.  God sees the big picture.
Mine is self-absorbed.  God’s includes His plans and purposes for many people.
Mine is limited to here and now.  God’s encompasses all that’s happened but also what He’s bringing to be that I don’t know anything about.

I have to tell myself this:

Beware of getting caught up in your own little story.

I need God’s perspective.  You too?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

On my nightstand


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20 and Something
This is a short little book that a friend asked me to read – I think because I have a group of twenty-something young women in my home twice a month and she knows I am trying to keep their world view in mind as I am studying God's word and sharing truth with them.  I found the book to be a little dry and too focused on statistics.  It does give a pretty accurate picture, as far as my experience tells me, of how this generation thinks and makes decisions.  Another book I enjoyed a little more that covers much of the same material is You Lost Me.



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The Auschwitz Escape
I’ve read all of Rosenberg’s fiction and much of his non-fiction.  This, he says, is his first work of historical fiction.  I thought it was very good, though perhaps not quite as gripping as some of his previous series were.



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The House Girl
This is two stories woven together really well - one of an escaped slave set in the pre-Civil War South  and the other of a current day young lawyer looking for a plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves.  I enjoyed the way the author told these stories simultaneously and the things I always learn when reading historical fiction.



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Footprints of a Pilgrim
After our trip to N. Carolina, I’m rereading the books I have by Ruth Graham.  They are mostly out of print now but some are available at your local library and you won’t regret getting them!  Mrs. Graham is extremely humorous and honest, which I love about her.  Can you imagine her life, raising those four kids pretty much by herself?  She chooses over and over to be firmly centered in Christ and she shares her feelings honestly in a way that makes you love her.  Lots and lots of wisdom here.



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Lamb in Love
I am just getting ready to start this one, recommended by one of my favorite authors, Jan Karon.  I think it’s an awesome idea to find out what your favorite author likes to read, don't you?  Here's a short description of this story:  Lamb in Love is set in a rural English village the year of the Apollo moon landing and tells of two people surprised, halfway through their lives by...what? passion? desire? love? They haven't the experience to quite identify it. Norris and Vida have known each other forever. Neither has had any idea how to go about falling in love.
I can't wait to get started and I HOPE I'm not disappointed because it sounds wonderful and I'm so ready for a wonderful story!  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mothers

As we get close to this Sunday – a day of celebration and thankfulness but also of heartbreak and disappointment for many – I’m thinking about my own mom in heaven and then of my three precious daughters and my eight-month-old granddaughter.  How I love them!  How grateful I am that God allowed me to be tied forever together with them.  He uses this role of ‘mother’ like nothing else in my life to shape me, humble me and keep me drawing close to Him.

Here are a few links that are all about being a mom (or a grandmother!).

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How not to be disappointed this Mother’s Day
@lisajobaker.com
The flowers that didn’t come, the cards that were forgotten, the breakfast that was a disaster and that you had to clean up while everyone else was watching football.  The house that wasn’t quiet or clean or tidied up. The getting to sleep in that didn’t happen, the nap that evaporated into a toddler’s meltdown, the meal that someone else didn’t prepare. The laundry that wasn’t folded for you. The kids that didn’t call, the sermon that wasn’t about mothers, the grand kids who didn’t visit. I heard it again and again in so many different, disappointed, let down ways – how this one day can’t possibly live up to what it means to mother.

 
 
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22 things I learned in my first ten years of parenthood
@conversiondiary
Surely I’ve learned at least one or two things about this whole “keeping small human beings alive in your home” thing, right?


Love
@cloverlane
I've learned over the last two decades that when I find the joy in mothering, yes, even when it requires every ounce of me, when I look through the world from the eyes of those who call me mommy, when I stop thinking "oh, this is hard" and started thinking "oh, i'm so lucky", I've fully enjoyed all the aspects of parenting.  I think I owe love and devotion to my children-I think all parents do.





In the 'everyday-ness' of these moments you start to feel it...
the weight of glory - the glorious ordinary...


What do moms put on their 'to do' lists?



How would you describe yourself as a mother?
This one speaks to me...  

WORDS are so powerful, aren't they?  I've said it before but I would take a card with a personal note in it over flowers, chocolate, a blender or breakfast in bed.

Someone has said 'The way of the parent is often the way of the cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost.'  It's hard. The hardest thing I know of.  But it is also a beautiful picture of Christ's commitment to us.

So even if we don't get a card, let's remember this... we are doing something great in this calling we have. No one else in all the world will ever have the place we've been given in our children's lives.  Imperfect, messy, persevering, humbled, believing, hopeful, sincere, praying... we have a place of incredible importance.


Happy Mother's Day!      

Monday, May 5, 2014

NC/DC

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**Warning** This is a super-long post full of too many photos and my ramblings about our trip to North Carolina last month.  Click away now if you’re not prepared to be a good listener and pretend you like looking at someone else’s vacation pics.

Jeff and I have been saving up airline miles for a long time and we finally decided to use them on a trip to the east coast.  But where to go?  Neither of us have been out there except for a short trip to Boston pre-marriage (in 1976?? – long story for another time) and we each were in Kentucky and Tennessee, respectively, last year.  I’ve always wanted to visit the south and because I have an aunt and uncle in North Carolina we decided to make that our destination.  It was a great choice!  What a beautiful part of our country.

We flew from Portland to Atlanta, arriving about dinner time.  We picked up our rental car and drove north as far as Spartanburg, SC where we spent the night in the fanciest Holiday Inn Express I’ve seen.  Maybe the south does cheap hotels better than we do in the NW?  We heard one of the housekeeping staff refer to a superior as ‘Miss Becky’ so of course that’s what Jeff called me all week.  I kinda liked it.

The next morning we drove north to Asheville, NC and visited The Cove, the Billy Graham conference and training center.  It’s a beautiful site. 

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Ruth Graham has long been one of my very favorite authors (you must read anything she’s written) and it was fun to see photos of her and the family sprinkled throughout the chapel visitor’s room.  Jeff and I got to attend a BG crusade toward the end of his active ministry life and felt so honored to have done that.

We then began our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blue Ridge mountains, part of the Appalachian range.

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Although it was the end of April, the trees had yet to get any leaves.  For most of the drive I was picturing what it would look like in the fall.  There were mountains covered with deciduous trees as far as the eye could see and that view must be spectacular in all its fall red and orange and yellow glory!

We were completely spoiled in our accommodations.  COMPLETELY SPOILED.  Some dear friends offered to let us use not one but two of their vacation homes.  The first is right along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Boone and Blowing Rock.  This was our view from the back deck.

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The quiet was almost touchable.  This was my QT spot each of the two mornings we were there.

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(PS… I am doing a new bible study called ‘Knowing God by Name’ by Mary Kassian and I am absolutely loving it.  Highly, highly recommend.)

We drove into Blowing Rock and walked up and down the little main street there. 

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If you are a Mitford fan like I am, you’ll be happy to know that Jan Karon lived in Blowing Rock while she wrote that series and based the fictional town of Mitford on this one.

While news of tornadoes in the midwest dominated the weather reports, we just had some high clouds which made for a beautiful sunset.

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On the day we left the mountains were enveloped in fog.  

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We reluctantly said goodbye to our beautiful house after a too-short-but-wonderful stay and drove into Boone.  This is a college town, home to Appalachian State University.  Here is where we began our quest to try every southern delicacy we’d never tasted.  That is not a goal for sissies.  

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I have no idea why I included the Family Dollar Store in that collage except that they were everywhere.  As far as I know, they don’t serve waffles and chicken. 

Southern food tends toward the ‘heavy’ side and because my husband is married to a picky eater and doesn’t like to leave food on the plate, he had his work cut out for him.  But as you can see, we gave it our best.  Not all in one day, mind you. 

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Just look at all those carbs.  Not a green thing to be found.  Even though I tried to be sneaky, the sweet waitress at the Waffle House saw me taking a photo of the packet of mayonnaise on the egg sandwich and said, “Are y’all takin a pitcher of your food?”  Oh yes – we shamelessly took lots of ‘pitchers’ of our food, revealing the fact that we weren’t from around these parts wherever we went.  And this isn’t everything we tried.  We also had a delicious meal at a real bar-b-que place where we ate ribs, bbq brisket, hush puppies (oh my - now those were good) and fried okra.  

We ate at places recommended by the locals and they didn’t tend to be at the end of the restaurant spectrum you’d label ‘fancy', if you get my meaning.

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‘Down home’ might best describe them.  With helpful signage.

After leaving Boone, we headed toward Charlotte and stayed with my aunt and uncle in Huntersville.  We haven’t seen them since a famiy reunion in 1992 and it was so much fun to have a couple days to visit and reconnect with my two cousins and their families.  My aunt looks so much like my mom it was a little shocking. 

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Here we are posing in their screened back porch.  So pretty!

Russell drove us all over the greater Charlotte area, helping us complete our food quest and showing us the beautiful area where they live.  Jeff snapped lots of pictures from the car window (something he’s gotten very good at doing while in Ethiopia!).  

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Along with so many pretty homes with porches and rocking chairs, there are many old buildings still in use.  Some date back to the Civil War, though this one seems to be from 1940.

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I just love all the southern accents we heard, from mild ones that I so easily pick up on to the deep drawl of the mountain folks that is actually hard for me to understand. 

We went to a farmer’s market…

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where I couldn’t buy any potted plants.  I did get some real NC bar-b-que sauce for my son-in-law.

(You will not hurt my feelings one bit if you need to go.  This is probably only interesting to a very select few... I'm not sure who.  You're only about halfway through this.)

On Sunday it was time to say good-bye to family and drive about 2½ hours to Raleigh where we gathered with four (of six) families who have adopted a child or children from Ethiopia through Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia.


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I had the privilege of walking with each of them through a sometimes arduous and always long adoption process and Jeff photographed many of these children while they were in the orphanage.  What an incredible blessing it was for us to meet these dear folks in person and to see their kids now happily enveloped in a forever family.

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HUGE blessings!

Then we hopped back in our now filthy rental car and drove to the southern NC coast.  Violent weather was reported to be heading our way but we managed to stay ahead of the storms.

I love road trips but I found that being the navigator using a phone gps is stressful.  More than once the computer-generated voice took us way out of the way, which is always fun to discuss.  And I used to think I was a pretty good multi-tasker but perhaps with age I am now only able to focus on one thing at a time (translation: I can’t watch for the right exit and find cheap gas and look up an address simultaneously!!!) 

But we made it and decided it was totally worth whatever relational trauma we weathered.  Because look at this sunset!!

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Holden Beach, NC is a quiet little town about 50 miles north of Myrtle Beach, SC.  There is a long, strip of an island with houses lining both the ocean and the inlet sides.  The homes are all built on ‘stilts’ and are generally huge, so different than the beach homes we see here in Oregon.  We woke up and were out on the beach the next morning at 6:00.  The sun was just coming up and it was about 70°.

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The ocean water was actually warm, so unlike our frigid Pacific water.  And this was the view from our balcony…

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See what I mean?  Completely spoiled rotton!

We had planned on driving down to Myrtle Beach but decided we were totally content to walk on the shore, collect shells, rock in white rocking chairs and stare at the ocean.  (We may have also been afraid to get back in the car with each other.)

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It was thoroughly wonderful to experience ‘the other coast’, with all of its charm.

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Tornadoes were cutting through the states to our south but the most dramatic weather we saw at the beach was a spectacular lightning show.

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However, all good vacations must come to an end and we packed up to make the last leg of our trip up to Washington DC.  I guess all good weather must end too because this is where the storms finally caught up with us.

It started raining as we drove into Virginia and by the time we arrived at our hotel in Alexandria, it was pouring.  (My brother at home in Oregon kept updating me on the 80° weather he was enjoying.)  After dropping our rental car at the airport, our shuttle driver recommended a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant (keeping with our down-home theme) where we enjoyed some great fajitas, chips and salsa.  We scurried back to the hotel without umbrellas and cancelled our plans to take a night tour of the monuments, opting instead to repack everything for the flight home the next day.

(YAWN. Boy, this IS getting long… maybe you need to feed your family or get some work done but now I feel I have to finish this even if it kills all of us.)

We rose early, chatted with the Ethiopian desk clerk at our hotel who said we could leave our luggage for the day and took the shuttle to the Metro stop.  My hat is off to those of you who are regular subway commuters.  You all look very busy and organized and focused.  Well, to be honest, some of you look very sad and hopeless.  We, on the other hand, looked completely overwhelmed and clueless, which we were.  A kind Metro worker noticed our eyes glazing over as we tried to figure out what fare to punch into the automated ticket machine and helped us buy our round trip tickets on the red and yellow lines.  We descended into the earth, with only one glitch getting through the entry gate. I did think about Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping.

Miraculously, we resurfaced at Union Station and ran to catch our double decker bus for a tour of the city.  I honestly thought we’d be the only ones on the bus because of the weather but, no, there were folks from all over the world squeezed into the lower level.  No one rode in the open area on the top.  Jeff snapped photos like a boss from inside the bus…

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I also mistakenly thought the tour bus company would provide umbrellas but instead we got fashionable ponchos.

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The line for the Holocaust Museum was very long and we knew we just wouldn’t have time to go on this trip.  We hopped off the bus at quite a few of the monuments and memorials…

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We decided not to sit on this bench looking out on in the tidal basin.

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The tip of the Washington Monument disappeared into the clouds.

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When it was time to head to the airport, we were more than ready to get back to Union Station…

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and this pizza tasted better than most everything we’d had all week.

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My practical and forward-thinking husband had suggested we pack a change of clothes for the plane and I’m not sure what we would have done if he hadn’t.  I had to wring the water out of the bottom of my pants and my shoes were completely waterlogged.  We settled into our seats for the 5½ hour flight home and reminisced about all the places we’d been in the last eight days.  Somehow, I keep coming back to this:

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Sigh. 

Thanks for persevering to the end of this ramble.  I’ll be happy to look at your vacation photos if you send me a link... I owe you that!

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