This is the dome of our Capital. It's really quite impressive from the inside here. I found it interesting that the artist depicted George Washington as a god-like figure.
From the Capital we headed to the Air & Space Museum, passing the Smithsonian's Botanical Garden, a place I had never been inside. I tried to coax someone to walk through with me but there were no takers. Our guide, Leroy, encouraged me to walk through anyway. "You can just meet us at the Air & Space," he said. Since I had been to that museum just last March, I took his suggestion. Am I glad I did!
The place was absolutely breath-taking. I could have lingered there for quite awhile. That makes me sound so old, but it's true. A book, a drink and beautiful flowers and I would have told the family, "Have a good time! See you when you're done."
Did you know that orchids could be so "wild" or so beautiful?
This is the kind of view you have while you're walking through. It's like another world.
I did manage to tear myself away and find the kids admiring the lunar landing module I took my photo in front of last March just so I could show it to Aiden. He loved this place.
That's Charles Lindbergh in the background on the plane that he took his first flight on. It was fascinating. Even more fascinating was the kids' ability to make a face or try to be silly in almost every picture we took. What is that about anyway?
That's our guide with us on the left. He's my brother's godfather and the best guide in D.C. He knows a lot about everything. He made us an itinerary and then accompanied us through all of it so that we could learn more than we ever would have just looking at stuff. Thanks so much Leroy!
Of course the White House was the top of everyone's list to see. Interestingly enough, the kids were very unimpressed with the actual thing. Regardless of who inhabits it, it's the history that moves me.
I think the highlight was the Natural History Museum. I think we spent five hours or more inside of it and the kids were never bored. If only it was in my backyard.
Leroy arranged it so that we started in chronological order so that everything made sense to the kids. The cavemen were particularly curious to them.
Mackenzie loved the ocean section. I have to admit that the size of this jellyfish was impressive. I'm happy to admire its beauty like this. In the ocean itself, not such a big fan of the things. Ouch!
Max was in the, "Take my picture with this guy," mode as we walked through the early human exhibit. I was so busy keeping track of him as he darted from statue to statue that it took me a moment to notice how uneasy Mackenzie was. She kept asking if we could move on. Everyone else was so enamored by the exhibit I asked her why she wanted to leave it. "Mama, everyone in here is naked," she shivered. "It's so crazy. I want to get out of here."
I finally took a moment to take it in after shooting this photo. I was so taken by the cute impishness of my boy that I totally missed the fact that he was posing with a naked caveman. I'm such a juvenile that I laughed. Mackenzie was indeed right. And Max, well, he had no idea.
I think of all the exhibits we saw, we spent the most time in the insect one. Bugs, as most of you know, equals loads of entertainment for little boys. Having these insects behind thick glass means mamas can at least tolerate them.
This guy is not enlarged in the least. I simply put the camera next to the case and clicked. It makes my skin crawl to look at it again here. Totally gross and yet, its size alone is quite impressive. It's actually called a bird tarantula, not so much because it eats birds (it doesn't really), but because it's larger than most of the ones in the trees outside our house.
This is the Hope Diamond. It has a room dedicated to it in the museum. Mackenzie, upon seeing it for the first time, said, "That's it? It isn't very big." This attitude may keep the boys away for quite some time.
Nelson was so proud when the kids walked in the museum, saw this and simultaneously shouted, "Roll Tide!"
Here my men are holding up the Washington Monument, which we needed the help. It was damaged during the earthquake and we couldn't go up into it.
This picture is one of my favorites. It looks patriotic because of the flags next to the Washington Monument that reflect the colors Max was sporting. He was walking along a wall above the sidewalk. Looking at it after I took it, I was moved not only because of the picture's composition but because my sweet boy in the foreground was moving. He's still a miracle to me.
This one is taken at the World War II Monument which is fairly new and worth seeing. Its design is thoughtful and beautiful. The whole city is such a wonderful lesson in our nation's history. I loved sharing it with the kids.
No words are really necessary for this one. Somehow, with the little instruction we gave the kids, they understood the solemness of the monument.
Mackenzie is at the top of the stairs leading to the Lincoln Memorial here. Almost everyone knows about this monument, if not its history, they've seen it in a movie. However, surprisingly few realize that Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous I Have a Dream
speech was given right at the top of these steps.
I saw the Korean War Monument for the first time last March and I have to say that it's one of my favorites. The soldiers are so life-like and it's presented in such a way that they actually look like they're coming out of the jungle. We learned that the designer placed 19 statues there and that they are perfectly reflected in the adjacent wall. All in all then, there are 39 soldiers to represent the 39th parallel. Thoughtful indeed.
The kids were troopers after mass at the Basilica, the White House, 5 hours of the Museum of Natural History followed by a walking tour of several monuments. It was hot and hours upon hours on their little feet. I was amazed at how there was relatively little, if any complaining at all.
It was a lot of stuff packed into just two days in the Mall. Our goal was to have some fun, teach them some things and make a lasting impression on them so that when they see these things in their history books, they'll say, "I've been there." I think the mission was well accomplished.
But like I said, it was a long day and at the end of it, we were all worn out. Lucky for Max we brought the stroller so he could ride the longer distances and we could have a bit more speed. Even though he was just as tired as the rest of us, he still had the energy to be silly for one last shot.