Friday, October 31, 2008

Family Delight

We remembered that it was 12 years to the day that we flew to Florida with a 22 month old and a 3 month old to live for 4 months while P was on a work project. It was during that time that we had our most recent visit with my cousin. That was a long time ago now and we were so delighted to finally see him again. He and his wife are dear to our hearts and we all had a great visit with them. We were definitely the beneficiaries of that fine southern hospitality we hear so much of.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aren’t children so sweet when they are sleeping?

In case you were wondering what the weather is like…this was one cold night. And this is how I found my littlest gal sleeping. She really took it to heart when we said to bundle up for the cold night. :-) And of course, no night’s sleep would be complete without her beloved “Mimi.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Very inspirational

We visited the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC today. It definitely exceeded my expectations. The girls didn’t want to go but were parentally vetoed. But, after they went you would not believe the rave reviews they gave it. When somewhat museum-fatigued children love it, you know that’s a good sign. Most of all, I appreciated the inspiration we all felt. He and his wife were such amazing examples of humble, prayerful, surrender to following Christ. We counted it a privilege to learn more about them, their ministry over the years, and the many stories of lives changed as a result of their ministry.

Monday, October 27, 2008

John Adams

P and I are watching the HBO series John Adams. Is it just me since I love history so much, or did y’all (I’m in the South now) love it as much as me? It gives such a picture of the birth pains of our nation. And, who in their right mind would want to be President of the U.S.? They could not pay me enough for that job!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

10/26/08 He’d rather die a thousand deaths

Those were the words of General Robert E. Lee when he determined he needed to meet with Grant to discuss surrender terms. We visited the surrender site where Lee and Grant met in the McLean home. McLean moved here just after the first major battle of the Civil War occurred in his town of Manassas. He wanted to be somewhere out of harms way during the Civil War. Who knew his new home would eventually be used to effectively end the Civil War.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Playing in a small space

We are all living in about 270-ish square feet (plus the great outdoors for which we are thankful) and as you might imagine we cannot have much with us, including toys. I never cease to be amazed at what the kids can come up with to amuse themselves - if only I had that much creativity! I guess even after 5 1/2 months I am still amazed at how little we need to live with comfortably.

10/25/08 Our nickel up close and personal

If you look at a nickel you will see our destination today. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. He was quite a remarkable man as you know - an avid reader, reading in 6 languages besides English, a scientist, an architect, and a politician. His home is beautiful. Unfortunately it had to be sold after his death due to the large debt he had. The great irony of his life (as with several Founding Fathers) is that though he penned the Declaration of Independence he did not apply those same freedoms to his slaves. Even Lafayette, a strong abolitionist, told him so. He wrote his own epitaph – the 3 things he most wanted to be remembered for – author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and founder of the University of Virginia. Of his many accomplishments, including President of the USA, these are what he was most proud of.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

10/23/08 A real Fall

Since we are colorful Fall deprived Californians, it has been absolutely lovely to see the hills alive with color. So glad Fall finally caught up to us in the Blue Ridge Mountains. We are definitely enjoying the colorful beauty because who knows when we will get to see another like this again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10/22/08: Happy Reunion

We saw them 4 ½ months ago in Colorado. Now we were blessed to see them again, this time for a way too short evening. But it was absolutely wonderful to see them again. They are heading north and we are south, but thankfully we could meet along the way. What pure delight. They’ve been traveling around the US longer than we have. They are having a grand adventure - you can see their blog at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

10/16 – 10/21/08 400 years of American History

Other than Native American history, Jamestown artifacts are just about as old as we get in the USA. I’m still not sure why we tend to think of Plymouth Plantation as the first permanent settlement in the US when in fact Jamestown was settled in 1607, a full 13 years before Plymouth. However, the Pilgrims were motivated by religious freedom, whereas the Jamestown colony was a venture for profit. The kids especially enjoyed the re-created settlement with costumed interpreters and hands on activities. We even got to see replicas of the 3 ships the first settlers came in. I (lately dubbed “history geek” by one of my children - nice, huh?) especially loved the current archaeological dig at the original Jamestown site. Oh, the stories those artifacts told, and yet there are so many more stories untold.

The more I learn about the American Revolutionary War, the more I’m amazed at how clear it is to me (as it was to George Washington) that God caused the successes. For example, at the famous Delaware Crossing, the key to Washington’s plan was the element of surprise. Unfortunately, the night crossing took longer than expected and the men were not able to get to Trenton by first daylight. Had it not been for a sleet storm which kept the Americans well hidden even though it was daylight, the Hessians would have been out and seen them, thus eliminating the key to success – surprise.

The battle at Yorktown should have been a British success, but because of several unusual mistakes by Cornwallis, and several amazing provisions by God, the Americans won. The odds were not good, for example that the French fleet would get there in time. It actually arrived only 2 hours before the British. Also, had the siege, battle, or surrender negotiations taken only 5 days more, all would have been lost for the Americans when an overwhelming British fleet arrived. Had not a most unusual and irregular storm come at just the right moment, the British would have been able to escape to safety and there would have been no surrender at Yorktown.

Hands down, Williamsburg was our favorite. The actors and various portrayals of Colonial life gave us a good feel for what it would have been like. The artisans were magnificent. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were our favorite characters. I felt like we really traveled back in time to hear them. All the actors and interpreters were exceptionally well researched in their characters. This was definitely our favorite living history site - talk about making history fun (even if you aren't a "history geek").

James Madison was referred to as "the father of our Constitution" by his peers. With a visit to his lifelong home we learned more about this remarkable man. In order to come up with a totally new form of Government for this fledgling nation, he spent the better part of a year studying and reading books from all over the world in any of the 7 languages he spoke and read, including the ancient governments of Greece and Rome, as well as Biblical forms of government. He learned what forms of government worked and didn’t. For example, he learned that democracies always fail and therefore steered toward the republic government we have. We owe so much to the Great Little Madison, the father of our Constitution.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

10/3/08-10/10/08 We’ve Arrived!!

We arrived in the place I’ve most been looking forward to seeing. I have for so long hoped to visit Washington, D.C. I spent a summer here while in college doing a Congressional Internship and loved it. For years I’ve wanted to bring the girls. So after all these months of travel, we finally arrived here! Thank the Lord! We spent 6 very full days touring DC and I will just note a few of many highlights below.

As visitors, we can’t watch the Executive Branch doing their work. Since, both the Senate and House are not in session at the moment, we couldn’t watch the Legislative Branch doing their work. But, we did get to see the Judiciary Branch doing their work. We watched oral arguments presented before the Supreme Court Justices. Each side has 30 minutes to present their arguments – that’s it! Talk about pressure!

At Mt. Vernon I really loved learning about Washington’s life and personality. I was fascinated that he could be both a great visionary as well as a micro-manager. He had deep faith in God and always attributed his and the country’s success to Providence. I definitely grew in my admiration of him.

The Holocaust Museum was naturally heart wrenching. The museum itself was well done, and the more graphic images were placed down low behind a wall. I still can’t believe Hitler could even become a dictator as his views were clear from the beginning, but it really goes to show what people are willing to do in dire times.

We enjoyed the many national treasures in the National Archives. Besides the Declaration and Constitution, they had rooms full of amazing original documents, like the Emancipation Proclamation, Magna Carta, the original Watergate tape machine, etc

The Library of Congress was cool not only architecturally but also historically. We saw things like Washington’s diary, Jefferson’s handwritten rough draft of the Declaration with changes crossed out by Franklin and Adams (how did they ever get that?), letters to and from various founding Fathers. I couldn’t believe looking at such old documents. If we lived in the area I’d sure love to get a “reading card” and peruse the library’s many books. And, for a bit of trivia, did you know that the Library receives 30,000 copyright items a day and they keep about 7000 of them – a day!!

Museums, museums and more museums – suffice it to say, the many Smithsonian museums live up to their reputation. I wish we could have spent more time in them. Hands down the girls’ favorite was the National Air and Space Museum. Unfortunately the American History Museum was closed for renovations because I know they would have loved that one. It too was very kid friendly.

And, last but certainly not least, Happy 10th B-day C!! We love you!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

10/1/08 Gettysburg

Gettysburg, a 3 day battle, was the bloodiest of the Civil War. But it was a much needed victory and turning point for the Union Army. This, though, came at a cost of over 50,000 in this one battle alone. Looking over the site, I listened to the “war stories” on the edge of my seat as I saw where and how the Union battled and almost lost this decisive battle! The battles here seemed to be a giant chess game except that the instead of plastic pieces, these were real men with real families and loved ones with real hopes and fears. All showed extraordinary bravery; many gave their lives and many more gave their health to their cause.