Well it's been since 2005 since I'd spent Christmas with all my boys but this was a first one that also included the girl in our family. Kristen, Lucas' girl of six years travelled with Lucas from my hometown in Texas to be with us. Kristen had been to NYC and Philly but never the Balto/DC area so she was in for a treat. The whole week was one big treat for me.
First trip out was to the Baltimore Inner Harbor. On our walk to the aquarium we spied this place, It's Sugar, and had to go in. Poor owners, I think most folks go in there to just take pics but if we'd been doing stockings on Christmas this would have been where I'd have purchased the treats. Next year...
In addition to the huge forms of every candy you can imagine, they had some really cute, funky displays. It was fun.
Kristen had never been to a large aquarium before so she loved it. It's the National Aquarium even though it's located in Balto. It's the perfect locale because it's right on the Chesapeake. It's a really nice aquarium but since Lucas, Matt, and I have been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium many, many times it's enjoyable but really doesn't compare. Monterey has one of the best in the world plus the views. Still enjoyable and we tried not to make too many comparisons for Kristen's sake.
The jellyfish exhibit is hypnotic. They are just so strange and so wonderfully relaxing to watch. We spent the most time watching them.
The next outing was to D.C. Justin couldn't join us this day. It was a cold, windy one so we decided to do the indoor things, the museums. We really made the rounds; The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of American History, The National Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and The National Archives. We couldn't take photos in The National Archives but we got to see the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It's quite the set up, much like a cathedral; huge iron gates, the lights are dim so as not to damage the documents further. They are very worn and faded as it is. It has a wonderful dome ceiling with lots of cameras! It's very reverent in there. We got kicked out because Paul was chewing gum!
At the Museum of American History. So meaningful especially so soon after we had seen the movie Lincoln. This is his actual suit.
And the actual proclamation.
A favorite photo of mine.
Not a good photo and I couldn't get the color right as you can see...George Bush Drive is in my hometown of College Station, Texas where President George H.W. Bush has his library. It's really maroon but I couldn't get it to show. The symbol on the left is that of The City of College Station.
We could all spend a whole day at the art museum. I've always said I'd go and just spend a day so I could sit on the benches they have available to just sit and stare at the extraordinary works.
Lucas loves this museum the best too. He could be left for the day and never notice...of course, Kristen would be in the next room and not notice either!
You see these on postcards and posters and cards but seeing them in person is just amazing. Lucas was told by a dosset that there is a film placed over the paintings so the light and debris that people might bring in will not damage the art.
I wouldn't mind a print of this cutie.
Monet, Degas, Matisse, Gauquin, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, etc.
In between museums we went to a small restaurant for snacks next to where these brave folks were bundled up skating. I found it more fun watching.
The next day, still chilly but much less windy, we all returned on the metro to see the outside sites.
This view just never gets old.
Though all of us except Kristen had been to Arlington Cemetery, we had a new reason this time for our visit...
...Kristen has a great-uncle (her grandmother's brother on her father's side) who is buried there. We had never gone into the grave sites before, only to see the changing of the guards. It was a moving experience for all of us and very special for Kristen.
We had to run full force up hill from the grave in time to see the changing of the guards but got there just in time. It was particularly moving for me since there had been so many photos going around on facebook showing how the soldiers refused to "stand down" during hurricane Sandy. Honor Guard is truly an honor.
I've been here countless times but it's another thing that just never gets old. There is a special feeling when in the presence of this huge reminder of the fine men who formed our great country.
After gift opening but before dinner on Christmas day, Lucas and Kristen headed out for 18 holes of disc golf at one of our local disc golf courses. Still a little snow on the ground from Christmas eve.
Getting ready for that hella shot!
Taking a moment before digging in. Happy mamma.
If you didn't have the holidays of your dreams as I did this year, take heed, it could take a few years but it's worth every minute when it finally happens. The kids also got to see many old friends who where home for the holidays, one who just returned from Afganistan, and a lot who Lucas hadn't seen in a long time (we usually go to Texas to visit them, this was his first trip here in seven years). Lots of reunions and happy times. Happy new year everyone!!!!