Wednesday, April 20, 2005

More About Our Trip

We forgot something yesterday about Patty's birthday - before the run, she had to take a nap. We hear that's common for old folks... We couldn't remember what it was that had delayed the run; we hear memory loss is common too...

Saturday, we went to Babies 'R' Us to shop for Tracey's and Jeremy's baby shower. We got Aiden a Snugli baby carrier and an outfit with - what else? - an airplane design. Of course, he got a helicopter outfit from his grandma and grandpa. We'll have to make sure he understands that fixed wing aircraft are where it's at. We followed that with a trip to Ikea, where we bought half the store (and left it in Virginia because we couldn't fit anything in our luggage). Our sole purpose in going there was to get a high chair, because the one we want isn't available by catalog or internet, but it was out of stock, of course. We got the neatest cover for it, though. It makes the high chair look like a throne. Here is a photo of the high chair and cover.

At the Nationals game

We all (we three plus Dad, Gail, and Mike) went to the second-ever Washington Nationals home game. We had seats high up in the stadium behind the right field foul pole, but we could see everything, and we had a great time watching, eating ballpark food, and keeping score. The guy behind us consulted us on a few questions about statistics, so we felt pretty cool. Gabriel got a really great new hat, and we didn't have too difficult of a time getting through the crowds on the way there or back. It was remarkably civil. Three boys who'd ridden behind us on the train made a spectacle of themselves by running around and around the top tier of the stadium with painted chests ("N", "AT", and "S" - the big guy got "AT"), starting the wave. They were cute kids in their late teens. Washington won, 9-2. They looked good out there. Funniest thing overheard: "Hey Dad, you work in a church, and his last name is Church." "That's strange, because my last name is Baseball Field."

At the helicopter station

On the way back to the house from the Metro station, we stopped at the Fairfax County Police helicopter division station and talked with pilot Paul and officer/paramedic Mark (in photo) for a while. They had lemonade and cake, so we had some of that while we talked. They are both really interesting and completely kind people who, we are told, are extremely good at their jobs.

March of Dimes

On Sunday, we got up extra early to walk with Gail in the March of Dimes in downtown Manassas. It was 40 degrees when we started but warmed up considerably. We were the first to finish in our group of "Tike Hikers" from Potomac Hospital. We were exhausted by the end of the race! Gabriel slept through about half of the 10 kilometer walk; he was crying in the above picture because he was about to fall asleep. We didn't have time to get the post-race massages that were being offered, because we had to get ready for the baby shower.

It only took us about two hours of cleaning and setting up to be ready for the shower. About 20 people or so came over, and we played games and ate, and Tracey opened her presents. By about 5:30 pm, everyone was gone and we took Dad and Mike to do their first geocache.

Dad and Mike's first geocache

After a string of bad luck with geocaches, we found this one. Our GPSr had the box anywhere from 14-50 feet away from where we found it, and someone else's log indicated the same problem. Luckily, Matt's eagle eyes found it. We took a patch that says "Certified Angus Beef" and a toy jumping frog and left 50 cents. We thought we'd left a rubber toy robot, but Matt found it in his pocket at the end of a hike. We also found our first travel bug, which is an object that travels around the country or world and is tracked by the people who first placed it. This one is a My Little Pony named Natasha, and she came from Arizona. We brought her back with us to Georgia and will place here somewhere here.

Monday, we went to the National Mall to see the monuments. The most impressive were the WWII memorial and the FDR memorial. Please read about them in the links; they are both amazing. We were both surprised to feel a little choked up at the WWII memorial. It was a little difficult to see memorials to fallen soldiers with Jack in Iraq and Dad A having served for so long. Ironically, Jack called while we were at the FDR memorial. Patty hung up on him at first, thinking that he was a computer call, but she'd forgotten that there is a delay in his calls. As soon as she hung up, she started yelling, "No! No! No!" and waited for him to call back, which he did.

Jack said that morale is good but that a lot of guys are ready to get the heck out of there. He said that it's worse than the news portrays, because he's seen a lot of casualties (not fatalities but injuries). There are IEDs (improvised explosive devices) going off all the time, and it can be a little unnerving. He said that he's fine, though, and that he isn't bothered too much by any of it. He works out almost every day, except when they shut off the showers and he knows he'll have to wash with baby wipes. He has everything he needs and can even buy cameras at the Px there. He sounded a lot better than last time, when he sounded scratchy, and thinks that his body may be adapting a little to the climate. It's still not too hot, but that will likely change in the next month or so.

Boarding the plane

Tuesday, we frantically packed and got to the airport with time to stop at the "World's Best Chicken Sandwich" stand, which we've been to before and think is pretty darn good. On the plane, we sat across the aisle from an Indian couple who were just returning home to Atlanta after 8 months in none other than Troy, Michigan. Their daughter had a son named Ariel 8 months ago, and they'd stayed with her to help out that whole time. The funny thing is, before he told us that, we could already tell that he had a grandson around Gabriel's age by the way he encouraged Chip to clap and the way he interacted with him. They were just leaving a grandson, and Gabriel was just leaving a grandpa. It was very serendipitous.

On the flight

For the first part of the flight, Gabriel was a bit of a bear, but we nursed him and fed him a little, and he eventually fell asleep in his daddy's arms, as you can see here. Matt has an amazing ability to calm him when Patty can't. We each have our own talents as parents, and this is one of Matt's best.

Once we landed, we saw in the airport that we have a new pope - Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Prince, er, Josef Cardinal Ratzinger. We were a little worried, because he'd been known as a hard-liner (in a bad way), but the more we learn about him, the more at ease we feel with the decision, not that it matters if we are at ease with it or not.

Yesterday was Gabriel's 9 month birthday. He ate meat for the first time in his life. We mixed the chicken (homemade, organic, hormone-free, free-range, complimented-daily) with pears, and he loved it. We made the traditional monthly brownies (with homemade icing that we piped onto the brownies to say, "9!" and that was too lemony but turned out perfect in consistency), but he still isn't old enough to eat them. We were happy to indulge on his behalf.

We had a great pizza dinner from Nancy's and watched Amazing Race... which brings us to:

AR7 Watch

Warning: spoilers ahead!

Yes, we missed last week, but let's just move on, shall we?

We can't figure out why they put two episodes together two weeks ago but split one episode into two weeks. Was that a scheduling error? Anyway, we liked the idea of making an endurance leg of the race. The show seems to find ways to keep the race fresh and fun for the contestants. Let's go team by team:

Lynn and Alex: Finally, they're gone! Quite possibly the stupidest team to get that far in the race, they got themselves lost and blew a good lead on Meredith and Gretchen.

Meredith and Gretchen: They are officially the oldest team to get this far in the race, and they just keep hanging on. Luck is definitely on their side; there's no other way to explain how a team that keeps giving up every week is still in it.

Uchenna and Joyce: Although we got a little teary-eyed to see Joyce's bravery, why should she be that upset about losing her weave? Can't she just buy a new one?

Ron and Kelly: Did we see the good Southern Christian girl sharing a bunk on the train with her boyfriend? WWJD?

Rob and Amba: They seem to be good sports about their "alliance" with Ron and Kelly and are honest about wanting to win. We like that they aren't sneaky. They didn't do anything too interesting these past two weeks.

That gets us caught up to today. We'll do a separate post for today's events to give you a break.

p.s. Here are all of our digital photos from our trip. We took 4 rolls of film photos too, but those will not be developed for another week or so.