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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Long Road Home

We departed our lovely DC Saturday morning. 
I-95 heading south out of DC was a parking lot.  After several hours of parking/driving we hit a rest area in Southeast Virgina.
Stretching out.  Mommy acting as sun shade.

Somewhere in North Carolina Lily demanded dinner.  MMM MMM. Sweet potatoes and carrots make for one messy meal at 80 MPH.  Poor Sophie, she didn't even realize she was part of the menu.  (the sweet potato covered giraffe in Lily's hand)

Before our trip could officially be over we hit a convenience store somewhere off of I-95 for a diaper change and a Diet Pepsi.  As we turned in we got the distinct feeling something was off.  Perhaps we had driven into a Stephen King novel.  The store was surrounded by cats.  Surrounded.  We counted as many as we could.... 52.  There were more we didn't count, but we for certain reached 52.  Insane.  They were well fed, all relatively plump, and very people friendly.  This was definitely the highlight of this trip home.

Literally a herd of cats.

A few more hours of driving, and we finally reached the island.  Lily traveled really well.  A first!  We were all pretty exhausted, and Lily struggled getting to sleep.  She took a couple days to get back into the swing of things, but she's enjoying her crib again.  Very importantly, Cayce and I are enjoying having our room to ourselves again.  It was a struggle within my heart to extract her from our room a few months ago, but now I could definitely not go back.  She's too light of a sleeper, and seeing her staring at us from the confines of her "cage" (as we called it) only made me feel more guilty.  Having this knowledge is certainly a plus from the trip.  It would be nice if every big milestone of "cord cutting" goes over as smoothly for me, but that's probably a bit too optimistic.   We shall see.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Last Stop

Friday was the last full day of our trip.  Cayce had his graduation from his F School.  The graduation was held at the Fort Meyer chapel, and through the windows Arlington National Cemetery could been seen mere footsteps away. It was beautiful.  Cayce was the Honor Grad, top of the class.  It was an amazing morning.  The only way I can describe the events following the graduation at the reception is as Cayce being head-hunted.  He had several different people, a Chief, Senior Chief, and an Admiral, approach him wanting him to come work for them.  I was so proud of him.  I've always had faith in his leadership skills and his high quality of work, but to stand next to him and watch these people actually "wooing" him to come work for them was probably one of the proudest moments I've had for him ever.  *tear*

Receiving his award for Honor Grad.

Cutting the cake.  
 The cake had the class photo on it.  When all was said and done, the RP2 who came in second behind Cayce for Honor Grad happily took the slice with Cayce's head on it, and voraciously destroyed his nemesis.  Funny story.  Someone poorly planned for the cake to have dark blue icing.  Therefore, everyone was trying to hob nob and network with all these important Navy officials while looking like they had eaten a poor family of Smurfs.

After the graduation we spent the rest of our day doing the museum circuit.  We had a bit of confusion when we went to the National Art Gallery with me thinking it and the American Art Gallery were the same thing.  No, not the same thing.  There was a Norman Rockwell exhibit at the American Art Gallery (which is the Smithsonian) that I really wanted to see.  So here we were enjoying all kinds of early Spanish and Italian oil paintings, and I was trying to figure out where the Norman Rockwell exhibit was come to find out we were in the wrong building.  *rolls eyes*  In the mean time Lily would not stop talking.  She was soooooo loud.  We took her out into the rotunda to let her get some energy out, and wouldn't you know it.  She stopped talking. 

Sitting with Daddy in the rotunda.

Inspecting the fountain.

Refusing to tear her eyes away from that super interesting fountain for a picture.

 We finally made it down to the American Art Gallery.  Totally worth the fuss.  The Norman Rockwell exhibit was great, and the National Portrait Gallery is a can't miss.  Both museums were wonderful to walk around.  The crowd size was to a minimum, and we definitely were able to slow down and enjoy ourselves. 

Little known fact:  I love the National Park system.  After watching Ken Burns' PBS documentary on the National Parks I found even more love for them.  So I was very excited to come across these Thomas Moran paintings of the grand canyon of Yellowstone.  These paintings are what helped convince Teddy Roosevelt to create Yellowstone National Park.  I can't wait for the day when I can share this beauty with Lily in person.  For those from my hometown, the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa also has some of Thomas Moran's paintings from Yellowstone.  Worth the trip.  They are paintings with incredible depth.  Standing inches from them you find all the nooks and crannies and hidden wildlife Moran wanted to share.  I highly recommend it.  Anywho, enough of the art lesson. 

Learning with Daddy

Looking for Daddy

Lounging with a different view of Yellowstone.

 We also spent a little bit of time at the Air and Space Museum, but it was busy so we quickly toured the highlights.  We headed home after a wonderful day, Cayce still high from his recognition, and me happy to have been there to witness it.  Lily came home ready to stretch out and play.

 Lily then got the pleasure of watching a video of her friend Brianna chatting.  Brianna is a month older than Lily, but their mommies and daddies both went through an ordeal to bring them into this world so I like to think the two are a kind of kindred spirits. 

What's up B?

That was the end of our sightseeing in DC.  We made the decision to get a good night sleep, take our time packing, and mosey home.  We were in no rush to return to Beaufort. We both loved DC, and Cayce wants to get stationed there some day.  One can hope.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sheep Happen

Lily and I spent a quiet week together while Cayce finished his class.  We hoofed it all over Andrews.  One day we had to go to the post office, the next it was the commissary, and another day we headed to the thrift store and exchange.  With the exception of two rainy days we enjoyed beautiful weather.

The last Thursday Cayce took his final exams, and the day ended early.  We took the opportunity that afternoon to visit a pumpkin patch outside Bowie, Maryland.  On our way out of the hotel we posed Lily in the lovely fall display.
Where's Lily?

 The first thing we came across at the patch was a pen with sheep just ripe for petting.  It's already been established Lily loves the dogs so it was not surprise she went crazy for the sheep.  

Lily played with the sheep until the sheep got grabby with her shoe.

 Please excuse the poor quality.  We didn't think to bring the video camera, and this was taken with our digital camera.  Be sure to have the volume up.  Lily's giggles are too adorable.

After the sheep we played with the pumpkin display and then wandered in the patch itself.  We found some giants.

Daddy look at me stand!

This thing is big!

Just squeeze right in.

Sitting pretty.

Pretty as a sunflower.

 At the pumpkin patch we purchased some gourds, a Lily sized pumpkin, and my baby - a 40 pound pumpkin.

Thank goodness for the 50 Lb weight limit on Lily's stroller.
It was a fun day. We ended with a trip to a local steakhouse.  I had the most delicious crab cakes made with fresh local Maryland crabs!  Cayce had a cheeseburger.  Lily took the opportunity to tell everyone around us about her trip to the patch.  Luckily we were sitting in what was apparently the "family" section because the section was full of families.  So not only were people not bothered by her conversation, but many were entertained by her.  We then made the trip back to the hotel where Lily had finally figured out how to sleep through the night in her pack and play.  Thank goodness!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Smithsonian Sunday

Saturday night was a bit rocky.  Lily did not adjust very well to her pack and play, and woke up at 4:30 in the morning.  Mommy and Daddy were definitely not ready to wake up then.  Cayce gave me Lily to nurse back to sleep in the bed, and he took to the floor.  Such a sweetie.  When I woke up around 7:30 I came across a fun similarity. 

 Like Daddy, Like Baby

Once everyone was all gussied up for the day we headed to the American History museum.  Fun Fact: parking downtown is free on Sundays.  We drove to the National Mall instead of taking the metro.  We stopped and took some pictures.

Not so fun fact:  The Smithsonian is a popular destination on Sundays.  Ugh.  We went to the American History and the Natural History museums.  Crowded.  So crowded we didn't take the time to take pictures.  Only one was braved.  

Looking at Julia Child's kitchen.  Lily's face pretty much sums up the trip.
We were exhausted from poor sleep and fighting the masses so we happily called it an early day inside the museums.  We enjoyed the gardens, and made our way slowly to the truck. 

We ate dinner with Chief and his wife at Union Station and finally headed home. When we returned to the room I found a lovely surprise. 

The cleaning woman sweetly propped my book up on the pillows.

I have to say the Presidential Inn on Andrews Joint Air Base was an incredible value.  We paid $35 a night, and enjoyed a super comfy room with plenty of amenities and great customer service. After a long chilly day that ended in rain it was welcoming and comforting to return to a room that received a personal touch.

Monday, October 11, 2010

City Dwellers

After a day of resting we headed out bright and early Saturday morning to the National Zoo.  We chose to ride the metro into the DC.  We took our time to be the obvious tourists and snapped pictures of Lily on her first foray with mass transit.

On the platform.  Sooooo excited for the train.

On the Red Line.
Returning above ground. 

The Zoo was pretty crowded, but what do you expect on a beautiful October Saturday?  Cayce and I were obviously more interested in the animals than Lily, but she did find one exhibit she liked.  The Crabs.

Lily enjoyed tracing their movements with her hands.

But then she spotted something way more interesting.

Her refection!

We had one odd run in at the Zoo.  Cayce was pretty shocked by it.  I, unfortunately, had already experienced a similar interaction while at the mall.  People think I place too much value on what other people think or do in relation to me, but sometimes, I'm proven correct that there are too many rude and interfering people in this world.  While we were walking around Lily fell asleep in the stroller.  We had stopped and were looking at the apes when a woman approached us.   She starts in.  "Oh may I please move your baby's head?  She looks so uncomfortable."  I, already apprised of the situation, say "oh she's fine.  I don't want to wake her."  She then continues.  "Oh please?  I just love babies so much.  I won't wake her."  I relinquish and let her try.  Of course Lily flops her head right back, and I thanked the woman for trying.  We moved on, and thankfully Lily slept through it.  I then took a picture because I was already thinking of the blog I would have to write.

It's not as if I put her in the stroller in that position.  She did it.  She often falls asleep in what appears to be the most uncomfortable spots.  I was checking on her.  She was alive.  I've decided to join the camp of thought "never wake a sleeping baby." If she's not bothered so much by the position to wake up, then why should I make her more "comfortable?"  I'm just annoyed that this was the SECOND time someone has tried to move Lily after she fell asleep in the stroller.  Mind your own business please.  Unless I appear to be causing grave harm to my child please keep your opinion to yourself.  Thank you.

We enjoyed the rest of the day.  Lily woke up eventually.  Happy and well rested.

Cayce insisted on taking one of our signature "self portraits." 

After the zoo we made our way to Union Station, and found a nice local Irish restaurant with a bustling outdoor patio.  The weather was perfect, and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Lily was chipper and enjoyed her first ever experience with regular mashed potatoes.

So exciting!  Lily wearing a jacket for the first time ever!
Our first actual day in DC was wonderful.  We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day.  A good night's rest was a must because the next day was Smithsonian day!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We're Baaaack.

 My goal while Cayce was gone was to get Lily sitting on her own.  She had been working on it before he left, but my main focus was to take the 10 days and give her many opportunities to practice.  Look who figured it out the night before we left!  Notice Choco lurking in the back ground.  Just waiting for Lily to topple over so she can give her kisses. 

Lily and I visited Cayce in DC for the last half of his TAD.  We were there, one big happy family, living in a hotel room for 10 days.  We had lots of fun and saw lots new things.  By "we" I mean Lily.  However, before we could enjoy our vacation we had to get to our vacation.  I worried and fussed for several days prior to our big trip, and prepared for every contingency.  In the end Lily did wonderfully on the flights.  It was me who I apparently needed to be worried about. 

On the first leg of the flight I nursed Lily until she fell asleep, and asleep is how she stayed until we made our final descent.  As we deplaned people kept commenting how quiet she was, and they didn't even know there was a baby on the plane.  Yay, one leg down, one more to go.  We barely had time to trek all the way from one end of Charlotte International to the other.  Oh and guess what, apparently you're not supposed to use the moving walk ways with a stroller.  Blarg.  I was so thristy and hungry.  I passed one eating establishment after another looking longingly at the fare.  I passed a wine bar and looked at the patrons peacefully sipping their beverages.  Meanwhile I'm literally breaking a sweat as I raced from terminal B to E.  I finally made it, and guess what, my plane is BOARDING.  No early boarding for us.  On with the masses we go.  We're one of the last few to make the plane.  Luckily I was sitting next to a very nice older gentleman, and he asked if I needed help.  He happily held Lily while I stuffed my backpack in the over head, situated all the other goodies, and prepared Lily's bottle.  Sweet baby came back into my arms, got comfy on the boppy, and proceeded to FINISH her bottle only minutes into the flight.  Well, there goes that plan.  I planned on Lily napping during the flight from Charlotte to Baltimore.  It was during her scheduled nap time, and usually after finishing an entire 8 oz bottle she is totally out of commission.  Not this baby!  She was up and telling everyone all about her day.  She had those around us laughing.  She is a very noisy girl when she wants to be, and on that day she wanted to be.  Thankfully she wasn't fussy.  We received our complementary beverage.  I chose tomato juice since I was hungry and thirsty (a decision I will regret about 20 minutes later), thinking this might cover the bases.  Lily was very curious about my tomato juice.  I eventually soaked her pacifier in it, and then she finally understood why I kept telling her she wouldn't like it.

Those with delicate stomachs may not want to read the conclusion to the story.  

Finally, we start our initial descent.  In my head I'm congratulating myself on successfully getting Lily from point A to point B and to point C without any major mishaps.  I spoke too soon.  There is major cloud cover at BWI from the extra-tropical storm.  Now let's rewind.  While pregnant I discovered little tolerance for turbulence.  I happily took Fenegren during my flights to keep from losing everything.  While planning for this trip I took notice of the weather, and in the back of my mind I thought about the potential turbulence.  I pacified my concerns by telling myself my issues last year were due to being in my 1st trimester.  I was wrong.  After the captain informs us of our descent, and tells everyone to turn off electronic devices and return our trays and seats to their upright positions the man sitting next to the window on my row panics and must get up heading for the bathroom.  Now mind you, here I am standing up in the aisle with the plan rocking and rolling, with Lily in my arms.  People are literally holding on to me to help me stay upright.  I understood though.  It was that bad, and if you gotta go, you gotta go.  So the nice older gentleman and I settle back into our seats.  Maybe 3 minutes later, what hit that man, hit me.  I start looking for a barf bag.  I couldn't find it, and the nice older gentleman then starts to look in his seat pocket.  Thank God he found a bag.  He asks if I would like him to hold Lily again.  I gratefully hand her over.  I'm breathing deeply trying to keep things under control.  Telling myself we're about to land I can hold it together until then.  Unfortunately, I look around and see other people doing the same thing.  It was that bad.   So that's it.  I let go.  I'm actually silently crying b/c I can't believe this is happening.  However, as soon as it is over I feel 100 times better.  I thank the nice older gentleman, and tell him I feel much better,  but either he just loves holding Lily or he doesn't believe me because he just tells me to relax and he and Lily are fine.  Good thing he did.  A minute or so later the sickness comes back with a vengeance, and there goes everything I ate that day (which was very little to begin with), including my tomato juice.  This time when I finish I don't feel better.  I feel worse.  I'm shaky, exhausted, and still nauseated.  By this point, guess who's asleep.  Lily has fallen asleep in the nice older gentleman's arms.  I thank him profusely, and he continues to hold Lily until we start deplaning.  Now if that was all that had happened.  I think I could have gotten over it easily.  However, the worst happens.  While I have the bag between my legs sitting in the seat.  IT BUSTS!  IT BUSTS!  Now the seat and I are covered in vomit.  Without thinking I push the bag onto the floor.  Now the floor is being covered in vomit.  OMG.  Could this get any worse??  I let everyone leave the plane.  People are walking by us.  All looking at Lily.  "oh poor baby, did she get sick?"  I admit it was me, leaving one lady to chuckle telling me to go ahead and blame on Lily, she won't know any better.  Blah. 

So in the end the ridiculously friendly and patient flight crew help me clean up my mess and me.  They take turns holding Lily, and try their darnedest to make me feel better.  I tell them here I was worried about Lily's first flight, ears popping, diaper changes, wanting to keep her happy, keep her quiet, etc when I'm actually the one with the flying issues.  I practically crawled to meet Cayce.  I wasn't as cheerful as I would have liked.  My blood suger was in the negatives, and I felt disgusting.  Lily was super happy to see Cayce.  She just loved being in his arms.  We loaded up the truck.  Lily quickly fell asleep, and we pulled through Chic-Fil-A.  One bite had me feeling better.  By the end of the meal I felt great and, was able to enjoy the fact I had finally made up to the DC area.    I'm utterly mortified about my mishap, but I'm so thankful for all the strangers who helped us through the day.  It gave me a little hope for humanity.  There were people in the Savannah and Charlotte airports who looked at a flustered momma and readily gave me a hand.  If only I hadn't thrown up it would have been a perfect day. 

Lily's first flight.  Ready to fly away.  Literally.