grandmas

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Washington sights and sounds


A bit of the National Air & Space Museum
Marc and I sought advice before we headed off to Washington D.C.
We asked a son-in-law who had served a mission there what to see and where to go. We asked another one and a son who had visited or spent quality time there what were the best attractions. We asked a friend who was a page in Congress what we should see first and what we could skip if time ran out. Everyone was agreed on one thing. We had to go in prepared.
The Spirit of St. Louis, open a window and hang out!
There's too much to do and see to be wasting any time pondering once you arrive.
We ended up with a top 10 list that included seeing the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument.
We had six days and good shoes.
We wrote ahead and got reservations to see The White House. We made an appointment to tour the Capitol.
We bought SmartTrip passes for the Metro.
So at 7 a.m. on the first day we toured The White House, saw the Blue Room, the Green Room, the State Dining Room and the White House china.
Then we trudged across the rainy streets to the Capitol where we walked through miles of underground tunnels until we found our Utah congressman and a helpful albeit surprised intern who took us on the nickel tour. (They'd lost our e-mail.)
Brigham and friends
We saw the two statues that supposedly represent Utah: Brigham Young and Philo Farnsworth (excuse me, but Philo is from Rigby, Idaho)!
We rented a couple of red bikes from the BikeShare rack and headed along the Potomac River to the National Mall where we climbed a lot of stairs to see Lincoln and Jefferson.
We ducked when we realized our bike path was directly in line with planes landing and taking off from the Reagan National Airport. They were so close!
We visited the National Archives where we could see the actual Declaration of Independence signed boldly by my great-great-(many more greats-)uncle John Hancock. It's a little faded but so very historic.
We ducked out of the rain and into the Castle at the Smithsonian and saw all kinds of cool things. It's a great primer for the rest of the museums, kind of a Cliff Notes version.
At the Air & Space Museum we saw the foods astronauts eat, the sleeping bags stuck with Velcro to the wall, the big and little planes, the hot air balloons and toys inspired by the space shuttle.
We saw a huge tarantula in the Museum of Natural History, the Hope Diamond and the original Wright Brother's airplane.
We stared soberly at the thousands of grave markers in the Arlington National Cemetery, visited the Kennedy graves.
We spent a day going back in time at Mount Vernon, seeing the land and the river and the vegetation as it was when Washington lived there.
We learned about Washington's teeth and the reasons he never really smiled. (He struggled with dental problems his whole life.)
We visited Ford's Theater.
Everywhere we went there was something riveting to see and to understand.
Marc loved the information, the detail and the rooms full of exhibits.
Look out below!


He would have been happy just to immerse himself in the history.
I was happy that I got to see the exhibit of The First Lady's dresses from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama!




Monday, April 25, 2016

A safe place

Mia's prize
Mia knew what she wanted when she came to visit the other day.
She went straight to the pantry and the jar of Jelly Bellys.
She told me she needed more Jelly Bellys because she had friends coming over to play and all she had at her house were the ones nobody liked.
In her 4-year-old mind, the ones at my house weren't doing anybody any good. They just sat on the shelf day after day.
(I've been saving them for game nights.)
I got them out and poured some into a bowl so she could sort out the kinds she liked.
She busily selected red ones and "vanilla" ones and blue ones. She made a separate pile with the ones she knows her grandpa likes: licorice and hot ones.
She tried for a while to determine which ones were chocolate and which were coffee-flavored but after a while, it was too hard.
She simply put them all in a plastic bag to take home.
Then, just at we went out the door, she dashed back to grab the jar.
"I'll need all of these!" she declared.
On the way home in the car she realized she would need to be careful or her stash would disappear once her siblings saw the candy.
I gave her a plastic grocery bag to put the jar into.
I knotted the top so it was somewhat disguised.
She was happy.
She told me she would put them right into her bed so nobody would see them.
She didn't want them in the closet or under a bed or in a cupboard.
She would keep them safe where she could check on them at any time.
Last I heard her plan was working well.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

no girls allowed



Of all of the pageantry and song and colors at the Cavalia Odysseo show, 7-year-old Hannah was mostly stunned with one thing.
The horses are all geldings and stallions, no mares.
"They're all boys?!" Hannah cried, after the opening question and answer quiz on the curtains told us there were zero mares in the equine cast.
She was truly dismayed and hugged her plush, black horse closer to her.
She'd already christened her stuffed toy "Shadow" and defended her horse's gender to a little girl in the restroom line.
The little girl had one just like Hannah's and introduced her as "Rose."
Hannah told her the black one she held was named "Shadow" and the girl said, "That's a boy's name."
Hannah was indignant and after we returned to the show, she kept repeating "I can't believe they are all boys!"
That's the first thing she told her mom when she got home. before she told her about the magic lake that appeared, the snow, the rain, the galloping white horses, the dappled black and white horse, the jumping guys and the ladies who ride two horses at the same time.
Hannah had looked forward to going to the show for weeks, not only because she would get to go alone with grandma but because horses are her third favorite animal.
She was pleased with the free Strawberry Fanta and the poster of the white horse whose head is on posters all up and down I-15.
She liked our seats and jumped up and down waiting for the show to start.
She liked the carousel with girls draped in white and hanging upside down.
She kept trying to find the youngest horse, the 6-year-old, in the troupe. (We think it was the one that wandered a little out of line now and then.)
She was pretty impressed and stayed focused for almost the whole three hours.
But when she headed out for school the next morning, she was still wondering why they were all boys.
"All boys? That's weird," she said, shaking her head.
I didn't even try to explain what might happen if there were 12 stallions and dozens of attractive mares working together every day.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Washington Post






Harbinger of lines to come
My husband has always wanted to visit Washington D.C.
Waiting in the rain in a museum
So for my birthday we went to Maui and this year for his, we went to the nation's capital — the most visited place in the United States and at the busiest time.
We planned to visit the White House, the Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, Arlington, and several of the Smithsonian museums.
It was a good, ambitious plan.
We just didn't plan on taking along Utah weather.
Our first clue that we'd misjudged the situation was when we noticed free "wet umbrella bags" on every turn.
Our second was that we were depending on our heavy raincoats, raincoats we'd only grabbed at the last minute because my son (who has been there before) suggested we might need them.
We needed the weatherproofing, the warmth and the hoods.
Happy Birthday Marc!
Turns out that Washington D.C. downpours are soakers.
The granite sidewalks hold the water so you're sloshing through about a half inch to an inch of water all the time.
The tourist attractions are not designed for tourist comfort. There's nowhere to hide from the raindrops until you get inside.
It's really quite the challenge.
Not singing in the rain
We got so we looked forward to getting onto the Metro for refuge.
waiting in the rain at The White House
I decided early on I would save my travel blog about seeing Washington's teeth and the enslavement quarters at Mount Vernon and Ford's Theater where Lincoln was shot and the Green Room at the White House and post this warning first.
Waiting in the rain for the Capitol
If you visit Washington D.C. in the spring (or apparently in the summer, the fall or the winter) go prepared for weather that changes in the blink of an eye.
Take layers, long sleeves and waders!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Batter battles

And the winner is! On the left...


My daughter just won a Cupcake Wars event.
Not the television high-stress kind of event but a anxiety-producing event just the same.
She had spent all day — in between handling kids and lunch and dinner and carpool and minor disasters — creating these mouth-watering Lemon Raspberry cupcakes that looked like little lemonade cups with pink and white straws in them.
They were delicious and one of the 15 different kinds of cupcakes offered to the roomful of homemaker judges at a recent Relief Society affair.
Everybody brought their best and offered samples to the room.
It was a high stakes moment.
We all voted for the best presentation, the best-tasting and the best overall cupcake.
Kari was worried that hers didn't hold up to the others in the display although she had carefully shopped and measured and baked. She worked diligently to make sure the flavors in her cupcakes were from real and fresh ingredients. She tracked the balance.
(And this is with four kids and a puppy underfoot.)
They looked just fine but there were some creative competitors.
One looked just a bunch of tiny hamburgers with sugar cookie French Fries and raspberry and cherry Slurpees.
Cupcakes and fries!
Several featured strawberries and frothy icing.
Another was a floral display of lilac frosting and blackberries.
Some resembled Boston Creme pies and an other featured a glazed German Chocolate icing.
We all walked around sizing up the goodies and ultimately getting to try each one.
The competition
My daughter fretted a little but told me her 7-year-old had told her not to worry overmuch.
"They're good! I think you'll get a participation prize, mom!" she said.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The house with no end

The Winchester Mystery House (copyright Winchester House)


For me, the best kind of house has secret passageways, lots of places in which to play hide-and-seek, all kinds of rooms and hallways and surprises.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, is such a place.
We found it when we were looking for something to do with a few hours before the Yanni concert.
Apparently Sarah Winchester had all kinds of spare money when she moved into an 8-room farmhouse in the "country."
She also had all kinds of fears and superstitions.
She thought the house was haunted so she figured she had to keep moving to outwit the ghosts.
The door out to nowhere (copyright Winchester House)
She slept in a different room every night and kept adding to the house so the ghosts would leave her alone.
Over the years, she added multiple rooms and stairways and closets and a ballroom. She actually wanted two though she never used the first.
Today, the house is visited by tourists who are curious and willing to pay $40 each to see inside . (One hundred and ten rooms of the 160 can be visited.)
It's kinda spooky but mostly quite cool.
It's also kind of dangerous because some doors open out into nothing but air.
Some stairways end abruptly.
Some of the closets open onto stone walls.
Some look into other rooms so you'd never know if someone was watching you.
I loved it.
We walked around and around and came out in unexpected places.
We climbed funny little stairs that were only a few inches high. (The lady had arthritis and couldn't handle regular stairs.)
You could climb several flights and only be one or two floors higher when you finish.
The stories that go with the house are fascinating although the lady didn't do much except spend her money. Workers built around the clock for 38 years and never finished. When they were done with one room, they were dispatched to another one, remodeling and adding on a whim.
Sarah Winchester paid them well and decorated beautifully.
She had some clever ideas and put in gorgeous stained glass windows. She created a monument of sorts with gardens and a carriage house and a kind of timelessness that fires up the imagination.
It's kind of a shame.
With the space she had and the wealth, she could've opened up a really nifty orphanage.
Sarah Winchester's main bedroom (copyright Winchester House)
I can just see kids running around in the place ... me with them!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Over to the dark side

I've always been a Republican.
My mom was a Republican and I grew up kinda thinking the Republicans were the chosen people while the Democrats listed to the dark side.
Over the years, Marc and I have had a few debates about our leanings because I didn't see any need for him to be a Democrat.
But then his dad was one and he likes to go against the tide so it fits.
However, last night we both went to the Democratic caucus.
I was not impressed with any of my party candidates and he assured me that attending a Democratic caucus could be educational and fun for me.
We drove over to the Lehi Jr. High school where it was supposed to be.
In past election years, the Democrats could sometimes meet in somebody's living room.
Yesterday it was a madhouse.
Cars were lined up both sides of every road leading to and from the school.
The line of people snaked out for blocks.
When we finally got inside it was wall-to-wall bodies.
And they ran out of ballots.
It was a crazy scene.
Somebody ran home and printed more ballots and then handed them out to everybody.
On the Republican side you had to show your ID and walk into the gymnasium to listen to speeches and think.
On the Democratic side, it was good enough to fill out your pseudo ballot and toss it into the box.
It didn't matter that you didn't know your precinct. "We'll figure it out," said the lady holding the box.
As we walked away, leaving the chaos of the Democratic gathering behind and passing the well-ordered, peaceful Republican hallways, I said to Marc, "Hey, this is just like Heaven and Hell."
He laughed.
I then realized there's a fundamental difference in personality here. Order, peace and sense of purpose go with Republican values. Disorder, disruption and obstructionist behavior goes with the Democrats.
Everything suddenly made more sense to me.
Now, seriously, I KNOW there are all kinds of people in both parties and both parties have their virtues and their flaws.
But for us as a couple it was illuminating.
And it made for an entertaining date night.