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Sunday, July 18th 2004

5:52 AM

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

This question keeps popping up at the darndest times... tying shoes, (unsuccessfully) trying to find that comfortable sleeping position, running to the potty for the umpteenth time. While Chad may find my bulging belly "cute", I admit I am a little disturbed by my resemblance to some of the more rotund veggietale characters. Anxiety jumped to full-blown horror with the realization that I still have three more months to grow!!!

When I am not gasping for air after lugging my hefty self up the stairs for the thousandth time (why can't they put laundry rooms on the same level as bedrooms?!?!), I am chasing (blessedly not yet a full fledged waddle) after the kids. Drew is enrolled in a wonderful science camp that runs him ragged from nine until three. He spends his days exploring the nature preserve learning about various areas of science and, best of all, it give me six wonderful hours with only two little pairs of shoes to keep tied. Kaleb is enjoying a summer of swim lessons. Bek keeps me on my toes as she provides entertainment for the waiting parents.

With July fully upon us, I can fully appreciate why people fork over the bucks to live in sunny (and dry) California. As much as I detest the icky sticky humidity, in some sick way I think I am actually growing to enjoy the seasons. I don't think I will ever embrace the discomfort of humidity but I absolutely love our afternoon thundershowers. There is something about sitting on our porch swing watching the rainfall that completely soothes me.

Summer has also brought us visitors. My mother-in-law just went home today after her first visit to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. I wasn't completely sure how everything was going to work out but we all had a grand time. The kids enjoyed hearing funny stories about when their Daddy was a little boy, told only the way a Grandma can.

We have survived yet another Fourth of July. As a homeschooling family living in the middle of some of the greatest Civil War battlefields, it seemed appropriate to do a little site seeing the morning of Independence Day. We drove to Antetium, the site of the bloodiest battle in our nation's history. It started out as one of those things a good wife does to appease her history loving husband, but it turned out to be an incredible experience. They had a breath taking flag exhibit (check out our photo gallery!) to honor the people killed in 9-11. Eleven hundred full sized flags were tagged with the name, age, and residence of every person killed. It was one thing to understand the catastrophic loss through the media but it was something else entirely to stand in the field and SEE how many people lost their lives. At the little information booth, there were two large flags flying. One has the names of every person killed and the other was the Flag of Heroes, with the names of every man and woman killed in the line of duty trying to save others. The combination of the battlefield setting and the symbolism of sea of flags made us all stop and think about the cost of our freedom.

The next day we decided to drive into D.C. If you have ever navigated New York City or Downtown LA, you can appreciate the excitement we enjoyed just trying to find a parking spot. I might have compounded things, as I was the driver. Being directionally challenged, Chad's calm directions quickly transformed into frantic yells, "Left, Left! No your other Left!!! Watch out for the pedestrian!!! Sorry....." It was nothing a few years of marriage counseling won't fix. Despite my beloved's best efforts to invite bodily harm, we all arrived unscathed.

Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery. For those of you who have never risked your lives on the poorly marked beltways of D.C., Arlington is the burial site of several presidents, thousands of veterans, and as Drew put it, "lots of other dead famous people". He had recently studied one of the astronauts from the Challenger Disaster and learned that the Memorial was at Arlington. Still a little high strung from our driving adventure, we ventured off to find the memorial.

I have fond memories of being dragged all over boring historical places while monotonous narrators painstakingly detailed the lives of long dead American heroes. I don't have many childhood memories, but I do recall swearing I would never, EVER, inflict such torture upon my own young. Somewhere between childhood and childbirth one starts forgetting such promises. Sure enough, I found myself half cajoling, half threatening a very tired, icky sticky four-year-old through a dead person stomping ground. I don't think any child has ever whined as much as Kaleb did that afternoon. Every four steps he informed me how uncomfortable he was. He was thirsty. He his legs were tired. His armpits smelled. His undies were bunching. You named it, and he complained about it. Not only was it hot but there were tour buses cruising about giving everyone, but us, a ride. He didn't care that tickets had not been built into our budget. Look at all those lucky people riding around on buses while Mean Mommy made him walk.

Peace came only after we returned to the car and then the little booger had the nerve to tell me how much fun he had looking at this monument and see that statue and what a funny name this person had!!! All of that motherly guilt I endured frog marching my poor son through a long hike in unbearable heat and humidity was totally wasted. The little booger wants to go back again!!!

From Arlington we went into D.C. proper (with more frantic directions and leg hair pulling) where we toured some of the monuments. I think I can honestly say that we found every bathroom in the District of Columbia. Lincoln and Washington were nice but I can give you details about the fifteen potties we visited. I think I spent more time standing in line for a stall than I did seeing the rest of the sights! Chad was taking bathroom duty with Drew while I took Kaleb and Bek up to "meet" Mr. Lincoln. Being the subject of Chad's thesis, my kids have heard more about Lincoln than any sane person should have to endure. Drew was excited about seeing the monument in person but Kaleb was still stuck on his smelly armpits and sticky undies. He was mid complaint when the elevator doors slid open. I wish I had the camera when came face to face with the huge statue. "Wowie Zowie! What big hands you have Mr. Lincoln!" We stood there in awe a minute while I read him the Gettysburg Address. Then he totally cracked me up when he grabbed the hand of a woman standing next to him. "Ma'am, did you know that Mr. Lincoln stomped out the slaves? That's why everybody likes him now." I tried to explain that Pres. Lincoln helped stomp out slavery, not the slaves, but Kaleb was stuck on Mr. Lincoln’s incredibly big feet. We will have to work that one out later!

I think that sums up our exciting month. My belly has grown even bigger, the kids are busy with summer activities, and we are finally getting around to seeing the sites. I'm not totally sure how I am going to pass the next three months but Chad assures me that someday I really will be holding Littlest Bit and will look back over the worries of the past nine months and laugh. Granted, he can still tie his shoes so his opinion is automatically discounted. Next week we have the ultrasound to determine if we are on track to have a monster baby (whale). We are still deadlocked as to whether to find out the sex. The Great Name debate has heated up. Sage is still being vehemently renounced although Abigail (Abigayl!?!), Genevieve (sp?), Joshua, and Jacob are currently under consideration. My heart goes out to couples who have multiples. I am ready to throttle Chad and we only have one name to agree on!!!

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