Thursday, April 30, 2009

Elder?!

I have several posts that I haven't gotten around to finishing yet, but this one couldn't wait! My "baby brother" got his mission call yesterday! ...Sorry, but with a 12 & 1/2 year gap he'll always feel like my baby brother - even though he is over 6 feet tall now.
Josh called me and said that he wanted us to be there when he opened the letter (which tells him what mission he'll be assigned to). So, the four of us sped up to my parents house. We were there, along with both of my parents, and Emily. Then we had Matt (in Colorado), Chris (in Boston), and Emily's mom each on separate speaker phones while Josh opened his call and read it out loud. It was really neat to be able to be there as he read where he would be assigned to serve, and brought back a lot of the feelings that I had when I opened my mission call over 10 years ago. It's such an overwhelming, humbling feeling to receive a mission call. To find out where you will be able to focus your entire life, during those years, in spreading the joy of the gospel and serving the Lord - it's a unique experience. As much as you'll always be my baby-est brother, Josh...this is one of many experiences where I certainly am able to look up to you. Not only could you have chosen other rewarding paths to take during this time of your life, but it has become increasingly difficult these days to stay worthy of receiving this blessing. I am so proud of you and the choice you made to serve a mission, and I know that you'll never regret it. I am so excited for the growth and experiences that await you, and for the people whose lives will be blessed through your service.

Now for the big news on where he's going...
My mom hurried and iced it on a pie after he read the letter. It says Oklahoma! Josh will serve in the Oklahoma, Tulsa mission - Spanish speaking! Wahoo! He will enter the MTC on July 22nd.

Congratulations, Josh....er, Elder! We're so proud of you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

March Wrap Up

Looks almost like hear no evil, see no evil, huh?...Well, almost. Just a random shot of my cute boys lounging on the couch.

A few weeks ago Noah asked to watch The Emperor's New Groove, but then didn't want me to start the movie. Rather, he wanted to watch Emperor Kusko dance on the menu page. I got quite a kick out of Noah trying to mimic his moves...especially the very first one (as well as how Noah closes his eyes while spinning)! Check it out:
video

Lincoln has been into hiding from us lately. He'll hide behind the door in the toy room until you wonder why things are so quite, and go looking for him. Then he'll wait silently with a huge grin on his face until you see him & then just squeal with laughter. Apparently Mark did the exact same thing as a young child too (which doesn't surprise me a bit - the tease).

The other place that Lincoln likes to hide is amidst blankets on our quilt rack. **For documentation's sake, I want to mention what is on the quilt rack: On top is Noah's beautiful baby quilt that Aunt Claudia (Mark's mom's sister) handmade for him. The middle blanket I crocheted as a surprise a few years ago for Mark (as a Christmas gift). And the bottom blanket was brought back from South Africa by Mark's mom (from one of her volunteer trips there) and was given to us as a Christmas gift.** Anyway! Linc thinks that he's pretty funny to climb in there when we're not looking (or even if we are) and then pull the blanket aside to reveal himself like this:

Noah & Lincoln have started interacting more lately and it's pretty fun. Here is a clip of Noah pushing Lincoln in our swing while doing "One for the Money". I must say that I think Noah doing his version is pretty cute...
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The boys headed back home after a walk with our wagon.

Just a morning game of peek-a-boo...and don't mind Daddy.
video

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cutest Animals Around

On one of those gorgeous Spring-teaser days in mid-March we decided to take the boys to the zoo. Noah insisted that it would only be fitting for Lincoln and him to wear the head pieces from our elephant and rhino costumes while at the zoo, and we agreed. I have to admit that they looked pretty darn cute...they were the cutest animals that I saw at the zoo! I had a good chuckle at how huge Lincoln's head is though...Noah, at 3 years old, was wearing the same headpiece (the elephant) that Lincoln wore for last Halloween while only 11 months old (and it barely fit Lincoln back then - we had to pin it shut). Don't get me wrong - I think Linc is adorable, big noggin' and all...but I always feel bad when his head won't fit through the neck hole of a shirt.

Anyway! We had a great time at the zoo. It was surprisingly not busy at all, and all the animals were out and active in the mild weather. Our little animals wanted to be out and about too, so they weren't in the stroller very long...

Lincoln giving a loud "roaaarrr"

Which rino do you think is cuter? :)

Noah was quite cooperative with having his picture taken near a fellow elephant.

Me with my wild animals.

Lincoln has been really into animal sounds lately. He loves doing the "What does a ___ say?" game. I'm usually too slow getting my camera on in order to catch the sounds on tape, but here are a couple. Monkey:
video

And bear:
video

Mark & Lincoln. Looking at the llamas, I believe.

Every once in a while I look at a picture like this and remember that our boys won't always have to reach up to hold our hands, or have to take at least two steps for every one of ours, or that they could possibly be taller than us someday. So, I'm glad that we're enjoying this time while they're still small...and while they still want to hold our hands.

We have really loved having a zoo pass so we can go so often. It's been one of our most-used Christmas gifts ever (thanks again, Mom & Dad)! The boys have certain things they always like to do or see when we go. One thing Noah always has to do is sit on the tiger statue. It cracks me up that he thinks of himself as a cowboy while "riding" it, and how he says "Ride 'em, cowboy!" while he tames the beast. However, he of course still pronounces it as, "Right on, cowboy"!
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No, our littlest wild animal isn't in a cage here, just growling at me through the the ropes of the playground's bridge.

And lastly, before leaving we indulged ourselves with a train ride. We were one of only two families on the train. I still can't get over what a perfect zoo day it was...or how much I love these three boys!

Jazz game

You'd have to click on this photo to see the score: Jazz 104, Suns 99 in overtime. Whew, what a game. I can't believe that we blew a 21 point lead and ended up in an overtime game, but I'm glad that we pulled it off! Mark & I were invited to attend this game (on March 28th) with my dad & his father (my grandpa). We were on the first row of the upper bowl, so better seats than we usually enjoy - which was just an extra bonus. It is always a lot of fun to attend a game, especially when we'd be trying to watch it at home (in between getting kids in bed) anyway! So, thanks for inviting us, Dad!

My grandpa & my dad.

The four of us after the game ended.

Monday, April 13, 2009

When it comes to bubbles...

...there can never be enough! Like most kids, my boys love bubbles, and it seems that more is always better. So! They love the bath blizzard that Noah got from Mark's parents for his birthday. This little contraption has a fan inside that pumps out lots of bubbles, and has turned into a regular staple of our bath time now. Lincoln even says bubble ("bubboww") now - accompanied by a giant mischievous grin. He also often likes to try to eat the bubbles, silly baby.

Noah was quite averse to me taking his picture while in the bath. A sudden onset of modesty? I doubt that was it, but oh well. I did manage to snap a few cute pics of Lincoln, and I couldn't help but to include one of these shots of him. I just love watching him as he concentrates while exploring his world...and just look at those eyelashes!

Such a happy little guy.

I was able to catch this video clip of both of the boys as we got bath time started. When there are bubbles, Noah often likes to be the abominable snowman (which he often pronounces as "the probably snowman").
video
Thanks, "gramma and grampa" for Noah's fun bubble maker!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's about time, Disney!

So, I guess this is an appropriate post to follow my last post on little boys. What can be more girlie than princesses? Not much. We helped indoctrinate our close friends' daughter (Elise) with princess paraphernalia her first few years. We did give her a soccer ball for her 4th birthday though...gotta give the girl a little diversity in interests! Looking back, I think that helping to spoil their adorable daughter allowed us to fill part of a void we felt during the years that we were yearning to become parents ourselves.

Anyhow! I never did consider myself a girlie-girl growing up, but I will admit that I did always love a classic princess story. So, I was so excited to hear that Disney will be releasing a new princess movie this December! Wahoo! And (as much as I do love Pixar) I'm also excited to hear that they'll be returning to the classic hand drawn animation for this movie...which I think will contribute nicely to its 1920's ambiance set in New Orleans French Quarter!

However the thing that I'm most excited about is that the princess in this movie will be African American! Finally! I've asked myself for years why Disney hadn't made a black princess yet. In fact I remember signing & forwarding a petition a long time ago telling Disney that people want a black princess (I know, perhaps not the very most pressing of social issues, but still...) I think that it's important not only for the millions of princess-loving little girls with African ancestry, but also for the little girls of any race (and boys, for that matter!) to recognize that beauty comes in all colors. I'm not suggesting that outward beauty should be a primary focus for girls, but the implications of what is beautiful surely do begin at a young age. I want to be sure that my children are exposed to a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, etc - which I will have to make more of a concerted effort to do while living Utah than I would elsewhere, but it's still do-able. So, with the obsession that so many girls have with Disney princesses, I'll be glad that there's already a black princess in the ranks if we ever add a little girl to our family!

As for the film itself - I was excited to hear that the lovely Anika Noni Rose does the voice for Princess Tiana, and that Oprah does the voice for Tiana's mother! Princess Tiana is absolutely beautiful with her brown skin, full lips & adorable dimples! I think she is a perfect addition to the Disney Princesses. However, there has been some controversy surrounding this movie already. The princess and storyline were revised due to concerns over racial stereotyping (and the concerns seemed valid to me), and some people are frustrated that the prince is not also black (I believe that he is Hispanic?). Personally, I don't care if the prince is black or not. I do think however that interracial marriage has a stigma of its own that needs to continue to be addressed within pop culture...so at this point I feel fine with whatever race the prince is (although I haven't given the issue a whole lot of thought, and I obviously haven't seen the film yet either). I am just thrilled that Disney has created a beautiful black princess, and I can't wait to take my boys to see the film this December!

Here's the official teaser to the film:

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ya' gotta love boys

We had the Donnelly boys over a couple weeks ago while their parents were at a meeting and I realized that I had boys 1,2,3&4 years old under my roof. We had a lot of fun playing together and, although I think it would be crazy to have four boys that close in age all of the time, I also realized again how nuts that I am about little boys! I'm sure that if we're blessed with a little girl some day that I will enjoy gorging myself on all things pink and girlie, but right now I'm just reveling in how much I adore boys.
(Michael & Noah)

So, please indulge me while I list a few of the things that I love about my boys: I love their endless amount of energy (it's tiring, but so endearing). I love their need to climb and "conquer" things. I love their insatiable need to discover & explore - even though it often ends in messiness (which they also love).

Speaking of messiness...I do even love their obsession with dirt & bugs - and with building and destroying (with a current emphasis on the latter). I love how they are intrigued by anything with an engine, and I adore their silliness (in all its various forms) - as exhibited here for example...

I have to say though, one of the things that I love very most about boys (and maybe this partially comes from growing up with all brothers) is how rough & tumble they are! They love anything physical, and right now wrestling and chasing seem to top that list. I just love rolling around on the floor with them, tickling and wrestling them, and taking turns chasing each other. Ooooh, I love my boys! Here's a short clip of my boys and the Donnelly boys (Michael & Drew) wrestling - and loving it.
video

At this point in my life I wouldn't have it any other way than I do, having all brothers (they're the best)! In fact, I attribute some the qualities that I have (that I appreciate) to growing up as an "only girl". However, while growing up I always yearned for a little sister. So, perhaps largely due to that...I'm so glad that my boys both get to know what it feels like to be a brother and to have a brother.

So, thank goodness for little boys! I sure do adore my two li'l cowboys!

St. Patty's Day Fun

I'll admit it up front...I am from Utah, but I didn't know that Salt Lake even held a St. Patrick's Day Parade! So, it's kind of funny that our friends (who have lived in Utah less than 2 years) knew about it and invited us to go with them. It turns out that it's a pretty big parade with floats and everything (2nd largest parade in the state)! Sure there were some things non-Irish in the parade, but there were plenty of bagpipes, kilts, and shamrocks to be seen. There were even a bunch of really cool (big!) Irish wolfhounds.

Just in case you didn't get your fill of bagpipes on St. Patty's day, here are some for your viewing pleasure:
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People viewed the parade street-side as well as from the upper level of the Gateway. Sweet horse & carriage, huh?

Noah & his friend Michael enjoying the parade.

I may not have taken the time to deck Noah out in lots of green or paint his face, but that didn't keep him from really getting into the festivities! He absolutely loved the parade. And, every time that music would come by he was on his feet doing some sort of jig, like this...
video

As I thoroughly described in an earlier post, Noah currently has quite the fascination with fires and firemen, so you can bet that this was one of the highlights of the parade for him:
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Speaking of which...

We didn't make it through the whole parade since Lincoln was throwing some pretty big fits and Mark (who doesn't like parades anyway) was understandably getting sick of doing tantrum-duty. Since we were watching the parade on the street right in front of the Children's Museum we decided to just take the kids in there and let them burn off some energy. Noah bee-lined for the fireman getup (above picture), and he and Lincoln then puttered around in these little cars before moving on to explore more of the museum.
Thanks, Donnellys (their name couldn't be any more Irish, could it?) for getting us out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We had a great time! Luck of the not-very-Irish for us to have friends like you!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Washington D.C. Trip

I recently had the opportunity to attend the AMAA Capitol Conference, and the AMA NationalAdvocacy Conference in Washington D.C. and was lucky enough to have my trip sponsored by the UMA Alliance! Those in attendance were members of both the AMA (physicians) and the AMA Alliance (physicians' spouses). The UMA Alliance is obviously a state chapter of the AMA Alliance, and I was representing PIM, the resident spouses organization here in Salt Lake (enough acronyms yet?). The conference consisted of speakers, workshops, and meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill...and, of course, we managed to squeeze some sightseeing in too! I learned a lot, met some amazing people, and (even though I missed my boys) I really enjoyed spending time seeing our nations capitol and doing cerebral things with other adults. So! This post will be a travel log of things I did (and things that I learned) and as a fair warning I anticipate that it will be quite thorough...

Saturday, March 7:
I was just on the tail end of an absolutely horrible flu, and because it had put me out of commission for the 3 days prior to leaving I also had to stay up until 2 am (Friday night) to pack. I was excited to meet the ladies that I'd be attending the conference with - but I was also really wiped out, admittedly emotional about leaving my boys (I'd never been away from N&L), and was still feeling nauseous (I told you that I'd be thorough). Everything went smoothly checking in, and Ann (UMA President) managed to find me at the gate once I got there. The ladies I met were all so kind and gracious, and Ann even was so thoughtful as to insist that I take her upgrade to first class on the flight. It was strange (but nice!) to sit back for several hours, uninterrupted, and relax. Even though I was still not feeling well, I was doing a lot better than I had been for several days. I even managed to eat my first real solid food in days (a sandwich) on the flight. I read a book I'd brought along, closed my eyes, and just enjoyed being alone with my own thoughts.

Once we arrived in D.C. we rented a mini-van and headed to Ann's niece's apartment (where we'd be staying that night). Her niece's name is Mei Li and she teaches at an all girls private school called The Medeira School. She teaches Chinese there and has an apartment on campus that she shares with one roommate, and it was quite nice and roomy. Mei Li was so sweet and accomodating to us, an absolute gem of a hostess. She even gave up her own room while we were staying there (which is where I slept) and she served us some fantastic soup for dinner that she'd made, along with some delicious strawberries and homemade herbal tea. Yum.

Oh! I want to mention that before we enjoyed our supper and climbed into bed we actually all went to the LDS Washington D.C. temple (actually located in Maryland), which was close by. All of us staying together were LDS, so we were able to enjoy some time together in the temple. It was so beautiful and peaceful, and something I need to make more time for back at home. The temple was really pretty, and its white marble looked so dramatic lit up against the dark night sky as we left. I was also struck by how big the temple looked, so I wasn't surprised when I looked up stats on the temple and found out that at 288 feet it is the tallest of all the LDS temples.

Sunday, March 8:
(Photo: Ann, Mei Li, Lynn)
Sunday morning came quickly considering that we lost 3 hours (2 to the time change, and 1 to the daylight savings change that night). We attended an hour of church and then headed back to Madeira for brunch. The food was delicious and was even free to us since we were guests of faculty! Thanks again, Mei Li! We were also given a nice tour of the campus by Mei where she showed us their dramatic, panoramic view of the Potomac (which she says is what actually convinced her to take this job!). As for a few more tidbits about this amazing school...it sits on 376 acres in McLean, VA (minutes from D.C.) and the tuition for these 9-12 graders ranges from $33,060-$43,540 per year, depending on if the student is boarding or a day student. The student body is very ethnically and racially diverse, and the school offers a wide range of classes and clubs - from Latin to horseback riding (on site). I was also really impressed when Mei Li explained what the students do on Wednesdays...In the afternoon the 9th graders participate in Outdoor Adventure (rock climbing, kayaking, etc). Grades 10-12 are off campus all day on Wednesday: Tenth graders spend that day working in community service placements, Eleventh graders are in the office of a senator or congressman, and seniors choose a dream job - and staffers help to place them with Wednesday work within that industry. I'm including all of this information simply to accurately portray how impressive this school (where we stayed) is. And, as I mentioned, the grounds and views were equally impressive...As stunning as the view was, I had to imagine how beautiful that it must look during the other seasons of the year...with autumn colors, or covered in snow, or boasting acres of green. However, even with all the barren trees the view was still spectacular!
(photo left to right: me, Lynn, Ann, Lana, Pat)

Before heading into D.C. we decided to get a more close up view of the Potomac, so we headed to nearby Great Falls National Park (per Mei Li's recommendation). It was beautiful and we were able to view the river up close from several look out spots like this one:

(west front of the cathedral)

We had also considered heading out to Mount Vernon or Gettysburg on Sunday, but time slipped away from us too quickly. So, we opted to do something more centrally located and I was thrilled when we decided to head to the Washington National Cathedral. It was on my short list of things that I wanted to see while in D.C. but I didn't know how likely it was that we'd make it over there. My original interest in seeing the cathedral was due to the Gothic (or Neo-Gothic, rather) architecture - aspects like its pointed arches, flying buttresses, beautiful ribbed vaulting, large stained glass windows, and its height. It has many fascinating gargoyles too - I hear even a Darth Vader one, and one of a corrupt politician with $100 bills falling out of his pocket. I wish that time had allowed for me to take the gargoyle tour, but we were lucky to squeeze in time to visit the cathedral at all! However, as I read up on this magnificent building I also became increasingly intrigued by the historical significance of the cathedral. Before I move on to telling about that though, let me share a few tid-bits that I learned about the edifice itself:
  • It's the 6th largest cathedral in the world & the 2nd largest in the U.S.
  • It is the only cathedral to be completed in one century (1907-1990)
  • The tower has two full sets of bells
  • It is constructed of Indiana limestone
  • The cathedral is 301 feet high
  • It has 9 chapels
  • Use of concrete & structural steel was kept to a bare minimum. Instead medieval techniques like ribbed vaulting & flying buttresses were used.
  • Among its 200+ amazing stained glass windows is the Space Window (shown here). Its actual name is the Scientists and Technicians Window. Its celestial scene pays tribute to scientific achievement, while also celebrating the galaxy as one of God's creations. The window includes a fragment of rock from the moon, which was brought back and donated as a gift by Apollo 11 astronauts in 1969, commemorating man's first landing on the moon (you can see the stone in the center of the scene). Most of the rest of the cathedral's stained glass windows relate to Christian scenes and imagery (which are also very beautiful, just not as unique of content to share about). I did hear though that there is also one window which depicts Lewis & Clark.
I should mention that since we had not planned out our visit to the cathedral, we were not aware that it would be closing early that day for a big concert. So, we were lucky to squeak in there by the skin of our teeth and catch the last tour of the day. Our docent was kind and informed, but did have to rush us through the tour more quickly than normal since they needed to close the cathedral in order to prepare for their concert.

I found it strangely amusing to visit a cathedral of this grandeur and style that is so...well, new. It had so many elements similar to those old European cathedrals that I've visited, but just didn't have the old look (to the stone, etc).
(another view of the cathedral's exterior)

I wish I had a better camera - this shot does no justice to the beauty of the cathedral's nave. I was particularly trying to get the ribbed vaulting. The nave, from West Portal to High Alter, is one-tenth of a mile...plenty of time, our docent pointed out, for someone taking that long walk down the aisle to change their mind! (Our docent also clarified that most weddings held in the cathedral are held in smaller chapels within the church)

This is the main altar in the cathedral, called the Jerusalem Altar, and it was carved from stones brought back from Solomon's Quarry near Jerusalem. Again, my photography does this work of art no justice - it is truly beautiful. Also, our docent told explained to us that the cross on the altar was veiled with a purple cloth due to Lent.

I feel badly that I don't remember any information about this...we were kind of rushing through this area of the cathedral, but it was quite stunning so I just snapped a quick picture as we passed it.

Now to jump back to some of the historical significances that I referred to earlier in this post. President Woodrow Wilson is entombed there. He is the only President to be laid to rest there (in fact he's the only President to be laid to rest anywhere in Washington D.C.). His tomb bears the seal of the President of the United States, and the Coat of Arms of Princeton University. State funerals for three other U.S. Presidents were held there also; Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford. Also, a memorial service for Harry Truman was held there. He'd planned a funeral and burial to both be done at the cathedral, but his wife's health was so poor when he died that both the funeral & burial were done privately in Missouri (where she was).

The cathedral is the final resting place for several other people also. Two of the people that stood out the most for me personally were Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan. This is the plaque which is mounted upon the pillar behind which their ashes are interred.

Other notable historical aspects of the National Cathedral include:
  • While the cathedral is Episcopalian, it is a "national house of prayer for all people" & is a symbol of unity by hosting events of secular and religious events (including interfaith events).
  • It plays a role in times of national celebration or crisis (such as the internationally televised memorials following the 9/11 terrorist attacks).
  • It was at the National Cathedral's Canterbury pulpit that Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final sermon (a few days before his assassination). A memorial was held for him there later that same week.
  • The cathedral holds a presidential prayer service the day following a presidential inauguration. Presidents who have attended this event include: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
  • During WWII monthly services "on behalf of a united people in a time of emergency" were held.
If you are still reading this post, I'm very impressed. I am really indulging myself in the completeness of this travel log. However, like I've mentioned, these pictures do no justice to the majesty of this magnificent building. I want to mention that at the end of our quick tour we were able to hurry up to the 7th floor observatory where we were able to overlook the surrounding area (as well as get another view of the cathedral). Here's one picture that I snapped through the glass of the observatory window...

This picture is crooked because I snapped it as I flung my camera up to the car window. We were speeding past this side of the cathedral on our way to the airport to pick up Julie (who flew in late due to a wedding). It was just too beautiful not to snap a shot, albeit a crooked one.

After picking up Julie at the airport we all headed to check into our hotel (the Grand Hyatt downtown). It was nice to stretch out and freshen up before heading down to the bistro on site at the hotel for dinner. This dinner was with delegates from the AMAA western states (California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Colorado...) and was coordinated by a county president from Colorado. We enjoyed a lovely dinner - the food was delicious (check out their menu!) and it was fun to get to know some of these exceptional ladies in a more intimate setting before the large conferences began. One thing that was really fun about the dinner for me was that several of the ladies swapped tastes of their dishes. I loved being able to taste such a delicious variety of different foods! I just kept thinking how much Mark would have enjoyed the food. And since he'll be wondering...I ordered the Bonne Bouche off of the cheese menu, for everyone to share, the organic greens (with pumpkin seed granola, aged blue, and cranberry vinaigrette), and the baked trout (with braised endive & hazelnut brown butter). Yum! My favorite things that I tried when swapping tastes were the asparagus, the tomato salad, and the flat iron steak. Delicious. You better believe I'm going to document the food parts of my trip!

Monday, March 9:
After an early continental breakfast (where among other things I enjoyed a very delightful pastry that had fresh berries in it), we attended several speakers, briefings, and workshops. I'll highlight a few of them. If I had to pick my favorite speaker, then I'd say it was actually the very first one - Dr. Orin Harari. He was energetic, informational, and had an amusingly quick wit. He is a bestselling author, consultant, and was rated "One of the top 40 business and management minds in the world" by The Financial Times of London. I won't regurgitate information from his seminar onto my blog (I've already got it written down elsewhere), but I'll summarize just a few things:
  • He referred several times to the need of having "grounded optimism"
  • He emphasized the necessity for consistent "innovation & intimacy" in business in order to be successful...doctors initiating creative solutions to problems, as well as being familiar enough with their patients to anticipate (and act on) needs.
  • He gave a nod to doctors saying that while he believes that most doctors want to help people and do good, that the quality of care needs careful attention. He said, "You have to do well in order to do good."
  • He referred to and quoted Colin Powell several times. One of those quotes that I jotted down was, "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible".
  • And while discussing the current issues facing health care and the pending reform he brought up the point that, "Whatever made you successful in the past, won't in the future"...as well as "Don't study a good idea so long that it's become a bad idea".
The other workshop that I wanted to mention, I actually included in a previous post (so feel free to take a look at it)! It made quite an impression on me.

Moving on....after a day of speakers, seminars & workshops we jumped on the metro and headed to take in a few sights. Right as we came up from the metro we snapped a couple of quick shots. We were in the middle of The National Mall (which is nearly 2 miles long), and behind us you can see the Smithsonian Castle, which although it no longer functions as a museum (it houses the management offices and visitors center to plan your visits to the different museums) it was opened as the first Smithsonian building in 1855!

Now is probably a good time to introduce the ladies that I spent my time with (since this is the first picture with all of us in it)! From left to right - Lana, Ann, Pat, me, Lynn & Julie. I believe that I mentioned that Ann is the current UMAA president, and she is the one who made all of our arrangements for us (booking flights, hotel, mailing out info to us, etc). Julie is the President-elect for the U of U's Medical Student Alliance, and the rest of the ladies are involved at the UMAA county levels.

I sincerely feel so lucky to have been able to spend time getting to know each of these women. Besides the refreshing reminder that eventually medical schooling/training does come to an end (since, other than Julie & I, the whole group has "been there, done that")...I honestly feel like I gained an element of life perspective, and optimism by spending those 6 days together. So - thanks, ladies...for being you!
Next we headed west to the Washington Monument. It was built in honor of George Washington who led the country to independence, and later became its first President. Again, for the 3rd time this trip, I was amazed by the height of this impressive structure once I got up near it. It's 555 feet 5 1/2 inches tall - the tallest stone structure in the world! At the time of its completion (1884) it was the tallest structure of any type in the world. We got right up next to the monument to take shelter from the brisk wind at the time, and the stone was nice and warm from the sun. When I looked up from that angle, I would actually get dizzy. Julie had me pop my big cheeser this picture when she took it (not my most flattering picture). I considered cropping me out of the picture, but that wouldn't have left much of a picture to show after that...

Next we continued on to the WWII memorial. The memorial was completed only 5 years ago. It honors the 16 million men & women that served in the U.S. armed services, the 400,000 who died in the war, and the millions of Americans on the home front who supported the war. Like every other time that I think about the sacrifices made during that (and any) war, I am overwhelmed with gratitude I have for the gift of being able to live in a country where I enjoy so many freedoms and opportunities.

This engraving says "HERE WE MARK THE PRICE OF FREEDOM" and the wall behind it displays 4,000 gold stars...each one representing 100 Americans that died during WWII.

The 56 pillars that surround the circular monument represent the unity of the U.S. states & territories during the war. Behind us you can also see one of the two giant arches that represent the Atlantic and the Pacific (both fronts of the war).

While at the WWII memorial, I turned around and saw how beautiful the Washington Monument looked. While looking at the monument, the sun was setting behind me and the obelisk stone seemed to be absorbing some of the warm colors from the sunset. The round, white moon was lingering next to the monument, and the flags were blowing steadily in the brisk wind. I guess that the beautiful scene added to the emotional feelings of gratitude and patriotism that I was already feeling, but the crisp chill in the wind kept my sentiment enough in check so that I didn't indulge myself too much in the warm-fuzzy part of the experience. I feel that a degree of somberness, almost reverent mourning, should also be experienced at a place where such an astronomical loss of life is being honored.



As we continued moving west towards the Lincoln Memorial, we stopped for a quick photo amidst the tree lined path of the mall. (Julie, me & Pat) I like how the moon looks like it is resting softly in the branches of the tree...

...and a pretty photo of the Washington monument, with the Capitol building in the background, at night.
This is a quick shot I took of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. While the monument, which is comprised of 3 parts, exists to honor all those (both living and dead) who served in the war - "the Wall" is the portion of the memorial which lists the names of all the men & women who died or remain missing. It is made of polished black granite and contains 58,260 names - about 1,200 of them are missing (POW or MIA). Periodically along the wall there are gifts and flowers that people have left - a reminder that behind every name there are family & friends who continue to live with their own personal loss from that war.

And finally, the last monument we visited on Monday was the Lincoln Memorial. This view would have been even more beautiful if the Reflecting Pool had been filled with water. Sadly, it was drained for winter maintenance. It was still pretty amazing to imagine this scene (nearly 46 years ago) in summertime with crowds around (and in) the Reflecting Pool...as Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the memorial. This city is so saturated with the history of our country.

Even though my photography leaves much to be desired, just trust me that the memorials are simply breathtaking at night. I love the way they are lit - and how with this monument Lincoln is "glowing" whiter and brighter than the rest of the monument.

I imagine that the sense of awe and respect that I felt as I approached the statue (which itself is nearly 20 feet tall) was the type of emotion that the sculptor would have wanted to evoke. Since we recognized Lincoln's 200th birthday last month, it was an appropriate time to visit this monument and ponder the lasting affect that this man had on our country. The quote on the well says,
IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER
As an interesting side note, Julie mentioned that she'd heard that the sculptors created a difference in Lincoln's appearance to represent him before and after the war. The right half of his body is relaxed (note his expression, his hand, his leg), and the left half of his body is exhausted and tense. The more that I read and learn about this man, the happier that I am that our child bears his name. He really seems to me to be an extraordinary person, and someone who rose to his position of influence as President against all the odds against him. Due to the sentiment that I felt (and feel) toward this 16th president of our country, I'd like to include my top 20 favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes:
  • Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
  • You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.
  • Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
  • America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
  • All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
  • Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
  • Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
  • Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all.
  • Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.
  • Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
  • I will prepare and some day my chance will come.
  • I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.
  • In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.
  • Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.
  • Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
  • To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.
  • We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.
  • You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
  • You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
  • Whatever you are, be a good one.
I'm quite sure that if I could manage to live by all of those quotes, I would be the person that I someday hope to be.

(photo below: Ann, me, Pat, Lana, Lynn)


We asked around for recommendations of a yummy, unique restaurant and this one was referred by two different people - so off we went. The bonus was that it was only a couple blocks away! It's called Oya and is an Asian-French fusion restaurant. As usual, not a great picture...but the atmosphere was great. It had white marble walls, white leather chairs, and I loved the incorporation of the elements. A column of strung shells, with light shining from behind them, is a focal point of the dining area. It also has a trendy fire & ice feel to it...flowing water that obscures the view of the kitchen (which you can see in the center of the photo), and long display of fire that looks like it's dancing on clear blue gems (right wall in the photo). Very beautiful contemporary decor and a tasty (and surprisingly reasonably priced) menu.

Ann ordered this beautiful plate of sushi for everyone to share...

I enjoyed one of the best bowls of soup that I've ever tasted. It was called Yellow Tomato Soup, and it was absolutely mouthwatering.

I also enjoyed this really scrumptious salad. It was nice to have something fresh, cool, and light to go along with the rich, warm soup that I devoured. I'm pretty sure that this salad was the Acorn Squash Salad. Everyone offered each other tastes of their dishes too, which I loved. It's just so much fun to be able to sample such a variety of yummy things...especially for somebody like me that enjoys trying new foods and has a difficult time deciding what to order!


Tuesday, March 10:
On Tuesday one of the speakers that we heard from was television news anchor Chris Matthews (from Hardball). He spoke on an insider's view of the political climate in Washington D.C. Now, some of you love his show, some of you hate it...and some of you are saying "Huh? What's Hardball with Chris Matthews" Either way, I have to admit that I did enjoy seeing one of tv's talking heads in person, and I have to admit that he was entertaining to listen to. I couldn't get a very good picture with my camera, so you get a picture of one of the screens that flanked the stage...and a blurry shot of him at the podium. Other speakers that we heard that day included Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California) on health system reform, and various leaders from the AMA giving us a Capitol Hill briefing and a summary of some of the current political issues that the AMA has taken a position on.

After lunch we were off to meet with some of our legistlators on the Hill! First we went to meet with Representative Chaffetz. He was unable to make the meeting, as legistlative schedules are often unpredictable, so we met with one of his staff. His office was small, tidy, and modest - and one of the ladies that we were with mentioned something about him sleeping on a cot in his office when in D.C. to save money...I looked that info up and it turns out to be accurate! Wow.

This is a picture of Julie and me in front of the Capitol.

A group shot of all the AMAA and AMA delegates from Utah in the Hart Senate Office Building.

We had a little less than 1/2 hour to look around the Hart Building's atrium. It boasts lots of natural light and this interesting view of the Capitol. We meandered through a couple of exhibits and looked at a few sculptures and before we knew it, it was time to be off to our next appointment! As a side note...the Hart Building is the building that was contaminated by the release of anthrax from an envelope mailed to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2001, and the building was completely shut down for three months before it was fully decontaminated and then reopened.

Our next appointment was with Senator Orrin Hatch. We spent most of our time with two of his staffers, but he was also able to make an appearance to meet with us for a few minutes. Ann snapped this picture while we were in his office. I liked all the huge book shelves, but I have to admit that he huge self-portrait (oil, I think) hanging in the office was a bit much for me. I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt that it was a gift, but still...

Me in front of the Supreme Court.

Julie inside the Union Station. The link I included gives a great description, summary & further links about the station, so take a look at that if you're interested. I will mention that the Union Station was designed to be the entrance to Washington D.C. when it opened in 1908...and it really is impressive.

And look who I ran into at the Union Station!...ha,ha,ha. While the station still serves as a transportation hub offering metro and Amtrak services - it is also full of places to eat & shop (and there is a fantastic bakery downstairs)! We enjoyed 30 minutes or so of browsing and there was everything from touristy items to clothing to bookstores. I didn't buy anything, but it was a fun place to just walk around and window shop.

That evening, back at the hotel, was the Nathan Davis Awards Reception (named for the founding father of the AMA). I couldn't help but take pictures of the food, it was so lovely...and delicious! Here was my Caprese Salad to start. I wished that Mark could have been there with me to enjoy things...he would have appreciated this delicious meal!

As for the reception itself, it was actually pretty interesting. Bill Kurtis (TV journalist, producer, former news anchor, etc) was the host. Unfortunately, I wasn't overly impressed with him due to his off-color jokes that I found so unprofessional at such a prestigious awards ceremony. I did however enjoy hearing the brief speeches from the awardees. This award is the highest honor the AMA can bestow upon a public official, and it was given to a variety of people for "outstanding government service". One of the recipients that peaked my interest the most was the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. He was given the award for his leadership in reforming Texas' tort system. I found him to be quite a motivational speaker and, coupling that with his experience and accomplishments, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him as a Presidential nominee for the Republican party at some point in the future.

Alrighty! My last food picture -I promise. Getting to eat such fantastic food (and not having to pay for it myself) was a big deal for me on this trip. I felt so spoiled. Like all the other meals, this one was delicious. The meat was so tender, and although it was a bit undercooked for my taste I still really enjoyed it. My only regret was feeling guilty at not being able to eat it all (since I couldn't take it home for leftovers like I normally would). I felt so wasteful...but mmmm was it tasty!

Enjoying our dinner! Ann, Lana, Julie, Lynn, Me, Pat.

Wednesday, March 11:
While eating our breakfasts on Wednesday (the last day of the conference) AMA lobbyists further explained ideas for refining the messages that we were bringing to our legistlators. Then
we heard from our last speaker - Dr. Ezekiel ("Zeke") Emanuel MD, PhD (Special Advisor on Health Care, White House Office of Management & Budget). As a sidenote...his brothers are also influential men - Rahm Emanuel is President Obama's Chief of Staff, and Ariel ("Ari") Emanuel has been a prominent influence in Hollywood. He is very informed on health system reform (obviously, due to his current Whitehouse title) and was able to deliver an interesting power point presentation before we headed off to our last legistlative visits of this conference...

I will be perfectly honest in that I don't remember what order we met with which legistlators (and I don't want to spend the time to figure it out). However, here is a picture of all of us UMA & UMAA delegates in front of the Capitol building!

Representative Jim Matheson wasn't able to make our meeting, so delivered our message to his very capable staff. Representative Rob Bishop had a bill on the floor, but managed to call his staff and have them walk us down to an area where he was able to step out and meet with us briefly before having to head back in to vote on his bill. (Here we are with Rep. Bishop)

We were able to have a great meeting with Senator Robert Bennett. He was able to be present for our whole visit, was candid about his thoughts on health care, and was open to the information that we wanted to deliver. And my goodness is he tall!

Those visits to Capitol Hill actually concluded the conference for us! I really enjoyed all that I was able to learn, and the experiences that I had during those days. Luckily our flights didn't leave until the next evening, so we managed to squeeze in a bit more sightseeing. First, one more picture of the Capitol (from the other side).

There were a lot of places we would have loved to see, but we had to choose - so we decided to hurry to a museum while we had time. There are several fantastic Smithsonians that you could spend a lot of time at, but only having time for one we headed to the National Museum of American History. It was fantastic, and we didn't have nearly enough time to see everything there that we wanted to. Here were a few of my favorite things that I did see though. Since I couldn't get good photos (between having a point & shoot camera, and not being able to use a flash) I'll try to include links to the items I mention so you can see a better image of them.
The first thing that made my jaw drop was George Washington's Uniform! There's nothing that really brings history to life like seeing an artifact from that time or event. For some reason clothing has a particularly poignant affect on me. It was just amazing to stare at that uniform and know that George Washington wore that. It made some of those history lessons, and the person George Washington, seem a lot more real to me.


Even though I did find the exhibits with medical equiptment from Civil War times fascinating...I particularly wanted to bring home a few pictures for Mark since I thought that he'd find them interesting. The first picture is a surgical kit from 150 years ago. The doctor that it belonged to was a surgeon for the U.S. Army. Next to the surgical kit is a container for ether, which was widely used as a anesthetic and painkiller.

This picture displays several things. A few of them include: A surgeon's bloodletting set (that link's description is well worth reading), an apothecary scale, and a lancet case.

Since my husband is a foot doctor, I couldn't resist including this one...a picture of a prosthetic leg. This is the type that would have been used to replace a severed foot. Prosthesis have come a long way, haven't they?

One exhibit that we had been looking forward to seeing was the First Ladies Exhibit. The exhibit only reopened 3 months ago. It includes inaugural gowns donated by each of the first ladies, as well as other personal items. It was an interesting exhibit to view. One of the dresses that caught my eye the most was this one from Mary Lincoln.

The exhibit that I was definitely the most excited to visit was the one titled "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life". In celebration of the 200th anniversary of his birth, the museum put together an unprecendented exhibit of intimate information and nationally imported artifacts on Lincoln. It is a remarkable tribute to this amazing man and President of our country.
I took only a few pictures - the first one is a photograph of Lincoln. Although I decided that it was a bit silly to take a (poor quality) photograph of a photograph - there was just something that struck me while looking at this photograph. So, perhaps it was more the emotion of that moment that I wanted to capture for myself than it was taking a picture of something to document it for documentation's sake.

Lincoln's iconic top hat was pretty amazing to see. I can only imagine how imposing of a figure he must have been after adding this tall top hat to his 6 foot 4 inch frame. The black silk band was added to mourn the death of his 11 year old son Willie. This is the hat Lincoln wore to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 the night he was assasinated.

The next picture is of the plaster casts done of Lincoln's face and hands. Lincoln had been nominated as the Republican presidential candidate two days before the casts were done. So, his right hand was still swollen from shaking supporters' hands all day. Lincoln's first response upon seeing the finished life mask was, "There is the animal himself!"

The last items I have a picture of are Abraham Lincoln's office suit & Mary's purple velvet gown. There was a lot of added information in the exhibit that gave interesting insight into their personalities, as well as how they were as a couple. The whole exhibit was fantastic and I'm so glad that I was able to see it!
We changed hotels (to save money) for our last night in D.C. to a place in Chinatown. The hotel was nothing to write home about, but worked out fine as somewhere to get a good night's sleep. Ann's niece Mei Li was able to join us for dinner at Chinese restaurant for dinner, and it was a lot of fun to see her again. Julie and I split an order (of orange chicken or something) and it was more than enough food. Then it was back to the hotel for the night.

Thursday, March 12:
Our last day in Washington D.C.! Here we are by the huge traditional Chinese gate in Chinatown called the Friendship Arch.

The last thing that we were able to see in D.C. ended up being the National Holocaust Museum. I was so grateful that we were able to make it there too - it was at the very top of my list of things that I wanted to see while we were there. I already blogged a pretty comprehensive post on that experience, so feel free to click here to read it. It was a very powerful experience for me.

I feel so lucky to have been able to attend this conference, and even more lucky to have attended it with the group of ladies that I did! So, thanks to all of them for being so kind...and to Ann for all of your planning on our behalf. I feel like I learned a lot and saw a lot (though never enough). Plus, being away from home gave me a break from mom duties long enough that I was aching to get back to it. I was so anxious to wrestle around with my boys and to resume all the simple day to day things that I do with them which one can so often take for granted. I had a fantastic time in D.C. and am so glad that I went, but I am also so grateful to be back at home with my three boys!