Wednesday, March 31, 2010

YFU East Coast Trip

It all started Saturday, March 20th when Carol and I flew out of Omaha to Chicago and then on to Washington D.C. to meet the fifty-five exchange students from thirteen countries. We would be spending the week with them as we tour Washington D.C., Philedelphia and New York. The weather in Chicago was snow and many of the planes were delayed due to the weather, so our last student arrived about eleven at night.

The entire group met for a picture in front of the White House. There were over 100,000 marchers protesting the immigration laws, and also another group on the White House lawn sharing their views about the health bill that was to be voted on that very night. (It did pass)

The Cherry blossoms were starting to bloom, and they were beautiful. The Cherry trees were actually a gift from the Japanese. We gave them dogwood trees in exchange.

Sunday we toured many of the memorials and monuments in Washington. The weather was beautiful and several kids ended up with a little sunburn. The above picture is the Jefferson Memorial. I never realized how much Jefferson did for the US

The pictures are a little out of order. This is the Lincoln Memorial and probably one of my favorite. These monuments certainly are not handicapped accessible - oh - the steps!!

The VietNam Memorial was very moving, probably because I had friends who served in this war, and the soldiers who served were not treated very well. There is a mirrored wall with the reflection of soldiers coming through. There is also a long wall with all the dead and missing names etched into it. Very beautiful.

The Memorial for the Korean War soldiers was also a favorite.

I especially like the saying on the wall - Freedom is not Free -

It seemed that the Washington Monument could be seen wherever you were in the city. It is really tall.

More pictures of our kids waiting for everyone to finish and meet again to move on

This plate was at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial - and it was the exact spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. stood when he gave his speech, "I have a dream"

The White House was not as large as I would have imagined - but it is big as far as houses go. We wondered if the little girls were peaking out the window to watch all the action going on in their front yard. It was eeiry to see the gaurds on top of the White House. There are also permanent video cameras mounted on the lawn for "breaking" news - so cameramen can just come and turn on camera and start taping. No setups

I was surprised at how far away the capital building was from the White House. Its a very impressive building - and many people surrounding it with protests.

The Memorial to the WWII veterans was a beautiful sight - especially at night. I can surely understand why it was such an emotional trip when our Iowa Veterans were flown there this year. What a wonderful tribute to our veterans.

Now we are in Philedelphia - this art museum is the setting for the steps Rocky Balboa runs up in the movies - they said they had to shoot the scene four/five times because the kids kept beating Rocky up the steps!

Carol is doing a "slow run" up the steps - and as soon as I snapped the picture - she quit!

Philedelphia is home to the Liberty Bell - they have a nice little museum for its display - but I would never make a special trip to Philly to see it! Its just a big bell that used to be on top of Independence Hall

Ellis Island - this is a picture of the infirmary's that the immigrants were placed when they came over to make sure they did not carry any diseases

The statue of Liberty is so impressive - and we had one student from France on our tour. He took great pride in the fact that it was a gift from France.

We are now on Wal Street - I took a picture of the kids caressing the bull's horns, but most of them had their pictures taken at the other end of the bull - which was very anatomically correct! and very well endowed - I might add! Its a bull market.

We visited Ground Zero but they are really busy rebuilding. They plan on putting up seven towers instead of two. It is amazing that not more damage was done or more lives were lost. There are so many buildings and so many people in this area

This happened to be a tree root that had been uprooted at the time of the 9/11 attack. They preserved it and put it near an old church in the area.

The gold ball in the picture is salvaged from the debris at the time of the attack. Its all dented, but they decided to use it as a park memorial.

We did not go to the Empire State Building. I did get one good picture - usually the top of the building was lost in the clouds or the fog. Carol doesn't like heights so she was kind of glad we did not have to go up to the top.

Times Square is kind of like being in Vegas - at least with all the lights - the kids really liked this place. I cannot even imagine being here on New Years Eve - usually a million people gather here to ring in the new year.

Anyone know this guy? We were coming accross the street and the light turned red. There stood Alec Baldwin. He was chatting with the lady - so I tried to get his picture without being disruptive.

Let me tell you - he is better looking in person - Carol - you aren't fooling anyone!!

At the top of Rockefeller Center we went out on the observation deck and took pictures of the city. Wow!

This is a picture of Rockefeller Center and this is where the big Christmas Tree is placed each year. There are flags representing countries of the world.

Because we were tired of shopping and because we could not afford Fifth Avenue store prices, Carol and I walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is where the pope held mass in 1995 and also where Robert Kennedy's funeral was held. The picture cannot begin to do justice to the beauty of this cathedral. We actually went to mass - it was very moving.

Our last night we got to attend a broadway play. I have to admit I was surprised at the theaters. I expected something very big, beautiful and elaborate - they were not. I would guess the theater at Lake City is bigger. But we saw the Broadway play - Memphis - and it was absolutely wonderful. Friday it was time to say good-bye. What a wonderful week. Memories to last a lifetime!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

KidsFest in Des Moines

Saturday was a day for kids! I had planned to take Dane and Brett to the KidsFest in Des Moines. We were to meet Rachel, Reagan, and Drew at Cari's. Unfortuneately, Brett got sick during the night and try as he might to convince his mom that he felt fine - it was the throwing-up that kept him at home! So Dane and I left and met Rachel and kids at the Boondocks and then off to Des Moines.
The pictures are in no particular order, but Drew decided he wanted a laser gun. On the way home we thought those batteries would never wear out! And of course he wasn't the only one that wanted to play with it.

Dane got a little boxing practice in. Hardly seems fair - his opponent doesn't seem to have any arms.

Knoxville Speedway was there with a ramp and a racecar. The wait in line was alot longer than the ride, but the kids were really patient about waiting their turn. The line also gave Drew plenty of opportunity to decide whether he wanted to do this or not. First he was in line, then he ran back to his mom. Then it was budging back into the line only to be unsure if this was something he really wanted to do. In the end he took a ride!

How photogenic is this?!!

Darth Vader was there and while Dane wanted his picture taken with him, he really did not know who Darth Vader was! Nor did he know anything about Star Wars.

Reagan and Dane were cooperative in getting their picture taken, but outside the view of the camera is Drew - NOT wanting his picture taken!!

Dane spent over an hour waiting to get himself made up as a tiger. The black stripes in his red hair were really tiger stripes. Even the nails got painted to look like tiger claws - very short tiger claws!

Reagan also spent time getting her hair done and nails painted, plus a little makeup. That was a really popular area for the kids.

Drew was pretty fascinated with the slime. Reagan - not so much!

We had a fun day and the kids were tired - but they did get wound up when they got back to Cari's. We tried to get Dave to "babysit" for a couple hours Rachel, Cari and I could go out to Prairie Meadows - but no deal!! Somehow we figured that would be his answer, but it was worth a try.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fun in the snow

We are pretty tired of the "white stuff" this winter but the kids really had fun riding the sleds while Curt pulled them with the four-wheeler.

Without Drew they could go a little faster!

All four of them are taking a ride. Drew wasn't sure if he liked it, but he held on!