Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Race

Each year, the Cub Scouts have a Pinewood Derby race.  Tucker designed and made his own car and competed.  Carson and Savannah also made their own cars for fun.

Tucker received a certificate for the 'Sleekest Car'


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Presidential Inauguration 2017

I do not like crowds -- the thought of packing into an area with a million people just sounds awful.  Despite the anxiety, the night before the Inauguration, Tucker and I decided to go.  It was less about supporting the new president than it was about being at such a huge and historic event.  Living so close made it simple and inexpensive.

After reminding Angela about the life insurance policy in the event that things go horribly wrong, Tucker and I headed to the train station bright and early.  On the train ride, people spontaneously started singing patriotic songs.  What a great way to start out the day!

The center of DC was completely blocked off by the military and police.  Every street had trucks or military vehicles blocking access with military staff standing by.  As you walked by, they were so friendly and welcoming.  Each military person greeted us with the warmest, sincerest smiles and the kindest words.  We thanked them for their service and made our way towards the Inauguration.

Fences surrounded all of the secured areas.  TSA, military, and the police worked at each of the security checkpoints.  They did quick, but thorough checks before allowing you to enter.  Despite being crowded and busy, they were friendly.  Why can't TSA at the airport be that friendly?

Obviously, we arrived far earlier than necessary.  Not having a clue how busy it was going to be, we erred on the cautious side.  Thank you Super Mario Brothers for entertaining Tucker while we waited several hours for the event to start.  Arriving this early, there were not a lot of people were there, but as you can see in the pictures, there were military stationed everywhere.  With all of the threats associated with such an event, you know they must have been stressed and cautious, yet they seemed like they were the nicest, most helpful people.

C-Span was passing out free Trump pins.

It was a little odd and disconcerting to see the Secret Service and / or Military on the tops of the buildings surrounding the event.  Queue the thoughts of a sniper in a Jason Bourne movie.

The Capitol looked great with the recently refinished dome and the variety of flags hanging above the event.

The people continued to flow in, eventually filling the National Mall.

Tucker and I appreciated the Bible verses that were shared and the recognition of God's role in our country's history and the prayers for God's guidance and blessings in our future.

Taking the Oath of Office:

Leaving was not easy!  You had to exit through the security checkpoints that were designed to restrict flow.  The protestors were trying to enter as we were trying to leave.  Eventually we passed the barriers to find thousands of people surrounded the subway stations.  We decided to walk a few train stations away and were able to board fairly easily.

In the end, we walked several miles and stood for hours, but it was worth it.

Tucker's summary: "We waited a long time, but I thought it was really cool!"

Mulching the Trails at Hidden Oak Park

The kids and I went to Hidden Oak Nature Park to look at the animals.  While there, we asked if they needed help with anything (Carson needs to do community service for a merit badge).  They said that the trails needed some mulch put on them to slow the erosion.

So the kids and I went to work.  By the end, the kids were smiling and playing well with each other while working hard.  It's amazing how doing a little work together can bring the family together...

Snow Day!!!

Finally, a snow day!  The kids had a blast playing in the snow.  It wasn't a lot of snow, but enough to spend hours having fun.

Yes, Tucker decided it would be fun to stick his head in a pile of snow.

Public Hearing for the Virginia General Assembly

As part of Carson's Citizenship in the Community merit badge, we went to the Fairfax County Delegation to the Virginia General Assembly Public Hearing.  Yes it is a very long name for a very long meeting.  The agenda was 20+ pages long.  We staying for quite a while and we had only finished a few pages of the agenda.

There was some light snow before the meeting, so the roads were pretty desolate.  As we arrived, I was taking a picture of the boys in from of the building, and a women asked if we would like her to take our picture -- we graciously accepted.  As we walked with her towards the meeting we found at that she is actually on the General Assembly.

It was fascinating to hear about the concerns that other citizens have and their drive to resolve them.

During the meeting, Tucker asked me, "Why is everyone just asking for money?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Fairfax Museum

Carson has a merit badge class on Monday; it's for the Citizenship in the Community badge. I decided what better way to prepare for a community presentation than to walk through the local Fairfax Museum. This building was originally Fairfax Elementary School, back in the late 1800s. The front was added on in 1912, and now provides a little lobby area for a front desk and gift shop area. You walk in and see another doorway, and that is what used to be the outer front door.

The pictures are kind of out of order: the yellow walls are the lower floor, which tell all about Fairfax County schools over the years. The dark brown walls are the upper floor, which tells of Fairfax founders, Civil War history, and on through the growth of the community. 

We all really liked this display of old Civil War artifacts found in this area. 

This house is right across the street from this museum. It's an old Civil War-era home owned by the Farr family. It was burned down in war times, was rebuilt and is still owned by that family. There were some cool aerial photos of this area of Fairfax, taken in both 1912 and 2012; you could see how what used to be a farming community is now packed with houses and businesses (not much open land left).

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Planetarium and Smithsonian Castle

We ventured into DC a couple of days ago to go see a movie at the Planetarium at the Air and Space Museum. It was AWESOME.  It was called "Dark Universe". We will go back again to see the other movie they have there: "Journey to the Stars". 

The Discovery Room at the Museum of Natural History. The kids spent about an hour just looking through all the hands-on stuff they have in there. Lots of puzzles, animal artifacts, crafts and activities. 

The Smithsonian Castle is the Visitor's Center for all the Smithsonian museums. 

Right when you walk in, there is a small room

Then you walk into this large room with lots of table maps of the Smithsonian Museums. This one the kids are sitting at had a computerized interactive map under the models of the buildings. 

This next room held a lot of furniture and decorative items.

This last room was beautiful, like a cathedral. 

It had basically small sample displays from each of the Smithsonian Museums you can visit. 

It's like an overview of what they have available.