tour party of 22?

In my mind this day in our nation's capital was "just yesterday." 

In reality, in three days it will have been three months...

Guess my life must be really fun because time sure does fly!

So the day after our pizza picnic in the park with some of our beloved "China family," we headed in for Natalie's first visit to DC.  While our crew is pretty good at staying close, subways make me slightly nervous...not much time to get on or off a train when it gets crowded...and so we reviewed the plan of what to do if we were to get separated from one another.  (this will be important later) I also had a moment of clarity and wrote my cell phone number in Sharpie on each of their arms.  (I usually tattoo my little ones with these temporary tats for peace of mind when we are out in big crowds ~ state fair, Disney, DC ~ but this time had accidentally left the tattoos back in NC).

I love catching the museums and wandering around the National Mall, but the highlight of the day for several of my kids may have been our metro in to the city.  Something about riding a train underground...

Despite their reluctance to get off the metro, everyone was excited as we ascended the top of the escalator at the Smithsonian stop and stepped into the bright sunshine of the day.  Immediately the castle caught their attention and while we tried to gently tell them it wasn't going to be what they expected on the inside, they insisted that we check it out.

glad we to a pic before we went in...they weren't quite so smiley after realizing it was a museum about the museums
It was a sunny, late June day and unfortunately, it didn't take long for the heat to zap all energy and excitement out of our crowd.

really mommy, we don't care about the capital building...and there is NO WAY you can make us walk down there!
Thankfully the Air and Space museum never fails to cause amazement and wonder...and blasts of arctic air conditioning.  All five, but especially the boys, were in total awe that three men returned from the moon in this command module.

our future astronauts at full attention as daddy reads information about Apollo 11
Checking out Skylab Orbital Workshop (complete with a mannequin eating lunch) suddenly had my crew remembering they were ready for lunch.  Thankfully our space program didn't crash like the blood sugar levels of the M7 kiddos that day...

After searching for what seemed like FOREVER for a decent place to have lunch downtown, we were finally given a tip by a local to a food court.  Moe's for the kids and a Mediterranean salad for Ian and I found us all refreshed and ready for the second half of our adventure.

And while not much could top a late morning at the Air & Space, meeting up with the Fabulous F fourteen and Uncle Josh to take on the American History museum did the trick.

with these guys is when our family of seven seems very, very small...
What does it look like when a tour party of 22 hits a crowded, multi-level museum together?

It looks a little chaotic.  Kids (there were seventeen) everywhere.  You count a lot.

And just when you get lulled into complacency that they're all keeping up...

kylie and kimmie...these two just melt my heart with their sweetness

...your party steps off the elevators (yes...elevators...with strollers added to the mix, even we frequent visitors to China couldn't all squeeze onto one) on the second floor and after the two elevator parties meet up you realize one kid out of the seventeen is missing.  Insert about thirty seconds of panic...

But flashback to reviewing the separation plan before we stepped onto the metro the first time.  Apparently at least one of our kids was really listening.  Before Ian and I got back onto the elevator in a panic, we had the presence of mind to take five steps over to the balcony that overlooked the entry hall where we had last done a count.  There stood our missing child, very calmly talking to a security guard.  We called said child's name and told them to stay there, that we were on the way down.  When we stepped off the elevator on the first floor (though I had briefly considered jumping off the balcony to get their quicker) the guard told us we should be proud of our child as the child had sought him out, told him that they had gotten separated from their family, and was showing the guard my number written on their arm.

Needless to say we started counting every minute after that.

I share this part of the story to remind us all that having an emergency plan when out and about is a must.  I'm so thankful God prompted me to do so before we really got started that morning.  Our child was rather calm and collected during the entire three-ish minutes we were separated, but if a plan hadn't been reviewed, it could have been a different story.

We spent about two hours together, browsing the American Stories exhibit, Dorothy's ruby red slippers, Apollo Ono's speed skates and Miss Piggy were the big hits there, admiring the inaugural ball dresses of our first ladies, and giving a quick history lesson at the Woolworth lunch counter.  We finished up by walking through the Star Spangled Banner display.

And then all too soon it was time for our families to part ways.

The kids were totally bummed.

caleb and quan...these two would be serious adorable trouble if they lived closer together...

And to be honest, so was I. sweet, sweet sister in Christ
We have a special connection with this that transcends the huge amounts of time that pass between our treasured visits.  We are so very thankful God saw fit to weave our families together at the Garden Hotel in Guangzhou in February of 2010!

**Can't believe they are going to be a family of sixteen the next time we see them.  Yes, they are stepping out in faith to bring home twin girls with moderate CP.  They are currently selling a cookbook that is a compilation of favorite recipes of folks from their church.  I have a copy and have used several recipes already.  If you'd like to help, check out this link.  You couldn't be donating to a more amazing family!**


Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Large families amaze me! I so want to learn their trick as i am struggling with my 5 right now, but would so love to add one more if I could just manage to get things under control here in my house. Looks like you had a awesome visit.

Anonymous said...

We have a very special family we met through China adoption that is more like family than friends also. Such a blessing! We live about 300 miles apart but have gotten together for trips & special occasions for 16 years now! So glad you were sensitive to the holy spirit & listened to the need for a plan and praise God for a smart and obedient child! Keep up the great job mom!!!!

The Ferrill's said...

Take me baaaaaaaaack!!!!!!! Feels like yesterday!!!!!
Love Yall so much!!!!