Sunday, January 25, 2009

Trip to Philadelphia

Independence Hall
Location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution
Liberty Bell
My whole life I have viewed this bell as a symbol of freedom and liberty. However, thanks to my pessimistic roommate, Wendy, I realized that the bell doesn't have as much symbolic meaning as I always thought. It wasn't cracked due to some great ringing which announced victory or oncoming troops, instead, it just cracked. To fix it, they cracked it more...and never were able to repair it. Now that my opinion of the Liberty Bell is tarnished...sigh. Wendy was in the weirdest mood and came up with the quote, "history halts progression" and jokingly argued that we were worshiping icons (which does have a semblance of truth to it). Take comfort that she might be teaching your children...
Constitutional Convention
Where the Constitution and Declaration were signed.
First meeting place of the House of Representatives.
Philly Cheese Steaks
Need I say more?
Philadelphia worships Ben Franklin. If I knew about more of his great quotes like this, I might love him more myself. "Fish and visitors stink in 3 days." Words of wisdom if I've ever heard any.
Christ's Church--George Washington's Pew
An Episcopalian church included in the charter to William Penn when his colony was created. King George III owed him money so he deeded him land, which wasn't hard for him to do since he claimed the east coast of North America. Penn wasn't too impressed but when a Church was included in the deal he consented. Pennsylvania was settled by Quakers, but eventually the church was made of good use. Here we are sitting in George Washington's pew.

Meggie falls asleep during anything spiritual. Exhibit A--sleeping on the Presidential Pew at Christ's Church. She is currently sleeping on the couch across from me (scriptures on her lap--get it...she sleeps during spiritual things).
Christ's Church
Replica of Benjamin Franklin's Printing Shop
And a Ben Franklin Museum
With these phones, you called a number on the wall and heard a quote about Benjamin Franklin from great philosophers and political figures.
Kristen and I wanted to kiss a bust of George Washington at Mt. Vernon but they were encased in glass. We held out. Kristen is much taller than I am. The table seemed like a good leverage piece.
The National Constitution Museum
I really think this might be my absolute favorite museum I have ever seen. I loved it. There was a very powerful video recording of individuals taking the oath to become US Citizens. So great. So great. One of my goals is to teach a naturalization class one day.

That sums up our trip to Philadelphia!

Living the Dream

I feel like I've been more curious for knowledge than ever before. I cannot satiate my thirst. Walking to the metro after school, Meggie, Kristen, and I began talking about WWII which lead us to eventually discuss the Truman Doctrine. We didn't remember what it was. Luckily, I had this handy book in my bag, "Greatest American Documents." How handy.

It is really hard for me to grasp that I actually live in Washington DC. Seriously, we are living the dream. Last week we did so many things that the average American will never do in their lifetime.
We went to Les Miserables, Mt. Vernon, President Obama's inauguration, Philadelphia, Aretha Franklin concert, the list continues...

Oh yeah...We teach school too. My first full day of teaching was Thursday. I taught the entire day. I really love my students and cooperating teacher, Ms. Chandler. She is a brilliant woman and has experienced many things in her lifetime. Her students love her. She is very practical and teaches the students what they need to know. The students at Duke Ellington are very aware of current events, which I believe is mostly attributed to her knowledge and passion for government and DC. I've got a lot to learn!

We might be living the dream, but this whole teaching thing is HARD. It is difficult to take the objectives, figure out what they mean, research the topics, figure out activities and instructional strategies--all well worried about timing and not putting another teacher's students through the shock of swapping teachers. I'm excited to get all my semester work from BYU done so I can just worry about teaching!
We went to Les Mis in Shirlington, VA on Thursday. We got home at 12:30AM. The buses and metro don't run as often the later it gets...which makes for some cold times waiting at the bus/metro stop.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration Weekend

What an opportunity it has been to live in Washington, DC during another major transition period in American history. I have learned a lot about freedom, race, and what it really means to be an American. I have always been extremely proud to be an American, but now that I am in DC, living, breathing, and teaching government, I really cannot express how great of a blessing it really is to be a citizen of the United States.

Kennedy Center--Aretha Franklin Rehearsal
It is true. We went to Aretha Franklin's warm up. I might mention that Aretha Franklin was not there, but that is besides the point. Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was a crazy day! We woke early to travel into DC to stand in the freezing cold to get tickets to the Let Freedom Ring concert which featured Georgetown's Let Freedom Ring Concert and Aretha Franklin. Our group got a bit separated between the Oprah and Aretha lines and only two of seven received tickets. Kristen ended up schmoozing a man who worked at the Kennedy Center and for some odd reason, he took all of us backstage honestly doing everything he could to attempt to get us tickets to the evening show. He was unsuccessful but took us into the warm up!!! We could not believe it!!! The concert was incredible. So incredible. I felt like I was at a black southern Baptist church again. I have not seen so much musical talent in quite some time. Wow.

Then...Mike felt bad because he couldn't get us tickets, so he took us down the hall to sit in on a Jazz rehearsal. It was also incredible! I guess it never hurts to have connections. He called us tonight to see if we were interested in going to a show with Bill Cosby and others, but we were in Philadelphia. He's a very generous man to think of us!
Tonic Restaurant
nauguration Eve, we went out to eat with Colleen's sister Cathy
All 8 of us spent the night at her studio apartment in the Foggy Bottom-George Washington University area. So squishy, yet so fun!
Then we walked down Georgetown. There were lots of Obama art galleries and shops. Don't worry--there was even a store that sold nothing but Obama pajama's. I have never seen such a craze. This is myself, Susie, and Wendy by a random Obama van parked on the side of the road. We met up with some Barlow Center folks while we were out that evening. They told us about their plan to watch the Inauguration from Utah Senator Hatch's Senate Office Delegation Party (I don't know if they called it a party...maybe more of a mourning with hot chocolate and food).
Inauguration day at last! It's early and people are beginning to arrive on the Mall.
Jumbo-trons were placed everywhere so people could actually see what was going on. They replayed pictures from the concert from the Lincoln Memorial held on Sunday Afternoon.
Please notice the Port-a-Potty's in the background. There were hundreds...but only enough for 1 per 400 people. Lovely, I know.
Seriously. They were EVERYWHERE!!!
These police officers were from all over the country. We asked one of them for directions to figure out how to get around the closed roads and in a familiar southern twang he said, "I dunno, I'm from Georgia."National Mall
Capitol Building and people hurrying to claim their territory for the upcoming 7 hours of FREEZING cold waiting.
While we watched from the warm indoors...
Obamarama might have hit us too...
(a Duke Ellington graduate designed these...we supported)
But I kept dear Mitt Romney near and dear to my heart under Obama. haha...
Our group gathered around the table.
We could see the capitol from the window, but watched the footage on tv's placed around the room. This is the footage of President Bush leaving in his helicopter after the ceremonies ended.
We even played inaugural bingo and picked words we thought he would mention in his speech. Imagine General Conference bingo. They could definitely tell we were from BYU.
And this is the view of the President and First Lady leaving from our window. I am very grateful for the service of President George W. Bush and the First Lady, Laura Bush. I know it hasn't been easy, especially with so much criticism. While I do not agree with all President Bush has done, I am proud to be an American and I truly have felt safe under the President's protection. In the classroom and in the media, he is constantly attacked. Recently, I have felt it is my duty to defend anything conservative. In the class, I call it being the "devil's advocate" when in reality I get to present my personal political opinions. It is great. Anyways, I have realized how ignorant so many of us are in the world of politics and how we need to work harder to understand the policies before we cast criticism. I have learned much from President Bush and his sense of humor, love of family and country, and patriotism. I thank him for eight years of unappreciated, selfless service.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mt. Vernon--Home of President Washington

Warning: These pictures are pretty boring. I didn't copy the pictures from our community camera so I don't have many group photos.

On the coldest day of the year in DC in the last 5 years, we ventured to Mt. Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia. Mt. Vernon is the home of our nation's first president, President Washington. As you probably recall, John Adams was the first president to live in the White House. Mt. Vernon was built in 1757. While lots of the plantation home has been reconstructed (for which I am thankful because there is heat), I could really imagine President Washington sitting in his chair thinking through many of the issues of his time. I imagined him opening his home to hundreds of visitors and offering food, shelter, and enlightening conversation. He walked where I walked. He is the reason why our nation boasts most of the liberties we possess. He refused to be king, instead he chose to serve, not as nobility, but because it was right. What perfect time to visit--three days before the inauguration of our nation's 44th president. Mt. Vernon--Home of President Washington

Memorial to Washington's Slaves
Though Washington's dying will requested they would be freed, Washington owned hundreds of slaves. He appeared to teach them to read, write, and excel at a given trade.
"Item Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will and desire, that all the slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom. To emancipate them during her life, would, tho' earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages... And whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves; it is my Will and desire that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live..."
--President George Washington

Tomb of George and Martha Washington
Washington's Stables
This is for ewe, grandma! haha.
Group at the entrance of Mt. Vernon
Carolyn, me, Kristen, and Colleen
George Washinton's Teeth
Don't tell...Wendy took this picture illegally...
Our heads were too small we couldn't fit them in the holes correctly. Your guess is as good as mine as to who is who. This was in the children's section.
President Washington on his horse.

After visiting this museum and the tour of Washington's home, I can't believe I came here in 7th grade. I have no memory. It was a really great experience. I'm excited to go again when it is warm and when I don't have to try to figure out how to make my toes and fingers thaw and make sure my nose was not running since my face was numb. That was an incredibly poorly written sentence...but I need to prepare my lesson and go to bed so I can get up at 6 to go to school! Tomorrow is my first real, full day! More to come on the inauguration soon! And Philadelphia this weekend!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trip to Mt. Vernon

Saturday, we took a journey to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, the First President of the United States of America. Of course, we chose the coldest day of the year in five years to go. It was SO cold. I cannot even express the level of coldness. The inauguration will just be great. In the picture are Meggie, Wendy, Colleen, George, Susie, Amber, Martha, grandchildren, Carolyn, and Kristen.

Wendy and hoards of other random people. She was really into it.
George Washington on his high horse.
We discovered this hole thing to take pictures with.
George Washington's teeth. (courtesy of Wendy who took this picture illegally with my camera)
Carolyn, me, Kristen, and Colleen
View of the Patomic from Mt. Vernon. The large river was frozen over.
Tomb of George and Martha Washington
Tomb/Memorial of many of the President's slaves.

We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.
George Washington