We had the opportunity to take a nice vacation that we will never forget. David called us a couple of months ago and told us we had better come visit while they were still in Virginia since they plan to move to Southern California in November. This was a good time for us to do this since Jim's back surgery is done and Ammon isn't in school anymore. I also needed to use some vacation hours or I would lose them at the end of the year. The stars aligned themselves and plans were made.
It was cheaper to fly out of Las Vegas so Gillian kindly agreed to keep Ammon with her for the time we were at David's. We drove to Las Vegas, dropped Ammon off and spent the night with Gillian's family. They took us to the airport and we flew out the day after.
Our goal was really to spend time with both families. We had never met Penny - we still have three more grandchildren we've never met (Ted, Heidi and Hannah). Maybe next year. We'll see. David and Tana are perfect hosts. We were delighted to sit back and watch them parent. And they are very good parents. Their girls are more than adorable and warmed up to us quickly. Penny is one of the happiest babies I've ever seen. Lucy and Ansleigh play really well together. They play for hours on end with great imaginations. Ansleigh did say something (several times) that made me laugh. She said, "I'm not ever going to have kids because then I would become a grandma and that's old! If I had kids I couldn't play." So David said to me, "Grandma, how do you feel about that?" I said, "Ansleigh, when I was a little girl, I played with baby dolls. I loved to dress them and rock them to sleep. When I got a little older, I got Barbies and I loved them even more. I pretended, played and dressed them. I even learned to make clothes for them. A few years later I got married and had a baby. I got to dress him and all the rest of my babies. I got to put bows in the girls hair and make them look pretty. I got to play with all my babies. And as they grew up, they got married. And ..... I got to go with the girls when they bought wedding dresses and I got to help them dress all over again. See, I've never stopped playing. It's pretty wonderful to have kids."
We went to Mt. Vernon and downtown DC more than once where we visited the Lincoln Memorial at night and visited the Jefferson Memorial a different day. That was my favorite site in DC. The setting is gorgeous and the inscriptions on the inside were moving. We spent another day at Gettysburg (a dream of mine and Jim's). We love history and have read a lot about the Civil War. I can't even adequately describe my feelings while we were there. It's sobering, beautiful, emotional, huge (10 square miles) and wonderful. How can something be wonderful with the horrific battle that occurred there over 3 days? I simply can't describe it in any other way.
As I looked to the horizon, I saw the Appalachian Mts. I thought, "Adrianne, you are just down that way!" The countryside is so very, very gorgeous. It's so green and clean. The days were warm and humid but not unbearable at all. We lucked out.
While we were gone, Gillian called and told us that Ammon was really struggling. He wasn't missing us. He was struggling with change and uncertainty. We found a chink in his armor. He was very unhappy and grouchy and moody. I talked to him several times, trying to help him work through this change. She was concerned and just kept working with him and talking to him. He was, in general, a putz for half the time he was there. Gillian then got the idea of inviting the sister missionaries over to talk to him. They did and he began to pull out of his funk. By the time we got back to Gillian's, she had won him over. He was happy and life was better.
I didn't think Ammon would do this because he connects very well with Gillian. I felt badly that she not only had to handle his physical care, but his emotional and mental well-being. I knew that if anyone could do it in the family, Gillian could. It's physically hard work to lift and move and dress Ammon. It's difficult to take him places, especially in the stifling heat. But they did it and I will be forever grateful to them for giving us a little break.
We had expected to stay for a day and a half but I got sick and we left a half day early so I could get to a doctor before the holiday weekend closed everything up. I felt like we had cheated Gillian but in reality, I'm sure they were relieved to have their routine back and to have all the equipment moved out of the house. :)
Again, it was nice to see where Gillian and Kevin live. I have never liked Las Vegas but Henderson is very, very nice. It's clean and has lots and lots of shopping, restaurants, and fun parks. Gillian drove me around to see the various neighborhoods. What seemed unbelievable is that a decent, nice house in Henderson is about 2/3 cheaper in cost than a townhouse in Georgetown (area downtown in DC).
The difference in the two locations was like night and day. Lush greenery was abundant everywhere in Virginia. Desert plants were plentiful in Nevada. And they were surprisingly interesting and pretty. Both places were hot but I think it was hotter in Henderson. Heat really wears a person out, no matter if it's a dry heat or a humid heat. Hot is hot. They also took us to the strip where I got to take pictures of the famous Bellagio fountains. That was fantastic!
Gillian and Kevin are good parents, too. Mia is a busy body but can occupy herself for hours with her artwork. And she is quite a good little artist. Maybe another Minerva! She also loves to take out the garbage. She takes it out every day and puts in a clean bag. She likes to help her mom. McKay was funny. He is talking well now. He started saying "doggie, doggie," to me and then he brought over a little sock and gave it to me. So I threw it across the room. He scampered after it, got down on all fours and picked it up with his teeth. He came back and gave me the sock. He stood there with his tongue hanging out panting like a dog so we did it over and over and I laughed my head off. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen a little child do. It was just fun to see all the little grandchildren and to see their happiness and joy in life.
Now that we are home, we will get Ammon's Young Church Service Mission completed, hopefully by the end of this week. Then we will wait on the bishop's and stake president's interviews. Once those are done, they will send in the paperwork and it should be approved within a few days. And then Ammon will be content for two years, knowing what he will be doing every day.
Thanks to David and Tana and Gillian and Kevin for making this such a memorable vacation. It was awesome!